Storing Firewood

Here are some firewood tips to consider as you begin stockpiling wood for your fireplace or stove this heating season:

To help avoid insect or pests, never store firewood on the ground or touching your house.

Burn only dry, seasoned and clean natural wood. Wood should be cut, split and stacked in a covered area for about six months before burning. Well-seasoned logs will seem lighter in weight and have dark cut ends with cracks or splits.

Some of the wood with the most heat value includes American beech, apple, ironwood, red oak, shagbark hickory, sugar maple, white ash, white oak, and yellow birch.

Wood is often sold by the cord or 1/2 cord. A cord of wood is a pile of logs 4 feet wide by 4 feet high by 8 feet long and weighs about 2 tons. Don’t buy more than you can store and use for a season.

Make sure the damper is open before lighting a fire.

If a fresh air vent is present, clear away any ash or logs that may obstruct airflow.

Only burn wood with a safety screen present to prevent the spread of burning ashes.

Never burn wood that has been treated with a preservative. Burning treated lumber products can release highly toxic chemicals that may make you sick.

Never burn wood-composites. These products also contain potentially hazardous materials such as binders, resins and often plastics that can be toxic when burned. 


Treated wood can contain wood preservatives such as creosote, pentachlorophenol or chromated copper arsenate (CCA). These chemicals help protect wood from insects and other pests but can be hazardous to your health if not handled properly or burned. If you have leftover treated wood or wood composites from a recent deck or other construction project, dispose of it according to your local waste regulations.

Burning treated or wood composite products can release the preservative chemicals into the air, where they can be breathed in. The resultant ash can also contain dangerous concentrations of the same chemicals. If you accidentally inhale smoke or ash from wood you suspect has been treated or contains added chemicals, you should contact your local poison control center or your doctor.

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