Posts Tagged ‘biofuel’

Learning about firewood – The Basics

admin | July 22nd, 2010 | No Comments »

firewoodFirewood is any wood like material that is gathered and used for fuel. Generally, firewood is not highly processed and is in some sort of recognizable log or branch form.

Firewood is a renewable resource. However, demand for this fuel can outpace its ability to regenerate on local and regional level. For example in some places in the world and through history, the demand has led to desertification. Good forestry practices and improvements in devices that use firewood can improve the local wood supplies. As a Biofuel, some consider firewood to be a form of solar energy and to be relatively carbon neutral.

Firewood terms
Since firewood has been used by humans for a long time, there are many terms and concepts to describe it.

North America
Firewood can either be seasoned (dry) or unseasoned (green). It can be classed as hardwood or softwood. In most of the United States, the standard measure of firewood is a cord or 128 cubic feet, however, firewood can also be sold by weight. The BTU value can have an impact upon the price.

Harvesting firewood
Harvesting or collecting firewood varies by the region and culture. Some places have specific areas for firewood collection. Other places may integrate the collection of firewood in the cycle of preparing a plot of land to grow food as part of a field rotation process. Collection can be a group, family or an individual activity. The tools and methods for harvesting firewood are diverse.

North America
Some firewood is harvested in “woodlots” managed for that purpose, but in heavily wooded areas it is more usually harvested as a byproduct of natural forests. Deadfall that has not started to rot is preferred, since it is already partly seasoned. Standing dead timber is considered better still, as it is both seasoned and has less rot. Harvesting this form of timber reduces the speed and intensity of bushfires. Harvesting timber for firewood is normally carried out by hand with chainsaws. Thus, longer pieces – requiring less manual labour, and less chainsaw fuel – are less expensive and only limited by the size of their firebox. Prices also vary considerably with the distance from wood lots, and quality of the wood. Buying and burning firewood that was cut only a short distance from its final destination prevents the accidental spread of invasive tree-killing insects and diseases. Generally speaking, a distance of 50 miles (83 km) from cut site to final burning site is considered the longest distance that firewood should be moved.

Normally wood is cut in the winter when trees have less sap so that it will season more quickly. Most firewood also requires splitting, which also allows for faster seasoning by exposing more surface area. Today most splitting is done with a hydraulic splitting machine, but it can also be split with a splitting maul.

The above text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License. Originally written at http://maps.thefullwiki.org/Firewood