The summer is coming to an end and with that comes fall, and more notably, winter after that. Winter is a long and cold season but it can be made enjoyable with the right preparation and activities lined up to enjoy. You might not be able to tan on the beach or go boating, but hot chocolate, skiing or snowboarding, and the holiday season are things to enjoy. It is also the season that can be most comfy if you keep the home heated and the fire stoked.
It seems like a rather backwards idea to call winter a comfortable season. It can be cold, long, and certainly, a lot of time spent indoors but there are a lot of benefits of staying dry and warm inside. You can save money, read books, develop some personal skills on your own and enjoy some peace and quiet.
What you need to know before winter hits are the ins and outs of buying the perfect firewood to help keep you nice and toasty all year long. Not every piece of firewood is the same so it is important that you understand how useful it is to know what types there are, how to properly set up a fire, and other necessities for a warm winter. Here is your ultimate guide for the best winter fire you can have.
Types of Firewood
First and foremost, you want to know what kinds of firewood there is. There are a lot of species of trees and there are a lot of qualities that go into a quality wood that is fit for a fire. You cannot just throw any piece you find into a fire because it can be bad for your home or for you directly. Generally, there are two classifications for firewood, hardwood and softwood, both offering their value for a fire.
The types of hardwood that work well for fires include:
- Birch – Burns very well, splits easily, dries quickly, and is great as a starting kindle wood for a fire.
- Maple – Common wood type, good heat production, clean-burning, and smells good.
- Oak – Another common type of wood makes it easy to find, combined with a great amount of heat produced, clean-burning smell, and slow and long burn potential.
- Walnut – Not as commonly found, but the heat it can produce is good, and the smell it produces is the best trait about this hardwood.
- Ash – Low moisture level makes it easy to split, easy to burn, clean wood to handle, and burns with no scent if the aroma is something you want to avoid indoors.
The types of softwood that work well for fires include:
- Pine – Very abundant species of tree, easy to burn, great as kindling but used as indoor firewood could vary because of sap/resin found in this wood but smells good regardless.
- Cedar – Hot-burning softwood that can be used for kindling, can spark and pop which means proper precautions have to be in place (screens), smells good, and burns well.
- Fir – Easy to cut into kindling pieces to start a fire, good burn and heat produced, smaller chance of sparking,
- Balsam – Good for starting a fire, burns quickly so tending the fire is a must, can pop and crack as well, it can rot quickly when it is not properly stored or seasoned.
- Poplar – Fast burning but hot, easy to split, but has a propensity to pop like cedar and smoke if not fully seasoned, but otherwise a good choice for softwoods.
There are a lot more species of trees out there that provide excellent choices for firewood, but the general idea here is that firewood is either hard or soft, and within these species, there are deviations depending on where you find it. The number of wood types available is tremendous but these offer a good start for what to look for as winter comes quickly.
Ways to Obtain Firewood
Obtaining your firewood is the next step you need to consider for winter. The most obvious way to get firewood is to cut it down yourself, but it is not as easy as walking into your backyard or the forest and swinging an axe around. Using a chainsaw is much easier than an axe, first of all, but secondly, you need to obtain a permit in some instances to cut the wood down.
Check your local laws and regulations around foresting and see if you need that permit and search for your regional tree species to determine which wood is available in your area and cut down your winter wood. Cutting down your own wood is the time old way to get wood and it is cheap once you get prepared.
The second way is to buy wood from a hardware store, lumberyards, or other firewood sellers. This is a much easier way to get wood, as the firewood suppliers at Buyfirewooddirect.co.uk alone can provide more wood than you could possibly need, which is useful as the winter’s getting closer.
Getting an adequate amount of wood for fires is hard the shorter time you have because you will not be able to season it fast enough, so buying it from wood sellers and lumber yards are a preferable option. The cost can vary, but the amount of quality wood you get is certainly worth it.
Choosing the Right Firewood
As mentioned, there are a lot of things that go into choosing the right wood. The most important is the hard and softwood as they determine the characteristics of the fire, but there are many factors relating to other decisions.
The cost of buying wood vs. cutting your own, the availability of wood in your region, the ability to cut down your own wood, and whether you want to make a fire indoors or outdoors. Indoor fires are nice and comfortable in the winter because you can enjoy your time indoors, whereas outdoor fires can be as big as you want with little worries. Seasoned wood can take 6 to 12 months to get it in perfect condition for your fire, so knowing what firewood to choose at the right time is an important task.
