How do I buy the right wood?

Buying firewood for your home isn't as easy as going to the hardware store and grabbing any old cord of wood. That’s because the wood you choose makes a big difference in how your fire burns. Make the right choice by keeping these things in mind:

  • Analyze your usage. Think back to the previous winter and estimate how many fires you had. Make sure to add a couple fires if last winter was mild or subtract a few if the winter was severe. Five or six logs should last you a couple of hours per fire, so plan from there.
  • Get your wood as early as possible. Smart shoppers buy their firewood earlier rather than later. This ensures the wood will be dry by the time it’s in their fireplace. If you wait, you could be stuck with moist wood. Increased demand can also mean you’ll pay more for it.
  • Buy seasoned wood. If you order your wood, be sure to specify seasoned wood. If you’re in a store, look for “seasoned” on the label. This wood has been dried and will burn efficiently with less steam than unseasoned, moist woods. Seasoned wood is darker and has cracks in the grain. If you bang it against another piece of wood, it should sound hollow. If you’re unsure if your wood is dry enough, you can purchase a moisture meter to test its content.
  • Favor hardwoods over softwoods. Both woods have a use in your fireplace but soft woods (firs and pines) should only be used as kindling. Hardwoods – such as oak, beech, ash and hickory – burn more efficiently and with less smoke than their softwood counterparts. This will give you longer lasting, more satisfying fires.

Next, learn how buying the right firewood affects your health and your chimney.

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