Proper Wood Choice, Storage, and Burning

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Spending money on firewood can be a seasonal or year-round investment and, can be for recreation or needed for cooking and heating. The first thing to know is that it’s important to choose the proper wood especially when cooking over an open flame or burning in an indoor fireplace. After you purchase or self-harvest and chop up firewood, there is a recommended practice for storing and burning it. Here is some insight to help you get started with that process.

Wood Choices

Different types of wood serve different roles when they are burned. Most people select a type of hardwood as these varieties burn the longest and hottest, producing the most BTUs. Hardwoods include red or white oak, birch, hickory, dogwood, ash, pecan and hard maple. If you are in search of a crackling fire that sets a cozy ambiance, then a softwood is the right choice. Fir and pine are both softwoods that give off the aroma of a Christmas tree and are also simple to split. The crackles from that wood creates more sparks so it is a good idea to keep the glass door on your fireplace closed. When searching for a sweeter-smelling wood, look for the varieties of fruit trees. Cherry, pear and applewood give off pleasant scents when burning.


To get the most out of your firewood, there is a certain protocol to follow when storing your logs. Keep in mind that airflow is important when stacking. Placing all the wood on top of each other without any air flow will create moisture, which will dampen your logs and make them tougher to burn. There is a log-cabin method of stacking in which the direction of each row is altered. And if there is a way to store your wood under a covering, then go for it. A simple tarp will not have the same effect as it will be vulnerable to leaks. Also, make sure to ventilate the bottom of the stack of wood.


The process of burning wood inside your fireplace involves more than just lighting a match. It is important to know that treated wood should not be burned in the fireplace. Wood should be seasoned for about six months after it has been split. And when building a fire, use the top-down method, which places the logs on a grate in the back of the fireplace. Always use a fire screen and keep all furniture at least three feet beyond the fireplace. Burning a fire also means making sure tree branches are away from the top of the chimney. A safe distance is about 15 feet away.


Note: If you plan to cook by wood burning, whether a wood oven or smoker, additional research should be done to ensure safety and proper wood selection.