Heating with wood provides an off-the-grid solution to staying warm during even the worst ice storms. A wood fire can provide zone heating, backup heat, or a main source of heat. Wood, sustainably harvested and properly dried, is a green way to heat. Wood also can be an athletic choice for heating when you count the splitting, stacking, and carrying. If you cut your own trees, add a fourth workout.
Getting started with firewood can seem bewildering if you've grown up with central heating. But with a few pointers, you should be on your way to warming your toes by the fire.
What to burn
Some 60% of wood is water when the tree first comes down, but different tree species have different moisture contents. Generally, wood from deciduous trees, or hardwoods, is what you want. Some of the best species of hard firewood are black locust, hickory, and oak, but these woods are also in demand for furniture-making. Maple, beech, and birch are sold more frequently as firewood, but species availability varies by region. Avoid burning softwood, or wood from coniferous trees like fir, pine, and cedar, which have high-moisture contents and give off more chimney-fouling creosote.
No matter what wood you choose, make sure it's dry before you burn it.
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