What is the best wood to burn in a fireplace or wood stove?

Woodburning Tip 1: Regular maintenance: A qualified specialist should perform a sound inspection of the wood stove and flue system at least once before the heating period.  Making sure the flue is clean, and no new outdoor growth like tree limbs are close to the top cap.  They can restrict the airflow.  Also, make sure an animal has no built a nest in or around the chimney.

Woodburning Tip 2: The right wood from the start.  Only use natural, dry wood (<20% residual moisture, depending on the type of wood, it has been correctly stored for one to two years) or pellets or rather wood briquettes. If the wood is moist, not only the heating value is significantly less, but also the damaging impact on your fireplace and the panel insert as a result of dangerous emissions or smoke as well as soot can be tremendous. Paper, packaging material, and other waste products should not be burned.

Long story short – Good, Dry Wood only. (see list below)

Woodburning Tip 3: Start the fire correctly.  Every fireplace and wood stove is a little different, so use these general rules when building a fire.  Start with small kindling or commercially made Firestarter designed for fireplaces.  Building a small good base fire is key to getting a good “draw” going and making sure the unit is venting properly.  If your house is tight, or you're having an issue with getting a good draft, try to locate a fresh air intake and if not, try cracking open a nearby window to get a draw going. Once the basic fire bed has been established to some extent, larger pieces of wood can be added. When doing so, make sure that the fireplace is not filled too much.

Calculating the Costs and Benefits.

     In many cases, heating with wood will save you money, but this is not true for everyone. If you live in a forested rural area and can do some of the processing of the wood yourself, you can save some money — especially if you already have a truck or trailer and are handy with a chain saw and splitting maul. But if you have to buy split firewood and have it delivered to your suburban home, you probably won’t save much.

     To get a rough idea of the cost savings, you can try various online tools, such as a fuel cost calculator. However, no calculator can give you a completely accurate figure for how much you will save. Most can’t figure in supplementary heating, in which only a portion of the conventional fuel cost is displaced. Nor can they take account of the time you would devote to all the tasks involved in wood heating.

     After all, if you paid yourself a minimum wage for all the cutting, splitting, stacking, fire stoking, ash removal, and so on, the savings would quickly evaporate. So even if your main motivation is to save money, also consider if the other benefits appeal to you—the ones that seem to sustain the most successful users of wood energy. If you enjoy physical work and a routine, and if you would like to be more self-reliant and less dependent on fossil fuels then wood heating might be for you.

Need your wood stove glass replaced?

GUIDE TO THE DIFFERENT BURNING QUALITIES OF WOOD

Type of Wood             Ease of Starting           Coaling Qualities          Sparks

Apple               Poor                 Excellent          Few

Ash                  Fair                  Good              Few

Beech             Poor                 Good                Few

Birch                Good                Excellent          Moderate

Cherry              Poor                 Excellent           Few

Cedar               Excellent          Poor                  Many

Elm                   Fair                 Good                Very Few

Hemlock           Good                Low                  Many

Hickory            Fair                  Excellent          Moderate

Locust              Poor                 Excellent          Very Few

Maple               Poor                 Excellent          Few

Oak                  Poor                 Excellent          Few

Pine                 Excellent          Poor                 Moderate

 The Main Audubon Society recently charted the heat produced by a wood fire. They noted that the heat produced by a wood fire varies greatly with the kind of wood burned. Beech is considered the best wood for a fire. A cord of well-seasoned Beech will produce as much heat as 169 gallons of fuel oil; Sugar Maple and Red Oak produce as much heat as 166 gallons of fuel oil; followed by White Ash 154; American Elm 130; White Birch 124; and White Pine 94.

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