Fire wood needs to be seasoned before use - this does not mean just leaving the wood in a pile for a year.
If you want to have control over your fire wood supply, it is a good idea to contact your supplier in spring, and buy the wood for the following winter at this point.
You should ask how long the wood has been left, and under what circumstances.
If you have enough room, the cut and split wood can be seasoned outside. Then, once seasoned, placed inside a wood shed in autumn for use.
Your supplier might send you the firewood cut and split, or you might do this yourself. If they do supply firewood cut and split, ask them to do this in the following way :
Cutting the wood
Cut your firewood to around 3 inches shorter than your firebox door / fireplace grate size. This will enable you to feed the wood into the stove / fireplace with ease. You will not be jamming bits that are too big into your stove or fireplace - risking damage.
Splitting the firewood
Split the wood to proper size. It is handy to have a selection of different sizes enabling you to put gradually bigger logs on the fire when you first light it.
You would therefore need some 3 inch diameter logs, some 4 inch & mostly 6 inch diameter.
Why season your wood?
Water content - unseasoned firewood will have a high water content - sometimes 65-70% We all like to have high efficiency and low emissions from our wood. Whether we get this partly depends on whether the wood has got the right moisture content.
Poor performance from your stove or fireplace relating to firewood with too high water content can give some of the following symptoms:
1. You might find you have excessive fuel consumption & short burn time for your wood.
2. You could get the smell of smoke in your house.
3. There could be blue-grey smoke coming out of your chimney.
4. You could find you have got problems getting your fire going & keeping it burning.
5. Low heat output and/or a smoky fire with little flame.
6.Dirty glass on the stove door.
7.Creosote/tar building up very fast in your chimney.
All these symptom are both irritating and wasteful and some can be dangerous - they can be eliminated by burning seasoned fire wood.
Please be aware that your problems could also have other courses, so you might want to discuss with a specialist.
Preventing mould growth - by seasoning the firewood & drying it out you will get less mould growing on the firewood. Keep the firewood off the ground for the same reason.
Mould can be an irritant to some people with respiratory problems. Mould will not help your firewood performance in any way.
Why cut the wood before seasoning?
If you do not cut the wood the bark will help keep the water inside the wood.
As you want the sun and the wind to get to the firewood in order to dry it out, you will get a much bigger surface area by splitting the wood.
This will enable the drying process to be speeded up.
It is always a good idea to keep the wood off the ground, not only to aid the drying process but also to prevent mould growing on the fire wood.
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