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High: 81°F ~ Low: 66°F
Saturday, Sep. 20, 2014

Check before starting the fire

Thursday, November 12, 2009

With low temperatures at night, most are thinking about starting their fireplace or stove. Therefore, I thought I might continue our discussion we started a couple weeks ago about issues involving firewood and focus specifically on factors that should be considered when burning firewood.

In the past, houses have burned because of soot collecting around the top of the chimney catching fire. That soot then rolls off onto the roof catching the roof on fire. Therefore, it is extremely important that you inspect and clean the chimney and stove or fireplace prior to starting a fire. There are a lot of products on the market to help clean your chimney. However, there are no good substitutes for properly cleaning the chimney with the correct sized brush and thorough inspection for cracks or other problems. Besides having this done prior to starting a fire, you will also want to clean your chimney after you burn any "green" wet or high pitch content wood. Therefore, it is best to avoid these types of wood (this would include pine).

If you haven't had a chance to cut enough wood for the upcoming winter or are realizing you are going through your wood faster than you anticipated, then you have a few options available to help relieve your stress. The first option would be to find some downed trees. One tree to look for is Ash since it is a heavy wood that burns good and has low moisture content. It is important to realize that Emerald Ash Borers are moving this way. Therefore, it might be easier to sacrifice an ash tree rather than another standing species of greater value if you must harvest a standing tree. If you do not want to search for fallen trees or harvest standing trees, another option may be to purchase firewood.

Purchasing firewood can be a confusing task if you do not know some of the terminology. Therefore, explanations of a few of the important terms are needed. A cord is a volume measurement of 4 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet or 128-cubic feet wood, bark and air space. Value is greater for the better stack with the greater the amount of wood and lesser amount of air space. A rick differs as it is a "face cord" or stack that is 4 feet high and 8 feet long. However, the length of the firewood may vary and would not sum to 4 feet like in a cord. The Purdue Extension publication FNR-79 titled "Wood for Home Heating," provides information on a variety of wood species and their weight per cubic foot. This may be of particular interest for those new to purchasing firewood.

A few last minute thoughts about firewood and burning wood for home heat are important to make. Due to the poisonous nature of preservations, treated wood should never be used in a fireplace. You can find value in the wood ash left in your fireplace if you use it as a fertilizer. This is because native Indiana woods often have 50 to 70 percent calcium or lime, which is beneficial.

If using a fireplace, keep the fire screen in place to prevent unwanted fires. Don't forget the usual steps to take if you are harvesting trees. This includes wearing proper clothing, chaps, boots, and hearing protection.

It is very important to stay warm this winter and take some time out to enjoy a hot cup of coco by the fire. If you are interested in finding out more about Purdue Extension publications (includingFNR-79) or have questions related to agriculture or natural resources, feel free to contact your local Purdue Extension Office by calling 448-9041 in Clay Co. or 829-5020 in Owen Co. If you would like to contact me directly, I can be reached at either of the two numbers listed or via email at smith535@purdue.edu.

Upcoming opportunities available to you through Purdue Extension include:

* Nov. 20 -- Fall Achievement Program, Clay County, 7 p.m.

* Nov. 24 -- Reality Store at Owen Valley Middle School

* Dec. 8 -- Nuisance Wildlife, Purdue Extension Clay County Office, 6:30-8:30 p.m., costs $2 per person, RSVP by Dec. 1 at 448-9041

* Dec. 10 -- Income Tax Management for Farmers in 2009, Purdue Extension Clay County, 7:30-9:30 p.m., RSVP by Dec. 1 at 448-9041

* Dec. 10 -- Crop Management Conference, Beef House in Covington, 9 a.m.-2:45 p.m., cost of $15 plus additional fees for PARP and other credits, RSVP by Dec. 4 at (812) 462-3371

* Dec. 14 -- Last Chance PARP Program, Cloverdale Community Building, 12:45 p.m.-3:30 p.m.