Free heat. That’s what I see when I look at a discarded log, destined for the wood chipper. I envision that log on my Texas Fireframe® grate, and I can almost feel the warmth coming from it. A large back log will burn late into the evening – hot, slow and steady – with only the front logs needing replacing. I’ve used a log up to 10 inches in diameter for that back log. For the front logs, I like to use the split logs from the cord of wood I have delivered annually, although you can use all split, all unsplit or just about any combination. For me, there’s nothing quite like finding that perfect log – free for the taking – for the back log of a “Physicist’s Fire.”
Last spring I scavenged some apple tree logs from the yard waste area at the town dump where firewood is often free for the taking. After a storm you can drive around and find wood stacked by the curb, already cut up. If a tree has been taken down, most homeowners are more than happy to have log scavengers like me come along and fill our trunks with wood they’d have to pay someone to remove. I always ask first, of course. You can also ask a local tree service if you can pick up where they’re doing work.
I once asked a city tree crew to toss logs my way as they took down my neighbor’s dead oak tree, and they were happy to comply (though when I requested two-foot lengths, I realized I was pushing my luck.) I’ll have seasoned logs in a year – longer seasoning is always better. Also, trees felled in the winter have a much lower moisture content, so they will season more quickly than trees taken down during the growing season.
How do you know if wood is seasoned? Two signs: visible cracks on the ends of the log as pictured to the left, and the bark starts to come loose. When seasoning wood, make sure it’s elevated from the ground and kept dry under a tarp or shelter.
Which varieties of wood burn hottest? Oak? Apple? Dogwood? All three are excellent heat producers. Stay tuned for our next blog post where we rate varieties of wood for burning, and list the 26 hottest choices.
Different sizes of Texas Fireframe grates can handle different log sizes. Be sure to check our product spec page for a description of log lengths for each grate.