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Why You Should Season Wood

During the burning of wood two main by-products are formed, Carbon Dioxide and water (seen as steam). Of the two it is the water that is avoidable, through the drying of wood properly within a log store or buying pre-dried wood. No fire burns wet wood properly and the result is a decrease in efficiency of your fire’s output.

The loss of energy is often given as the total heat needed to boil and burn the water out of the wood. A load of wet wood may contain nearly a full bucket of water, which must be first boiled off from the wood before your fire can be 100% efficient.

This energy and heat used to boil out all the water from the wet wood is easily seen as the amount of heat lost from your burning fire. A precise number for the loss in productivity of your wood is incalculable, it is however, very noticeable.

Compared to wood, water is a far greater conductor of heat, and putting saturated logs on to your fire has the effect of instantly smothering the space and flame of the fire beneath. If you continue doing this, you end up with a fire that extinguishes itself under its own steam.

As the wood tries to burn it wastes more and more heat. As the outer layer of the wood burns and falls away it will present a new layer which will need all of its water to be boiled and burned from the wood. Like an onion, these many layers must be burned through before the wood is finished.

All these things combine to dramatically reduce the levels of heat that your fire emits. Due to the saturated wood continually cooling the fire it will never reach its optimum temperature.

This wasted energy will escape the fire as smoke, a visible proof that the fire is wasting energy. Keeping your wood well stacked within a log store will cut down on all these problems caused by sodden wood.

Regardless of what quantity and quality of wood you are burning it should be properly dried. Drying wood in your own log store will mean that you know your wood will be burning at its most productive rate giving you the desired effect.

Buying Logs for Firewood

As mentioned above, when burning firewood you should make sure that it is dry. As well as smoke pollution problems, damp logs can also cause a build up of flammable materials in your chimney or flue causing inefficiency and fire hazards. It will also make your indoor living area damp and smelly.

When ordering your wood it is a good idea to check with your supplier on the moisture content of the wood. Unseasoned/green wood is usually cheaper but will need to be kept in a log store for up to a year or more before it is ready to be used.

An ideal percentage in terms of moisture content is less than 20% - ideally 10 to 12 %. As well as talking with your supplier, another way of being sure of the burn quality of your wood supply is through using a Moisture Meter yourself to check the levels.

What type of wood can I burn?

Although people hold varying opinions of what is the best wood to burn, in general, when wood is seasoned, the end result is a successful fire.

Hardwoods are always the best when it comes to burning. They would be the first choice and purchasing in larger quantities to fill your log store will mean saving money in the long run.

Softwoods can give off smells and excessive fumes, they can spit as the resins ignite, and do not always dry as well.

See our 'Wood Burning Guide' for a guide to the best wood to burn.

What quantity of logs should I buy?

A big problem with the purchasing of fire wood is quantity because no log is cut the same, as well as how damp the wood is, and the general varying size. Knowing how much wood to order is sometimes difficult to imagine.

Stacked firewood is measured in volume, usually in cubic metres. Wood in Great Britain however is often bought in a ‘load’ or 'dumpy' builders bag. For this it is best to know the cubic capacity of your log store.

Firewood is rarely if ever sold by weight; it is too varying and depends on too many differing factors. How much firewood you want to fill your log store is an important factor and something that should be determined before purchasing.

Buying a ‘load of logs’ or a 'dumpy bag' is popular way of purchasing firewood. However, when any loose logs are stacked, they can often seems far less than you had originally thought. Trial and error would be your best guide.

Bulk Buying of Logs

Bulk Bags or Dumpy Bags are an often used method of delivering firewood, it has the advantages of being both easy for the deliverer and the customer when it comes to unloading, as well as being a visual idea of how much wood you have ordered.

A builder’s dumpy bag will not necessarily contain exactly a volumetric tonne as often described. The logs are loose within the bag, so you may not receive the entire bag filled but it is generally accepted as a tonne by volume.

The best way to find a supplier is usually through word of mouth. Asking around will often highlight suppliers that you did not know where even there. Finding a good supplier of quality firewood and in the amounts you require is a must.

From some suppliers you can stipulate the length of log you require. If not, you may also need an axe or hatchet for splitting down your logs to make them more manageable for your woodburner.

Storing your Logs

Finally, and most importantly, upon finding a good supplier and ordering your firewood, make sure you invest in a quality, strongly built log store in which to keep them.

Storing your wood merely outside or in a bag will result in damp wood and a waste of money. A properly ventilated log store in a convenient setting for you to use, will dry your logs and keep them well protected.

Of course, a Dorset Log Store is perfect for this!

For a printable pdf version of this information click Buying & Seasoning Wood

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