One of the most cost-effective options for fueling a small wood stove is to buy cordwood in bulk. If you have space to store the wood, you can purchase an entire season’s worth of fuel for relatively little cost.
Locally sourced bulk cordwood is one of the more sustainable options for fueling a small wood stove. Landscaping companies and tree services often operate a side business re-selling waste wood from downed trees as firewood.
Bulk cordwood is typically sold wet or not fully cured. Burning wet wood in your stove can cause excessive creosote formation and drastically reduce your stove’s BTU output. So, you’ll want to be sure to cure your firewood before using it.
Naturally cured firewood can contain wood boring insects, so bulk cordwood should be used as close to the source as possible. In general, avoid moving naturally cured firewood more than 10 miles.
A standard cordwood log is about 16″ long, so chopping them in half makes a good size log for any size Dwarf stove. If your dealer is willing to cut logs to order, we recommend 6-8″ logs for the Dwarf 3kW, 8-10″ for the Dwarf 4kW, and 10-12″ logs for the Dwarf kW.
To cure firewood, split it and stack it loosely in a sunny location, perpendicular to the prevailing wind. Cover the top of the stack only to keep precipitation off of it. The sides need to be exposed to allow airflow.
Different types of wood require different curing times, but in general, firewood needs to cure for a minimum of six months before it’s used. Ideally, most firewood should be seasoned for 18 to 24 months. Most firewood purchased in bulk has not been seasoned sufficiently for immediate use, so you’ll need to purchase it at least a year in advance.
Even if the wood dealer says that the wood has been drying for a year, you should examine it before using it. Wood does not dry quickly until it is split and stacked. A tree that has been down for over a year might still be more than half water. Look for cracking on the cut ends of logs and bark that is falling off as good indications that firewood is properly seasoned. Properly cured firewood will weigh less than wet wood, and will make a sound like bowling pins when knocked together. Wet wood will be heavy for its size and make a dull thud when knocked together.
The best way to tell if wood is properly cured is to use an electronic wood moisture meter. Split a log and take a measurement from the center of the newly cut surface, parallel to the grain. Properly cured wood should read less than 20% moisture content. If the wood reads higher than 20%, it needs a few more months to cure.