In most cases, when you buy or make something, you don’t want to just leave it sitting around, exposed to the elements. For example, a good loaf of banana bread gets pretty hard and stale if you leave it sitting on the counter for too long. If you buy a new outfit and leave it hanging in the closet for six months to a year before you wear it, you risk it not fitting anymore or going out of style before you wear it. There are some things that just get better with age, however. Fine wines, good cheese – these both get better with age. Fruitcake can sit around for months and just get better and better, right? Another thing you want to make sure sits for at least six months is firewood. In fact, the longer you can let your firewood sit, the better your fire will burn!
Why is Seasoning So Important?
Fresh cut firewood has a very high water content. Trees basically have a series of watering tubes carrying the water to the branches and leaves. In fact, when you cut a tree, you can have 50% – 80% water content. In order to burn efficiently, you want that content down to at least 20 – 25%, and that can take at least six months of drying time – and a year is even better. If you burn wet wood, first of all, it won’t start or burn as easily, and once you do get it burning, you’ll have a smoldering, slow-burning fire that burns colder than a fire using dry wood.
The biggest problem with this is that this type of fire makes smoke that has a higher moisture content, which means that it condenses and adheres to the interior of your chimney in the form of creosote at a higher level than with a dry wood fire.
How Can I Tell If My Firewood is Well-seasoned?
When you cut your firewood, you’ll want to split it right away to speed the drying process. It will dry best if it dries in the open air, and don’t cover it with any type of tarp. Store the wood on a pallet, if possible, and stack it rather than leaving it in a heap. The more sides that you can have exposed to the open air, the quicker your firewood will dry.
If you buy firewood and want to make sure that it is dry, there are a few ways to test it. For one thing, dry firewood is lighter in weight and grayer in color than wet firewood. It will not have as pungent an odor as fresh cut wood. Dryer firewood will have more cracks in it, especially along the cut end. Also, if you hit two pieces of wood together, dryer firewood will have a more hollow, ringing sound.
Call the Pros
If you’ve been burning wet firewood, give Chimney Doctors of Colorado a call and have them check out your chimney for creosote buildup. They’ll fix you up in no time!