How To Choose, Season and Store Firewood

As the autumn arrives and the nights become chilly, there’s nothing quite as cozy and welcoming as a log fire. But not every type of wood is suitable for burning in a wood stove or fireplace and using unsuitable fuel can cause smoking, creosote build-up or even chimney fires; read on to find out more.

Seasoned Wood

Even the best firewood contains water and freshly cut wood can be up to 45 per cent water! Well-seasoned firewood burns cleaner, produces more heat and is easier to start.

Well-seasoned wood should be cut at least six months before you want to use it and logs should be split to allow for quicker drying. If you store it properly, the sun and wind will get rid of all the water leaving it seasoned and ready to use.

Green wood collected whilst out walking in the countryside is not suitable for burning in domestic fires. The heat produced through the process of combustion must dry out the wood before it will burn and this wastes much of the available energy with the result that less heat will be delivered to your home and gallons of acidic water in the form of creosote will be deposited in your chimney.

Well-seasoned wood has dark ends with splits or cracks visible and it’s lightweight. When knocked together, dry wood makes a hollow, ‘clunking’ sound. Green wood is very heavy, looks and smells fresher and makes a dull thud when struck together. To be on the safe side, it’s always best to buy your wood well in advance and store it correctly.

Storing Firewood

It’s vital to store firewood correctly or it will be useless. Ideally, you should keep your firewood in a purpose-built woodshed where it will be protected from rain and snow and can be kept off the ground. The sides should be open to allow for good air circulation to promote drying and a sunny spot is perfect. Cover the shed on wet days but remember to remove the cover when the weather is fine and dry. Properly stored firewood can last up to four or five years, so it’s well-worth making the effort.

It’s not a good idea to have your wood stored too near the house as a woodpile makes a great home for termites; a week’s worth of wood is all you need right outside within easy reach.

Artificial logs

Artificial logs are great if you want convenience and time is an issue. They should only be burned one at a time and are only suitable for use in an open fireplace. Once they are burning they tend to fall apart if you poke them and move them around too much; always read the manufacturer’s instructions on the packaging.

Top Firewood Tips

· Always make sure that firewood is completely dry before use.

· Never use scraps of treated wood that’s painted or creosoted. The chemicals it contains could release dangerous fumes into your house.

· If you have burned green wood, have your chimney checked more often than you would do usually.

· Soft woods like elm and maple are more abundant than hardwoods and burn well as long as they are properly dried. If you have access to different species, manage your woodpile. Keep the denser wood for the coldest months and use the lighter sticks for kindling and for the warmer weather when you don’t need to generate as much heat.

In conclusion

Choose your firewood carefully and make sure it’s completely dried and properly seasoned before you use it. Have your chimney swept before the really cold weather arrives so that you can settle down in front of your cosy fire knowing that you’ll be safe as well as warm.

Alison Page

About Alison Page

Alison is a small business owner, freelance writer, author and dressage judge. She has degrees in Equine Science and Business Studies. Read her full story at

Alison Page

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