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Which Firewood Is Best?

The cold weather is here, meaning you’re either constantly heating your home or turning up the temperature, and you never seem to have enough layers on. So far, so familiar. But what about dusting off your wood burner?

Today, our arborealists in Bromley and South East London are advising homeowners on the right kind of wood for warmth and efficiency in the home. Snuggle up under your cosiest blanket and read on…

Types of firewood

You can shop for firewood in two broad categories – softwood and hardwood – or by specific varieties of wood, such as larch or pine.

  • ‘Softwood’ can be a bit of a misnomer, as it’s not always softer than hardwood. But where it does differ is in its construction. It contains less resin than hardwood, a substance which can accumulate on your chimney as the wood is burned. 
  • Hardwood varieties, like oak, contain pores. These help channel tree sap – the nutrient-rich juice that gives it energy to grow. These pores can actually help the flames to ‘spread’ more easily.

Benefits of each type

Here’s more about how the varieties differ.

  • Softwood burns quickly, and also grows quickly – so it’s considered a more sustainable fuel source. Many varieties can also be cheap to buy, since the wood is generally easier to source. And, for those who grow their own wood, it doesn’t need as much seasoning (more on that here).
  • In contrast, hardwood burns longer than its softwood cousin. This means you could save quite a bit on your fuel costs. Additionally, you can expect a lot more heat from this thicker, denser fuel. However, it takes longer to grow and season overall, and can be more expensive to buy.

A word on moisture content 

Whichever wood variety you choose, you won’t get far with damp fuel. Wood that’s got a high moisture content burns with a tremendous amount of smoke, and could also clog up your chimney with nasty substances like creosote. That’s why it’s important to season your wood correctly, or buy from reputable suppliers. 

Chopping and prepping your firewood

If you grow your own wood, you’ll need to know how to cut it down to size safely. That means having the right tools and nailing your technique. Our Bromley arborealists advise:

  • Getting the right gear – ensure you have protective gloves and goggles to protect eyes and hands from cuts and splinters, as well as sharp or dangerous tools.
  • Investing in quality tools – you’ll need a saw or chainsaw to cut off branches, an axe to chop your wood down, and a splitter to break it into smaller pieces. Other kit you might want to consider: a chopping block, sawhorse and log store.
  • Buying ready-chopped wood: If you can get your hands on it, you’ll save yourself a lot of time and effort. You can also be assured it’s seasoned properly, and may therefore avoid the need to season it yourself. 

Our team can also cut down any trees on your land to use for firewood – ask us about that here.

Best ways to store wood

It’s always best to keep wood indoors (and it’ll definitely season more quickly that way), plus many homeowners love the sight of a stack of logs, ready-to-go, beside their fireplace or burner. And there’s no denying it can be an attractive decorative feature that sets the tone for a warm and cosy evening.

Saying that, log stores can also be housed outside. As long as you’ve got a pallet to keep logs off the ground (which could cause them to become damp or even rot), you should be fine. Just make sure you season them for the right timeframes. 

We can give you advice on where to store your wood on your land, as well as cutting it down to size for you.

Tips and tricks for burning wood

Armed with the best type for your needs, it’s time to look at your fireplace and make sure you’ve got it set up to burn properly and effectively.

  • The main thing to bear in mind is airflow, which controls how much oxygen gets to the flames. The more oxygen you use to feed your fire, the faster it will burn. Check your air dampener to make sure it’s using the right amount.
  • Next, be sure to check for any blockages in your flue, which could restrict airflow and affect burn times.
  • Finally, keep your chimney and fireplace clean – and if you struggle to do it yourself, get an expert in to take a look. 

Help and advice

We might be arborealists, but that doesn’t mean we just deal with pruning and tree surgery. We’re also well-versed in wood and have lots of ideas about what varieties to burn, how to store them, and even how to season your wood. Plus, our team can chop down trees on your land for you, which could then be used as a fuel source in your log burner. Whether you live in Bromley and South East London or you’re further afield, our team are always happy to help – just get in touch.

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