What is most important about firewood is by making different fires with different types of wood and testing out how it can change your fire. The aroma of fires, how much you want it to burn, how to build the fire, all of these are integral parts of choosing the right firewood. Likewise, the cost of firewood could be better to buy from a supplier instead of the startup costs of buying the tools to cut your own wood.
Chainsaws, trailers, or trucks are not cheap if you plan on cutting a lot of wood unless you know you will be doing a lot of tree cutting for a wood stove-heated home. For those that need some wood for the fall and winter months, buying it is the best approach. After a time, you start to appreciate certain cuts of wood that will give you the best possible fires, and as winter approaches, you want the right fire to keep you warm and toasty all season long.
Where to Have Your Fire
One of the most important parts of choosing your firewood is knowing where you will end up having this fire. As mentioned, some people living the rustic lifestyle need firewood as a necessity during the winter to keep their home working.
Firewood stoves for heating the home or for cooking require a lot of wood on hand throughout the year so choosing good hardwoods is important. Even a firewood furnace indoors for those who are living in a more contemporary home has to consider some of the characteristics of the wood.
The softwood varieties that spark or pop when heated can spit around the room need to be protected by screens or protectors to keep from burning anything inside, as well as proper ventilation for smoke exhalation. If the wood is not totally seasoned or is sappy, you could get a strong amount of aroma which might be off-putting or could be something you want, it is a matter of personal preference.
Outdoor fires have the benefit of letting you get messy and being open-faced. Even if the wood is sappy or harder to handle clean, they can be stored in a shed or under a tarp so the mess is irrelevant. Open-faced fires can still cause a problem if it is a dry season, but in the winter there is little to worry about, aside from heavy snowfall or wind.
Chimneys, fire pits, furnaces and building a fire teepee are the most common ways to have a fire outside and each offers its own advantages. Winter fires can be hard to maintain so know how to properly protect the kindle and keep your firewood as dry as possible so you never have to go without a source of heat for some outdoor fun.
How to Make Your Fire
As a quick aside for those buying firewood for the winter who are not the savviest with their fire-building skills, here are some quick tips on how to make your fire:
Indoor fires are usually contained inside furnaces or ovens or stoves, so they are protected well. Still, as mentioned you need screens or protectors for any sparks. Building a fire indoors requires kindling like any other fire, this can be cardboard or newspaper, which work very well because they can carpet the bottom of the fire containment area. They burn well and can help wood cords catch. Placing your wood inside is not as nearly as important for furnaces because you can toss them in and forget.
Outdoor fires are much harder to make and get started because of multiple reasons. First, starting your fire means a very adequate amount of kindling is needed. Newspaper and cardboard work well too, but you want brush and twigs to help supplement it. Surround this kindling with logs and larger branches have to be teepeed to allow the smoke and fire funnel up through the center.
Teepeeing wood can be down in multiple ways, you can stack wood in a square base and stand them upright inside as a support, or you can use a surrounding makeshift retaining wall to keep the logs from falling over. Protecting the initial fire space from wind can be done with your hands and blow into it to provide oxygen.
Tools You Need for Fire Building
The last thing you need to know to accompany your firewood needs for the winter is the proper tools and equipment for your fire needs. Chainsaws, axes, trailers, and trucks are all hands-on tools that you will want for your own foresting attempts to collect firewood, but there are a lot of smaller tools to help you enjoy your winter fires.
No fire is complete without a good poker. You need one to help stoke your fire and move around logs without burning your hands because it is virtually impossible to have a good fire without one. Second, you need lighters and most homes have some form of barbecue lighter available. For outdoor fires, you can purchase a propane blowtorch lighter to effectively start nearly any fire.
Other fun things to get for your fire are marshmallow or hot dog holders for good smores or roasted wieners. Lastly, there are a lot of things around your home you could help with your winter fires. Cotton balls, cardboard, disposable greasy snack bags or containers, toilet paper, paper towel, and dryer lint are great accelerants for a fire.
Choosing the right firewood for your winter needs is an important decision to keep you warm and comfortable all winter. This ultimate guide helps you pick what types of wood, from the species of tree, quality, and characteristics, to the intricacies of the fire making process.
Beginners and seasoned veterans of making fires can always use some advice for building a fire, how to determine what fire you need, and where you want to make your fires. These tips and this information will make your winter the best one yet.