Use of wood as a fuel will increase by over 50% over the next two decades.
Softwoods such as (pine, cottonwood, poplar, boxelder and fir) should only be burned outdoors. It burns and sparks more furiously than hardwood, it doesn’t burn as long, and it puts creosote, a potentially dangerous substance, up the chimney.
Burning wood is environmentally sound. The process does not contribute to greenhouse gases. A growing tree absorbs carbon dioxide from the air and into its molecular structure. When the tree dies and decays, it releases the carbon back into the air. The same thing happens when the wood from a tree is burned. The same amount of carbon is released back into the atmosphere. Thus, burning wood is just a faster reversal of the natural cycle. This is unlike burning fossil fuels such as oil or gas. These fuels will release carbon dioxide, which has been buried in the earth for thousands of years, into to the atmosphere.
Fireplaces and wood stoves, popular aesthetic accessories of the recent past, are rapidly gaining prominence as primary or supplemental heat sources for homes. The rising costs, and in some instances, actual shortages of conventional home heating energies have led to greatly increased utilization of wood as a heating fuel.
A wood fire is easy to start and produces a large quantity of heat in a short time as well as adding a cheerful atmosphere to the home. An ample air supply to the wood fire is important to ensure complete burning or combustible gases. Wood fires are ideal where heat is required only occasionally, for warming a living area on cool days or for supplying extra heat in extremely cold weather. When considering wood as a primary heat source, several factors must be carefully weighed to ensure satisfactory results and acceptable deficiencies.
The heat content of any fire depends on wood density, resin, ash and moisture. A rule of thumb often used for estimating heat value of firewood is: One cord of well-seasoned hardwood (weighing approximately two tons ) burned in an airtight, draft-controlled wood stove with a 55-65% efficiency is equivalent to approximately 175 gallons of #2 fuel oil or 225 therms of natural gas consumed in normal furnaces having 65-75% efficiencies. Generally, hardwoods which provide long-burning fires contain the greatest total heating value per unit of volume. Softwoods which gives a fastburning, cracking blaze are less dense and contain less total heating value per unit of volume.