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Wet Wood - Video Vignette

Wet wood is a waste of wood and a waste of fuel. Because of the high moisture content, wet wood soaks up thirty percent of the heat you are trying to create, and at the same time it cools the combustible gases - the gases that burn and create heat.

Wet wood adds unhealthy particles to indoor air. Never store it in your basement, garage or other areas attached to your home. When logs get wet, mold and fungus grow and become airborne, causing allergy symptoms such as itchy eyes and a runny nose and can even trigger an asthma attack - especially if you are already sensitive to these health problems.

Wet wood is very common. Living trees can be 60-percent water, which means there's more water than wood in the tree. And even trees that have been dead for several years can be in the 50-percent moisture range.

Wood can be too wet even if it's dry on the outside, and it's easy to tell. A smoldering fire is a big sign. Dirty or cloudy looking glass doors and smoke coming from the chimney are also indicators that the fire needs more air or your wood is too moist, both of which create excessive smoke.

But why guess? An accurate way to measure the moisture content is with an inexpensive "moisture meter" that can be purchased at many stores and online. Fully cured firewood has a moisture content of less than 20 percent, so that's what you're aiming for. You need to measure moisture content inside pieces of firewood - jamming the meter deeply into the log and even splitting the log first to measure moisture on the inside. You'll know dry wood when you see it - it has cracks and feels hollow and light for its size when you pick it up.

Woodburning stoves are a lot of work, so you want to make sure you are getting the most heat output from your logs. Burning dry wood is the key to having your stove burn hotte and more efficiently because it takes less dry wood to heat your home than it does wet wood. Dry wood is also healthier wood because it burns cleaner and releases fewer emissions into the air than wet wood.

Don't let your money go up in smoke. To make sure your wood pile is dry, remember to split, stack, and store, so you save money and help keep the air inside and outside of your house clean. Remember these four easy steps: split the wood at least once. Stack it loosely in a pile so that it has plenty of air flow and is elevated off the ground. Store wood in an open-air shed, or cover the top of the pile for at least six of the warmer, drier months so it dries properly.

Burn wise and breathe easy by burning the right wood, the right way, in the right stove. For more tips on burning wisely visit Burn Wise Alaska.