The smell of winter: Which firewood burns best indoors

\'Tis the season to cozy up by a warm fire made of the perfect firewood. (WTOP/Neal Augenstein)

Neal Augenstein,

HAMDEN, Ct. – When the wind turns cold and the leaves fall, another sign of winter wafts into the air: the smell of firewood.

Those with fireplaces have started picking Christmas trees and investing in bundles of wood to burn.

“You want mostly hardwoods – the oaks, cherry and the maples,” says Joe Vignola, standing before cords of freshly-cut wood at Joseph’s Tree Farm.

Vignola says softer woods, like pines and poplars, are difficult to dry completely and should be avoided for use in indoor fireplaces.

“They’re fine to use in fire pits and outdoors,” he says. “(But) if you’re burning it in the house, it will stick into the flues and it’s more prone to chimney fires.”

Superstorm Sandy brought down a lot of trees, which means there is no shortage of firewood. But it may not be fireplace-ready yet.

“There may be a shortage of seasoned firewood,” Vignola says. “You want to see check marks on the ends. That usually starts to indicate that it’s fairly dry.”

He says it takes nine months to a year for freshly-cut trees to be seasoned by air and wind for use in a fireplace.

Neal Augenstein contributed to this report. Follow @AugensteinWTOP and @WTOP on Twitter.

(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)

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