Freshly harvested wood contains a naturally high amount of water, between 65-90% depending on the species. It is recommended that wood is dried or seasoned for at least a year, and preferably two. Removing the water is known as seasoning.
You can dry your own wood in a simple wood store or buy seasoned wood from your supplier. Kiln dried is the best with a moisture content of less than 20%. The moisture content of seasoned logs can vary with average moisture content between 30% and 50%.
Hardwood is better than softwood, because it burns slower. Both types have similar calorific values but the density of softwood is approximately half that of hardwood, which results in it burning twice as fast. So basically you will need two softwood logs for one hardwood log. Hardwoods are any broad leafed deciduous tree and softwood is conifers.
Never buy wood by weight, as this can mean that you are paying for water. Always buy logs by volume.
Wood briquettes are also available. Briquettes have a moisture content which is often less than 10%. They offer easy, convenient combustion and produce minimum levels of ash.
A moisture meter is inexpensive and easy to use. Ask your stove retailer about one or search on Amazon.
Woodsure is a wood quality assurance scheme that certifies the quality of the wood from wood fuel producers & suppliers. Buying wood from a Woodsure certified company will give you peace of mind that your wood is dry and sustainably resourced.
Find out about the benefits of burning wood >