Frequently Asked Questions About Firewood
Q: How does burning firewood effect our environment?
Answer: According to Chimney Safety Institute of America that unlike the burning of fossil fuels like gas or oil, which many believe to be upsetting our climate for the worst, burning firewood releases no more harmful greenhouse gases than would be produced were the wood to simply rot on the forest floor. If we are responsible in the ways we select, cut, and burn our firewood, wood burning can actually be the correct choice for the environment too.
Q: How do I properly start a fire?
Answer: To start a fire you should start by placing some crumpled newspaper on the rack, then place some kindling wood or fat wood (preferred) surrounding the newspaper. Light the newspaper, allow it to burn itself out while catching the kindling wood (or fat wood) on fire. As the flames progress place a log in the fire, try to use thinner logs at first then build up to the larger pieces.
Q:How do I build a better fire?
Answer: Before lighting a fire, make sure the thermostat is turned down so air heated by the central furnace will not go up the chimney. The easiest and best fire for either a stove or fireplace is achieved with a mixture of softwoods for easy igniting with hardwoods for longer burning and good coaling qualities. A cardinal rule of fireplace management is to keep a thick bed for glowing coals that drop through. The coals yield a steady heat and aid in igniting fresh fuel as it is added. Keep the fire burning by adding small amounts of wood at regular intervals. A small, hot fire is much better than a large, roaring blaze because it burns more completely and produces less creosote.
Q: Should the wood be covered?
Answer: No, covering the firewood traps moisture, promotes mildew and attracts insects. Covering the wood should only be permitted if it will rain.
Q: Where should I store the wood?
Answer: You can store the wood outside or inside. It is best to let the fresh air get to the wood to keep it dry; only cover the wood if it is going to rain. If you can not store it outside that is O.K.! Storing wood inside will keep the wood dry as well as insect free. Many of our customers keep wood in a wood shed or outside on a wood rack.
Q: How long are the logs?
Answer: Generally 18 - 20 inches.
Q: How much wood do I order?
Answer: Our average customer burns 1 cord per season which is about 3 to 4 times per week give or take during the winter months.
*log lengths may be cut shorter or longer upon request. Click here to contact us.
Q: How often should the chimney be cleaned?
This a tougher question than it sounds. The simple answer is: The National Fire Protection Association Standard 211 says, "Chimneys, fireplaces, and vents shall be inspected at least once a year for soundness, freedom from deposits, and correct clearances. Cleaning, maintenance, and repairs shall be done if necessary." This is the national safety standard and is the correct way to approach the problem. It takes into account the fact that even if you don't use your chimney much, animals may build nests in the flue or there may be other types of deterioration that could make the chimney unsafe to use.
The Chimney Safety Institute of America recommends that open masonry fireplaces should be cleaned at 1/4" of sooty buildup, and sooner if there is any glaze present in the system. Factory-built fireplaces should be cleaned when any appreciable buildup occurs. This is considered to be enough fuel buildup to cause a chimney fire capable of damaging the chimney or spreading to the home.
In Arizona we recommend you clean your chimney every 2 to 3 cords of wood burned..
Q. My fireplace stinks, especially in the summer. What can I do?
The smell is due to creosote deposits in the chimney, a natural byproduct of wood burning. The odor is usually worse in the summer when the humidity is high and the air conditioner is turned on. A good cleaning will help but usually won't solve the problem completely. There are commercial chimney deodorants that work pretty well, and many people have good results with baking soda or even kitty litter set in the fireplace. The real problem is the air being drawn down the chimney, a symptom of overall pressure problems in the house. Some make-up air should be introduced somewhere else in the house. A tight sealing, top mounted damper will also reduce this air flow coming down the chimney.
Would someone please tell me what kinds of wood are suitable for smoking?
The traditional woods for smoking are HICKORY and OAK. Here is a list of woods suitable for smoking:
ACACIA - these trees are in the same family as mesquite. When burned in a smoker, acacia has a flavor similar to mesquite but not quite as heavy. A very hot burning wood.
ALDER - Very delicate with a hint of sweetness. Good with fish, pork, poultry, and light-meat game birds.
ALMOND - A sweet smoke flavor, light ash. Good with all meats.
APPLE - Very mild with a subtle fruity flavor, slightly sweet. Good with poultry (turns skin dark brown) and pork.
ASH - Fast burner, light but distinctive flavor. Good with fish and red meats.
