Many of our customers know why the densest and driest firewood is best, but there’s an extra step. Discerning the right cut of firewood is as important for fires as discerning the right cut of meat is for flavor. Split a certain way, firewood can stay dry and enjoy higher density in its ultimate form.
Many recognize that the best firewood must be extremely dense and dry, but fewer know that the very cut of wood can have an impact on a fire’s ultimate quality.
In the following, we’ll talk about what factors make for the best firewood and how cutting wood a certain way leads to better fires. For the rugged outdoorsman, we’ll also share how to cut wood and what tools to use.
Why Do You Split Firewood?
Why split wood before burning it, and why does split wood burn better? A lot of work goes into preparing wood for fires, but splitting firewood is particularly important for creating the hottest ones that’re easiest to start. Whether you season wood or use a kiln, large logs are difficult to burn and take forever to dry, while short, thin logs are much easier to burn and don’t take long to dry. Also, splitting firewood allows for the wood’s innermost, central places to enjoy enough exposure to dry air.
What Makes Wood Moist?
Rain or shine, the tree’s circulatory system is responsible for loading wood with moisture. Roots suck water from soil, and the trunk carries that water from the roots to the highest branches. Accordingly, all wood must take time to dry before effective usage, and splitting wood is an important part of expediting this process.
Why Is Moist Wood So Hard to Burn?
Firewood needs to dry before usage because heat must boil water out of it before it can start burning. Full of enough water, some wood may be completely immune to fire, and any moist firewood that’s able to start will produce a lot more smoke and creosote.
Not only is splitting wood easier than other methods of stripping wood from whole logs, but splitting also exposes the innermost parts of a tree, as well as highly flammable resin, to open air. Especially in quarters, logs need very little time before they’re ready to start a roaring fire.
Split firewood is also less likely to contain moisture because there’s less bark to insulate the pieces. A decrease in bark actually increases the density of the firewood you’re using. Bark isn’t very dense in comparison to a tree’s central wood. If you use split logs, you’re using denser material to make hotter fires.
Whatever process you use, the longer wood’s been dead, the more flammable it is.
With What Can I Split Firewood?
You need the right tools for splitting firewood. Consider the starting size of the logs you’re splitting, the target size of each chunk, and the entire amount of firewood to split, as these factors will inform which tool is best.
If you’re looking to churn scores of the biggest, longest logs into highly flammable pieces, you’ll need an industrial hydraulic splitter. Though it’s much more expensive than an axe, it remains necessary for processing this much firewood.
In fact, Lumberjacks uses these splitters to produce vast quantities of excellent firewood. Here’s a quick clip of our machinery in action:
If you’re going to do this by hand, then of course you need to know how to split firewood with an axe. But you need to find a solid log on which to split. Potentially, your splitting log is more important than the tool you use.
Any large chunk of solid wood will do as long as the surface is a little more than two feet above the ground. Flatness is also important. This organic splitting log should be as perfectly flat as the most modern coffee table. Without perfect flatness, the logs you have to split will move all over the place. If you don’t have any large trees nearby, you might benefit from bolting several 4-by-4s together.
For appropriately-sized logs that might benefit from extra dryness, a maul will be most effective. A maul is a smaller, more versatile axe. With a smidge of metal and high maneuverability, a solid maul can help you make short work of a series of smaller logs.
Some tools can help you reduce firewood to kindling, which is still a necessary part of any great fire. You might actually earn better kindling by chopping firewood further instead of foraging for materials. With a hatchet, you can turn a small piece of firewood into kindling. As with a maul, go for something hefty and maneuverable.
At 6 to 8 inches wide, final pieces of firewood should fit comfortably in one hand. Whether you split your firewood into halves or quarters depends on your starting material. Larger logs can split into quarters, though splitting smaller logs into quarters is unnecessary. Modern fireplaces might benefit from finer pieces of wood cut into 3 or 6 inches.
How Does Split Firewood Fuel the Best Fires?
If you want to build quality fires, combine split firewood with whole logs. Because whole logs have thick coats of bark, they burn slowly enough to last for many hours. Remember, you can use split firewood as something along the lines of kindling to light bigger logs, and this can make for long, hot fires in an outdoor pit or fireplace. Just note that whole logs must be as dry as the split wood.
Must I Chop All This Wood Myself?
Splitting firewood is a satisfying way to enjoy better, more potent fires that are easier to start, but it’s also an excellent workout. Logs and axes are heavy entities that’ll feel heavier the more time you spend using them. All the effort you put into chopping firewood will strengthen your arm muscles and build any aptitude in axes from which you might benefit.
Not interested in our rustic workout routine? No problem. At Lumberjacks, we know when to split firewood, and that time is long before sending each cord your way. After all, we’re all about treating Northern Illinois to the best kiln-dried firewood money can buy. To enjoy the most combustible cuts of the finest firewood, please call us, email us or fill our form online.