Does it matter what kind of wood I use?
Your fuel supply should consist of a mixture of hardwoods, like maple or oak, and softwoods, such as fir and pine. When first starting your fire, use softwoods. They ignite easily and burn rapidly with a hot flame. Hardwoods provide a longer lasting fire and are best used after preheating the chimney. If hardwoods are unavailable, you can control your fires burn rate by using larger pieces of wood.
Is it important to season wood before burning it?
The seasoning, or drying, process allows most of the natural moisture found in wood to evaporate, making it easier to burn. A properly seasoned log will have 15%-20% moisture content. Wood only dries from the surface inward so un-split pieces dry very slowly. To properly season wood, split the logs as soon as possible and stack them in a dry spot for 6-18 months. Pile the wood loosely, allowing air to circulate through the split logs. Do not wrap them up in a tarp to keep moisture from getting in – that only ensures that they absolutely will not dry and season! Hardwoods take longer to dry than softwoods and humidity and temperature levels also impact drying time.
What’s the best way to load wood into my stove or insert?
Avoid placing pieces of wood in parallel directions, where they may stack too closely. Vary the position of the wood in the firebox to maximize the exposed surface area of each piece of wood. Only use wood properly sized for your stove’s fire chamber. Complete wood combustion requires wood (fuel), temperature (heat), and oxygen (air) to burn completely and cleanly.
Is there anything I shouldn’t burn?
Never burn garbage, plastic, foil or any kind of chemically treated or painted wood. They all produce noxious fumes that are dangerous and highly polluting. Additionally, if you have a catalytic stove, the residue from burning plastics may clog the catalytic combustor.