BIRCH - Medium-hard wood with a flavor similar to maple. Good with pork and poultry.
CHERRY - Mild and fruity. Good with poultry, pork and beef. Some List members say the cherry wood is the best wood for smoking. Wood from chokecherry trees may produce a bitter flavor.
COTTONWOOD - It is a softer wood than alder and very subtle in flavor. Use it for fuel but use some chunks of other woods (hickory, oak, pecan) for more flavor. Don't use green cottonwood for smoking.
CRABAPPLE - Similar to apple wood.
GRAPEVINES - Tart. Provides a lot of smoke. Rich and fruity. Good with poultry, red meats, game and lamb.
HICKORY - Most commonly used wood for smoking--the King of smoking woods. Sweet to strong, heavy bacon flavor. Good with pork, ham and beef.
LILAC - Very light, subtle with a hint of floral. Good with seafood and lamb.
MAPLE - Smoky, mellow and slightly sweet. Good with pork, poultry, cheese, and small game birds.
MESQUITE - Strong earthy flavor. Good with beef, fish, chicken, and game. One of the hottest burning.
MULBERRY - The smell is sweet and reminds one of apple.
OAK - Heavy smoke flavor--the Queen of smoking wood. RED OAK is good on ribs, WHITE OAK makes the best coals for longer burning. All oak varieties reported as suitable for smoking. Good with red meat, pork, fish and heavy game.
ORANGE, LEMON and GRAPEFRUIT - Produces a nice mild smoky flavor. Excellent with beef, pork, fish and poultry.
PEAR - A nice subtle smoke flavor. Much like apple. Excellent with chicken and pork.
PECAN - Sweet and mild with a flavor similar to hickory. Tasty with a subtle character. Good with poultry, beef, pork and cheese. Pecan is an all-around superior smoking wood.
SWEET FRUIT WOODS - APRICOT, PLUM, PEACH, NECTARINE - Great on most white or pink meats, including chicken, turkey, pork and fish. The flavor is milder and sweeter than hickory.
WALNUT - ENGLISH and BLACK - Very heavy smoke flavor, usually mixed with lighter woods like almond, pear or apple. Can be bitter if used alone. Good with red meats and game.
BBQ List members report that wood from the following trees is suitable for smoking: BAY, CARROTWOOD, KIAWE, MADRONE, MANZANITA, GUAVA and OLIVE. The ornamental varieties of fruit trees (i. e. pear and cherry) are also suitable for smoking.
Other Internet sources list the wood from the following trees as suitable for smoking: BEECH, BUTTERNUT, FIG, GUM, CHESTNUT, HACKBERRY, PIMIENTO, PERSIMMON, and WILLOW.
There are many trees and shrubs in this world that contain toxins to humans--toxins that can survive the burning process. Remember, you are going to eat the meat that you smoke and the smoke particles and chemicals from the wood and what may be on or in the wood are going to get on and in the meat. Use only wood for smoking that you are sure of. If you have some wood from a tree and know its name but don't know if it's good for smoking, ask the BBQ List. If no one's ever used that wood, DON'T use it.
It is beyond the scope of this FAQ to provide a complete listing woods that are unsuitable for smoking. If you have some wood and do not know what it is, DO NOT USE IT FOR SMOKING FOOD. Burn it in your fireplace but not your smoker.
List members report that ELM and EUCALYPTUS wood is unsuitable for smoking, as is the wood from SASSAFRAS, SYCAMORE and LIQUID AMBER trees.
Here are some more woods that you should not to use for smoking:
1 Never use lumber scraps, either new or used. First, you cannot know for sure what kind of wood it is; second, the wood may have been chemically treated; third, you have no idea where the wood may have been or how it was used. For all you know, that free oak planking could have been used in a sewage treatment plant.
2 Never use any wood that has been painted or stained. Paint and stains can impart a bitter taste to the meat and old paint often contains lead.
3 Do not use wood scraps from a furniture manufacturer as this wood is often chemically treated.
4 Never use wood from old pallets. Many pallets are treated with chemicals that can be hazardous to your health and the pallet may have been used to carry chemicals or poison.
5 Avoid old wood that is covered with mold and fungus that can impart a bad taste to your meat. If you have some good cherry wood (or other good smoking wood) that is old and has a fungus growth and you want to use it, pre-burn it down to coals before you put it into your smoker.