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The Season of Wood

Burn it Smart Burn it Smart... In the RDN
The 'Season' of Wood
[2 of 4 in the series]

Heating with a woodstove seems pretty simple. Put your wood in the stove, light it, and it gives heat. But to ensure a safe, clean, and efficient fire, you need to burn the right fuel - dry, well - seasoned wood!

Wood sizzling in the stove is the most obvious sign your wood is too wet! And burning wet wood is a major safety hazard. It creates excessive smoke production leading to potential creosote problems in your chimney. In sufficient quantities, creosote becomes the highly combustible fuel for a chimney fire.

It takes soft wood at least four to six months for firewood to air-dry to an acceptable (less than 20 percent) moisture level. You'll be disappointed if you order your wood just before the cold hits, thinking it will dry outside during the winter. Very little drying takes place after October. You need the summer sun and breezes.

By properly seasoning your wood before you burn, you can reduce both wood-smoke production and creosote buildup. As a bonus, your firewood consumption can be reduced up to 25 per cent. Dry wood burns more efficiently, so less wood is needed for the same heat output. If not well-seasoned, a big part of your wood's heating value will be lost driving off excess water.

Very important is how you cut, and store your firewood. Cut your wood to length, and split it to the right size for your firebox. Smaller pieces burn cleaner because they have more surface area exposed to the flame.

Stack your wood in rows, not in rounded heaps. Allow airflow underneath by stacking your wood off the ground on poles or pallets. Leave about 6 inches between rows for air circulation. To keep the rain and snow off your wood, cover the top with a tarp or other material. Leave the sides exposed to the wind. If possible, stack your rows in a sunny location.

Remember, burn only well-seasoned wood. Never burn garbage treated or manufactured wood products (like cardboard), flyers, or plastics. They will cause wood-smoke production and often the emission of toxic chemicals.