Fruitwood is defined as the wood from any tree that produces fruit. Different types of wood have different burning qualities. These include ease of starting, producing the hottest, longest lasting coals, fragrance, amount of smoke, and whether it spits and sparks. In addition to all that, it is also rated as to ease of splitting and the heat per cord, length of burn, and the coal bed. The best burning fruitwood rates high on all these factors.
Fruitwoods are somewhat lax in what is called such. The term includes cherry, apple, pear, peach, plum, black cherry, and citrus, including orange, grapefruit, lemon, and tangerine. There are also some ancient European woods that are still in use, but more for furniture than for burning.
The use of these woods also includes smoking meats for flavor and preservation. The best for burning often include what some term nutwood, though they are also considered fruitwood for BBQ. These include hickory, almond, chestnut, pecan and walnut. Though they are used for burning and smoking, they are better known for furniture and cabinet making.
You may wonder how long seasoning takes for the various woods. There is some variation, but not as much as you would think. There are good reasons to only burn seasoned firewood. Green firewood is some that has been freshly cut from a live tree. Its cells still have water and sap. This is not only hard to light and burn, it give off a coating that can cause a major chimney fire. It will require that the chimney be cleaned frequently. You do not have that problem when burning dry or seasoned.
Seasoned wood should have lower than 20% moisture to be safe. Most green wood is 75-80% moisture. Many times wood sold as “seasoned” contains 66% moisture, which is not much better than green wood. Just be cautious about checking your wood if you are buying it already seasoned. There are some ways to check whether it is adequately seasoned or not.
There is basically seven ways to check it. There is the weight, bark texture, cracking, smell, color, sound. With experience, these are very easy to use to check for dryness. If you have trouble determining with these enlist the help of an “oldtimer” to guide you in determining what is the way it should look, sound, or feel if dried enough. You will soon become an expert yourself.
Weight is the easiest thing to determine. Seasoned logs are much lighter that green. The bark loosens as it ages, so if the bark is loose it is probably seasoned. Cracking is often another sign that it is dry, though green wood sometimes cracks. Smell is a good way to tell. Green wood has a strong aroma of sap, but dried has a light, pleasant woody smell. Seasoned wood has a lighter wood, as it fades as it dries. Sound is the one used by most experienced people. Take two pieces and strike them together. You should hear a hollow clunk, meaning it is dry.
Becoming an expert on determining the dryness of your wood, and learning how to season your own, will give you an expertise. This means you can enjoy that pleasant fire on a cold night.