More complex than one might think, preparing and burning freshly cut wood is a process that involves three stages that occur simultaneously:
- Evaporation Water in the wood evaporates until the weight of the logs halve. After proper seasoning (drying), the weight of the logs decreases by an additional 20%. Why is evaporation important? The wetter the logs are, the more energy is wasted in evaporating the residual water in the wood and the less effective your fire is in heating the room. You’ll find that damp logs sizzle, burn slowly and smoke, while the dry logs kindle and burn easily providing plenty of warmth.
- Smoking The smoke produced by a fire that is started with wet wood is, in fact, a cloud of inflammable gases. The fresh wood kindling occurs with a sufficiently high temperature and the presence of oxygen maintains the burning with bright flames. When no kindling occurs, the smoke either condenses on the pipes and the chimney or it is discarded, polluting the environment. The non-kindled smoke uses majority of the energy contained in the logs, rendering them useless.
- Burning of embers After the flames develop and the water and substances evaporate from the logs, the embers remain. The embers contain 100% carbon and burn with small red flames. Embers are good fuel and burn easily if sufficient oxygen is added. From all the energy contained in the logs, approximately half is released when the gases burn, while the other half is released when the embers burn. Effective burning occurs when the water evaporates quickly and the gases allow the embers to burn with a bright flame before escaping the combustion chamber.