WOOD IF YOU COULD
Here come the cooler seasons! For lots of us they bring the much-awaited chance to curl up and relax in front of a warming fireplace – preferably with a glass of wine or a hot cup of cocoa and someone you love.
Fire has a primal, comforting feeling that goes back to ancient times, and a fireplace or wood heater has always been a popular and economical way to heat a room or home. But did you know that the CSIRO and the Australian Firewood Association say firewood is considered the most sustainable, greenhouse-neutral alternative fuel for both heating and cooking?
Most firewood in Australia comes from either collected, cut, dead wood; tree lopping waste; or sustainable forest and land clearing harvests. The carbon emissions from it burning are considered no worse than if the wood was left to burn in bushfires and burn-offs, or even left to rot, decompose or be eaten by termites. So, firewood is considered eco-friendly, emitting the least amount of greenhouse gas.
Of course, it is important to get the RIGHT kind of wood to burn and to know how to burn it correctly. So here are a few tips you might find handy…
To get the most from chopped wood, you should be aware that it takes around 12 months for pieces, cut to around 300mm lengths, to season and cure for best burning. In rural areas that might be something you can plan ahead for, but if you live in a more urban setting where dead wood is not so easy to find, you may want to get your supplies from a reputable firewood supplier or local nursery like Turtle Nursery and Landscaping Supplies in Sydney. You’ll normally find premium quality firewood for sale and available for pick-up or delivery any time of the week. Kindling is also available to help you get your roaring fire started. Seasoned wood comes in ‘Mixed’ or ‘Premium’ grades and includes species such as Ironbark, Yellowbox and Red Gum.
LET SLEEPING LOGS LIE
Old railway sleepers are commonly sold for gardening and other purposes, but don’t be tempted to use them as firewood. They may contain asbestos trapped in the sleepers’ cracks. When burnt, dormant fibres become airborne, posing a lurking, potentially severe health hazard. Burning old railway sleepers also poses the risk of toxins, grease, oil and heavy metals being released by the heat. If inhaled this can cause respiratory problems, or the toxins can be absorbed by foods cooked with the wood. There’s even a further hazard of small stones trapped in cracks in the sleepers exploding.
One of the big complaints that neighbours or indeed local councils might have about home fires is the amount of smoke they can give off. In some cases councils have moved to ban fireplaces to avoid the effects of poorly maintained fires and their excessive smoke. According to Armidale’s University of New England, 85% of households who have wood fires operate their heaters or fireplaces correctly, but the remaining 15% cause problems for all. Your fire needs to be hot enough to burn brightly and not smoulder and create too much smoke. If your fireplace is operated correctly, your chimney should emit just a heat haze and a small amount of smoke.
Get your fires going quickly by starting with plenty of dry kindling. When the kindling is burning strongly add small pieces of wood to create a good bed of hot coals and only then add the larger pieces. Make sure your firewood is well seasoned and dry. When the right temperature has been achieved, the large pieces of wood should be glowing red. Leave the air intake fully open and ensure the flue is not blocked, as good air flow is important to keep the fire burning bright. Premium Firewood is denser, so it burns longer at higher temperatures, meaning less smoke and ash.
Premium and Mixed firewood supplies and kindling can be found at Turtle Nursery and Landscaping Supplies in Sydney. Give us a call and we can even deliver to your door, 7 days per week.
Turtle Rouse Hill Ph: 02 9629 2299
Turtle South Windsor Ph: 02 4574 3299