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Firewood 101

The Martha Stewart Show, December 2007

Firewood is usually classified into two broad categories: hardwood and softwood.

Hardwood
Hardwood, such as oak and maple, is the furnace of your fire; it is what will burn throughout a cozy evening in front of your fireplace.

Softwood
Softwood, such as pine or spruce, is used as kindling to start the fire, but it should never be used as the primary firewood for any fire. It contains lots of resin, which accumulate on chimney walls forming creosote, which can catch on fire.

Starting a Fire
Create a pyramid using two or three logs and twigs for kindling. Light the fire using newspaper, which can be tied into bundles.

Ordering Firewood
When you order, find out how long it has been seasoned, which means how long it has been left to dry after being cut. This is important because dry wood burns best and firewood should be aged at least six months.

Comments (4)

  • clemenza 22 Dec, 2008

    What about checking to make sure the flue is opened. Additionally, the mention of a fire extinguisher and a smoke / carbon monoxide detector anytime combustion and oxygen depravation is present would have been a real plus. Great Show, especially Andrea Bocelli. Thanks, East Patchogue, NY, Peter Caliendo - Fire Commissioner.

  • karenhort 10 Dec, 2007

    Burning a fire in a wood stove is a great way to use fallen branches and prunings from your yard. Gather, cut (usually to 16-18"), and bundle together using string or P.O. elastics and set in a well ventilated area of your yard for the summer and fall. Free kindling and keeps brush out of landfills. Cardboard packaging is also good in between the newspaper and the kindling.

  • jgbartz 10 Dec, 2007

    I have been using Pine wood for years cause that is all I have where we live and it works just fine. You just have to add wood more frequently to the fire (in our case, we have a wood stove) and have to clean the chinmey every year, no exceptions. We usually just throw in fat logs after the fire has been going and those tend to burn longer.

  • dwong_mtl 10 Dec, 2007

    Martha has very good suggestions to start a fire. One more important step is to open your "vent or "damper" so that your house is not filled with smoke.