Firewood selections explained

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Every winter we look forward to the pleasures of warming our hands and feet by a blazing fire, mesmerized by the dancing flames.

When buying firewood two factors will determine just how hot your fire is—seasoning and the kind of wood.

Wood is made up of air and cellulose (wood fiber). The more air space that wood has, the less there is to burn. Buying wood with the heaviest/densest per unit volume will keep you toasty.

Osage orange, hickory, black locust, all of the oaks, sugar maple and ash produce hot fires; plus they are easy to split.

Yellow poplar, silver maple and red maple provide much less heat per log but are good for kindling because they catch fire quickly.

Avoid elm, sycamore and sweet gum because they are not as warm, and their fibers are so interlaced they will not split.

The good firewood species are found in Kentucky, although suppliers sometimes will identify their stock only as “hardwoods” without specifying the species. Be sure to ask what kind of wood you are buying.

The second thing to look for when buying firewood is how much water is in the wood.  Since wood comes from a living plant, it contains water.  The more water in the wood, the less heat it generates when it burns.

Ask the vendor if the wood is seasoned.  Wood is 50 percent moisture and needs six months to a year to dry out enough to burn efficiently. Dry or seasoned wood has splits in the ends of the logs and a gray appearance.

Firewood is sold in a variety of measures. A cord measures 4 feet wide by 4 feet high by 8 feet long.  Often this is too much for the occasional user, as most homeowners are.  Many vendors will price their firewood by the pickup truckload.

For the warmest fires at the best price, do some comparative shopping before you buy.

For more information on firewood, contact the Carroll County Cooperative Extension Service.


This is just a reminder that the Carroll County Extension Office will be closed until January 3. If you have an emergency and need information or service feel free to contact me at my home and I will see what we can do to help you. I’m in the phone book.

Education Opportunities

The Fruit and Vegetable Growers Conference and Annual Meeting will be Jan. 3-4 in Lexington at the Embassy Suites Hotel off Newtown Pike. The registration fee is $30 for the entire conference but you will have meal expenses above that. The room rate is $111 and this includes a really good hot breakfast buffet. I have registration information at the office and www.uky.edu/Ag/Horticulture/meetings.html.

Tim Hendrick is the Carroll County Extension agent for agriculture and natural resources. Call him at (502) 732-7030 or send e-mail to thendrick@uky.edu.