For the most part, newer homes that are built with a fireplace in them are built with either gas or electric fireplaces. Gas or electric fireplaces are certainly easier to use and generally require less maintenance and upkeep. However, there’s still a significant number, old and new, of wood-burning fireplaces out there. As convenient and easy as gas or electric may be, there’s just something special about having a classic wood-burning fireplace in the home. The smell of the burning wood, the crackling of the sparks and embers, and the warm glow of the flames all contribute to a wood-burning fireplace’s overall appeal. Additionally, a wood-burning fireplace, as opposed to a gas or electric unit, can help lower your overall heating bills, not to mention the benefits should you ever lose power.
There are dozens of different types of wood one could use to fuel their fireplace, but some will be much more effective and enjoyable than others. You’ll want to use woods that have a maximum burn-time, while minimizing the amount of creosote buildup in your chimney. Creosote is a highly flammable, black, tar-like residue that results from wood burning. Some woods lead to more creosote buildup than others; creosote lining the inside of your chimney can be a dangerous fire hazard, not to mention being noxious to breathe over a prolonged period of time, potentially negatively affecting your health. Needless to say, you’ll want to burn woods that produce less of the toxic substance.
The best types of woods to burn, generally speaking, are hardwoods such as beech, oak, and ash. They may be more difficult to light initially, but have much longer overall burn time. Softwoods like cedar, pine, and fir create more smoke, leading to more creosote. That being said, softwoods can be much easier to ignite, and the fragrances contained within can produce a lovely aroma to fill your home with. Both categories come with benefits as well as potential drawbacks; ultimately, you should burn the type of wood you enjoy most, just be aware of the different effects each can have.
No matter what type of wood you choose to burn in your fireplace, always be sure that it is completely dry. Freshly cut green logs create much more smoke, making them far more dangerous when burning indoors, vs. burning them in a fire pit outdoors. Always be sure that the wood going in the fireplace is small enough to fit in the fireplace; logs thicker than five or six inches in diameter should probably be split into smaller pieces. One last tip: be sure to stock up for the winter well before the winter actually begins. Assuming you’re not cutting and splitting your own wood, if you wait, and delay stockpiling wood logs until winter is in full swing, it can become harder to find the abundance you’ll need, and certainly more expensive.