Thursday, November 24, 2011

Firewood Tips


When winter comes firewood and wood burning stoves are a great way to heat our homes and provide a nice cosy atmosphere
But before you buy your firewood for this winter here are a few important tips first

Buy local

Buying from a local firewood supplier promotes good forestry and helps stop the spread of harm full diseases and insects which can harm and kill trees

Plan ahead

Buying firewood early and not in the winter in peak season can save you money, as firewood prices probably wont be as dear. Or if you are able to buy and store green wood, until it becomes fully dry, may also save you money, as green firewood is usually much cheaper than seasoned firewood

Different types of firewood

Not all types of firewood burn the same it depends on the tree species the wood came from and how well seasoned it is. Denser woods burn more slowly and have a higher heating value. In general, hardwoods (wood from leaf-bearing trees) are generally denser for eg Oak, Ash, Beach

Softwoods  (wood from needle-bearing trees) are typically easier to split, and although they may burn hotter, they also generally burn a lot faster. some eg would be fir
See more and the differences between hardwood and softwood here

Splitting firewood

Not all species of firewood split the same. This is good to know if you plan to split the firewood yourself to save you money. the denser the firewood the harder it will probably be to split

Find out what your paying for first

The price of firewood is generally based on the following factors

1   The quantity of wood ordered. The standard unit of measure for firewood is called a "cord", which usually measures 4 feet wide, 4 feet deep, and 8 feet long. Whenever possible, order wood using this standard. You may also see firewood for sale by the "face cord" (8 feet long, 4 feet tall, and only as deep as the wood is cut), "ricks" (non-standardized piles), or "pick-up loads" (which can vary in volume depending on the size of the truck). See more on a cord of firewood

2   The cut size of the firewood. Most firewood is cut between 16 and 18 inches in length. If you need a special size to accommodate your firebox, expect to pay more.

3   Whether the firewood is "seasoned" (dry) or "green". To be considered "seasoned", fresh cut firewood must be allowed to air dry for at least 12 months or till the moisture content of the firewood is below 20% before being burned.

4   Extra services. (e.g. delivery, stacking, splitting, etc.). Depending on where you live, these services may cost extra.

Burning firewood

Have your chimney inspected annually
have your wood burning stove or fireplace cleaned and inspected to make sure everything is in proper working order.

1    Firewood should be well seasoned before it is burnt. That means taking the moisture content down to 25-20% from typical values of 45-30%. Typically that means cutting and splitting the Firewood into smaller pieces by using a firewood processor or log splitter etc and then air drying. The bigger the pieces the longer they will take to dry. That is one of the reasons why chopping the wood before hand is a good idea.

 2    Burning firewood which is not dry Causes tar and the build up of other waste substances in the stove and the flue, which can lead to chimney fires and chimney corrosion. Is inefficient – all the fire’s energy goes into driving the remaining water out of the log rather than producing heat. They don't produce much heat. Wet firewood or logs smoulder, produce smoke and steam and don’t produce many flames or burn well.

Drying firewood

 1   One of the most important factors in drying and keeping your firewood dry is air circulation and keeping it off the ground. This stops the firewood from taking moisture from the ground. To ensure proper drying your firewood should be stored in a well ventilated place.

 2    One of the most common errors made is to pile their firewood logs onto the ground and cover the whole firewood pile with a tarpaulin or plastic sheeting all the way to the ground. Covering the whole firewood pile all the way to the ground just seals moisture inside and when covered the moisture evaporates from the wood and condenses on the tarp into drops that rain back on the wood this encourages mould and decay to spread in the firewood logs.

   If you cover your logs with a tarpaulin or cover you must ensure that the sides of the log store or pile are not covered. The open sides encourage airflow and keep the wood dry and encourage it to season well, any moisture can escape this way from the logs.In this case rain may get the sides of your firewood pile wet but the inside of the firewood pile will stay dry and that is better than having the whole firewood pile become wet and moldy

 4   Probably the best way to keep firewood dry and dry the fastest is to store it in a firewood shed or other structure that has good air circulation. Usually a structure with a roof and 3 sides, with the sides not going all the way to the ground to let air underneath. A good way to keep the firewood off the ground is to use pallets. this also helps air circulation

How to know if your firewood is seasoned

  • The ends contain shrinkage cracks from the drying process and have a dark gray or weathered appearance. The bark may also be loosely attached to the outside.

  • When you bang two of pieces of seasoned wood together they make a clear-sounding "clink" rather than a dull-sounding thud.

  • The firewood feels light, but still solid. It ignites quickly, and no water is visibly exiting the firewood while it burns.

  • use a firewood moisture meter. This will tell you the percentage of moisture in a piece of firewood

 Firewood moisture meter

A firewood moisture meter is a very useful tool for helping you to ensure that you get the most out of your firewood. Your firewood moisture meter can help you make sure that you are buying well seasoned firewood, and that your firewood supplier is not repeatedly ripping you off. A firewood moisture checker is usefull, as we all know that some firewood suppliers do not deliver well seasoned wood. The first you will know of it may well be when you notice that your wood burning stove isn't giving out much heat and or that it is hard to light. It doesn't just stop there burning unseasoned wood will tar up your chimney, increasing the risk of chimney fires as well as reducing the life of your wood burning stove and chimney. Burning unseasoned wood is inefficient and results in high levels of particulates, which is bad for health. In terms of how much heat you get out of your wood stove, the moisture content of your firewood is probably the single most important thing to consider.

To take an accurate moisture reading you need to measure the moisture on the inside of your piece of firewood, the firewood will be more dry on the outside where the wind and sun can get to it more readily. So split your piece of firewood down the middle, push the pins on the end of the moisture meter into one of the freshly split faces of the wood, not the end grain and not the outside faces of the wood, ideally near where the middle of the piece was before you split it, and press the Power button. The moisture reading will appear on the screen as a percentage.

So next time you get a firewood delivery take out your firewood moisture meter and, before your supplier unloads, grab a couple of logs, split them in half with your axe or hatchet and take a couple of moisture readings. Ideally firewood should have a moisture content of 20% or lower, a few logs at around 25% isn't too bad as long as most of the load is under that