There is nothing quite like a warm fire on a cold evening in the home to make it perfectly cozy, however, having the right firewood is not always the easy task.
It is best to begin cutting firewood in the spring or early summer. This is going to allow your wood a good six to nine months to dry out perfectly. Cutting wood in the fall or winter will not provide the time it needs to dry.
Some cuts of wood such as oak or even larger cuts will require a year or longer to fully dry.
Correct Size Wood
When you are cutting and splitting wood ensure you it is the right size for your wood burner or fireplace. Again this is simply going to ensure that it is going to dry correctly and it is ready to use when you need it.
Outdoors One of the absolute best places to dry your fresh cut wood is outdoors. If you place it into your wood shed it is actually going to take twice as long to dry because there is simply not enough sunshine or air circulation.
It is important that wood is stacked in a single row off of the ground to allow the sun and air to draw out the extra moisture from the cut ends of the wood. The vast majority of wood contains up to 50% moisture when it is cut, it needs to be at least 20% before it will burn in an efficient manner. When wood is too wet it is simply going to produce a lot of smoke and very little heat if any.
While firewood can be left outdoors uncovered, it is best to have something sitting over it such as a roof. You do not want anything directly on top or directly on bottom of the firewood though, remember air and sun needs to circulate throughout the wood.
If your wood is in the open air it is going to dry at a much faster rate.
How To Know Your Wood Is Perfectly Dry
Your wood is going to be considerably lighter and will often have a bleached out look as well compared to that which has been freshly cut.
In many cases, the grain at the end of the wood will be cracked, but this may depend upon the type of wood you are using.
Dry wood is simply going to feel warm and dry as opposed to that which is usually damp and cold when freshly cut.
Sound A good test of dryness is to take two pieces of your dry wood and thump them together, if they sound hollow, they are good to burn. Wet wood makes more of a dull thud when thumped together.
Throwing a small piece of firewood into the coals is an excellent test of your wood. If it sizzles, it is still too wet. Dry wood will catch within a minute of being tossed in.
Hard Woods vs Soft Wood
If you are looking for wood that is long burning and that is going to warm your entire home, that is going to be hardwood. However, many people confuse this with the weight of the actual wood. Balsa is a very light wood and easy to handle, yet it is classified as a hardwood.
Hardwoods are those trees that produce seeds with a covering such as apples or acorns, and are deciduous. Hardwoods will typically take an extra season to fully dry out, around 18 months.
Softwoods are those trees that are evergreen and their seed do not have coverings, such as pines. These trees are used more often because they are typically easier to split and dry much quicker. However, they will burn at a much faster rate and typically you will need twice as much to get the same amount of heat from hardwoods.
It is best to use softwood as a base for your fire and slowly begin to pile some hardwood onto the top of the fire for a nice slow burning hot fire.