The weather outside may be frightful, but a fire is so delightful.
“There’s just something about the feel of wood, you can’t beat it,” says David Friesen, owner of Friesen Firewood which sells in Pictou County.
The nice thing about a wood stove is that if you want to warm up you can go closer to it but if you want to cool down a bit you just move farther away.
In an era where many people have switched to using heat pumps and places like Montreal have placed restrictions on the use of wood stoves and fireplaces that emit above a certain limit of particulate, Friesen said that wood burning remains a popular form of heat in Nova Scotia.
“I see the one very strong advantage of wood burning is it supplements well with heat pumps as an alternate heat source,” he said.
Wood stoves in particular operate in cold weather and don’t require electricity to distribute heat like other heat sources, he said.
To ensure that you’re burning wood safely to prevent creosote buildup, Friesen recommends that customers ask their supplier when the wood was cut. He said to properly dry it should be cut for a year.
“If it’s less than a year, there’s a chance it won’t be dry.”
That said, wood can also be too dry, he cautions.
“After a while it starts deteriorating,” he said, although that doesn’t usually happen until after a couple of years.
He believes the best wood is a mixture of hardwoods. While rock maple is known for burning for a long time, it can be harder to start a fire with. Birch on the other hand is great for getting a blaze going. Combine the two, or other woods, and you’ve got a great heat supply.
Friesen said it’s actually does no harm to the environment to burn wood. Because a lot of hardwood is termed a lower-quality wood, it often stays out and rots in the woods. The rotting process actually causes more greenhouse gases than if the wood was burned, he said.
“It is very interesting to see if you really dig into it.”
Joe Decoste is another firewood supplier in Pictou County and has also found there is still a good demand for firewood, although he said sometimes supply is harder to find, particularly for smaller operations.
He blames pulp mills and large companies for buying up much of the hardwood supply that in the past people like himself would have bought and sold for firewood.
“The big guys just take it all,” he said. “There’s nothing left for the little fellow.”
Still he believes there’s a future for wood with demand still relatively high.
With storms like the one Nova Scotians were faced with on Thursday, it’s also good to have as a heat source.