To enjoy the best fires possible this winter, you should be burning the right type of firewood. Selecting proper firewood not only provides you with longer lasting fires, but it also helps to keep your chimney cleaner and safer. The Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA) recommends that homeowners use seasoned firewood, and Winston’s Chimney Service agrees. We would like to tell you more about this type of fuel for your wood-burning fireplace so that you can burn warm, safe, and clean fires this winter.

What is seasoned firewood?

When we talk about seasoned firewood, we are talking about wood that has been stored for at least six months after it has been cut so that it can dry properly. All wood contains water, but seasoned firewood has the lowest moisture content. Freshly-cut wood can have a moisture content of almost 45 percent, but wood that has been sufficiently seasoned should only contain about 20 to 25 percent water.

Why does seasoned firewood burn so much better than freshly-cut wood?

When wood is wet or green, it can take a long time to ignite and produce a lot of smoke and creosote when it does burn. Seasoned firewood lights easily and burns longer and cleaner with less smoke. When you burn freshly-cut wood, the fire spends a lot of energy to dry out the wood to provide heat to the room. When this happens, less heat is actually provided to your home. Additionally, gallons of acidic water are produced in your chimney, and this leads to the rapid development of creosote, a highly flammable residue that forms during condensation within your chimney. Seasoned wood produces more heat for your living space and burns much cleaner.

How can I tell if firewood has been properly seasoned?

If you do not cut and store your own wood, you should ask your friends and family to recommend a trustworthy firewood dealer in your area who only sells seasoned firewood. When you shop for firewood, there are several ways to tell whether or not the wood has been dried properly. When you look at a piece of firewood, it should have visible cracks and splits as well as darkened ends. Seasoned firewood will not be as heavy as freshly-cut wood. You can also knock two pieces of wood together to see if the wood has been seasoned. Freshly-cut wood will make a dull thudding sound, and seasoned wood will make a hollow clunking sound. You can also buy a moisture meter for about 20 dollars at your local hardware store to test exactly how much moisture is in a piece of firewood.

How should I store seasoned firewood to keep it dry?

You want to stack your wood off the ground to keep moisture out of the wood. You will also want to loosely cover the top of your stacks of firewood with a tarp if you do not have a storage shed. Keep the sides of your wood storage open so that moisture cannot get trapped inside under the tarp. On sunny days, you can remove the tarp to dry your wood even more.

Winston’s Chimney Service wants all of our customers to enjoy warm, clean, and safe fires this winter. Contact us if you have any more questions about seasoned firewood.

Winston's Chimney Service
11301 Industrial Road
Manassas, VA 20109