Wood burning stoves are a convenient, fuel efficient way to heat your home in winter months and if the right wood is used to make your fires it will provide ample heat indoors and burn for long periods of time. Whether your stove is your constant heat source, a backup for power-outages or just for ambience, here are some things to consider when buying your next bag of wood.

Make sure the wood is as dry as possible

Unseasoned wood poses more problems than just smoke and more cleaning. Much of a fire’s energy is wasted on heating any water in the wood into steam – this keeps the wood from reaching the high temperatures required to sustain the fire; this is wasteful as far more wet wood is required to keep your house warm and cosy than dry wood.

Wet wood is difficult to set alight and will leave you annoyed as you go through boxes of firelighters just to keep the wood burning. After that, you’ll find yourself constantly rushing to add more wood as the fire begins to smoulder. And even then, the moisture in the wood will prevent any large flames forming, keeping the fire from reaching high temperatures and before you know it the fire will die.

Well-seasoned wood is less frustrating overall. Wood with a lower moisture content will combust more easily and allow you to restrict airflow to slow down the burning speed. This will reduce the amount of fuel needed to keep your fireplace burning in addition to drastically improving the amount of clean-up required. Using well-seasoned wood will prevent your glass screen from going black, staying cleaner for longer, allowing you to enjoy the dancing flames and create an amazing ambiance.

Start your fire with softwoods and then burn well-seasoned hardwoods

Bluegum are evergreen trees which distinguishes them from Namibian hardwoods like Sekelbos and Kameeldoring which are deciduous and lose their leaves in winter. We recommend burning hardwoods as these generally have a lower moisture content than softwoods which leads to warmer and less smoky fires. Softer woods have their own advantages.

Well-seasoned softer woods ignite easier and burn out faster than Namibian hardwoods ,this makes them well suited for starting fires. Softwood trees absorb more water than hardwoods, this means they can grow faster, have a lower density and as a result, they season (dry out) much faster than hardwoods. This fast growth and drying-time make softwoods more accessible and cheaper than Namibian hardwoods.

However, because softwoods don’t burn for very long, don’t get very hot or leave good coals, they are not cost-effective to use as a main fuel source. Instead, their easy combustion should be leveraged to ignite hardwoods which can be challenging to get burning due to their higher density. Once Namibian hardwoods are alight, they burn longer, hotter and are perfect for your stove.

Choose wood that is low maintenance and safe for your stove

More than a central heating unit, air conditioning or an electric heater, wood-fired stoves require care and attention. Before the cold season begins it’s important to remove any creosote build-up (the black tar-like substance that can coat the inside of your stove) and clean your chimney – to make this process as easy as possible, it’s important to burn wood that will keep your stove in good shape.

Wood stoves require especially dry wood to minimise the amount of smoke produced. Wood with a high moisture content will smoke heavily when ignited and this will dirty the glass screen and reduce the lifespan of your stove. Green/unseasoned (not well-dried) wood will not burn properly and leaves coarser ash that is harder to clean the following morning.

Our recommendation

Above all, to ensure a warm, low maintenance fire the most important thing you can do is make sure the wood you buy is well-seasoned and dry. The Firewood company recommends well-seasoned, Bluegum to get your fire started, then add Namibian hardwoods like Kameeldoring and Sekeldoring for a perfect winter fire.