For wood-burning fireplace and stove owners, prepping your firewood is an obvious necessity. Whether it’s your first time stacking a woodpile or you just want a refresher course on some key considerations, we’ve got a number of helpful tips on the best way to stockpile your winter wood.
Cutting wood from a fallen tree?
If you’re starting your wood pile right from the source – a fallen tree – there are a few things to keep in mind when doing the initial cutting. First, the timing: cut your firewood at least six months ahead of when you plan on burning it. Freshly cut wood can have up to 100% moisture, which means around half of its weight is water – the ideal moisture content for firewood is around 20%. You’ll know it’s correctly seasoned when the wood turns grey, and you can spot hairline cracks along the edges. Seasoned wood will also weigh less and make a higher-pitched sound when knocked together. Unseasoned wood will make a low “thud” when banged together.
Secondly, try and make your cuts on the ends of the logs as flat and square as possible so that they can stand sturdily when it comes to splitting them.
For further tips on how to split the logs once cut, take a look at the expert advice blog from Spike Milton here .
Get more burn for your buck by selecting the right kind of wood for your fire. Soft woods, such as pine, fir, and spruce will burn quickly and you might find yourself needing to replenish your stock more often. Hard woods such as oak, eucalyptus, beech and birch will burn much longer.
Stacking & storing
Once cut, try to stack your wood loosely enough that air can blow through to allow for the maximum drying effect. Remember though, wood pieces will shrink and shift as they dry throughout the year, so make sure that all pieces are well-secured within the pile and can allow for some minor shifting.
If stacking wood outdoors, choose an area that has proper drainage so that water does not pool around the woodpile, and out of direct rainfall if possible. To further help prevent rotting, try placing a base of treated two-by-fours under your pile to elevate it off the ground.
Wood burning safety
We all love a cosy fire, but burning firewood can create many by-products, including smoke, water vapour, various gases, hydrocarbons and tar. Over time, some of these dangerous materials can accumulate in your fireplace, increasing risks of chimney fires and carbon monoxide poisoning.
So, always keep your fireplace chimney well ventilated and have it cleaned at least once annually to minimise the dangers.