Seasoned wood produces the best results when heating your home.  Freshly cut wood can contain as much as half its weight in water.

Now is the time to stockpile wood to burn in your wood stove or fireplace for holiday cheer or for heating your home during those cold, blustery days of winter. Wayne Clatterbuck, professor of forest management and silviculture with University of Tennessee Extension, says homeowners should purchase seasoned wood for best results.

“Unseasoned or green wood should not be purchased now for use in the next few months,” Clatterbuck said. “Freshly cut wood can easily contain close to half its weight in water. Unseasoned wood takes from 4 to 6 months to dry out.”

How can you tell if the wood is properly seasoned?  Clatterbuck offers these few tell-tale signs:

·    Bark. In seasoned wood, bark should practically fall off a log when you handle it.

·    Cracks. Seasoned wood has cracks and checks throughout the log.

·    Weight. Seasoned wood weighs less than an unseasoned piece of the same size because it contains less moisture.

Clatterbuck reminds consumers that wood pieces should be stacked perpendicular to each other so air can pass through freely. Stack wood at least 10 feet from the exterior of your home, he recommends. “The closer the firewood is to the house, the greater the chance that insects will invade your home,” he said.

The kind or species of wood can also make a difference in terms of the wood’s heating potential.  “All species of wood have similar energy contents per unit weight,” the forestry expert said. “However, wood is purchased on a volume basis -- usually a rick or cord -- not on weight.  Therefore, a cord of less-dense poplar or pine will yield far less warmth than a cord of red oak of the same unit volume,” Clatterbuck said.  He recommends higher density woods to use for firewood, including oaks, beech, black locust, hickories and sugar maple.

For more information contact your local county UT Extension office.

UT Extension provides a gateway to the University of Tennessee as the outreach unit of the UT Institute of Agriculture. With an office in every Tennessee county, UT Extension delivers educational programs and research-based information to citizens throughout the state. In cooperation with Tennessee State University, UT Extension works with farmers, families, youth and communities to improve lives by addressing problems and issues at the local, state and national levels.



Wayne K. Clatterbuck, Professor, Department of Forestry, Wildlife and Fisheries, 865-974-7346,