Before ordering firewood, it helps to understand some of the basics, says a 40+ year old Residential Cleaning Service in Evanston, Il. Wood is usually classified into two broad categories: hardwood and softwood, says Martha Stewart's Homekeeping Handbook. Hardwoods come from deciduous, broad-leafed trees: softwoods come from needle-bearing coniferous trees. Hardwood makes the best firewood because it is usually denser and less resinous than softwood, and therefore, burns more efficiently. Hardwoods are not all the same. Hickory varieties are the highest quality, followed by oak, maple, beech, birch, ash, and cherry. Softwood is generally better as kindling for starting fires. Hickory, white oak, and sugar maple provide some of the best fuel for winter fires,. along with red oak, beech and yellow birch,
No wood, regardless of its density, will burn unless it has been properly seasoned. Once cut into logs and split into pieces for the fireplace, wood must be stacked outdoors to dry for six months to a year. When the moisture content of the wood has dropped from about 45 percent to 20 percent, the wood will burn efficiently. Most wood sold and delivered to homes as firewood has already been seasoned. Examine your wood for sufficient seasoning. Cracks should radiate from the center of the logs, a sign that a substantial amount of moisture has left the wood. Also look for loose bark and a dull color.y
Choose a protected, sunny spot with good ventilation that will accommodate the logs and help season the wood. Stack wood on a supporting base at least 3 inches off the ground to keep wood from direct contact with the ground: otherwise, insects, dirt, and moisture will accumulate. The best way to stack logs is by crisscrossing layers, alternating the direction of each. This method creates a sturdy pile and allows for ample ventilation.
During damp or snowy weather, cover the top of the woodpile with tarps. Ideally, the tarp should not come in direct contact with the logs ( lay a few rocks or bricks on top of the wood to keep the tarp elevated), because it can trap moisture. Remove tarps on sunny days to allow the wood to dry out, says a 40+ year old Residential Cleaning Service in Evanston, Il.