We are in the midst of winter, and nothing feels better than sitting in front of a warm fireplace or stove. If you are one of the 10+ million who owns a wood stove or wood fireplace, you have a cozy spot – if you have the wood to build or continue the fire.
Depending on if you are just enjoying an occasional fire or are heating your whole house, you will need between 2 and 5 cords of wood this winter. That’s a lot of logs! These will need to be properly stored to make sure you can keep those flames going. We have some tips for keeping your wood in perfect shape.
Green vs. seasoned
“Green wood” is the wood that has been freshly cut. However, this is not the best stage of wood to be burned, as it creates a lot of creosote buildup and smoke. It also puts out minimal heat, burns for a shorter period of time, and can cause carbon monoxide buildup.
On the other hand, letting “green wood” age, often called curing or seasoning, can produce the best firewood. During these roughly 6 months, you are letting the wood dry out and “ripen” for the best fires. It is often called “seasoning for a season”, but where do you store it while it sits?
Location, location, location
The location to store your firewood is very important. Unfortunately the best spot for your firewood is far from your main residence. Other than a few logs, do not store your firewood indoors! Not only will you drag in pests, such as mice, spiders, termites, and ants, but it isn’t the best place to keep air circulation to help the curing process. Storing more than a day’s worth indoors is also a safety hazard, as errant sparks can light the extra wood on fire.
Also, do not stack your firewood against your house for similar reasons mentioned previously. Those pests who live in your firewood stack will see your house as a warmer spot to hunker down this winter and come indoors.
It’s all about the stack
Stacking your firewood properly is key to curing and keeping it dry. First, keep it off the ground. A few inches do wonders, and that could be as easy as stacking it on a shipping pallet. Make sure the cut ends are exposed because it is where most of the moisture is released. Also, avoid straight, vertical rows and instead overlap each row loosely.
You can do bark side facing up or facing down, but it depends on the conditions and location. If it is still green and you don’t need to cover with a tarp, you can put bark side down to help dry it out. Otherwise, put it bark facing up, which can help rain and snow roll off easier. Again, do not keep it against a building, as it needs air to circulate around the whole stack.
Keep it dry
As we mentioned a few times, “green wood” needs to cure by being kept dry and with good air circulation in order to release moisture. You can cover your wood with a tarp, but make sure it isn’t completely covered so the air can keep circulating. The best thing to do is to cover during bad weather and uncover in better conditions, but that is time consuming and isn’t always feasible. Building or buying a wood shed is the best choice, as it keeps it sheltered and dry with minimal work by you except the stacking.
If you follow these tips, you will have wonderfully warm fires to come all season. Grab a cup of coffee or tea and a soft blanket, and cozy up in front of the fireplace or stove with your seasoned firewood!
Need wood and supplies for your fireplace or stove? Contact AES Hearth and Patio if you live in Camp Hill, Carlisle & Central PA.