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Red Gum Firewood Qualities: What makes it Ideal for Firewood Use?

December 6, 2016

Forest red gum is a versatile, durable and dense hardwood that is used for construction, making furniture, decking and flooring because of its beautiful light to dark red heartwood. It is also excellent firewood. If fact, many believe that there isn’t anything finer than forest red gum.

Available Heat

Firewood is often graded for its available heat. The available heat is defined as a measure of heat that the wood gives off when it is burning. The heat content is displayed as a percent of dry wood. The percent is calculated by dividing the dry weight or density of the wood by 11.2 (suggested moisture content for dry firewood is around 12%).

Values close to 100 are indicators that there is a high heat content. Values below 100 mean that the heat content is lower. For the most art, hardwood is denser than softwood, therefore hardwood emits more energy. However, there are some softwoods that contain volatile oils which can increase heat output.

Density

Density is in reference to the wood’s dry weight per unit volume. The unit volume is measured in kilograms per cubic metre (kg/m3). Heavier or denser wood will burn longer because it has more heat per volume. For instance, forest red gum is about two thirds denser than Radiata Pine. Forest Red Gum has a density of 1200 kg/m3 unseasoned and 1000 kg/m3 seasoned. Whereas, Radiata Pine has a density of 800 kg/m3 unseasoned and 550 kg/m3 seasoned.

Overall, softwoods burn faster than high density hardwoods. Softwoods also have hotter and taller flames. However, hardwoods will give off more heat because it burns slower, longer and more steadily.

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Splitting

When it comes to splitting wood, the easiest to split is wood with straight grains. Wood that has a tighter grain is difficult to split. As well, wood that has a lot of knots can be a challenge to split. As well, wood that is seasoned is much easier to split than green unseasoned wood.

For the most part, conifers, oaks, ash and hard maple are the easiest are to split. Elm, sycamore, and gum can be hard to split. However, well-seasoned (1-2 years) Forest Red Gum is much easier to split.

Ignition

Ignition is in reference to how easily wood can be ignited or lit. Generally, low density softwoods are easier to ignite than high density woods. Then again, with softwoods you generally have to stoke the stove or fireplace more often because of its fast burning qualities.

As well, wood that has a lot of sap or resin will typically be easier to ignite. The sap is a natural fuel that feeds the fire. Also, wood that is well seasoned and drier will be easier to light.

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