FAQs About Wood Burning
Wood stoves and wood-burning fireplaces are popular both for their heating abilities and their comforting attractiveness. Read these useful and important FAQs about wood burning and get the best performance from your fireplace.
- Q: What types of wood are best to use?
- A: A good wood supply contains both hardwoods, such as oak and maple, and softwoods, like fir and pine. Use softwoods when building a fire, as they ignite readily, burn quickly and provide a hot flame. For a long-lasting fire, add hardwoods after there are some good coals and the chimney is preheated. As a substitute for hardwoods, use larger pieces of softwoods that burn slower than the smaller pieces that are used to start the fire.
- Q: Is it necessary to season wood?
- A: Seasoning wood is essential, since this allows much of the moisture found in freshly-cut wood to evaporate, allowing it to burn easier and with much less smoke. Proper seasoning means reducing moisture to about 25 percent. Split the logs, and stack them loosely in a dry area for 6 to 18 months. Be sure to allow air to circulate around the logs while they are drying. Hardwoods take longer to season than softwoods, and high humidity or temperature adds to the drying time.
- Q: Is excessive wood smoke a bad sign?
- A: Wood smoke includes solid particulates and volatile gases. Both of these are actually unburned fuel, which means lost heating potential is going up the chimney. An improperly installed or operated wood stove or fireplace insert does not reach the high temperatures needed to effectively burn these particulates and gases. Excessive smoke also negatively affects air quality. Installing EPA-certified wood stoves and fireplace inserts and operating them properly decreases pollutants by up to 85 percent and increases heating efficiency.