Firewood is the heart and soul of a wood burning device. Whether you are using a wood stove, fire pit, or fireplace, your heat and comfort is dependent on the proper fuel for the job.
Youíll want to get your wood prepped far in advance of the heating season if you are cutting it yourself. Fire wood must be dry before it will burn efficiently. Water takes an incredible amount of energy to heat, so it will make your stove or fireplace less effective. Freshly cut logs will have up to half of their weight as moisture. Seasoned logs will only have about 20% of their weight as water, so will generate about two times as much energy. You can burn green wood but it will be smoky and difficult to keep lit. Some tree types such as white ash may have lower moisture levels than other species but they still need to be seasoned. Be sure to know the size logs your wood stove or fireplace can accept before you get your stacks together or buy firewood as well. Some smaller wood stoves especially may need log sizes that are smaller than standard.
Cut logs should be allowed to dry for as long as possible, at least one summer and up to three years for some of the denser woods. It is important that they be kept up from the ground and in proper firewood storage. A firewood shed may be an option as well. The most important is that they are sheltered from rain and termites.
The best firewood to use depends on several factors. Different wood and tree types are available in different parts of the country. Many popular hardwood types like oak and maple are hard to find and too valuable for firewood logs. Softer woods have become popular such as birch or aspen, especially in northern climates where hardwoods are not available. These types will work fine, as long as it is seasoned and dry firewood. The main difference between hard and soft woods are they fact that the harder woods will burn longer as they are more dense, but they will be harder to start. Softer woods can start easier but may not hold heat overnight. They are also good as a kindling for a hard wood fire as well.
0ne thing to remember is that often times a softer wood is cheaper per cord of wood. However, the hardwood may be a better value due to the fact that it is more dense and offers more burn for the buck. In general, find the wood thatís closest to you that is easiest to split, or if you choose firewood delivery, the best value.