Spruce, pines and most conifers are softwoods. Burning at a higher temperature, softwoods give less heat but do so in a faster time than hardwoods. Softwoods are typically used to start the fire.
Burning slower with a higher flashpoint, hardwoods burn longer, steadier and hotter than softwoods. Used once the fire has been started and a bed of embers is present, hardwoods produce less creosote than softwoods.
Seasoning and Selection
After gathering and chopping firewood in the winter, a full year is enough to get the wood seasoned for the next cold season. Seasoned wood is dried and its sap has migrated to the roots. Cut your wood when the leaves have fallen off the tree and branches.
Cords and BTUs
Firewood is commonly measured in cords. A cord is 2 feet deep by 4 feet high by 16 feet long or any combination equaling 128 cubic feet. British Thermal Units are the measure of heat produced by the wood. A typical cord of hardwood will produce 20 million to 25 million BTUs.
Why We Spilt Firewood
Burning hotter and quicker than unsplit firewood, split firewood has more surface area to catch and ignite. Using some split wood to start the fire is advantageous. Using unsplit logs once the fire is established gives a longer, more consistent burn.
Article Written By Eric Cedric
A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.