Firewood Facts

Everything you ever wanted to know about Firewood.

Firewood is rated as Hardwood or Softwood. Hardwoods tend to give more heat and less smoke in a long, hot burn; which equates to less Creosote, the culprit in many chimney fires. But if you enjoy cutting Firewood and loading the Wood Burner, or if you want to warm up the cabin in a hurry; then Softwoods may be just right for you.

This is about 1/3 of a Cord. Equal to 1/3 ton of coal in weight and heat output (about 8 Million BTU's)  

It may be best to cut Firewood when the trees have shed their leaves. Chances are that the sap has migrated down to the Roots. That should make it lighter to handle and quicker to dry or "season".

Seasoned firewood develops checks or splits which radiate out from the heart as hands on a clock. Firewood gathered one winter should be adequately seasoned and ready to burn the following winter.

Be aware that longer pieces take longer to season. Wood cells are like a bundle of random straws with open ends. It is from these cut ends that most drying takes place, rather than from the sides. So, removing the bark aids drying only minimally.

These Hardwoods are commonly available,
easy to split and burn.

Listed in order of BTU output.

Species  BTU/cord
Black Birch
Blue Beech
Beech  24.0
White Ash 
Yellow Birch
Paper Birch 
White Birch
Black Ash  19.1
These have a hard-to-split nature
Hickory  27.7
White Oak  25.7
Red Oak  24.0
HardMaple 23.1
Fruit Trees are not commonly available, but may be found at many homes.                           20.0

A cord measures 2 feet deep X 4 feet high X 16 feet long, or any configuration
that equals 128 Cubic Feet. A cord of Hardwood weighs from 1 to 2 tons.

BTU's: A cord of most Hardwoods produces heat in the same range as a ton of coal
(about 21 to 25 million BTU's). Weight equates to BTU's more than volume does; 
A pound of seasoned Hardwood produces about the same BTU's as does Softwood.

Split wood has more total surface area to catch fire, so it burns quicker and hotter than unsplit Firewood. A Log may burn for a day or more, but if you split it into toothpicks, it may burn in 10 minutes and release all of its BTU's quickly. It may also stack tighter which would give more weight and consequently, more BTU's per cord.

Healthy living trees produce compounds which protect them from insect and Fungus damage, much as humans develop immunities. A cut, broken, or uprooted tree loses this protection and is soon attacked. Depending on the species and local conditions, a living tree can decompose (Compost) in as little as five years.

What to look for.
Click HERE for large photos.

The left image shows "Green" firewood with tight bark,
which was recently cut and has not had time to dry out (Season").
The center image shows well seasoned firewood
with its characteristic radial checks, and loose bark.

The right image shows firewood which has passed its prime,
and should sell for much less than the center photo.
It has been attacked by bacteria or fungus that cause rapid deterioration,
and can no longer be sold at normal prices.

The "checks" are the spot you want to hit with a splitting Axe
or where you put a splitting Wedge. 
Some of the splitting has already been done for you.

If you want a spectacular fire; these firewoods make lotsa sparks:
Hemlock, Chestnut, Tamarack, Larch, Spruce, Red/white Cedar, Yellow Poplar. 

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