Friday, September 20, 2013


One of the most obvious reminders that winter is coming is the delivery of firewood.  For many years, we cut our own firewood with a friend. However, felling trees is very dangerous, and we now buy it. Even getting it delivered is a fair bit of work. It is dumped in the parking area, and you have to load it into wheelbarrows, and cart it to the woodshed, where it is piled, and some of it has to be split into smaller pieces.

The firewood you get around here is made up mostly of maple and ash, but there is also some beech and some birch.  All these make fine firewood. The ash also has the advantage of being very easy to split. We only use hardwood which burns slower and longer, and hardwood is what we have locally.

Birch, Beech, Ash,  Maple

To burn cleanly and produce as much energy as possible, the wood has to be seasoned (dried). You can see that it is dry when small splits appear in the wood, or when the bark easily comes off. We usually keep enough wood for two years, always using the oldest one. This way, we are sure we only use dry wood. Using dry wood not only produces more energy, but it reduces creosote build-up and the danger of chimney fires.

Seasoned Firewood

 In the first picture above, there is about 5 face cords of wood. A face cord is 4 feet high and 8 feet long. The depth (the length of each piece) varies but is usually about 16 inches (it depends on the size of your stove firebox). We burn most of it in the living room stove. 

Main wood stove in the living-room

We also have a kitchen woodstove which we use only in cold weather. In the summer we use a propane stove.  The wood for the kitchen stove has to be split into smaller pieces as you want a very hot fire (that usually does not have to last many hours). In the main stove, you can use large pieces as what you want is steady heat. Apparently, if you split wood by hand an hour a day, you lose about 1 pound per week. To split wood, you use a maul, which is a 4 kilo blunt axe.
Firewood split smaller for hot fires and maul

Some pieces are very heavy and hard to split. There is no need to spend energy on those. You can use them as "overnighters". You put them in the stove before going to bed, and they burn more slowly because the wood is very dense. Often, when you use pieces like these, there are embers left in the morning, and you don't need to start a fire from scratch with kindling.


 For kindling, to start the fire, the best are small pieces of eastern cedar. It is the most common tree around here. The wood has a beautiful smell, and it splits and burns very easily. It burns too fast to use as firewood.

Kindling made with Eastern Cedar
Ready for winter - Wood stacked up and snow scoop


  1. We use a good deal of wood, too. My brother-in-law has a log splitter and my several grandchildren to help. They are expert stackers.

  2. A wood stove is one thing we don't have here, but it sure brings back memories. Piling wood is a great fall chore, though I'm not sure about the splitting part.

  3. We are not allowed to burn anything that produces smoke so our heating is gas. Just delivered through pipes.

  4. This post made me nostalgic for the beautiful wood burning fireplaces from the 100 year old house I grew up in. There is nothing like sitting by a roaring fire in the dead of winter. We weren't so knowledgeable about the types of wood and what they were best at, but then, we weren't heating the house with the fires we made! What is your main source of heat in the winter? Please tell me it's not your wood burning stoves!

  5. It is our main source of heat in winter but we "cheat". We are usually not here for the coldest part of the year. I can tell you that putting more wood on the stove in the middle of the night in winter becomes second nature. You can do it almost without waking up!

  6. This is a great primer on firewood. My only experience using it has been while tenting or using the backyard firebowl, so I learned a lot in this post.

  7. Wow, you are uber-organized. Do you have enough convenient storage for that second year's wood or do you have to move things around? Putting more wood on the fire in the middle of the night has never become second nature for me. Maybe it's a guy thing.

  8. What do you do with the ash? Put it in the garden?

    1. I do put some in the garden as it is a good source of potassium. However I am afraid to put too much because it makes the ground alkaline and our pH is already high. So, much of it I spread under trees around the house.


Thank you for leaving a comment