With winter fast approaching, you might be wondering if it's safe to burn seasoned wood in your fireplace. Even with the chimney damper open, you shouldn't burn wood containing toxic chemicals, mold or pests. So, is seasoned wood safe to burn in your fireplace, or should you choose a different type of wood?
What Is Seasoned Wood?
No, seasoned wood isn't wood that's been literally seasoned with salt, pepper and other spices. Although that would make sense, it actually refers to dry wood. When wood is initially harvested from a tree, it's almost completely saturated with moisture. Due to its high moisture content, freshly harvested wood such as this is difficult to burn. To overcome this problem and reduce its moisture content, the wood is dried. The process of drying wood, regardless of the specific method used, is known as seasoning. Seasoned wood is both and safe and effective to burn in a fireplace, as it contains very little moisture.
Moisture Content of Seasoned Wood
While the moisture content of freshly harvested wood is around 80% to 90%, seasoned wood is much lower. Depending on the specific variety of wood, as well as the drying method used to season it, seasoned wood may contain just 6% to 20% moisture. There's still some moisture in it -- it's nearly impossible to remove all moisture -- but it's such a small amount that it doesn't hinder or interfere with the wood's burning abilities.
How to Identify Seasoned Wood
With its lower moisture content, seasoned wood weighs significantly less than freshly harvested, non-seasoned wood. It's not uncommon for a non-seasoned wood log to weigh twice as much as a seasoned log of the same size. A seasoned oak log, for example, may weigh just three pounds, whereas a non-seasoned oak log of the same size may weigh six pounds.
You can also distinguish between seasoned and non-seasoned wood by smelling it. Non-seasoned wood typically smells like pine and sap. In comparison, seasoned wood has a soft but pleasant wooden aroma.
Perhaps the easiest way to identify seasoned wood is to look at its color. After undergoing the drying process, wood fades from a green to light gray or yellow color. If your wood is still green, it probably hasn't been seasoned, in which case you should avoid burning it in your fireplace.
Seasoned Wood Produced Less Smoke
Seasoned wood will produce less smoke when burned in your fireplace than non-seasoned wood. Moisture prevents wood from burning efficiently, so byproducts are released in the form of soot and smoke. Seasoned wood contains only a minimal amount of moisture, however, so it doesn't produce much smoke. This is important because statistics show that more than 25,000 chimney fires occur each year in the United States. If your fireplace produces too much smoke, creosote will accumulate in your chimney, thereby creating the ideal conditions for a fire. Furthermore, the excess smoke produced from burning non-seasoned wood in a fireplace can fill your home and contribute to respiratory ailments. To protect your family from these dangers, only burn seasoned wood in your fireplace.
Seasoned Wood Burns Hotter
If you're planning to keep warm this winter by using your fireplace, you should burn seasoned wood. Non-seasoned wood may still ignite and burn, but it will produce less heat than seasoned wood. The moisture particles in non-seasoned wood restrict the amount of heat it produces when burned, making it a poor choice of fuel for your fireplace. Seasoned wood burns hotter while producing less smoke in the process.
Seasoned Wood Is Less Susceptible to Pests
A benefit of using seasoned wood that's often overlooked is the simple fact that it's less likely to attract pests. Carpenter ants and bees will chew holes through decaying wood. Because moisture causes wood to decay, seasoned wood is naturally protected from these pests. It's not completely immune to all pests, but seasoned wood is less likely to attract pests than non-seasoned wood, making it preferable for fireplaces.
Seasoned Wood Is Easier to Light
It's frustrating when you go through a half box of matches while trying to light your fireplace. You may have the perfect, dry kindling and tinder set up at the bottom. For some unknown reason, though, it simply won't light. If this sounds familiar, your problem may be attributed to the fact that you are using non-seasoned wood. The high moisture content of non-seasoned wood makes it difficult to light, even with kindling and tinder. Seasoned wood, on the other hand, is a breeze to light thanks to its dry properties.
To recap, it's not just safe to burn seasoned wood in your fireplace; it's recommended. Head over to our order page to shop for high-quality seasoned wood today!