Sitting around a traditional wood burning fire has an irresistible draw. The crackling warmth, shimmering flames, glowing bed of coals combine to create a unique experience. However, this satisfying experience can quickly turn unpleasant under the wrong conditions. Specifically, using unseasoned wood in place of seasoned wood might just ruin a perfectly good fire.

Burning Seasoned or Unseasoned Wood - Greenville SC

In essence, to be seasoned means to be dry. Wood that has been freshly cut contains quite a bit of water – nearly half its weight can be attributed to water content. This type of wood is considered unseasoned, and burning it could prove difficult, mostly because wet wood smokes a lot and does not burn well. On the other hand, seasoned wood has been split, stacked, stored in a dry area, and allowed to dry. Softer woods, like pine or spruce, can seasoned in as little as six months, while hardwoods such as oak can take up to two years to fully season. Since seasoned wood requires more time and effort to prepare, suppliers usually charge slightly more for it, but the extra cost is more than worth it.

The first struggle you will run into when burning unseasoned wood is the difficulty in lighting the fire. Water will not catch on fire, and since it comprises nearly half the weight of the wood, it heavily affects the lighting process. Even if the wood does end up catching, the fire requires constant vigilance to ensure it does not go out, and adding any new logs might extinguish all the hard work you put into lighting it in the first place. Seasoned wood does not cause any of these problems, resulting in an easy, enjoyable fire.

Next, the burning unseasoned wood produces a large amount of smoke. The fire must evaporate the water as it burns through the wood, so the smoke is filled with a dense cloud of water vapor that severely irritates the respiratory tract when inhaled. The smoke also contains a high concentration of creosote. This black carcinogen occurs when wood burns incompletely, and it can accumulate in the chimney. Accumulation of creosote in the chimney can cause restricted air flow, degradation of the chimney lining, and even chimney fires. On the other hand, seasoned wood burns much cleaner, producing almost no visible smoke and much less creosote.

Finally, unseasoned wood does not create nearly as much heat when burned as seasoned wood. For homeowners relying on the fire to heat the house, burning unseasoned wood only turns into a chilly night for everyone. Wet wood burns at a cooler temperature because much of the heat of the fire goes toward evaporating away the water instead of burning the wood. Conversely, the seasoned wood has little or no water to waste the energy of the fire, so it burns very hot.

Fast lighting, sustained burning, clean burning, and more heat are the basic benefits of burning seasoned wood. Doing otherwise only wastes time, costs more money in fuel, and damages your health, making seasoned wood the obvious fuel choice. For more information about seasoned firewood or to speak with a chimney expert, contact Blue Sky Chimney Sweeps.