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Burn good wood

Not all firewood is equal – dry wood gives more heat and less smoke. Dry wood:

  • has cracks in the end
  • weighs less than wet wood
  • produces a hollow sound when two pieces are hit together
  • will catch fire in less than a minute if a small piece is place on hot embers.

If wood has been cut less than six months ago, it will be wet and unsuitable for burning. Wet wood is difficult to light and it produces a great deal of smoke and hisses or sizzles when lit.

What not to burn?

Besides wet wood, there are other materials that are dangerous to burn in your home fire. When the materials listed below are burnt, they can give off toxic substances. They can harm our health, the environment as well as your fireplace, wood burner or chimney. Don’t burn:

  • treated wood
  • painted wood
  • plywood, particle board, MDF
  • driftwood
  • rubbish (plastics, disposable nappies, magazines, wrappers, boxes).

Exposure to toxic substances in these materials can cause coughing, headaches, asthma attacks, cancer and damage to our lungs, liver, kidney and nervous system. Read more here

Tips for drying firewood

Even if your firewood is dry, storing it well will keep it that way. Here’s how:

  • Split large bits of wood into pieces no more than 10-15cm thick.
  • Remove bark, or stack the wood with the bark at the bottom, so the moisture can evaporate. Bark slows down the drying process.
  • Stack the wood in a covered, well-ventilated area with a roof.
  • The length of time for it to dry depends on the type of wood and how wet it is. Softwoods, like pine and macrocarpa, normally take 6-12 months. Hardwoods like gum can take up to 18 months.

Tips for buying firewood 

  • Save money – get your firewood early

If you buy or collect your own firewood, it pays to get it early. Firewood is generally cheaper in spring or summer, and getting it early gives you more time to stack and dry it before use. 

  • Ask the right questions

How dry is the wood? How long has it been cut and stacked for drying?

Some sellers may be able to tell you the moisture content of the wood (if they have a moisture content meter). Wet or unseasoned wood is cheaper to buy, but you need to have the space to store it for up to a year or more, until it’s dry enough to burn. Some firewood suppliers sell pre-dried wood. It might cost more, but the extra heat it provides could outweigh the extra cost.

What type of wood is it – hardwood or softwood?

Hardwood costs more, gives off more heat but takes longer to dry than softwood.

Softwood is cheaper, gives off less heat but dries more quickly than hardwood.

Is the wood split?

Wood will dry faster if pre-split.

  • Go to one of the Burnwise suppliers

These suppliers are committed to providing good wood in the local Tokoroa community.