Did you know that the manner in which you burn firewood can impact your health and that of others closest to you? Burning damp, dirty and unseasoned wood in a poorly-maintained wood-burning fireplace or stove will most likely cause air pollution, which can lead to adverse health impacts, more costs and more worry.
To ensure that burning wood will be a safe, energy- and cost-efficient way of keeping warm, you need to burn wood more efficiently. The following are 10 tips on how to do just that:
1. Choose your wood carefully
The most ideal choice of firewood to use will depend on the weather. In mild weather, it’s best to use softer woods such as willow, poplar, pine and spruce. In cold weather, go for harder woods such as maple or oak. You should avoid wood that’s treated, pressure-treated or coated. Also, avoid wood that has glue, plastic foam or wrapping paper on or in it.
2. Strictly burn dry wood only
Wood will burn best when it has less than 20% moisture content. It’s therefore important to ensure that your wood is dry enough before burning it. Be sure to store your firewood off the ground and keep it always covered to prevent moisture.
3. Season wood for at least 6 months
Freshly cut wood will not burn efficiently as wood that is completely dry. You should, therefore, ensure that your firewood is seasoned for at least 6 months before using. The longer the wood is left out to dry, the better.
4. Burn wood in cycles
Firewood also burns best in cycles. So, instead of adding a log every hour, it’s best to add at least three pieces or more each time you load. This will ensure that the heat from one burning log will ignite the other logs and sustain their flames for much longer.
5. Burn hot, bright fires
If the logs don’t produce flames, half of the wood will be wasted as smoke. You can try to build hot, bright frames by splitting your wood into fine pieces. You can also achieve hot, bright frames by loading 3 or more pieces of wood each time you load.
6. Rake your coal bed before loading
You want the live coals that remain from the previous load to ignite the next. To help ignite the next load faster, you should rake the live coals first to make them burn hot. Once the live coals become red-hot, you can place dry logs on the load directly so that they can be ignited.
7. Consider using EPA-certified appliances
There are different appliances that you can use to burn firewood, which include forced air furnaces, wood-burning fireplaces, wood pellet stoves, masonry heaters, hydronic heaters and fireplace inserts. When buying an appliance, it’s best to verify that it is EPA-certified to ensure that it meets voluntary (qualified) or regulatory (certified) EPA emission standards. Appliances that are EPA-certified burn wood more efficiently and cleanly than non-certified ones.
Deciding to heat your home with fireplace wood is a great, inexpensive and eco-friendly option. Besides being readily available, wood is a renewable fuel. No wonder many people choose to make the most out of their fireplaces and stoves during the winter months. If you want to burn fireplace wood more efficiently, be sure to follow the hints suggested above and you and your loved ones will get through winter comfortably and safely.