If you are burning firewood, this comes in many forms, logs, which should be seasoned wood, or better yet seasoned hard wood, kiln dried wood or kiln dried hardwood. The emphasis here is on dryness. If you burn wet or freshly cut green wood, the moisture content will be very high. This water will rob a great amount of heat from your wood as it burns, to an extent that you may find unbelievable.
How to Check the ‘Wetness’ of Wood
It’s easy to check just how wet it is and what that signifies. Take a clean log from outside, and weigh it, and then place it near to the fire to dry. Do this intelligently, please. Firewood left too near the fire can actually ignite, and should it do so, that could be disastrous. Weigh it again in a week, and keep doing that until it stops losing weight. Get a saucepan and weigh out the same amount as the log has lost. Then put that onto the stove, at full heat and see how long it takes the water to boil away. Boil AWAY, not just boil. That will give you an idea of just how much heat energy you are wasting by burning damp wood. Plus, if that moisture starts to condense out in chimney liners, it can cause the liners to corrode.
Seasoning is just the time period that the wood needs to dry from green to an acceptable level of moisture. Dry green wood is better to burn than wet wood no matter how seasoned it may be. Soft woods give off less heat per log, than will seasoned hard woods, although seasoned hard woods will cost more. Kiln drying is a step up the ladder.
This is seasoned wood that has been baked in an oven to strip out ALL the moisture, and it is incredibly dry. So dry, that if you leave the bag open, it will start to absorb water from the air, and eventually go back to ‘just’ being well seasoned, so it pays to keep the bag it comes in shut when you have got wood out for the fire. Kiln dried wood comes in a bag in a box, and it is very densely packed, so for people with no space for a woodshed, it is ideal. I have a customer that buys three boxes, stacks them in the living room with a piece of plywood on the top and a tablecloth over that, and uses it as a table. Kiln dried hard wood gives off a LOT of heat per log, so you don’t burn nearly as much.
So to recap.
- Burn only suitable fuels
- House coal, smokeless coal and wood are all good fuels.
- Wood should be seasoned or kiln dried.
- Don’t burn wet wood, it wastes money and can damage liners.
- Get your chimney swept by a certified chimney sweep.
- Keep the certificate he gives you in a safe place.
- Ask him if you have queries. More than anyone else, he wants you to be happy with your fire.