Category Archives: Firewood

18 Need-to-Know Facts about storing firewood

firewood

There’s a lot to know in how to purchase, season and store firewood, not only to keep you safe but to save money. This is the third post in a series of three that will explain how to purchase, season and store your firewood.

1) Cut firewood to the proper size logs you will be using. A typical length of wood for most fireplaces and stoves is 16″.

2) Cut firewood at least 3″ shorter than the firebox width. It is better to have wood too short than too long.

3) Always split the wood before storing it to reduce the time to season the wood.

4) Split firewood in various sizes for a variety of uses–as kindling to start a fire or larger in diameter for maintaining the fire. Cut wood in a range between 3″ to 6″ in diameter.

5) If possible, split the wood into triangles. The wood stacks better and won’t roll off like they would with round logs.

6) Stack firewood away from the house to reduce the chance of insects, mice, rats and other critters from your home. Ideally, the wood stack should be at least thirty feet away from your home.

7) Do not expose firewood to the rain or snow or it will “re-hydrate” and will no longer be seasoned. When there’s the threat of rain or snow, cover the wood with a large tarp or plastic sheets or old steel roofing.

8) Firewood will not season if it is continuously and completely covered all the time. Adequate airflow is critical to allow wood to season. Wind and sun will help to season the wood. Put the wood stack in an area with the most amount of exposure to the wind and sun.

9) When the moisture leaves the wood, the firewood may shrink as much as 6%-8%.

10) Do not stack firewood taller than four feet high or the stack will become unstable. In addition, stacking wood exactly four feet high makes it easier to determine how many cords you have.

11) Stack firewood with the bark side up. In case of rain, the bark will help to drain off the water from the wood.

12) Arrange firewood so it is neatly stacked, parallel and aligned.

13) Do not stack firewood directly on the ground because the wood will absorb moisture from the ground covering, will create rot and/or mold, and will decrease airflow. Instead, raise the wood off the ground, as on pallets or railroad ties.

14) Place your wood stacks on relatively level ground if possible to reduce the chances of collapse. Support each side of the wood stack to avoid accidents from falling wood. If you don’t use a wood rack, you can support one side of the stack with a tree on one side and posts on the other side.

Tinder kindling firewood
Photo credit: outsidedads.com

15) Wood can be divided into three sizes for wood burning: Tinder (about the size of a pencil lead), kindling (no thicker than your thumb), and fuel, about as thick as your wrist. Stack your woodpile into all three of these sizes.

16) Tinder consists of the dead twigs from the lower branches of trees and shrubs. It should snap off easily when bent and should be no shorter than your outstretched hand and enough to fill a circle made with your hands for one night’s fire.

17) Look for kindling from branches that are dead or down. Kindling should be about as long as from your elbow to your fingertips fire and you should have enough for a generous armload for one-night’s fire.

18) Fuel should be about as long as your arm and you should have a stack about as high as your knee for one night’s fire.


BONUS TIP: A little-known but efficient way to burn a fire is called an “Upside Down Burn.” This may take a little more time to set up but will give you a longer burning and cleaner burning fire. This method places larger pieces at the bottom and smaller wood pieces on top, placing just kindling at the very top. Each layer of wood is smaller than the layer below it. An added benefit is that this fire burning method will also create less creosote buildup in your chimney. [Video credit to the Chimney Safety Institute of America]

14 Need-to-Know Facts about Seasoning Firewood

Firewood that has been seasonedHere are some interesting facts that will help you season your firewood for your fireplace or stove.  Seasoning your wood is critical not only for safer fires, but to reduce creosote buildup in your fireplace or stove flue pipe and to reduce pollutants into the atmosphere.  This is the second post in a series of three that will explain how to purchase, season and store your firewood.

1) Only burn seasoned firewood. Wood should be aged at least six to twelve months and sometimes longer, depending on the density of the wood, species of wood, and climate.  Soft woods only need six months whereas hard woods can sometimes take up to two years.

2) The moisture content of wood should be between 15%-20%, never to exceed 25%. Homeowners can purchase moisture meters from most hardware stores.

3) Freshly-cut wood has a moisture content of about 50%.

4) Seasoned wood will create a clear hollow sound when knocking two pieces of wood together. Non-seasoned wood will create more of a dull thud sound.

5) Moisture in the wood is held in by the bark. Removing the bark before seasoning the wood will reduce the time to age it.

6) Aged wood will be lighter in weight than regular wood because there’s less moisture.

