Cut firewood needs to be split.

Chimney clearance pruning is easy to overlook nowadays because, for various reasons, chimneys are becoming obsolete. Modern homes lack them completely. Some chimneys of older homes succumbed to earthquakes. Because of simpler and cleaner alternatives for heat, remaining chimneys and their fireplaces, as well as firewood, are almost passe.

Ironically, chimineas and fire pits have become a fad. Most modern fire pits use propane for fuel, but a few use firewood. Although such fire pits and chimineas burn less firewood than fireplaces, they are ridiculously less efficient. Their warmth simply escapes into the atmosphere. Relative to the volume of wood they burn, they generate much more smoke.

Nevertheless, whether for fireplaces, wood stoves, fire pits, or chimineas, firewood is not yet completely obsolete. Some households only rarely use small quantities for ambience fires. Some households still use more significant quantities to supplement home heating. A few households rely on firewood as their primary or exclusive source of home heating.

For unrelated reasons, the availability of firewood has declined with its demand. Orchard trees that were still relinquishing their space decades ago are now gone. Also, wildlands are now farther from large urban regions where most people live. Wood from demolished buildings is more likely to become chipped mulch than to become available as firewood.

Fortunately, most tree services sell firewood that is a byproduct of their work. Such wood is generally a mix of various species, so may include some degree of softwoods, such as pine. Rural tree services are more likely to be able to provide specific types of hardwood, and are also more likely to be able to deliver it. Their softwoods might be less expensive.

Tree services prefer to leave wood where they do tree work, and actually charge a bit for removal. Cut rounds of logs should be firewood length, but need splitting and seasoning. Inadequately seasoned or damp wood generates more smoke than properly dried wood. It should stay sheltered from rain. Palms and yuccas are impractical for use as firewood.

16 thoughts on “Firewood Is Old Fashioned Technology

  1. My chimney is not pet passé. From the cold NE on the other side, this reader has five cords dry and under cover in the woodshed, and is ready for winter. Number of gallons of fuel oil purchased to heat my house in the last 40 years? Zero.

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    1. It can be difficult to write for the audience here now. Not only are there fewer chimneys than there used to be, and not only is fire wood not as commonly available as it used to be, but many who live here now complain at the slightest bit of smoke, and there are millions of them! I do not know what happened. Local culture has changed so much. Only a few decades ago, orchardists burned pruning debris every winter. Things were sometimes smoky here. No one complained. I resent paying for fuel or electricity for heat when we generate so much firewood at work. I intend to continue using wood for heating. Actually, local ordinances that allow the burning of wood if it is the only source of warmth in a home are incentives to not install modern heating systems. We do not use much anyway. Because winter is so brief and relatively mild, I have used as little as a single cord of firewood through winter. A neighbor kept his much larger home warmer with only two cords.

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  2. Wood for heating our homes in our serious winters is becoming less popular, but still many people do use it in fireplaces and wood burning stoves. And in the fall we can see lots of places selling firewood, truck parked out along the road. A lot of good-burning wood grows naturally in our mountains.

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    1. Arborists still sell it from their yards. In this region, unemployed people cut and split trees from the countless trees that must be removed from . . . everywhere, and sell it from their pickups parked at a supermarket in town. We all know where we can purchase it, so there is no problem selling it. However, burning wood is getting to be more stigmatized. In the Santa Clara Valley, people regularly call 911 for smoke coming from a chimney. It is so regulated, but many want it to be completely outlawed.

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      1. I suspect that it is like that in most regions. We just happen to be in a ‘unique’ culture here. People here are so disconnected from how things work. They go outside to engage in their weirdly extreme sports, but are uninterested in gardening or splitting wood. I will never understand it. I try. I sometimes ask people why they go to such pretty natural places, such as where I work, to ride a bicycle as fast as they can through it. I mean, one can ride a bicycle fast anywhere, without leaving their neighborhood. Why drive to a place like this to ride fast through it. Why come to such a pretty place without taking time to enjoy it. It is all so fast and extreme and plastic and . . . . well, so disconnected. I happen to enjoy my ‘primitive’ lifestyle, even if I must sometimes split wood.

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      2. Disconnected is such a good word for this and a bad word as a concept. Life is too fast and so many people don’t know or care about the natural world. Look at the beautiful they miss all around them. ❤️

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      3. Oh, I see it regularly. I mean, we live where we do, but this is how our culture now works. I will never understand why this did not happen somewhere else, where fewer would have minded. I mean, the Santa Clara Valley was such an idyllic place with such an idyllic culture. The electronics industry could have gone anywhere, even out into an uninhabited part of the Mojave Desert (since it attracts people who do not go outside, or when they do, they go somewhere else), but it came here to ruin what we had, and then complain about it.

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  3. Burning wood for heat is becoming more common where I live with the rise in gas and oil prices. My house is on heating oil. 1 litre of oil has gone up from around £0.32p – £0.42p to over £1. We have a fireplace we use to heat our lounge and are looking at getting a wood burner (stove) as they are more efficient than on open fireplace. I would like to use air or ground source heat pumps but the cost to install is more than I can afford.

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    1. Well, I am in California, where . . . . seemingly ‘most’ of us believe that we can drive cars without consumption of fuel. We just plug them in and get ‘clean’ electricity. (Seriously, people do not believe that fuel is needed to generate electricity!) We can not cover the deserts with solar panels because that confuses migratory birds. We can not build more wind turbines because that kills too many migratory birds. But, SOMEHOW, we are not supposed to drive cars that consume gasoline. Burning wood for warmth is very stigmatized, and getting close to being illegal. Yet, forest fires are very natural here. The CZU fire two years ago burned more wood than everyone ever burned in fireplaces in the cumulative history of San Jose, but no one is trying to outlaw the lightning that started the fire.

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