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Sometimes, getting your hands on dry wood might not be an option. Maybe you didn’t cut any firewood last season that could dry through the year. Or maybe you’re in the woods somewhere wanting to start a fire, but there is only green wood to be found. Can we use green if we absolutely have to?
It is not recommended to burn green wood. Especially not indoors, in a fireplace or stove. Green wood will have a poor energy output because of the water content, it burns dirty, creosote will build up in your chimney, and it is hard to start a fire with. If you absolutely have to burn green wood, do it outside.
But even though I recommend using properly seasoned wood when making a fire, there are situations where it is necessary to use green wood. There are also wood types that have less moisture content when cut than other woods. So let’s go through the use of green wood for fires in detail, so you can make an informed decision.
Using Green Wood For Firewood
Green wood is the wood from a tree that has recently been cut down and that was alive before being cut down. Ideally, we want to chop this wood into smaller pieces, let it dry, and then we can burn the wood when it has a moisture content of less than 20%.
There are many things to consider if we want to use green wood as firewood. First of all, the wood is wet. And as we know, water and fire are not very good friends. If we were to add a log of green unseasoned wood to a fire, the water in the log has to boil and evaporate before the log can properly catch fire and produce heat energy.
Using green and wet wood for burning is inefficient.
Green wood will also produce more smoke when burned and will generally burn dirtier. If you ever tried burning a log of wet wood or poorly seasoned wood in your fireplace, you have probably noticed that that the glass windows in the fireplace become black and dirty fairly quickly. This is because of the water, sap, oils, and impurities still in the wood. When the wood is properly seasoned, many of these impurities are removed and the wood will burn cleaner.
Now, even though I don’t recommend using green wood in your fireplace, is it still possible? yes, it is. There are many old-timers that swear to use green wood for making long-lasting fires (The logs take time to dry in the fire, and water to evaporate). So you can definitely do it, and if you already have a fire going you can use a green log here or there, and it will start burning properly after drying out.
But using green wood in your fireplace can actually be dangerous, I’ll explain that in the next paragraph about creosote buildup.
The biggest danger with using green wood for firewood in an indoor fireplace or indoor stove is that it causes creosote buildup in the chimney. Creosote is highly flammable and can cause chimney fires if there is too much of it. Wet and green wood causes more creosote to build up than properly seasoned firewood.
Creosote is a byproduct of burning wood, the smoke from wood contains impurities like oils, gases, and wood particles. This smoke rises up through the chimney and some of the impurities will stick to the wall of the chimney. This is what we call creosote, and it builds up over time and needs to be removed at least once a year.
The creosote looks like tar, is black, and has an oily conistency, and is shiny.
When we burn green wood, the creosote will develop faster in the chimney, a lot faster than we think. Some chimneys get so dense with creosote that air is not allowed to pass through. When this happens there is a huge risk of the creosote catching fire and causing a significant fire hazard for the rest of the building.
Can You Burn Green Wood In A Fireplace Or A Stove?
You can burn green wood in a fireplace and a stove but it is not recommended. Creosote will build up and it will become a fire hazard over time. If you choose to burn green firewood indoors in your fireplace or stove you need to clean your chimney regularly and more frequently than if you were to only use seasoned and dry firewood.
Can You Burn Green Wood Outside?
Burning green wood outside in a fire pit or a campfire is a different story. There is no chimney where the creosote can build up so the wet green wood will not cause a fire hazard.
You can burn green wood outside in a fire pit or in a campfire, but the fire is going to produce more smoke and be more inefficient compared to using dry wood. When using green wood for a fire, the fire has to already be burning strong before adding wet and green logs.
You cant start fires with green wood. Green wood is too wet to properly catch fire on its own and produce enough energy to be self-sufficient. Green wood needs help from either an already established fire that can make the water content of the wood evaporate and basically dry the wood before taking fire.
You can also use a good fire starter or some fire-starting fluid to start a green wood fire.
One more thing you should consider before burning green wood is the smoke. Green wood produces a lot more smoke than dry wood. If there shifting winds or drafts and a group of people is sitting around the campfire the smoke might become a nuisance.
Smoke from campfires has a way of finding people’s eyes and faces, and the smoke can cause droopy eyes.
What Wood Is Best To Burn Green?
Ash wood is one of the types of wood that is dry enough to be burned right after being cut down. This makes Ash the best wood for burning green. Green ash still contains more water than seasoned firewood, this means green ash will still burn fairly slow, with a low heat output and if you use it inside, creosote will build up in the chimney.
If you are going to be using green ash for firewood make sure to use small pieces of wood, it makes the water in the wood evaporate quicker and the wood will burn better.
I do not recommend using green Ash for fires inside the house, there will still be a fair amount of creosote buildup because of the water content in the wood. But for outside use, green Ash is ok to use.
Green wood can be burned in certain conditions. In my opinion, green wood should only be a supplement to already established campfires, fire pits, or bonfires outside. But well-seasoned quality wood will always win over green wood both in performance and ease of use.
Burning green wood can become a fire hazard if done over a long period in someone’s home, where the smoke goes through a chimney.
Main takeaway from this article: Use Dry And Well Seasoned Wood