Firewood Types

At Topcut we concentrate on middle of the road woods of Pine, Oregon and Larch that burn well on their own. These woods are readily available and suit our mode of operation. We source our logs from slow growing areas in order to get dense wood that burns slower and gives good heat. We sometimes have Macrocarpara and Bluegum but they are not always available.

Pine

Our pine is from mature trees grown in colder areas to get good wood density for longer burning. Pine gives good heat from a medium burn time and is low sparking, making it very good for open fires. Pine will readily absorb water and can grow mould if stored in damp conditions with an absence of sunlight. It is a good wood but does need to be stored well and given a good drying time. Will clog up the flue if wet.

Oregon

This is a harder wood than pine so it burns hotter and longer and leaves very little ash. It dries quickly and splits very easily. It is about 4 times more resistant to absorbing water than pine and also resists growing mould. It sparks a little more than pine but is still not a problem. Has a nice smell. Burns very cleanly and keeps the flue clean

Larch

Burns very similar to Oregon but may hold in a little longer. Splits easily and comes in between Pine and Oregon for drying time, water and mould resistance. Sparks a little more than Oregon but is still used on open fires. Larch has little sharp splinters on the cut edges that are hard to see to remove, so if you have soft skin, gloves help. Burns very cleanly and keeps the flue clean.

Macrocarpara

Burns hotter and longer than Oregon and Larch and has similar qualities otherwise, sparks more but is a very good wood for a log burner. Burns very cleanly and keeps the flue clean.

Eucalyptus

Hybrid varieties can grow and dry more quickly than Bluegum and while they do not have quite the same burning quality they still burn hot and long.

Bluegum

There are many varieties of eucalyptus. Bluegum refers to the variety "Globulus" a slow growing hard dense wood that takes up to 3 years to season and burns very hot and long. It may need a companion wood when burning.

Comparing prices of different firewood

Generally the more heat and length of burning time you get, the more it costs. If you ignore the volume of firewood you get and consider the heat you are buying there is not a lot of difference in cost per heat unit. Bigger differences could be found in the ratio of heart wood to sapwood (heartwood has better heat properties than sapwood) or the growth rate of the tree i.e. width of sap rings, fast growing trees have wide sap rings, soft wood, and lesser heat qualities. At Topcut we purchase our logs with this in mind.

Best time to buy firewood

Best prices are during spring and early summer, the firewood will probably not be fully dry but with good storage the quality will be hard to beat. Buying firewood a couple of months before the time of use is a good policy as it allows you to finish it off in good drying conditions. Firewood bought late in the season comes from the middle of what were large heaps and have not had the best of drying conditions and is difficult to finish off in mid winter. To artificially dry firewood would add $20-30 per cubic metre to the cost. Buy early, keep your money and enjoy your fire.

Taking delivery of your firewood

  • We usually arrive 10 mins either side of the stated delivery time and keep to a tight schedule.
  • It is great when the proposed drop-off area is free from obstruction e.g. non-starting cars, and it leaves time for a chat.
  • It is a good idea to put a cover on the ground to catch the residue of bark etc especially on stones.
  • Loads of up to 4m2 may arrive in the trailer. If the trailer is a problem on your property please advise when ordering.
  • The quoted price is for firewood tipped off the delivery vehicle and does not include throwing the firewood off.

Storage of Firewood

This is a very important aspect of having good firewood. Storage needs to have very good ventilation and shelter from the rain, sun is a big bonus. Too many times it is shoved out of the way and gets wetter as the winter comes on. Keeping the air clean and having dry firewood to burn is dependent on good storage.

Keeping the air clean

At Topcut we fully endorse the Timaru District Council’s policies to clean the air up and retain log burners so we can cope better with adverse events. The firewood industry has a responsibility sell dry firewood and the fireplace owners the responsibility to only burn dry firewood.

Burning wet firewood.

Burning wet firewood fouls up the log burner so it won’t draw properly and it fouls up the air. When a wet piece of wood is put on a fire the heat is first used to steam the water out and the result runs down the glass with very little heat for the room. Most people say why would you do this, some buy wet wood on purpose because it takes longer to burn and it is cheaper. This latter mentality needs to change or the right to have a fireplace lost and this would make a significant difference to air quality.

Description of dryness of firewood

At Topcut we describe the firewood as a percentage being dry and the remainder damp. The reason for this being that we fill the truck with a loader that gathers some firewood off the ground (damp) and the rest from up the heap. The damp firewood is not sap wet and takes a relatively short time to dry. By the time the dry firewood is burnt the damp is ready to burn.