Using the right firewood can make all the difference in the performance of your fireplace or wood stove. Too often people complain of a poorly performing appliance when often the only thing wrong is their choice of wood.
The most important thing to remember is to always use DRY, SEASONED wood. It doesn’t matter if it is hard (broadleaf trees) or soft wood (conifers) because you’ll get the same BTUs per pound; but since soft wood is less dense it will take more wood to get the same amount of heat. This may not be important when burning in an open fireplace for ambiance, but it makes a difference when heating with a wood stove. You’ll need to load the solve more often with soft wood.
In order to assure that you have seasoned, dry wood, purchase or cut wood at least six months to a year prior to using it. Make sure the wood is split, cut, and stacked off the ground and that it is covered with some type of protection to keep the rain off of it. Wood cannot dry out otherwise.
Check to see if the wood is dry by looking at the cut end where you should see cracks. When you bang two pieces together it should be a hollow sound. Alternatively, purchase an inexpensive wood moisture meter (we have them) and test the wood that way to be sure it is has a low (below 20%) moisture content.
Common hardwoods native to Missouri and Kansas are Black Locust, Dogwood, Oak, Hickory, Holly, Honey Locust, Elm, Hard Maple, Mulberry, Pecan, Osage Orange, Persimmon, Red Oak, White Oak, and Shorleaf Pine. Common medium to soft woods are Soft Maple, Cyprus, Cottonwood, Boxelder, Blackwillow, and Basswood. For a complete list of hard, medium, and soft woods and how to identify them visit the Missouri Department of Conservation Website.
For heating purposes, seasoned split oak is the best and the most readily available in this area.
- Never burn railroad ties
- Never burn Christmas tree,s which can cause a chimney fire
- Never burn treated wood or colored paper because toxic fumes from them are very harmful
- Don’t burn wet wood – it takes more heat to burn out the moisture than you can benefit from!
- ALL wood creates creosote – even dry hardwoods - so have your chimney inspected annually (more often for woodstoves) and swept as necessary by a professional CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep.