The trouble with buying SEASONED firewood

firewood_top

……is that the firewood supplier is likely to tell you it’s well-seasoned when it really isn’t. But you’re standing there shivering in the snow, eye to eye with that load of wood, and you know better. “Why that’s been standing dead for two years!” he might exclaim. Or, “I felled those trees two years ago,, and just cut them up and split them for you this morning. They’re plenty seasoned, little lady.” The truth of the matter is that standing-dead, storm-downed and felled trees don’t season at the same rate as wood that’s been split and stacked or piled where the sun and air get to it.

With a bit of practice you can learn to recognize seasoned wood when you see it. One telltale sign is that the bark has loosened its hold, or has already been knocked off with handling. Also, the log ends have darkened, dried out and started to “check” (crack), not to be confused with the deeper split marks from an axe.

A well seasoned firelog will be lighter in weight than a partially-seasoned or “green” piece of the same size and species. When it really is well seasoned, expect to pay more. Cutting trees down, transporting handing and working up wood is a risky, labor-intensive pursuit; any do-it-yourself woodbumer will testify to that. The more times a supplier has to handle it and the longer he ties up space storing it, the more he’ll charge. And rightly so.

Last year in the early fall, my son-in-law Tommy pulled in my farm lane with a big pick- up load of firewood from land he’d cleared of hardwood trees a year or more earlier. He dumped it in a pile by the shed, at which point my son Joel took over. He split the larger pieces and stacked it all under one of the open ends of my woodshed.

One year later, Tommy’s wood was well-seasoned and perfect for burning, ready to produce good, efficient and non-creosote-producing heat–if I managed my fires properly. (Even seasoned wood generates some creosote in a fire starved for air.)

This fall my son Tim and wife Jane, as one of their chores for the family’s annual “work day at Mom’s,” gathered a pick-up load of storm-downed limbs from the side of my lane. They worked it up with chainsaw and splitting maul, then stacked it in the woodshed to start the seasoning process

Seasoned wood is easy to recognize: The ends have darkened and started to crack, the bark has loosened or fallen away. It's lighter in weight than an unseasoned piece of the same species. You can still make out the raised mark of the chainsaw on the cut ends of "green" firewood.

Seasoned wood is easy to recognize: The ends have darkened and started to crack, the bark has loosened or fallen away. It’s lighter in weight than an unseasoned piece of the same species. You can still make out the raised mark of the chainsaw on the cut ends of “green” firewood.

 

Tim promised to bring me another truck full soon. The seasoned load he delivered a month or so later was from his own holz hausen, a traditional German firewood-curing stack he and Jane had built only six months earlier. These well-engineered round woodpiles, which speed the seasoning process, are not all that hard to construct and can hold several cords of wood. (Your local chimney sweep may have the directions for this.)

Last winter I was close to running out of seasoned wood and ordered some through a local classified ad. After quizzing him as to what his fire-wood “looked like,” I told the man to come on. He brought me a good mix of well-seasoned hardwoods and softwoods. But you can’t count on that! So get to know some of your local sellers. See what type of operation they run, then order your firewood in the spring or summer, at least a year ahead of when you intend to burn it.

Around here it’s more often sold by the truckload than by the cord. If the seller describes it as “a face cord” (as much as a well-loaded 3/4-ton pick-up truck can carry), it should measure 4 feet high, 18 inches (or firewood length) deep and 8 feet long, tightly stacked. A full cord measures 4x4x8 feet, or 128 cubic feet.

You’ll find a variety of prices with any serious professional cordwood supplier, depending on type (softwoods, hard- woods, in-betweens), quantity ordered, time of year, split or unsplit, dumped or stacked… and combinations thereof. Prices will vary tremendously from area to area.

You say you’re in a bind now, and it’s winter? Seek out the species that require less seasoning, such as Hickory, Osage Orange, Douglas Fir, and most Ash. And better planning next time!–Jay Hensley

Firewood can be stacked on the open to season. It will take at least six months. A year is better, although some species require far less time than others. Criss-cross ends of stack to help the air get to it. Splitting the logs will hasten seasoning. Rain won't hurt green wood, in fact getting wet, dry, wet, dry speeds the curing process. And rained\on seasoned wood will dry out again fir for burning within a few days.

Firewood can be stacked on the open to season. It will take at least six months. A year is better, although some species require far less time than others. Criss-cross ends of stack to help the air get to it. Splitting the logs will hasten seasoning. Rain won’t hurt green wood, in fact getting wet, dry, wet, dry speeds the curing process. And rained on seasoned wood will dry out again fir for burning within a few days.

Reprinted with permission, from the November 1998 issue of SNEWS, The Chimney Sweep News, and independent trade magazine of chimney service professionals. Jay Hensley, editor/publisher

  • Passing the Hat

    From


    Karen and Carl Newton

    To


    Sarah and Will Gilfillan

    Owning and operating Chimney Keepers for 27 years has been a very rewarding experience, and we have enjoyed the relationships we have built with our customers. We are now starting a new chapter and are selling the business to one of our Technicians. Though we will miss the many relationships and friendships we have built over the years, Karen and I are looking forward to traveling full time in our Airstream as we explore the nooks and crannies of North America.

    We would like to take this opportunity to introduce you to Will and Sarah Gilfillan, who will be taking over Chimney Keepers as of March 30, 2020. Rest assured, Will has been well trained (by Carl!) and is very competent, with nearly four years of experience in the gas log/fireplace/ chimney service industry and over ten years as a firefighter. Sarah, the Office Manager/wife is a fast learner, and will do wonders in assisting you with scheduling appointments and answering questions. It was important to us to find a good fit for our customers, and we feel confident that you will find Will and Sarah to be knowledgeable and a pleasure to work with.

    Thank you for your business over the years. It was my distinct pleasure to have been of service to you, and I wish you continued success and prosperity in the years to come.

    Sincerely, Karen and Carl Newton

  • Is Your Wood-burning or Gas-burning Fireplaces ready for Winter?

    Is your Fireplace or Gas Log unit ready to go? If not, or for a service, give us a call.

    During a power outage, a fireplace or gas log unit may be your only form of heat, so make sure they are working in top form. Give us a call to set up an appointment, 919-772-8110.

    PS: If you do NOT have a Carbon Monoxide detector and you have gas logs, GET ONE… NOW… We recommend the combination CO/Smoke, battery-powered, detectors found at Lowe’s, Home Depot, or most hardware stores.

    If yours are over 10 years old, replace them (there’s a date on back). If there is not a date of manufacture on the back, GET rid of it.

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