Chapter 17: Frequently Asked Questions
We’ve covered a lot of ground in this guide, but there are still more questions to answer! So, keep reading to find our responses to some of the most common firewood queries.
Is kiln-dried firewood good?
The answer to this question depends on what you mean by good. If you’re fine with buying cheap wood that won’t burn very well, then kiln-dried firewood is not for you. But if you want to enjoy a luxurious fire-making experience from start to finish, then kiln-dried firewood isn’t just a good choice for you; it’s the best! Because it always comes at an optimal moisture content, kiln-dried firewood ignites easier, burns hotter and produces less dirty smoke than any other firewood on the market.
Why does firewood pop and crackle?
Firewood pops and crackles when it contains a lot of water, sap and/or resin. The fire causes these liquids to expand and turn into steam. These pockets of steam get trapped in the wood and continue to expand until they release into the air with a popping sound. This is what’s happening when you hear those pops and see those sparks in your fire.
Why won’t my firewood light or burn?
The most likely reason you can’t get your fire lit or keep it going is that it contains too much moisture. When wood has a moisture content of over 20% it doesn’t perform nearly as well as wood under the 20% threshold. The best wood drying method for ensuring wood has less than 20% moisture is kiln drying. So, we recommend getting kiln-dried firewood for a better burning experience.
Why does firewood smoke?
The amount of smoke firewood produces directly correlates to the amount of moisture in the wood. The higher the moisture content of the wood, the more smoke it will produce. The optimal moisture content for a minimal amount of smoke is below 20%. Only kiln-dried firewood consistently achieves this optimal level of moisture for the perfect amount of smoke.
How much firewood is in a rick?
We can’t tell you exactly how much firewood is in a rick because that can vary from seller to seller. What we can tell you is a rick describes a stack of firewood that is 4’ high by 8’ wide. What varies is the depth of the stack.
Some firewood sellers use the term rick to describe a full cord of firewood, which is 4’ deep for a total of 128 cubic feet of firewood. However, when others say rick, they mean a face cord, which is only one row of firewood deep. How deep that is will depend on how long the seller cuts its pieces, which is often somewhere between 12-18 inches.
So, if you encounter a firewood supplier that sells its firewood by the rick, make sure you get the exact measurements the business uses. This way you’ll know exactly how much firewood you’re getting.
How can you tell good firewood?
Good firewood will have these four characteristics:
- Moisture content below 20% (you can check this with a moisture meter)
- Neatly split pieces with no mold or mud visible
- Cracked ends on the pieces to indicate thorough drying
- Pieces make a hollow sound when hit together
Beyond taking these steps to inspect the wood, you should also make sure you’re buying from a dealer with a good reputation. You can check this by looking at the company’s online reviews and asking around to see if your friends and family had a good experience with them.
How long does a cord of wood last?
A full cord contains 128 cubic feet of firewood. This large amount of wood should be enough to last you between 2-4 months, depending on how often you use firewood. If firewood is your main fuel source for heating your home, then you will likely have to get more wood after two months or sooner.
Can you burn fresh cut wood?
You can burn fresh cut wood, but we wouldn’t recommend it. The wood will contain a lot of moisture, which will make it difficult to ignite, and the fire will probably fizzle out sooner than you’d like. It will also produce a lot of dirty smoke and creosote that will sting your eyes and could harm your health and the environment.
Instead, we’d recommend burning kiln-dried wood, which starts easier and burns hotter and cleaner for a much more enjoyable experience.
Does kiln-dried firewood have bugs?
No! The extremely hot temperatures inside the kiln kill off all insects, mold and fungus during the drying process.
Does kiln-dried firewood have creosote?
Because it contains less than 20% moisture, kiln-dried firewood produces very little smoke and creosote.
Is kiln-dried firewood expensive?
Kiln-dried firewood typically costs more than traditional seasoned firewood, but for good reason. The extra steps in the drying process require additional production costs. But these costs are well worth it for the lower-moisture wood they consistently produce. So, you will pay more when you purchase kiln-dried firewood, but you’ll be paying for an easier and more enjoyable fire-making experience.