The Problem with Firewood

Firewood RestrictionMuch like other heating fuels, firewood pricing fluctuates based on supply and demand, among other market forces. The price of a cord of wood throughout the Northeast started to climb substantially in late 2015, and shortages rattled the industry. Experts have blamed large-scale construction projects as part of the problem.

WoodMatsA NH timber industry representative explained that hydraulic fracturing well sites use hardwood logs as durable mats to successfully get heavy equipment over uneven, wet soil and mucky landscapes. The executive director of the New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association, Jasen Stock, says that fracking projects alone aren’t to blame. Pipeline and transmission wire projects have also increased demand for the 16 to 20 foot long hardwood trunks with an 8 to 10 inch diameter, which are perfect for these construction mats. These mat-friendly logs are also the ones that make great firewood, unfortunately.

Another issue affecting firewood sources is the Emerald Ash Borer, which is considered to be the most destructive insect to trees in North America. Over the last 14 years, these beetles have destroyed millions of trees, mostly in the eastern United States. The rapid spread of the insect across the country is blamed on the transport of infected firewood and nursery stock.

Emerald Ash Borer Effects

DontMoveFirewood.org

To help battle the spread of destructive insects like the Emerald Ash Borer, many states have rolled out serious firewood movement restrictions. According to the Don’t Move Firewood organization, “wood that looks clean and healthy can still have tiny insect eggs, or microscopic fungi spores, that will start a new and deadly infestation. Aged or seasoned wood is still not safe. Just because it is dry doesn’t mean that bugs can’t crawl onto it.”

(You can learn about state-by-state restrictions, what kind of insects are harmful, and so much more at DontMoveFirewood.org.)

Wood bricks, a firewood alternative, have been gaining popularity as a home heating solution and a campfire solution. Compressed wood bricks are made of kiln-dried, super-condensed wood chips and sawdust, so there’s no bark, dirt or insects. They have less than 10% moisture, and can be burned alone or as a supplement to cordwood.

Check out our tutorial on how to burn wood bricks with cordwood in a wood stove, and how to burn wood bricks in a fire pit

Typically bundled in shrink-wrapped packages of 15 to 20 bricks – they are allowed at campsites and are great for campfires. The wood bricks light easily, burn clean and burn hot. Learn more about the advantages of wood bricks, here.

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