All you need to know about firewood
January 17, 2009
How many readers know that the only legal way to purchase or sell firewood is by the cord or part of a cord? Those who use a pickup load or rick (defined as simply a "pile") as measurements are not buying or selling legally.

Well-seasoned firewood is what you want to use, as freshly cut firewood will be slow to burn, may smolder and give off less heat than seasoned wood. Additionally, green wood causes a buildup of creosote in the flue, which can lead to fires.

How do you know if the wood has been seasoned? Several characteristics will indicate aged wood. First, ends of the sticks or sides of split wood will be grayed if exposed to the weather on seasoned wood as opposed to white or light colored wood if freshly cut. Second, bark will probably be loose and third, the ends of logs should be splitting or cracking. Another practice to insure seasoned wood is to buy firewood now for use next year.

When stacking wood, one consideration might be to stack tight enough to allow covering with a tarp. Some sources suggest that covering the pile traps the moisture under the cover inhibiting the wood from drying out. However, any moisture that accumulates under the cover exhausts from the ends of the wood rather than the covered areas. A bigger problem would be uncovered wood thatís wet from rain or snow just before you bring it in to burn. And stacking wood longer than one season may increase insect and disease conditions.

Insects from wood stored inside the home can pose a problem. People frequently ask about the consequences of bringing borers inside the home with the firewood. Borers themselves wonít reproduce inside the log nor inside the home. However, they can emerge from the wood as adults and become pesky flying objects.

Wood roaches, not the same commonly seen in the home, and wood-boring beetles can be a problem if you store wood inside. Wood-boring beetles leave small "shot holes" in the surface of the wood. You may also see small piles of sawdust produced by the larvae sifting from the holes if the wood is dropped.

Termites may infest wood piles and be a bigger nuisance, especially if the wood is stacked on the ground. Itís not a good idea to stack wood next to the house since the wood in the structure is just as attractive to termites as the wood for the fireplace.

Advice from Ed Browning, natural resource engineering specialist, University of Missouri Extension

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