Travels with Charley

The cool camping blog. Trying to find gear, supplies, adventure and activities for the 21st century camper.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

It's the law: Sell wet firewood, go to jail!

Or at least it should be. We got "burned" again this last weekend with wet campfire wood. I bought two bundles from a party store. They were banded with plastic straps and what I call sawmill scrap: very flat with bark on one surface and the other face is sawed. Had good luck with some great oak like this that burned hotter than heck and burned slow. When I opened the bundles at the camp I could see that it was still green under the bark- bad sign. The cut surfaces still felt damp. Hoping against hope I tried to light it and sure enough no dice. I had to go back out and get more wood, this time some dry pine.

This has happened a lot. Not so often now but still I get some wood that just won't burn. I feel ripped off, the sellers usually know and are thus taking advantage of us travellers. It's not fair and you hardly expect a refund from a coffee can with a slit in it. I've even been sold bunk wood by vendors in national park!

So the best thing you can do is look for and buy only dry firewood. Here's see tips for getting better firewood:

• Buy split firewood that was cut to size before it was dry, suggests University of Kentucky. Look for cracks in the ends. As the wood dries it shrinks- you're looking for big cracks caused by shrinkage.
• Don't buy wood that you can't see the split face. The greyer it is, the better.
• On the split face look for splinters or slpits beginning to come off of the wood. If these are dry and brittle that's good.
• Maryland DNR suggests looking for wood that has the bark falling off of it. Though I've certainly found good firewor with the bark still attached.
• Try to find ash wood. It burns even if it's wet.