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Don’t get burned! The 3 Things You Must Know Before Buying Firewood

by | Aug 5, 2020

Purchasing Firewood seems intuitive and straightforward, but there are many factors about firewood and the industry that homeowners and recreational users should know before purchasing.

For starters: NOT ALL FIREWOOD IS THE SAME?!?!? Shocking right?

It is a common misconception that firewood is firewood, and it does not matter what you are burning as long as it burns.

Now, buckle up and enjoy the read because I will take you through the ins and outs of firewood and best purchasing practices that suit your needs and desires.

If you have not purchased firewood in the past or want to become more knowledgeable before purchasing, this blog post is for you.

WHY does all of this matter?

It is important to understand what you are purchasing and why you are purchasing it.

Everyone knows that a beautiful fire can add another layer of enjoyment to any social gathering or recreational outing. But using wet and low-quality firewood can quickly turn into a massive headache.

Have you ever been smoked out of a fire or come away from a campfire with new holes in your clothing and bloodshot eyes?

If your answer is YES, then that is because you are using low-quality firewood. It gives off heat and flame, but you are not getting the best burning experience due to the quality.

Many factors go into buying firewood that will accurately fit your needs and desires. Firewood ranges in quality based on its specific burning characteristics. Generally, when thinking about firewood, you want to understand:

  • how long it burns
  • how much heat it releases
  • how much it pops and smokes
  • the quantity of flames vs coals
  • the amount of residue and ash it leaves behind

Here are the 3 things you must know before buying firewood

1.      Type of Firewood

The type of firewood you use for burning plays a significant part in how good your firewood experience will be. First things first, you want to know if your firewood is softwood or hardwood.

Softwood – being wood that is less dense burning faster with less overall heat. Examples of softwood are any evergreen/conifer tree, including Spruce, Pine, Tamarack and Fir. Softwoods also include trees with distinct aromas such as cedar.

Hardwood – being wood that has a higher density generally burning hotter, longer and cleaner. Examples of hardwood are leaf trees that lose their leaves throughout the changing seasons. This includes trees like birch, maple, ash, and oak.

The next thing you should understand is what you are actually using the firewood for and your desired burning experience.

When using firewood for outdoor burning, you may not be as concerned with how clean the firewood is burning, pertaining to the amount of smoke, popping, and residue emitted when burning. Because of its density and burning properties, softwood will have higher quantities of smoke, more air pockets causing more popping, and leave more ash and creosote residue when burned.

When using hardwood, you will receive a longer burn time, less smoke, more heat, less popping and a low amount of residue.

For the best burning experience, hardwood will always provide you with the most heat, longest burn time and the cleanest burning. However, hardwood will always cost more upfront because it is more difficult to come by and has a more premium burn. For easy and accessible burning softwood is great for outdoors and recreational usage. Various qualities of softwood exist, Spruce being the lowest quality of softwood and Tamarack/Fir as a premium quality softwood firewood closer to the characteristics of hardwood burning.

When choosing your type of firewood, understand the quality of burn that you want to experience and how much heat/burn time you need for your overall burning.

2. Quantity of Firewood

Firewood is measured in Cords, a tightly stacked 4 x 4 x 8, 128 cubic ft. Square. When buying firewood in bulk, you will see increments of a cord in ⅛, ¼, ⅓, ½, ¾, or 1 Full cord. In smaller quantities, you will see firewood bags. The average convenience or hardware store sells a 0.75-1 Cubic ft: bundle or bag.

When purchasing to receive the most value for your money in firewood, bulk firewood will always be the cheapest. It is like buying bulk goods. Suppose you prepare ahead of time for an entire recreational or winter season. In that case, you will receive a lot more value for your money than buying firewood bags as you burn through wood and need more on-demand.

Begin with a small or medium quantity to understand your burning needs and volume of usage. Then, you will be able to determine the amount of wood you need per season to receive the best results.

3. Wet Vs. Dry Firewood

When trees are freshly cut, they store large volumes of water from the outer edges to the centre of the wood. For wood to burn effectively, you want the optimal moisture level to be between 8-20% depending on the type of wood.

Wood that is still wet will not burn and let off little flame while emitting tons of smoke as it tries to burn through the moisture trapped inside the wood grains.

Alternatively, incredibly dry wood will burn up quickly, losing some of the burn value that can be achieved if the wood is burned at the optimal moisture level.

It is essential to understand how dry your wood is when purchasing to get the most value out of your firewood.

Be aware that if you purchase wet firewood, it can take 6 months to 1 year of naturally seasoning before you have an excellent burning experience. If firewood is to cheap to be true, it’s likely that your purchasing wet wood that will not be ready to burn for a potentially long time.

To Conclude

These 3 important things will get you on the right path for purchasing firewood that is right for your needs. Ask the appropriate questions before purchasing and get ready to enjoy beautiful fires. Nothing is better than enjoying a nice warm fire.

Thanks for reading!


About Timber Ridge Firewood

Timber Ridge Firewood is a family-owned and operated firewood company that offers our services to Calgary and surrounding areas. Nicholas and Steven Boivin are the founders and owners of the company. We work diligently to create the easiest and best firewood experience for all of our clients.