If you have a wood stove of fireplace in your home, chances are you’re planning to use it when the weather turns cold. In order for your wood stove or fireplace to run at an optimal level requires you to take the appropriate measures. One of these measures is properly seasoning your firewood. Unfortunately, this isn’t as easy as it sounds and doesn’t involve copious amounts of salt and cracked black pepper.
Freshly cut (green) wood has a very high moisture content; over 60% of the weight of freshly cut wood can be water. It is extremely important to remove some of this water before using the wood for fuel. Burning green wood is an extremely inefficient process. The majority of the heat energy produced from burning the wood is used to evaporate the excess moisture rather than going in to heating your living space. Another downfall of burning green wood is that the excess moisture works against the burning wood, almost attempting to put it out. This poor burning tends to produce more creosote and pollution, neither of which is beneficial to any homeowner.
Seasoning takes place when the moisture content in the wood reaches equilibrium with the moisture in the surrounding air. It is achieved by first cutting the firewood to length. Once the wood is cut, it is stacked so that air can circulate through and aid in the drying out process. This seasoning process can take anywhere from 6-9 months from start to finish. As such, it’s no small undertaking. The wood’s natural moisture content ranges anywhere from 60-70% but must be reduced to about 20% or so to provide a good burn. In order to keep their wood as dry as possible during the seasoning process, some homeowners opt to build a wood shed; others simply stack the wood in a sunny location and cover it during rainy or snowy days, making sure to uncover when the weather improves to prevent trapping ground moisture under the covering.
The weather outside is still very pleasant and the last thing you probably want to think about is the fact that winter is right around the corner. If you heat your home with wood, you may already have your winter wood supply cut and stacked outside your home right now. If you don’t fall into this category, let’s hope you’re at least planning to buy firewood that is fully dry and ready to burn. This will help you avoid simply throwing your money up the chimney by using green wood that still has a relatively high moisture content and provides very little in the way of heat for your home.