New government rules on the sale of firewood, aimed at cutting emissions and improving air quality, came into force in May 2021. As a result, there is now a complete ban on the sale of wet wood for burning at home. But what is wet wood? How can you tell if wood is properly seasoned? What if your firewood gets wet in the rain? And what else do you need to you know? Oliver Rickman, Managing Director of Westbeams Tree Care, explains…
What is wet wood?
“Wet wood is simply wood that hasn’t been seasoned, which is the process of drying out the sap. When a tree is felled or a branch is removed, sap exists in abundance, and it will take at least a year dry out properly. If you fell a tree in winter, it will contain less sap because sap rises to support growth from spring onwards. Putting unseasoned wood on a fire will mean it won’t burn well and will also produce a lot of smoke. That’s why at Westbeams Tree Care we store our firewood for many months before processing it into fire-size chunks.”
Can you give percentages?
“Wet wood is around 40-60% moisture, and to be legal for sale nowadays it needs to be under 20% moisture. Having said that, we aim for our firewood to be under 15% moisture to ensure low emissions and high customer satisfaction.”
How can you tell if wood is seasoned?
“Seasoned wood that’s suitable for burning will appear duller. It’ll also make a hollower sound when you tap it and it’ll be lighter. You might be able to see small cracks in seasoned wood as well. We always use a hydrometer to measure the amount of moisture in our logs so we can guarantee they’re suitable for burning and legally compliant.”
What are the other benefits?
“Well-seasoned wood will yield considerably more heat than wet wood. In fact, that’s another reason why seasoned logs are more environmentally friendly than wet logs. Also, good quality firewood is arguably more carbon neutral when compared to fossil fuels. That’s because the carbon produced when burning has already been offset by the carbon absorbed by the tree throughout its life.”
What if my firewood gets wet in the rain?
“Rainwater won’t reverse the seasoning process, but it’ll definitely make your wood unsuitable for burning and may adversely affect your stove and/or chimney. Depending on the saturation, wood that’s been dampened by rain can take weeks or even months to dry. That’s why we always take the utmost care to keep our firewood dry while delivering it.”
Any other advice?
“Definitely keep your firewood in a shed or under a lean-to if you can. It’s absolutely imperative you keep it protected from the elements. It’s also a very good idea to keep your logs off the ground on pallets or something similar. This way, air can circulate underneath your stack to help with the ongoing process of seasoning.”
Discover more about seasoned, barn-stored firewood, including prices and details of bespoke ordering, by calling or emailing now.