Tips for selecting firewood

The key to creating a bright, hot fire is good fuel. Wet (unseasoned) firewood smokes more than dry wood because the water in the wood must be evaporated off before the wood will burn. This lowers the temperature of the fire, causing less complete combustion and excessive smoke.

Burning dry (seasoned) firewood will give you a hot fire, leading to more complete combustion and less smoke.

If you are buying firewood

If buying wood to use immediately, always buy dry, seasoned, untreated wood. Refer to your heater manufacturer’s operation manual to identify the correct fuel to purchase (hard or soft wood).

Because unseasoned wood has a high moisture content it is hard to ignite, slow to burn and produces more smoke and less heat. It can cause your heater flue to clog up more quickly.

You can save money by purchasing unseasoned firewood in early spring and storing it in a well-ventilated shed or other covered area until winter. Freshly cut wood should be stored for at least 8 to 12 months prior to use. It is best to stack wood in a criss-cross pattern to allow air flow.

If you are collecting firewood

Collection of firewood from public land is restricted and heavy penalties apply. Call the Department of Environment, Land Water and Planning on 136 186.

What not to burn

Never burn household rubbish, driftwood, treated wood or painted wood. It is sure to pollute the air and it can produce toxic gases.

For example, the black part at the bottom of old telegraph poles is saturated with preservatives like creosote.

Green pine logs used for garden edges and park and playground equipment may have been treated with copper chrome arsenate. These logs are safe to handle but release toxic substances when burnt.

Painted wood may contain chemicals that should not be burnt. Old, painted wood may contain lead which is very harmful to human health.

Never burn coal or coke in a wood heater. Each heater is designed for a specific type of fuel – using the wrong fuel can result in undesirable pollution emissions.

How can you tell if wood is dry?

To tell if wood is dry/seasoned, bang two pieces together. You should hear a loud, hollow crack. Alternatively, tap the wood with a key or coin. Dry wood makes a sharp, resonant sound. Wet wood sounds dull.


Page last updated on 1 Aug 2016