Most people are familiar with the notion of smoking food on mesquite wood, but might not consider how wood burned in the home can fill the space with pleasant vapors. In the days of our great grandparents, woods piles were often separated by the type of tree for this reason. The most treasured fuel available, which was often given as gifts in those days, were the most fragrant and best burning fruitwood.
Often the best cuttings from an old apple tree were saved for the fire on the day of Yule, or Christmas, as pine was known to be dangerous for burning indoors. Due to the sticky resin buildup that occurs, house fires are a risk for any household who ignored the warnings and burned their Yule log in the fireplace. However, the smell of apple and cinnamon was just as effective at creating the proper Holiday spirit in everyone there.
Anyone who has raised fruit trees knows that they do have a finite life span of 15 to 30 years. It is important to have saplings growing long before the old trees begin to fall apart or die off so there is no ending to the fruits that they bear for everyone to enjoy. Many of the trees make an excellent wood for fireplaces or old-fashioned stoves.
These woods are often more soft, and will need to be seasoned a good, long time before it is going to burn as slowly as one might prefer. If the house is heated by the power of wood alone, the slower the burn, the better. This means the woods need to be completely dry both inside and out in order to obtain the most energy from each log that is placed.
Seasoning the logs in a cool and dry location for at least a year will make any wood burn hotter and more slowly. Not only that, but it helps to lessen the amount of sap that gets released up the chimney flue. Although pine has the worst reputation for sap, all woods have it, and the longer the wood can be seasoned, the less sap will be released over the years.
Not only does this make the house smell completely delicious, but the savings on heating during the winter can really add up. Some modern fireplaces actually have a fan that blows the hot air throughout the home. This makes it possible to keep the area warmed almost entirely with burning wood on the coldest days of January and February.
Many people do not cover their wood piles, but their logs will season much better if they keep them secure from rain and snow. Building an overhead awning that helps to shield it from rain, as with an A-frame or lean-to is a good idea. Some framing studs and a few pieces of metal roofing are all one will need to ensure that they have a substantial supply of dry, fully seasoned wood each winter.
As for the apple wood, it is also a good recommendation to cut pieces up into chunks for smoking meat, fish, and poultry during the winter months. Indoor smokers that utilize the chimney flue can incense the home while also helping to cook the Holiday meal. There truly is nothing better than apple-wood smoked ham on New Years Day.