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If you own a wood-burning fireplace, making sure that you are using appropriate fuel is essential in maintaining both individual fires and overall fireplace health. It may seem that any type of wood should do the trick, but using properly seasoned firewood is highly beneficial for you and your fireplace in the long run. But what does “seasoned wood” really mean and why is this so important? Keep reading to educate yourself on this important aspect of burning firewood efficiently.


Moisture content

Freshly cut wood is not considered seasoned because it contains more moisture than wood that has been chopped for a long period of time. Since fire and water are well-known adversaries, it is obvious that the less water in a log, the better a fire is going to burn. Freshly cut wood will burn, but uses up a lot of energy in the process since the fire has to dry out the excess water before working through the log. Wood that has sat outside for six months to one year will burn much more efficiently as the sun and outdoor weather will have already removed almost all of the water before use.

Knowing how to identify freshly cut wood from well-seasoned wood is important both when storing your own logs and purchasing them from someone else. Follow these tips so you know what to look for in your fuel.

  • Length: How the wood is cut will influence the amount of moisture you end up with. Wood that is cut into shorter sections will dry up more quickly since the water needs to travel a shorter distance to eventually escape. Wood that is split is also more likely to burn efficiently, as more of the mass is exposed to the natural elements that will dry it out.
  • Weight and Sound: Dry wood weighs less than wood with higher moisture content, so testing out how heavy a piece is will indicate its freshness. The extra weight from the water will also make the wood sound different when banged together, as opposed to when it is dried out. Dry wood will sound hollow, since there is less water inside of it.
  • Color: Freshly cut wood looks fresher and lighter in color than wood that has been sitting out for some time. The darker a piece of wood is the better. This shows that it has sat out for some time and has been given ample opportunity to dry out. Colors vary by species, but it should be easy to tell which colors seem more “fresh” and which are darker and duller.

Although using unseasoned or fresh wood may seem more convenient in the present moment, it will cause more harm and stress in the long run. It could make your fires smokier and will cause more creosote and debris build-up in your chimney. You will then need more inspections and cleanings costing you more money throughout time. Educate yourself on proper fuel standards today and start enjoying your fireplace to its fullest.

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