Have you ever sat in front of a fire that just isn’t burning right? Is it hard to keep burning, isn’t producing a lot of heat, and/or is super smoky? If so, chances are the wood you’re trying to burn is too green! That doesn’t mean the wood is actually green colored; it means that it’s too fresh and hasn’t been allowed to dry for as long as it needs to.
Why Not Use Green Wood?
When you first cut your firewood, it contains about 50% water content. It’s pretty much common sense why that won’t work; water doesn’t burn, right? Until you let the firewood sit and dry out to about a 20% water content, it won’t burn properly. That’s not to say it won’t burn, but you will have a lot of smoke! Needless to say, this isn’t a pleasant atmosphere to relax in.
An even more important problem with burning unseasoned wood? It causes creosote to form more quickly than dry wood does. Due to the water content in the wood, more steam is released. This makes a secondary burn null and void. Unfortunately, this means that your heat output is cut, so the smoke that is released is more water saturated and heavy. As it gets farther up the chimney, it cools quickly. The cooling results in a higher level of creosote which condenses onto the inside of the chimney. This is a highly flammable material and can cause a dangerous chimney fire!
How Can You Tell if Your Firewood is Green?
There are several ways to tell if the wood you’ve purchased or cut is dry enough to burn properly. Use your senses! One way is by looking at it. Properly seasoned firewood will be darker in color, even gray, and will have cracks in it. It will have a hollow sound if you hit two pieces of wood together, and dry wood will be lighter in weight than green wood. Green wood also has a sweet, sappy smell.
How To Dry the Firewood
There are ways to season your firewood if you buy it – and it’s green. One thing to do is to cut it into smaller chunks and split it instead of leaving it in round log form. This gives it more surface area to dry. After it’s been cut, stack it on pallets so that it isn’t touching the ground. Don’t stack it too tightly; it needs to have air circulating around it to allow it to dry. Also, it’s a good idea to let it set for at least six months. Some hardwoods take longer than this; you are better to err on the side of letting it season too long instead of not long enough!
Have Your Chimney Cleaned Annually
Whether you use dry wood or green wood, creosote buildup is inevitable over time. Make sure that you have your chimney inspected and cleaned on an annual basis by CSIA professionals – like the professionals at Chimney Doctors of Colorado!