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Burning Wet Wood in Your Home: Are the Dangers Worth it?

Burning wood in fireplace

At Big K, we’re here for the fire lovers. If you can’t bear to spend an evening without the crackle of a homely fire in the hearth, or you spend your nights outside by the roar of an open fire, we want you to get the most out of every moment. That’s why we offer a wide range of quality fuels and fire-starting accessories, so you can have a cosy, comfortable and consistent fire wherever and whenever you want.

When you’re burning a lot of firewood, it’s often tempting to simply collect your own firewood from local woods, or to buy cheap, untreated or unprepared wood. This type of wood is often described as ‘wet wood’, compared to seasoned or kiln dried wood. Wet wood is characterised by having a high moisture content, which can be anywhere from 40% up to 60% depending on if the tree has been recently felled, In comparison to this, seasoned wood is around 30%, with Ready to Burn Kiln Dried Wood under 20%.

While it might sound like an appealing option to go out and forage for your own free wood, the reality might put a dampener on your plans. Wet wood burns less efficiently, meaning you’ll need more of it than you will with a kiln dried option. There are a number of other dangers from burning wet wood which you should understand before you choose it as a fuel source.

So, we’ve written this guide to the top four issues you might come across when burning wet wood. And, we answer the all-important question: is it ever worth it?

1. More chimney condensation causing additional residue

One of the main dangers of burning wet wood involves the additional water vapour given off by burning untreated wood. This water vapour combines with other particles from the burning wood and can create a residue that collects in the chimney as the water vapour cools. This residue is brown or black in colour and can be sticky like tar or hard as it dries. There’s a real danger of the chimney becoming blocked or the residue dropping back into the fire and causing a chimney fire.

Apart from this being dangerous, you may also end up needing to have your chimney swept more regularly which is additional burden on your time and wallet. This condensation is often slightly corrosive, meaning that you may end up having to make even more costly repairs to your chimney liner too.

2. Poor quality wood results in poor quality fires

Pile of wet woodOne of the other major downsides of burning wet wood is that lower quality wood results in lower quality fires. What this means for you is that you’ll be refilling your fire more regularly, so you’ll have less heat output and more smoke, and even more noise from the wood burning. Wet wood can also be hard to light and difficult to keep alight, so you’ll be worrying about your fire all evening.

To really get the most from your wood burning stove or chiminea, choose high quality wood that’ll give you a warm, crackling and longer-lasting fire. Kiln dried wood in particular is very dependable and consistent, so you’ll get a fire you can rely on every single time.

3. Damage to stove glass

In some cases, burning wet wood can cause damage to your wood burning stove or fireplace itself. If your stove has a glass front, the residue that’s left from the wet wood can cause the glass to blacken and even, in extreme cases, become damaged over time. This residue will stick to, or remain on the inside of, your stove or chimney, potentially causing corrosive damage. What’s more the reliability or safety of your fire can also be affected, as the residue can cause flare-ups.

Plus, you’ll find that wet wood can leave more soot and other residue in the grate or bottom of your stove, which you’ll need to clean more often.

4. Worse for the environment

The other main problem with burning wet wood is that it’s worse for the environment. Wet wood produces more smoke and more harmful by-products, which pollute the air. With kiln dried wood, the drying process burns off sap and water from the wood, resulting in a more efficient and environmentally-friendly burn.

The smoke emissions from wet wood can be 3 or 4 times more than those of kiln dried logs. Choose Ready to Burn kiln dried fuel with a moisture level of under 20% for a more eco friendly and clean burn.

Is burning wet wood ever worth it?

So, even with these 4 potential issues: is burning wet wood worth it? The answer ultimately depends on your situation. If you are using an open fire pit or outdoor chiminea, then wet wood can be a cheap way to add some bulk to your fires, especially if you have a handy local source.

But, if you’re using a wood burning stove or indoor fireplace, the cons of burning wet wood outweigh the pros. From potential damage to your stove to having to sweep your chimney more frequently, it could be a more costly and inefficient way option to burn wet wood.

Look for the Ready to Burn logo and choose kiln dried wood with a moisture content of under 20%. That way you’ll enjoy a consistent, easy to light firewood that’ll create the perfect crackling fire to keep the cold winter nights at bay.