Popping and crackling firewood helps create that authentic fireside experience that can’t be duplicated with gas and electric fireplaces. It can also be a safety problem if it causes bits of burning wood to jump out of the fire. In this blog post, Batts’ Chimney Services takes a look at what causes firewood to pop and crackle and if there are any safety risks associated with it.
What Causes Firewood to Pop and Crackle?
As firewood burns, a chemical reaction known as combustion causes the cellulose matter to turn to heat and gas. Some of the gas can become trapped within wood pores and build pressure until they force their way out, resulting in popping and crackling noises.
Moisture content is another factor that can result in louder and more frequent pops and crackles. As wood burns, the moisture in it turns to steam and behaves the same way as the gases described above. Therefore, the higher the moisture content of the firewood, the more prone it will be to popping and crackling. This is why freshly cut wood is not ideal for use as firewood. Factors such as the tree’s age and the season can also affect the moisture levels in the firewood.
Is Popping and Crackling Dangerous?
As discussed in our introduction, popping and crackling can cause embers or burning bits of wood to pop out from your fireplace, which may start a house fire depending on where they land. An even greater risk is that burning wood with high moisture content releases waste gases, which can become a health hazard. Burning wood also releases higher amounts of creosote that can accelerate clogging in the chimney flue.
Reduce the Risks of Popping and Crackling Firewood
The best species to use for firewood can be discussed at length, but the bottom line is you must use wood that’s as dry as possible. If you prefer to cut your own firewood, make sure they’re dried or seasoned first. Avoid using treated wood — the kind used for woodworking and construction. They’re treated with chemicals that may end up getting released into your home. If in doubt, buy wood or pellets that are specifically sold for use in fireplaces.