There is no doubt about it a fire adds charm and a cosy atmosphere to any home. Fires bring people together for warmth, which is perfect for families to get together, to talk, to spend quality time together. It’s a good time to catch up with everyone and ask how their day was, all while watching a fire burning and enjoying the warmth only log fires can bring.
If you have chosen the right wood and it has been cured properly it will keep you warm and cosy. If, however you have chosen the *wrong wood* you could end up with a fire that produces more smoke and less heat and makes people want to leave the room.
The firewood Association of Australia suggests you only burn wood from sustainable sources, which is better for the environment than using gas or electricity to heat your home. This wood is a renewable bioenergy and that means you can have your wood and burn it – guilt free!
According to the association these following sources are the best places for you to obtain your firewood.
- Wood that has been collected from woodlands or forests that are under Australian government authorisation
- Residual logs from plantations and forests that have been sustainably managed
- Wood that has been collected from private properties that conform to environmental guidelines and sustainable management plans
- Residual and by product timber and logs from sawmills or wood processing operations that are supplied by forests and plantations that are sustainably managed
- Waste and recycled timber from building demolition or tree lopping. (avoid burning woods that have been treated with preservatives, stains or have been painted – they will emit harmful fumes when burning)
The Best Types of Wood to Burn
- Seasoned woods – this is the extent to which the wood has dried. When wet wood is burnt it releases more smoke
- Energy content – heat is measured in BTU’s – British Thermal Units, this is to show how much heat is produced by the wood, energy content ranges between 85 and 100
- Hard wood VS Soft wood – hardwood will burn for a longer period of time, at a higher temperature than softwood because hardwood is denser.
Depending on which state you live in – each state has its own *popular* wood for burning –
- New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia – River Red Gum wood
- Western Australia – Jarrah and Wandoo wood
- Tasmania – Brown Peppermint wood
- Northern Territory and Queensland – Ironbark and Box wood
Firewood’s you should avoid –
- Telephone poles
- Wood that has been pressure treated
- Railroad sleepers
- Stained, laminated or painted wood
- Particle board
- Pieces of old furniture
- White stringybark
- Turpentine wood
These woods all have been treated on the surface which makes them unsuitable for burning, the fumes they emit – from paints, glues etc can be quite harmful if inhaled.
How to manage your firewood
Some hardwoods need at least 2 years to fully dry out, and when they are dry they should contain no more than 15-20% of the normal 50% moisture level when cut. While your wood is drying out, it shouldn’t be sitting directly on the ground – this will only spread rot and fungi through your pile. The wood should also be stored covered.
If you are not sure how to work out the moisture levels in your wood, there are a few things you can do to help you get a good estimate.
- Split a piece of your seasoned wood in half. If the surface that is exposed feels damp, the wood needs to be seasoned a bit longer
- Dry wood tends to darken and turn from white to cream or yellow as it is drying out
- Wet wood is difficult to ignite and it burns with a hissing sound
- Dry wood burns and ignites easily
- Dry wood weighs less than wet wood does
If you have a modern style wood burner, cut your wood into lengths of 35-45cm. If you will be selecting an armful of wood every day spilt all your wood into different thicknesses ranging from 7-15cm. It’s these uneven thicknesses of wood that will allow air to circulate through the wood pile which will help it dry faster.