2989 Simcoe County Road 42
Box 321, Creemore, Ontario L0M 1G0 CANADA
The government of Canada publishes an excellent resource for folks looking for information about residential wood-heating.
It's a renewable energy resource
Renewable means you don't run out. Renewable means you don't deplete the earth's resources. Wood is energy from the sun, stored by the tree as it grows. When you burn wood you are releasing this stored energy. In the dark of winter, it's like having a bit of summer sun on your hearth.
No global warming
When fuels burn they release carbon dioxide, the greenhouse gas responsible for global warming. Burning fossil fuels such as oil and natural gas is like pumping carbon dioxide from the centre of the earth into the atmosphere ? a one-way trip. Trees absorb carbon dioxide as they grow. When wood burns, the carbon dioxide is released, only to be absorbed again by young trees. Because trees recycle carbon dioxide, woodburning just warms you, not the globe. Combined with responsible forestry practices, we can ensure that our local woodlands contribure most significantly to the health of our environment.
You're in charge
Stop writing cheques every month to the energy utilities. Take control by heating with wood. In our climate, staying warm is right up there on the list of the most important things in life. Do you really want to leave something so important in the hands of a faceless corporation?
No more freezing in the dark
The big, centralized energy sources are not very reliable. When a storm interrupts the electrical supply, all the conventional heating systems are useless; the fancy heat pump falls silent, the gas furnace can't work. But the wood stove or fireplace keeps you warm and cozy and safe. Now a power failure is kind of fun; you get to use the candles.
Warms you like no other
The radiant heat from a stove or fireplace is like the rays of the sun. It warms you through and through. Come in from the storm and stand near the fire rubbing your hands together. It's one of life's small pleasures.
The romance of the flame
Sure it's a clich?but that doesn't make it any less true. The soft glow of the fire is the favourite setting for an intimate conversation. It's the place where friends and family gather to talk and laugh in comfort. Gazing into the fire, your imagination is free to soar on flights of fancy or probe the depths of the soul. Take a break from the harsh world outside ? you'll find solace there in the flames.
Raise your energy I.Q.
Flick the switch, turn up the thermostat. Now, what did that cost? What impact did it have on the natural world? What sins were committed in getting that energy to you? You're in touch when you heat with wood. That arm load will last the day. That log you placed on the fire is a tangible measure of the cost to the environment of keeping your family warm. It's the wood heat way of knowledge.
Heat a space, save some energy
Well-planned space heating saves energy. That stove or fireplace in the living room keeps you warm and cozy in the place you spend your time. The basement and bedrooms stay cool. Regardless of what you pay for energy, space heating with wood clips 25% right off the top.
Invest in your community
Spend a buck on oil, natural gas or electricity and you feed a corporate giant. Spend a buck on firewood and you feed a neighbor. Save a buck by heating with wood and you can spend that buck in your community. Heating with wood makes you richer in ways beyond counting.
We almost forgot to mention it. Wood is the cheapest heating fuel you can
use if you don't live in a large city. Some people actually think the only
reason we heat with wood is to save money. Poor souls, they miss so much of
what is good in life.
Fireplaces and wood stoves, popular aesthetic accessories of the recent past, are rapidly gaining prominence as primary or supplemental heat sources for homes. The rising costs, and in some instances, actual shortages of conventional home heating energies have led to greatly increased utilization of wood as a heating fuel.
Firewood, one of nature's most common methods of storing solar energy, is a renewable energy source. It is a relatively clean, efficient, safe energy source having low sulfur content and is generally found throughout the country. Its primary products of combustion are carbon dioxide, water vapor and ash. The ash content is low--only one to two percent by weight--and that which does remain can be used as a worthwhile soil conditioner.
A wood fire is easy to start and produces a large quantity of heat in a short time as well as adding a cheerful atmosphere to the home. An ample air supply to the wood fire is important to ensure complete burning or combustible gases. Wood fires are ideal where heat is required only occasionally, for warming a living area on cool days or for supplying extra heat in extremely cold weather. When considering wood as a primary heat source, several factors must be carefully weighed to ensure satisfactory results and acceptable deficiencies.
