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Common Firewood Terms

If you’re frustrated, we get it! Unfortunately, there’s a lot of different terms within the firewood industry.

Terms Related to Firewood Drying

It\’s more than just cutting the tree down to get the best firewood. The wood must first go through a drying process.

Here are some terms you might be familiar with related to that drying process:

  • Green Firewood
  • Seasoned Firewood

Green Firewood

“Green” means that the wood has been freshly cut. In other words, wood that needs dried before use..

Green wood contains a lot of moisture that produces smoke and not enough flame. Mold and moss in fresh-cut wood will also produce harmful emissions when burned. To increase its quality and performance, you must first dry the firewood.

 

Seasoned Firewood

Seasoned firewood is wood that has been air-dried for an extended period of time. It’s usually cut, split and dried out in the elements for six months to a year! This traditional process reduces the moisture in the wood to a low level so that the wood can burn more easily. Because of all the variables that come into play when seasoning wood, you may find some downsides. For example, mold, moss, pests and too much moisture can infiltrate the wood as it dries outside.

To burn efficiently, the wood’s moisture level needs to be at or below 20%.

Terms Related to Types of Firewood

Did you know that some types of wood burn better than others? One type of wood might also work better in your fireplace than your fire pit.

Let’s take a look at three firewood terms that are important for determining the best type of wood for you!

Hardwood

Softwood

Manufactured Wood

Hardwood

Hardwood comes from trees that lose their leaves in the autumn. Because these trees are very slow-growing, the wood is very dense. The density of hardwoods will give you a fire that lasts longer. However, this also makes the wood take longer to dry out in the elements.

Hardwoods are great for heating your house and fueling your stove. If you’re looking for a long, lingering fire for your fireplace, you’ll want to pick a hardwood.

Some of the most common hardwoods used for fires include oak, birch and hickory.

Softwood

Softwood comes from evergreen trees, which don’t lose their leaves. Some common softwoods are cedar, pines and spruces. These trees grow a lot quicker, making them less dense than hardwoods. They are also very light and dry out a lot faster than hardwoods.

Because of their lower density, softwoods ignite easier than hardwoods but also tend to emit more smoke and fizzle out quickly. Softwood is great to start a fire, but you’ll want to combine it with hardwood to keep the fire going. You’ll also want to avoid using it indoors because it can be smoky and messy to use.

Hardwoods are better overall for any fire.

Manufactured Wood

Manufactured wood is kiln-dried wood chips or sawdust that has been compressed into logs, bricks or pellets. This type of wood usually consists of recycled wood, making it sustainable.

People often use brick or pellet-sized manufactured wood as an alternative for cooking logs. The small pellets work well for cooking or smoking in pellet stoves or grills. The wood sometimes comes in various flavors so you can have different tastes in meats and vegetables.

Firewood to Avoid

To get the best fires, you need the best firewood. You won’t want to just toss in any log you see lying around. The results can be undesirable if you do!

Be sure to steer clear of these types of wood:

Green Wood

Treated or Painted Wood

Non-local wood

Why Avoid Green Wood?

Like we mentioned before, green wood has way too much moisture. All the fire’s energy is focused on evaporating the water in the wood. Because of this, it will produce a lot of smoke and burn inefficiently.

Why Avoid Treated or Painted Wood?

Using treated or painted wood can release toxic chemicals into the air that are harmful to your health. Therefore, if the wood has paint or stain on it or contains any dyes, you should never burn it.

Why Avoid Non-Local Wood?

It’s best practice to always get your wood locally. If the wood comes from a far-off location, then it’s best to leave it there.

Using non-local wood is the number one way to introduce insects or diseases to a new environment. One infected log can put an entire forest at risk!