A 3-minute guide to firewood

The two most important qualities of good firewood are density and moisture content.

  • Denser wood produces more energy and heat, burns longer, and produces longer-lasting coal beds while softer woods burn faster, producing less energy and more smoke. Softer woods also produce creosote, which can build up in your chimney ­– a fire hazard.

  • Wood that is too moist is harder to light and produces a lot of smoke. Make sure your firewood ages at least 6-9 months after being cut down before burning it.

What are some of the best tree species for firewood?

  • Oak

  • Hickory

  • Sugar Maple

  • White Ash

What are some of the worst types of wood to burn?

  • Coniferous trees in general (very soft wood)

  • Hemlocks

  • Large logs: Wood that is thicker than 5 inches in diameter can be difficult to burn

  • Driftwood: Salt-saturated driftwood produces toxic chemicals when burned

Can I burn the wood of a diseased tree?

In general, burning diseased wood is a great way to dispose of a dead or dying tree. In most cases, the pathogens are destroyed when burned, and are not transported through the smoke. The bigger concern with using a diseased tree for firewood is in how you store the wood. For example, bark from an elm tree that was infected with Dutch Elm Disease may still contain some of the live beetles that are responsible for spreading the harmful fungus. The bark should be removed and destroyed before storing to prevent the beetles from traveling to nearby elms.

When in doubt, the internet has made it easy to find and ask an expert.

If you have questions or concerns about purchasing firewood or burning diseased wood from your property, please consult the certified Arborists at Ripley Tree Service, an independent family business serving northeast Ohio since 2001.

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