The heat content of any fire depends on wood density, resin, ash and moisture. A rule of thumb often used for estimating heat value of firewood is: "One cord of well-seasoned hardwood (weighing approximately two tons) burned in an airtight, draft-controlled wood stove with a 55-65% efficiency is equivalent to approximately 175 gallons of #2 fuel oil or 225 therms of natural gas consumed in normal furnaces having 65-75% efficiencies." Generally, hardwoods which provide long-burning fires contain the greatest total heating value per unit of volume. Softwoods which gives a fastburning, cracking blaze are less dense and contain less total heating value per unit of volume.
All woods dried to the same moisture content contain approximately the same heat value per pound--from 8,000 to 9,500 BTU for fully dried wood and 5,500 to 8,500 BTU for air-seasoned wood.
When considering the type of wood for use as firewood, several characteristics are important. These include heat value, ease of splitting, weight per volume unit, ease of starting, amount of smoking and coaling qualities. Moisture content of the wood, number of knots and pitch content affect these characteristics of the more common woods used as firewood.
The only legal measurement and representation of fire wood is a " cord " and fractional parts of a cord or cubic meter. A cord is the amount of wood contained in 128 cubic feet of space when the wood is tightly stacked. A cord of wood is a pile which measures 4 feet wide, 4 feet high, and 8 feet long. But whatever the dimensions of the pile is, it must be equivalent to 128 cubic feet of tightly stacked wood to be equal to one cord.
Prohibited terms of selling fire wood are " face cord " , " rack " , " pile " , " truckload " or similar language. Such terms are not to be used when advertising, offering for sale, or selling fire wood.
When you purchase your fire wood, the seller is required to give to you a sales invoice that provides:
- the name and address of the vendor,
- the name and address of the purchaser,
- the date delivered,
- the quantity delivered and the quantity upon which the price is based, if this differs from the delivered quantity,
- the price of the amount delivered, and
- the identity of the wood in the most descriptive terms commercially used, including any quality representation made in connection with the sale.
Wood should be dried as much as possible before burning. Properly seasoned wood has about 7,700 BTU maximum usable energy per pound versus only about 5,000 BTU available from green wood. For best results, season or air-dry wood for at least six to eight months after cutting. This should bring the moisture content down to 15 to 20% by weight. The best time to cut wood is during the winter or early spring before the sap runs. If the tree is felled when fully leafed out, let it lie until leaves have become crisp to allow leaves to draw out as much moisture as possible from the tree before further cutting.
Drying time is greatly reduced if wood is cut into firewood length and split, especially pieces larger than 8 inches in diameter. Splitting is easiest when wood is frozen or green and should be done before wood is stacked. Wood must be properly stacked for satisfactory drying. The greater the surface area exposed to air, the more rapid the drying. Therefore, stack wood loosely and keep it off moist ground. The stack should be located in an open area for good air circulation--avoid stacking in wood lots for seasoning.
Store firewood outdoors, under partial or full protection from the elements, and no closer than 25 feet from the house. Keep area around wood clear of weeds, leaves, debris, etc., to discourage rodents, snakes, insects, and other unwanted pests from making their home in the stacked wood. Avoid storing large quantities in the house, warm garage or basement because the heat will activate insect and fungi or spore activity and bring about hatching of any insect eggs in or on the wood.
Before lighting a fire, make sure the thermostat is turned down so air heated by the central furnace will not go up the chimney. The easiest and best fire for either a stove or fireplace is achieved with a mixture of softwoods for easy igniting with hardwoods for longer burning and good coaling qualities. A cardinal rule of fireplace management is to keep a thick bed for glowing coals that drop through. The coals yield a steady heat and aid in igniting fresh fuel as it is added. Keep the fire burning by adding small amounts of wood at regular intervals. A small, hot fire is much better than a large, roaring blaze because it burns more completely and produces less creosote.
Coal should never be burned in a stove or heater designed for wood. Artificial or manufactured logs, which are composites of sawdust, chips, colorful chemicals, starch binders and wax should be burned only in open brick fireplaces. The wax burns at too hot a temperature for metal stoves and chimneys. When using manufactured logs in fireplaces, never crumble the burning log with tongs or poker. Avoid using wood salvaged from poles, posts, and lumber that has been treated with wood preservatives such as creosote or pentachlorophenol. These chemical compounds may vaporize upon combustion and cause respiratory problems for those breathing the fumes.
Wet, green wood, or highly resinous wood should not be burned because of the large amounts of wood tars, creosote and wood extractives given off which can coat chimney flues and cause serious chimney fires if ignited.
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