Up In Smoke

Article submitted by Brian S. Kiefat @ The Ready Center

I have had the pleasure of living and surviving in the rigidly cold and darn near frozen states of North Dakota, Minnesota, and Alaska.  Spending the vast majority of my life within these three states I have learned to appreciate and enjoy the value of heat.  And for a lot of people, burning wood is a huge part of producing that heat.  The use of fire places and wood burning stoves as a source of heat has been around for thousands of years and to this day it is still a realistic and viable alternative to paying the electric or gas company to heat your home.

Today we are discussing the value and practicality of burning wood and how we can do a better job of it.  This especially applies to those who use a fireplace or wood burning stove to heat your homes on a regular basis.  However, this also applies to individuals like myself who have a fireplace in their home, but  more often than not see it only as a decorative addition.  This also applies to those of you who live in suburbia and feel this information may not apply to you because you don’t  have a fireplace or wood burning stove.  My questions to you are: Do you ever go camping…?  Or do you have a built-in or free standing “fire-pit” in your back yard that you fire up for yard parties and weekend gatherings…?  Well, in a worst case scenario you just may find yourself needing that camp fire or backyard fire-pit for heat, comfort, and possibly cooking your food.  So to my  rural survivalists and my urban prepper followers alike, this information is for you.

Let’s stick to the facts, shall we?  Fact 1: Wood is a fuel.  Fact 2: Wasting fuel is dumb.  Now that we have established these cold hard iron-clad facts, let’s talk about what we can do to make sure we are burning our precious fuel in the most efficient manner possible.  There are actually a lot of things a person can do to burn our fuel more efficiently, such as keep the doors on your wood burning appliance closed to support a longer burn rates, regularly remove the ashes from your wood burning appliance to maintain proper air flow, and reduce or eliminate air gaps in your system by sealing them properly.  However, time and time again one of the greatest factors leading to fuel waste is people burning wood that is NOT fully dry.  The wetter the wood, the less fire and heat you’ll get out of it.  So here are a few easy ways to tell if the wood you are planning to burn is fully dry, and therefore going to burn more efficiently.

1.  Wood that is dry is much lighter than wood that is not, so pick it up and give it a feel.

2.  Dry wood is darker than wet wood.  So give each log a look.  If it’s not as dark as the ones next to it, let it be and take another one instead.

3.  Dry wood has cracks on its ends.  Take the time to visually inspect each piece.

4.  Properly dried wood will sound hollow when pieces are knocked together.

5.  Pay attention to drying time.  Properly covered split softwood generally takes six months to dry while hardwoods generally take 12 months.

Not only does burning wood that is not fully dry produces less heat energy, but it produces more air pollution as well.  So next time you are planning on throwing another log on the fire, remember that burning dry wood means less of your wood-cutting effort will go up in smoke.

Happy prepping,

The Ready Center

Leave a Comment