Summer Season: Time to Prepare Your Firewood for Next Year
Owning a wood heater offers many advantages such as not relying on utility companies and avoiding the high cost of power bills which are always on the increase. The beauty of a wood fireplace can add enormous value to your home adding buckets of charm when there’s a crackling fire to nestle by.
A wood burning fireplace using wood as a fuel can be sustainable if that wood is efficiently converted to heat. Your first step is sourcing a quality fireplace which will burn super-efficiently (look for newer models which have features that will reward you for the life of the stove). The next step is drying or ‘seasoning’ your firewood -this is crucial to make sure your wood burns well. Preparation is key when it comes to firewood – you just can’t throw wet wood into the fire. And summer is the perfect time to gather that hardwood and prepare it for the winter months ahead. Read on to find out why summer is the perfect time to prepare your firewood for next year.
Why do you need to prepare firewood? Well, there’s a number of reasons:
- Wood must be dry for it to burn efficiently – so preparing your wood early gives it time to cure. Poorly prepared firewood does not convert efficiently into heat. Instead, you get wastage – a smouldering burn. It just ends up releasing a large amount of ash in the smoke, causing a range of problems.
- If wood contains too much moisture it will create excessive smoke – this wastes fuel and produces excess methane which is significantly worse than CO2. So after it goes up the chimney – wood smoke becomes air pollution.
- Improve air quality. Excess moisture in your firewood will cause it to smoulder producing a dense smoke filled with fine particles that will aggravate heart and respiratory conditions in some people.
- More particles in the atmosphere. Wet wood creates excessive smoke (thereby wasting your fuel) and creates more particulates. More harmful emissions are created which is bad for the planet.
How to prepare your firewood
- First off its critical that you sustainably source your firewood.
- Use summer to season your firewood for at least 6 months before you burn it. Allowing this amount of time will give your wood a chance to thoroughly dry out. Keep in mind though some wood may even take longer to dry out. To determine whether your wood has been cured properly, look for: a darker colour, it should sound hollow when you tap it against another piece of wood and it will have cracks in the end grain.
- Store your wood outdoors neatly off the ground making sure to keep the top covered. Stack the wood with the bark side on the bottom – this will help it dry better. This is because the bark acts as a lid to stop moisture from penetrating the cell walls.
- If you have the space, why not build a north facing shed to store your wood – this will allow the sun to help in the drying process.
Burning wet wood will cause headaches down the road for you as well as for the planet. So to avoid problems, use a moisture meter to check the moisture content of your firewood before you burn it. You can, of course, buy already seasoned firewood (that has been sustainably sourced) and it will save you a lot of time (as well as being costly), but then think of all the joy you would be missing out on the whole wood fireplace experience from beginning to end. So use your wood burning fireplace responsibly and enjoy all the benefits that a traditional fireplace can provide.