Lighting a fire in the fireplace brings us closer to nature. It’s a wonderful age-old ritual with a touch of magic. So how do you choose firewood? Here are our tips on how your choice of the right firewood can grant you optimal combustion giving you comfort, sustainability and practicality.
Hardwood or softwood?
The yield from firewood depends on the species of tree and its moisture content, and we can also distinguish between hardwood and softwood.
By hardwood we mean broadleaf trees such as oak, beech and ash; this is the most suitable for our fireplace because its wood is high density and therefore when burnt produces more heat per volume. On the other hand, softwood from conifers such as pine, fir and larch, is not suitable for generating heat.
In addition, the continuous and prolonged use of wood particularly rich in aromatic oils (e.g. eucalyptus, myrtle, etc.) can cause a sudden deterioration of the inner structure of the product. The reference standard that deals with general requirements and the definition of classes of firewood is UNI EN ISO 17225.
Moisture content and size of firewood
To light a fire easily, the wood must be well seasoned. This is because freshly cut wood has a high moisture content (up to 75%). Its use in a fireplace leads to poor combustion and low heat output and the formation of a lot of smoke and residue in the chimney, with the risk of the chimney itself catching fire. That’s why it’s important to let the wood dry for about 18/24 months, thus eliminating more than 60% of its moisture content, becoming easier to ignite and producing an optimal combustion.
Size (i.e. the size of the log) plays a fundamental role in your choice of wood. Bearing in mind that combustion is a reaction between fuel (wood) and a combustion agent (air), the smaller the size the greater the contact area between wood and air and therefore the more efficient the combustion process.
If the wood is not chopped the bark could act like a kind of raincoat, not allowing the moisture to evaporate. So small logs (25-33 cm with a diameter of 4-10 cm) mean that the wood will dry faster and combustion will be more efficient.