Properly cured, or "seasoned" firewood needs to be cut, split and stacked for a minimum of six months to be properly dried for this fall and winters fireplace needs.

Trees are much like the human body. Both are made up of a large portion of water. If you cut a tree and attempt to immediately burn it in a fireplace, the largest portion of the heat generated will be used to continue the drying process of the wood. If firewood is properly dried, the majority of the heat generated will be used to heat your home.

If you normally purchase firewood for your home heating needs, rather than cutting your own, there are several items to look for when purchasing your "seasoned" firewood for this burning season. First, take note and see that the wood has been split, providing for more surface area from which to loose moisture. In addition, if the wood has a grey tone in color, you can be reassured that the wood has been drying for a long period of time. Checking for large cracks and splits on the end surface signifies also low moisture content in the wood.

Remember that wood can again reabsorb water, so it is important to properly care for the wood after it has been seasoned. Stack it in an area so that air can continue to circulate around the stack which will continue the drying process. Place a cover only on the top of the wood stack to keep water from running through the stack. Leaving the ends free to the sun and air will also continue the drying process.

Firewood that has not been properly seasoned will cause a fire to smolder and generate creosote build up in the fireplace and chimney. Creosote build up in the chimney, over time, can possibly lead to a chimney fire. Inefficient burning of firewood can also lead to poor draft up the chimney which in turn can also cause smoke filled rooms.

Wood fires are an enjoyable, as well as sometimes necessary part of our lives, during the early cool days of fall and the coldest days of winter. Don't get burnt by having all the heat from your firewood go to drying the wood and not to warming you and your home.