Your choice of wood will have an effect on how your wood burning appliance performs and how long a lifespan it will have. Also, the type of wood you choose will have an effect on the maintenance and service requirements for your fireplace, stove, or insert. Finally, the wood can influence the heat your appliance gives off and how efficient it is. So, for best performance and minimal maintenance, choose wood that’s well seasoned. As part of this process, wood should be cut, split and set aside to dry for at least a 6-month period. The ideal period is actually a whole year and, during this time, the wood should be away from damp conditions and harsh weather so it can season properly. Therefore, if you buy pre-seasoned wood, it’s essential that you have a secure, dry place where it can rest and season.
When you buy firewood or cut it yourself, it will generally contain a lot of moisture and will need to be left to dry out. When you’re not sure if you wood is ready to burn, you can test it with a moisture reader. This hand-held appliance will measure the moisture level in your wood. Any reading below 25% means your wood is ready to burn.
Also, it’s very important that you should never burn wood if it has been treated with chemicals as these can damage your wood burning appliance, harm the environment and even cause harm to your health. Examples are painted wood, wood that’s been pressure treated, driftwood, chip board, or wood with nails or screws still attached. You can burn both hardwood and softwood. Hardwood has the advantage of yielding a greater heat output and will burn for longer. For example, choose maple or oak, which are excellent.
The wood you choose will play a large part in the heat output you get and the efficiency of your wood burning appliance. Different woods have different characteristics, such as the way they smell and the crackle they give off. However, all wood yields the same energy levels and density is the main difference between different types of wood. Harder woods will yield more heat than softer woods. Therefore, you can expect to pay more for hardwoods such as hickory or oak than for soft woods such as pine.
The tables below show you the ideal types of wood for your wood burning appliance. Other important factors are how easy it is to split the wood, light it and burn it. Also, consider the amount of smoke it will give off. There’s a term called “coaling”, which is how easily the wood can form a bed of hot ash to fuel the fire. Hardwoods tend to be better for coaling, which means your fire will be hotter.