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Buy The Best Firewood For Winter

The weather has gotten colder, and Winter is in full swing. Illinois residents are already turning up the heat and starting the fireplace to stay warm at home. We cannot stress enough the importance of scheduling your annual inspection and sweeping, but it’s also important to use the best firewood and know if it’s good firewood or not.

Hardwood or Softwood?

When buying wood for your fireplace, you’ll want to make sure you buy hardwood instead of softwood. Hardwoods are denser and there are more British Thermal Units(BTU) available per piece of wood, whereas Softwoods have more tannin in them, so they don’t burn as hot and they leave more residue in the chimney.

There are more hardwoods than softwoods, which make it easier to find the right firewood for the winter. For hardwood, look for oak, ash, cherry, walnut or maple logs for your fireplace, as far as softwood there are two types of wood including pine and cedar.

Using Seasoned Wood

Not only should you use hardwood in your fireplace this winter, but you should also use seasoned wood. Seasoned wood is wood that’s been cut or split and has dried for at least 6 months to a year. You don’t want the wood to be to dry or to wet, so the moisture content of seasoned wood should be roughly 15%. Just know there’s a sweet spot in the wood where the logs will burn properly.

You can tell if firewood is seasoned before you purchase it, and the most accurate way to determine if the wood is properly seasoned is to purchase a moisture meter from Amazon, a hardware or paint store.  They cost about $30, and they’re essential if you burn a lot of wood.

Once you have the moisture meter, you can have the firewood sales clerk cut a piece of the wood and then stick the moisture meter into the fresh-cut piece of wood and see how wet it is. You’ll know if the wood is good when it’s around the 15% moisture mark.

If you don’t have a moisture meter, don’t worry, you can look for some visual signs for seasoned wood. Some visual signs to keep an eye out for are a lot of checkmarks or cracks at the ends of the wood. Also, look for bark coming off of the wood, that’s a good indication of seasoned wood as well.

You can also listen for a distinct sound when picking your firewood as well. Tap two pieces of the wood together and listen for a hollow or a ringing tone. If you hear the hollow sound, that’s an indication the wood is seasoned and will make a good fire. You don’t want the wood to be wet or full of water, because you’ll hear more a thud when the two pieces of wood are tapped together or meet.

Don’t Burn These Items In Your Fireplace

We all know there are certain items you should avoid burning in your fireplace. We know a lot of people use their fireplace as an incinerator and that’s not really what it’s meant for. At Valley Chimney Sweep & Restoration, we want to help your family reduce fire risk and we recommend only burning seasoned wood in your fireplace, and not items like trash, plastics, colored papers, cardboards, Christmas gift wrap, and trees.

We’ve seen the temperatures drop significantly a few times this month, and if you haven’t gotten your chimney professionally inspected and cleaned by a CSIA certified chimney sweep, contact us today! At Valley Chimney, we’ll make sure your fireplace and chimney are safe to use this winter long and let you know whether or not there needs to be any repairs or cleaning to be done before you light the fireplace for the first time.

Also, don’t forget the three rules of thumb when purchasing firewood:

  1. Look for hardwood, don’t purchase softwood.
  2. Seasoned wood with a 15% moisture reading is best for a fire.
  3. Listen for the hollow sound or ringing tone when clacking two pieces of wood together.

Contact us today to schedule your chimney inspection and sweep if you haven’t already and purchase your firewood for that first winter fire!

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