Choosing the Best Firewood: Tips for Buying & Burning Wood

Choosing the Best Firewood

Winter is nearly here. At Pagosa Peak Custom Fireplaces, never are we more aware of winters’ arrival than after the first early snow. Snowy weather and cool temps provide an idyllic backdrop to our region. But they also leave us searching for heat. And few things warm our hearts and bodies better than a traditional wood-burning fireplace. Whether you use your fireplace to heat your home, or for an extra layer of cozy comfort, chances are you’re burning wood. If you’ve ever thrown a green log on the fire, you’ve learned the importance of selecting the right kind of wood to burn. But there is so much more to know! It’s best to be a bit picky about the wood you burn. Here are some quick tips for wood burning:

Seasoned Wood

Let’s start with the basics, no matter what type of firewood you burn, the most important thing to look for is well-seasoned wood. Ensuring your wood is properly dried out, or seasoned is equally important to choosing the right species of wood. Green wood produces more smoke than heat and creates higher levels of creosote as well. If you like to cut your wood yourself make sure you have a dry place to season it before burning. You’ll need to allow six months of seasoning time for softwood varietals and up to twelve months for hardwoods. If you’re buying wood from a dealer be sure to check that the wood you’re buying is dry and well seasoned. Keep in mind, not all firewood produces the same results, even if it’s properly seasoned. The secret to choosing the right firewood for you is in knowing the different types of wood and how they burn.

A Crackling Fire

If you’re seeking a fire that’s full of snap, crackle and pop, you can’t go wrong with a softwood like fir.  Fir dries quickly, splits nicely, and makes for large, beautifully crackling fires. It also produces a wonderfully fresh aroma that helps create a great holiday ambiance. If you plan to burn fir, do make sure you have a good protective screen or glass doors. The crackling and popping of this wood tends to throw more sparks than other types of firewood. Pine is another softwood that can be counted on to provide a nice, crackling fire, but the scent can be overwhelming indoors. Plus, burning pine can cause oily soot deposits in your chimney, this wood is best left to the campfire or outdoor fireplaces.

A Hot Fire

Hardwoods like ash, oak, maple and birch burn slow and hot. Hardwoods also have the highest BTU (British Thermal Units) content, meaning they give off more heat. A load of hardwood will weigh more than the same sized load of softwood and provide twice as much heat. Hardwood logs will burn slowly and are great for cooking as well as heating.  However, it can be more difficult to get a fire started using hardwood, if you struggle to light your hardwood fire try using softwood for kindling.  

How Wood is Sold

Firewood is typically sold by volume and the standard unit of volume is the cord. One cord of firewood equates to 128 cubic feet of wood plus air space. A cord will typically measure 8 feet across, 4 feet deep, 4 feet high and should be evenly stacked. Randomly stacked wood will contain more air, which means less wood. You’ll want to keep this in mind when purchasing wood from unknown dealers.

Whatever type of fire you like, firewood you burn, it’s important to get your chimney inspected annually. At Pagosa Peak Custom Fireplaces, we are certified to perform fireplace and chimney inspections. Before you start burning this season call our professional team to make sure your fireplace and chimney are safe and ready for the burning season.

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