Nothing much comes close to having a real fire or wood burning stove in your home. The crackle of burning logs, the immediacy of an open fire, the cosy warmth that a central heating system just can’t replicate… no wonder many people fall in love with the beauty of log fires.
If you are a recent convert, or have inherited a stove or fireplace in a new home, here are a few basic firewood tips to get you going:
Wood has a high moisture content, the exact percentage depending on the type of tree it comes from (e.g. beech has 90%, ash has 50%). Logs must be seasoned to 20-25% moisture before they are ready to burn. As a general rule of thumb, the drier the logs, the hotter they will burn and for longer.
Fresh (also called wet or green) wood should be split into logs and stored for at least 6 months (ideally 2 years) to season properly until the moisture has reduced sufficiently.
If your logs hiss, bubble and steam when they are on the fire, it means the wood is too wet. Green wood burns slowly and weakly – make sure you season it for longer before burning. Well-seasoned firewood usually has cracks or splits; it gives a distinctive ‘thwack’ sound when you knock two pieces together.
Hardwood is dense, which means it burns with a radiant heat that lasts a long time. This is usually the best firewood to use.
Softwoods (such as pine, cedar or larch) have more resin and are less dense, making them more prone to spitting. When seasoned, softwood burns very quickly and is excellent for use as kindling.
However, it burns out very quickly too, so is not recommended for longer burn times.
Here are our recommendations for the top 10 trees you should consider as firewood for your open fire or woodburner:
1. Ash: Thought by many to be one of the best hardwoods for burning, ash has a steady flame and gives plenty of heat.
2. Oak: A very good hardwood that needs to season for at least 2 years, oak is very dense and burns hot and slow. It does produce a lot of ash.
3. Beech: Another excellent firewood, similar to ash, beech burns hot though may spit out embers unless seasoned well. Hornbeam is similar.
4. Hawthorn: This traditional hardwood produces logs that have a high, slow heat output.
5. Birch: A hardwood that produces good heat and has a nice smell, birch burns quickly, so is best mixed with slower burning wood such as oak.
6. Rowan: A very good burning hardwood that has a good heat output and gives a slow burn.
7. Apple: Another excellent hardwood that burns slow and steady with a small flame and a beautiful smell. Other fruit trees (pear, plum, cherry) are similar.
8. Pine: A pleasant smelling softwood that flames well and burns quickly, pine is excellent for kindling. Needs to be seasoned well.
9. Cedar: A consistent, long-burning softwood that burns with a small flame, cedar has a good heat output and a beautiful smell, though it does spit a little.
10. Larch: One of the best quick-burning softwoods, larch gives a good heat and has a nice smell. May have a tendency to spit.
Article provided by Mike James, an independent content writer in the property industry – working together with a selection of companies including Sussex-based Balcombe Estate Sawmill, who were consulted over the information in this post.