All things firewood

All things Firewood on Folk U Radio

Worried about staying warm this winter? What will it take for Cortes to have sustainable fire wood for all? Corry Dow discussed all things firewood, the Cortes Community Community Firewood Program and how you can take part in staying warm on CKTZ’s Folk U Radio.

Here are Corrie’s notes

Recently participated in the 3rd Community Forest Community Firewood Day

  1. What is it?
  2. Why do we do it?
  3. What comes up? 
  4. I need wood for this winter
  5. I only want Fir 
  6. It’s a small amount of wood

Learning the cycle of firewood

  1. Timing
  • Seasoning i.e. harvested and kept for some seasons before it’s ready to burn, wind, sunshine and time
  • 6mos – 2yrs
  • Depends of density of wood and sap content and storage

2. Storage

  • Splitting – to speed drying and for ease of handling and burning
  • Off the ground to prevent rot
  • Covered to keep off rain
  • In a spot that gets sun
  • Not too tightly stacked and open at sides to maximize airflow
  • Enough storage space to hold a whole winter’s worth of wood. As space opens up later in the winter, start putting in next year’s wood

3. Rotation

  • If you don’t get firewood all at once
  • Burn older wood first, especially if it’s spent time on the ground, and driest
  • Choose dry pieces

4. Plan for the next year

  • Getting wood in the late winter/early spring is ideal, low sap, long drying time
  • Extra storage options for wood that comes along providentially

5. I only want Fir –  some thoughts on firewood species

  • Alder 19.5
  • Hemlock 24.4
  • Douglas Fir 26.5 million BTUs per dry cord
  • Douglas fir is great, but not all the time
    • Super heavy to handle, messy, slivery, slower growing
    • Burns hot and long if dry, hell to get started if not
  • Hemlock only slightly fewer BTUs per cord
    • A faster growing, more vigorous and abundant species that often needs thinning 
    • Highly available on Cortes
    • High moisture content, but less dense than fir, so careful drying is needed but won’t take as long
    • Often branchy and hard to split
  • The delights of burning Alder
    • Thin bark – quick to dry, less messy, no slivers
    • Not too heavy, easy to split, easy to carry
    • Fast-growing, and nitrogen-fixing
    • Hot fires that don’t last long – great for taking the chill off, or getting harder woods going
  • Branch wood
    • Denser than trunk, abundant, needs drying
    • Can burn larger diameter orchard prunings
    • Good for small stoves, doesn’t need splitting

6. It’s a small amount of wood – firewood access and supply, efficiency matters!

  • Why we need so much?
      • Un/poorly insulated buildings
      • Personal patterns, is your house hot when you’re not home?
      • Alternate heat supply?
    • How to you get it?
      • Own land – abundant or scarce, planning for future harvest
      • Access community resources
      • Purchase
        • Scarce
        • firewood by the cord?
          • 128 cubic feet of wood, 4x4x8’ – Can you make a stack with no spaces?
        • Where do they get it?
    • How sustainable is this? Where is the balance?
      • Firewood brought from off-island
      • Availability of woodlot tenure to those with expertise and equipment to manage it
      • Cost in wildlife habitat and ecosystem service

This program was originally broadcast on Nov 27, 2020, and aired again on Dec 31, 2021.

Top photo credit: Firewood on day 118 by Ravi Shah via Flickr (CC BY SA, 2.0 License)

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