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Your Firewood Fundamentals: What’s the Best Wood for Burning?

Few things give us more tranquil comfort than a crackling fire at home in Joliet, Shorewood, Plainfield or Lemont (IL). Many of us can imagine how we have felt when sitting by the fire with family and friends. Perhaps we’ve even watched and listened to it during a calming moment of solitude. It is truly one of life’s great simple pleasures.

The key to the perfect fire is having the right firewood. We’ll make you familiar with:

good and bad choices of firewood

how firewood is packaged and purchased

how to store firewood

tips for firewood safety

What’s the Best Firewood?

Firewood comes in two main types: hardwood and softwood. The distinction between the two generally isn’t due to hardwood being hard and durable and softwood being soft and pliable. Rather, the difference lies in their reproduction and physical structure.

Hardwoods are typically denser than softwood, meaning they burn longer (more slowly) and hotter. They are also less sticky than softwood and so less likely to produce adhesive residue.

Lighter and less dense than hardwood, softwood catches fire more easily. However, it burns fast while creating a lot of heat and also doesn’t burn to coals. It usually emits more smoke as well. Softwood’s properties make it most useful as kindling for starting a fire with hardwood.

Tim Wallace Landscape Supply carries four superb choices of firewood selected for their optimal burning qualities:

Mixed Hardwood Our most popular and economical variety, mixed hardwood is great for indoor fireplaces, outdoor fire pits and campfires.

Cherry This firewood provides a pleasing fragrance and a decorative blue flame when burning. Its beauty and scent make it ideal for indoor burning and even cooking.

Hickory The go-to wood for many smoke-cooking enthusiasts, our hickory burns hot and adds a delicate flavor to open barbecuing.

Oak This classic firewood generates the most heat and tends to burn the longest of the choices. It serves equally well for an indoor fireplace, a campfire and an outdoor fireplace or fire pit.

Wood from a newly felled tree is considered green and thus difficult to burn as firewood because of its moisture content. Burning green wood will often result in more smoke and an uneven fire.

Typically, green wood can be dried in two ways: naturally seasoned or kiln-dried. Fully seasoned firewood results from the natural drying process, which can take six to 18 months. (Some people recommend waiting three years!) Kiln-dried wood is firewood that has been placed in a climate-controlled kiln and baked between 120°F and 220°F with low humidity, typically for three to six days.

The firewood sold at Tim Wallace Landscape Supply is naturally seasoned wood, which is the most economical option. Ultimately, purchasing firewood several months in advance ensures adequate seasoning and the best results from your wood for burning.

What Kind of Firewood Should You Not Burn?

The wrong firewood will burn poorly and often cause other problems as well. For example, burning rotten firewood in a fireplace can aggravate the lungs and allow hazardous soot to build in the chimney. Firewood that spits embers and sparks – such as pine or fir – can cause a house fire.

Pine also should not be burned indoors because its high sap and resin content can burn fast and hot while releasing flammable vapors that can condense in the chimney.

Other types of firewood to avoid include:

driftwood. Aside from not burning evenly, driftwood from rivers and lakes can include absorbed toxins and minerals that when burned can be released into the atmosphere.

woods from endangered species or protected parks. Rules are often established to prevent people from taking wood that is essential to a protected forest’s ecosystem or that belongs to endangered trees.

treated or painted wood. Older treated woods were often preserved with arsenic, which when burned can be released into the air. Painted woods can release chemicals when burned as well.

large pieces. Logs greater than 5” in diameter need to be re-cut before burning. Throwing oversized logs onto a fire reduces the fire’s efficiency.

How to Buy Firewood

Once you’ve determined the right firewood for your application, you’ll then consider the quantity you’ll purchase in bulk.

Firewood sold at Tim Wallace Landscape Supply is pre-packaged in bundles, wagons, small pallets (half face) and large pallets (face cord) to make moving and loading a breeze.

Bundle: 5 to 7 pieces wrapped in plastic with a carrying handle

Half wagon: approximately 30–35 pieces

Full wagon/quarter face cord: about 60–70 pieces

Half face cord: 2′ x 8′ rack/small pallet (about 150 pieces)

Face cord: 4′ x 8′ rack/large pallet (about 300 pieces)

Full cord: three face cords (about 900 pieces)

If you would like firewood delivery to your home in Joliet, Shorewood, Plainfield or Lemont, Tim Wallace can bring a half face cord or more straight to your driveway.

How to Store Your Firewood Properly

Once you have your firewood in bulk, you’ll need to store it. Improperly stored firewood can result in problems such as mold, insects or simply wood that doesn’t burn well.

Stacking firewood in haphazard piles prevents air circulation for keeping the wood dry, especially among pieces in the middle. Store firewood neatly in outdoor piles at least a few inches from the ground (such as on a rack). Burn the outer pieces first, as this lets the middle pieces continue to dry before use.

Because most moisture in firewood is released through the cut ends, also store it with the cut ends exposed. You should typically cover the wood only when it is going to rain or snow. Cover the stack’s top portion while leaving some open room at the bottom to let the stack breathe. Remove the cover after inclement weather passes.

Avoid stacking firewood in straight, vertical rows. Instead, stack it as you would bricks for building a wall. Overlapping each row as you add height will help keep the pile stable.

Firewood Safety

Enjoying your firewood involves being safe with it too. Here are some tips for observing firewood safety:

Lighting firewood. Use a match or a lighter to light the wood for burning. Avoid using chemicals and other accelerants. With its petroleum-based ink, newspaper is a useful and acceptable kindling aid.

Stacking location. Avoid stacking firewood against or close to your house even though such placement might offer access proximity and protection under eaves. Firewood’s flammability creates a house-fire risk. Stacking firewood against the house also can interfere with air circulation and invite insects and rodents into the house.

Check local ordinances. Consult your local fire agency concerning the recreational burning of firewood. It will define guidelines for factors such as outdoor fire pits and firewood transportation and storage.

Always keep a fire-extinguishing resource such as a water hose or bucket ready and nearby when burning firewood as well.

Build Your Perfect Fire: Contact Us Today

We are here to help you spark up warmth and fun around the fire. To find out more about our bulk firewood and firewood delivery for Joliet, Shorewood, Plainfield and Lemont (IL), just give us a call at (630) 759-5552. We’ll be glad to assist you!

Based in Bolingbrook IL, Tim Wallace Landscape Supply serves homeowners throughout the area, including Bolingbrook, Downers Grove, Westmont, Naperville, Woodridge and Wheaton.