The winter heating season always seems to hit earlier each year in Kentucky. Also there is the discussion of higher natural gas costs. People are beginning to turn to firewood as an alternative and supplemental heat source.

All firewoods are not all created equal. When choosing between species of woods, realize that they provide different amounts of heat per unit size. Wood is made up of air and cellulose (wood fiber). Some firewood logs have more air space than others. The more air space, the less amount of wood to burn. When looking for firewood, purchase the heaviest/densest per unit volume.

Since wood was a living plant, it contains water. The term "seasoned", when referring to wood, means how much water is in the wood. The more water you have in the firewood, the less heat you are going to have generated to heat a room. The heat generated from wet wood will have to go towards evaporating any moisture that might be found in the wood. Seasoned wood takes about six to twelve months to dry or cure properly. Seasoned wood is going to have splits in the end of the log and have a gray color. Having logs split into sections will help in speeding the drying process.

The better woods to choose from would be oak, hickory and black locust. These would be the densest of the firewoods in Kentucky. Yellow-poplar, silver and red maple would provide much less heat per unit volume, but are great woods for starting fires in the fireplace.

It is always suggested that you have a professional check your fireplace system before you build your first fire. This is a real must if you have not used the system for a number of years.