Here are a few important things to know about firewood:
The U.S. Forest Service has evaluated many types of wood and assigned them each with a heat rating using BTUs (British Thermal Units in case you were wondering). It does make it easier to at least make an apples to apples comparison with regards to how much warmth are we going to get for our dollar.
So, for some perspective, Pine has 17 BTUs, Walnut has 23, Our local, native Oaks have 28, Almond has 32 BTUs and Olive has 37! We have never stocked Pine, it is very cheap but has a big draw back in that it soils your chimney very fast. Walnut has 35% more BTUs than Pine and crosses over the threshold of being a hardwood and doesn’t soil the chimney nearly as fast as Pine.
Besides making sure you get a full cord (128 cubic feet) the next most important factor is how long the wood has been seasoned. Too short and the wood is “green” and essentially unburnable; the BTUs are significantly reduced and any resulting fire is very smoky.
Overly seasoned and the wood is like stryrofoam, and again has lost most of its BTUs and is exceptionally light. The ‘styrofoam’ situation occurs frequently with Oak since most is cut from downed, rotten trees.
Your harder woods, the ones with the most BTUs, are the hardest to get started but once they are going it is well worth it.
Besides asking your wood supplier, “How long has this wood been split?” you can also ask, “what percentage of it is split?”
The harder the wood the longer it has to be split before it becomes “seasoned”. Our Olive and Almond are seasoned here on the property so that we can personally guarantee that it is ‘Firewood that Burns.’ Those two varieties take around 8 months to season, after they have been split.
The percentage of “split” wood will tell you what kind of pieces are in the load. A high percentage like 80% means you are getting mostly good sized logs versus lots of smaller branches. Plum, Peach, Orange woods might only be 40% split which means most of the wood is between wrist and forearm size – tiny (at least for us non-weight lifting guys).
Old Towne Nursery is the only firewood supplier in Tehachapi that guarantees that the firewood is seasoned and ready to burn. We have Oak, Almond and Walnut in stock and ready to keep your home warm and cozy!