As cold weather approaches, it’s nice to think about putting your feet next to a warm fireplace while listening to wood crackling as it slowly burns. To make this happen, you would need some firewood. It might seem as easy as picking a pile of chopped lumber, but there are several things you need to consider when you’re out to get good kindling, especially the seasoned kind.
What to Consider When Buying Firewood
Type of wood: Different woods burn differently. They vary in the amount and type of heat, fragrance, smoke, and sparking they produce, as well as the length of time they take to burn. Hardwood is best for an indoor fireplace. Softwood, on the other hand, contain resin and sap that are problematic for chimney flue linings and even pose a fire hazard.
Hickory has a higher BTU value than oak and it burns warmer; it even generates enough heat to supplement your home heating system. And if you have a larger fireplace, hickory is a great choice because the fireplace will spread the heat easily. Both hickory and oak will burn for several hours, whereas softer woods, such as cedar, pine, and juniper, won’t burn as long. You can, however, use softer woods as kindling.
Amount of wood: It’s best to base the quantity of wood you order on your storage capacity and how often you like to make a fire. The trick is not to over-order, as surplus wood that’s stacked near or against your home through spring and summer can attract insects you don’t want to invite inside!
A standard cord of wood measures 4 x 4 x 8 feet (128 cubic feet) and should be enough to get you through the winter. If you’re purchasing firewood to serve as your primary means of heating, you may need 3-4 cords.
Cut the wood: The pieces need to fit inside your fireplace to burn well. Opt for logs that are 16-20” to do the trick. If you cut them yourself, logs should be 3” shorter than the width or length of your firebox and about 6” in diameter.
Age of the wood: Only seasoned wood burns efficiently, so make sure you burn wood that’s aged for at least a year. Wood is seasoned when it has lost its moisture, so it looks darker than green wood and has a greyish, discolored tinge. It’s not as heavy as green wood and even feels hollow. When split open, seasoned wood is white. It’s brittle with cracks, especially on the inside ring. You may also see peeling bark.
If your wood is green, it won’t burn because it contains up to 50% water. Instead, it will smolder and create more smoke. It won’t produce great heat, either. What’s worse, the condensation from wet, green wood creates creosote, which builds up in your chimney and causes a fire hazard. So the goal is to burn wood with a 20% moisture level or less.
Storage: Once you receive your firewood, stack it on a metal rack to deter pests and help it dry. Place the logs in alternate directions to promote airflow for quicker drying, and cover it with a tarp or something similar to protect it from the elements. Just leave the sides open so that the wood is properly ventilated and can continue seasoning. During the summer, you can remove the cover to help the wood dry faster.
How to Prepare Firewood for Winter
When you get some firewood, you need to make sure that it’s ready to be used to build a fire. You don’t want to have bothered shopping for a cord or two only to end up with unusable logs, after all. Here are some tips for ensuring your firewood is ready for the winter.
Test for Dryness
Wet firewood is no good for starting a fire. It is harder to light and won’t burn as well as the pieces that have been properly seasoned. The best way to season firewood is to leave it out in the sun to dry, although this process can take quite a bit of time. Since different types of wood dry at different rates, it is important to know how to test the dryness of the firewood.
One way to do this is by splitting a piece in half. If the exposed inner surface is damp, the wood needs more time to dry out. You can also try banging two pieces together — dry wood sounds hollow, while wet pieces sound dull. As a last resort, you can always try to light it on fire. If it is refusing to light up, it is likely that the wood is still too damp.
Move to a Winter Storage
It is best to store wood outside during the summer to allow the sun to dry out the chopped pieces. During the fall, however, exposure to the elements becomes an issue. Rain and snow can ruin the long drying process that took all summer to complete in just a matter of minutes. To avoid this, move the wood into a sheltered storage space when the cold weather hits to keep it safe and dry. Storing a small pile of wood in the house is okay, but most should be kept in an outside storage unit to avoid the growth of mould in the home.
Why Get Firewood Now?
Nothing beats sitting in front of a nice, warm fireplace or wood burning stove when the temperature plummets. In order to be able to do this, however, you need a steady supply of firewood to last the season. You might not be ready to think about winter now, but it’s the perfect time to get ready for it. So, place an order for a delivery of firewood right away.
Live in Northern VA and MD (Anne Arundel, Fairfax, Fauquier, Howard, Loudoun, Montgomery, Prince George’s, Prince William and Queen Anne’s counties) and ready to order? Then please don’t hesitate to contact us to discuss all of your home firewood needs. We have been delivering hand-selected firewood in bulk right to our clients’ doorstep since 1994, and all of our products come guaranteed high quality.
We often sell out by Thanksgiving or sooner. So order online or by phone at (301) 461-5687 or (703) 764-4831 for immediate delivery right to your doorstep.