Man has been burning wood, for heat, for thousands of years. Today, burning wood in the modern home is seen as alternative or a compliment to electricity gas, and oil fired central heating.

The open fireplace, once so common, is still popular for aesthetic or sentimental reasons but it is not an efficient way to burn fuel.

The wood burning stove, on the other hand is efficient, still giving that warm, homely glow while giving off a continuous heat. For this reason – and because of the dramatic hike in the prices of gas, electricity and domestic oil – the wood burning stove has never been so popular.

The popularity of wood burning stoves has created a demand for wood and to maximise the efficiency of your wood burning stove you need to burn seasoned dry low resin wood.

This is creating a problem. The price of wood is going up and some wood sellers are advertising dry seasoned wood when it’s not. The customer might simply not realise they’re not buying dry enough wood, and they might ask why they should care. They should care because their wood burner will burn less efficiently, their flue will become clogged and their flue will vent emissions (black carbon) into the atmosphere.

The solution is to get organised and plan ahead.

Don’t wait until the cold weather to order your wood. Order it in the spring or summer (you might even buy it cheaper). Stack and cover it to maximise the wood’s drying potential.

If you have the room, buy your wood a year ahead so you know it has had time to season. The investment will pay off because the wood will burn so much better and generate more heat.

Drying Wood

Once a tree has been harvested and stacked, if it is left in the atmosphere and sheltered from rain, it will lose moisture. The amount it loses to the atmosphere is dependent on local conditions of temperature and relative humidity. (Relative humidity is the ratio of the amount of water actually in the air at a particular temperature to the maximum amount of water it could hold at that temperature).

The wood you buy should be cut to fit your wood burning stove and split as this will maximise the wood’s exposure to the atmosphere and speed the drying process. Your bought wood should be stacked to continue the drying process.

Give your wood as much sun as you can, encouraging air to move through the channels in the wood stack. Always make sure the top of the stack is covered and protected from rain. (For an easy lesson in stacking wood there are films on You Tube you can watch on the proper way to stack wood).

Buy the right wood for burning in wood burning stoves and you will reap the benefits financially.

The most suitable firewoods are oak, hazel, ash, hornbeam, birch and hawthorn. We would also recommend apple, beech, cherry, elm, chestnut, plane, rowan, sycamore and yew, as long as they are well seasoned.