7) Seasoned firewood will change colors. Instead of a lighter color in new wood, the seasoned firewood will appear gray or dark brown.

8) You will notice the center of the wood will crack as it ages.

9) When burning wood that hasn’t been aged long enough, not as much heat will be produced because of the loss of heat due to evaporation of moisture.

10) Don’t trust a wood supplier to be honest with how long the firewood has been aged. Firewood that hasn’t been split and/or has been just thrown into a large woodpile will not be seasoned properly.

11) Experienced wood burners will purchase firewood at least six months ahead of the season to guarantee that the wood has been aged long enough. It’s always best to buy your wood in the off-season when it will be cheaper and firewood is more plentiful.

12) Burning firewood that isn’t aged long enough will be harder to start, will create a smokier fire, will produce less heat and will create a faster build-up of creosote in the chimney flue.

13) Anytime you burn wood, creosote is created.  We chimney sweeps divide creosote buildup into three categories–Stage 1, Stage 2 and Stage 3.  Stage 1 and Stage 2 creosotes are easily removable with a normal chimney sweeping whereas Stage 3 is far more difficult to remove. Stage 3 creosote is also known as “Glazed Creosote” because of its shiny appearance and it is highly flammable and more likely to cause a chimney fire.  Glazed creosote is much more expensive to get rid of from your chimney flue lining due to the difficulty of removal.  The chances of creating Stage 3 creosote is much higher when burning unseasoned wood.

14) Seasoned wood produces less smoke and increases efficiency; therefore less pollutants into the atmosphere.


Have your chimney inspected on an annual basis and sweep if needed before using your fireplace. The best way to find a qualified chimney sweep is to go through the Chimney Safety Institute of America.

10 Need-to-Know Facts About Purchasing Firewood

Split firewoodHere are some interesting facts that will help you purchase firewood for your fireplace or stove. If you do it right, you will save money while keeping your family safe and toasty.  This is the first post in a series of three that will explain how to properly purchase, season, and store firewood.

1)  When you buy firewood at a gas station, supermarket, hardware store or big box store, you have no idea how long it’s been aged, if at all. These convenient bundles may be fine for a campfire or beach bonfire but not for your fireplace or stove. Plan ahead.

2)  Buying firewood by the bundle is the most expensive way to purchase fuel for your fireplace.

3)  The price for firewood varies dramatically from wood supplier to wood supplier and from region to region so shop around.

4) Common woods vary from region to region. As an example, here in Southern California, the most common woods are avocado, eucalyptus, pine and oak. Eucalyptus and avocado have a lot of oil in the wood so they create more creosote buildup in your fireplace or stove flue pipe. Pine, because it’s a soft wood, is great to start a fire. Once a fire is established, throw on the oak, a hard, dense wood that will give you a long-lasting, hot, clean-burning fire. Avocado, eucalyptus and pine will be less costly than oak but oak will give you a longer lasting, cleaner fire.

5) Pinyon pine, another type of wood found in the Southwest United States, as well as wood from fruit trees are also good quality firewood found here in Southern California.

6) Some chimney professionals will tell you to never burn eucalyptus or avocado woods. Both avocado and eucalyptus, because of the high oil content, can produce more creosote buildup than other woods, even if the woods are aged long enough. This creosote buildup makes it even more critical to have your chimney inspected on an annual basis as specified by the National Fire Protection Guidelines.

7) Use a reputable wood supplier. Not only will they be more honest about how long the wood has been aged but also more honest about the quantity of the firewood you purchased. If you suspect that you have been shorted by your local wood supplier, contact your weights and measures office before you use the wood.

8) Never buy or burn firewood that has been treated with stain or paint. This includes construction scraps which is treated wood. The chemicals can be toxic when burned.

9) To save money, buy unseasoned wood. An added benefit is that you’ll know for sure how long the firewood has been aged since you’ll be aging the wood yourself.

10) Buy firewood from local sources! Bringing wood from one region to another increases chances of transporting insects from their origin. Invasive species of insects can devastate the local forests where there are no natural predators or defenses to stop them. In some states, regulations and quarantines have been instituted to restrict the movement of firewood.


Be sure to have your chimney inspected before using your fireplace. It is critical to have your chimney inspected on an annual basis as specified by the National Fire Protection Guidelines which say, “Chimneys should be inspected on an annual basis and swept if necessary.” To find a qualified CSIA Certified Chimney Sweep, make sure to go through the Chimney Safety Institute of America.