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Unseasoned wood contains a high percentage of water. Usually a moisture content of 25% and above is considered unseasoned. When a tree is cut the wood contains water. Overtime the wood that once had a high moisture content dries, this can take up to two years, and this process is called seasoning. Seasoning is essential for wood to burn effectively on a fire.
There can be significant dangers from burning unseasoned wood on a fire.
If you burn unseasoned wood the water vapour, when combined with other gases and particles go up the chimney, and unless the chimney is kept warm, the condensation creates a creosote substance, which when hardens forms tar in the chimney.
This tar can also seep into the brickwork if a chimney is unlined.
A chimney fire can be a real risk if excessive tar forms in a chimney. The fire can start due to the accumulation of residue, which can restrict the flow of gases trying to escape up to the outside atmosphere.
If you have a metal liner in your chimney the excessive condensation can also cause corrosion, which can cause liner failure.
Having your chimney swept at least twice a year is essential to ensure it stays clean, and the chances of a chimney fire are reduced. Burning seasoned wood will not stop a chimney from collecting residue. However, it will certainly reduce congestion, which will provide peace of mind between chimney sweeps, and also make a lot less mess when sweeping time arrives.
The Rules of Burning Solid Fuel:
1. Allow adequate ventilation – Check the stove requirements and ensure existing vents are not covered or blocked.
2. Sweeping and cleaning – The ash pan on a multi-fuel stove should be cleaned each day of use. Boiler flues once a week. The throat plate of a fire should be removed and cleaned fully every month when in use. As mentioned the chimney should be swept at least twice a year.
3. The right fuel – Only use well seasoned wood with a moisture content below 25%. If you are using coal ensure the coal is from an approved coal merchant. You will be able to find an approved coal merchant from the Coal Merchants Federation.
You can learn more about the types of wood to burn on your stove here.