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Firewood Poems

Firewood Poems and Songs

Traditionally, knowledge based on teachings and experiences about selecting and burning firewood was passed along verbally. Often such information was put into a rhyming format to make it easier to remember. Thus were born firewood poems and firewood songs to address the question, “Which Firewood Burns Best?”

As with most things passed from generation to generation, there are often more than one version of any firewood poem or song.

We share the following firewood poems and songs with one note of caution: Some of the information in the firewood poems and songs might have details that are more folklore than fact.

Firewood Poems and Songs

“The Firewood Poem”

While most poems about firewood are passed along orally with their authors lost to time, perhaps the most often quoted firewood poem has a known author. Lady Cecelia Congreve wrote “The Firewood Poem” during her short life, 1900-1940. Its first publication may have been in The Times on May 2, 1930.

Lady Cecelia Congreve, author of The Firewood Poem

Lady Cecelia Congreve, author of The Firewood Poem

Beechwood fires are bright and clear
If the logs are kept a year,
Chestnut’s only good they say,
If for logs ’tis laid away.
Make a fire of Elder tree,
Death within your house will be;
But ash new or ash old,
Is fit for a queen with crown of gold.

Birch and fir logs burn too fast
Blaze up bright and do not last,
It is by the Irish said
Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread.
Elm wood burns like churchyard mould,
E’en the very flames are cold
But Ash green or Ash brown
Is fit for a queen with golden crown.

Poplar gives a bitter smoke,
Fills your eyes and makes you choke,
Apple wood will scent your room
Pear wood smells like flowers in bloom
Oaken logs, if dry and old
keep away the winter’s cold
But Ash wet or Ash dry
a king shall warm his slippers by.

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“Woodburning Rhyme”

This traditional, anonymous “Woodburning Rhyme”, also known as “Logs to Burn”, is a favorite of many:

Logs to Burn, a traditional firewood poem

Logs to Burn, Logs to burn, Logs to burn,
Logs to save the coal a turn,
Here’s a word to make you wise,
When you hear the woodman’s cries.

Never heed his usual tale,
That he has good logs for sale,
But read these lines and really learn,
The proper kind of logs to burn.

Oak logs will warm you well,
If they’re old and dry.
Larch logs of pine will smell,
But the sparks will fly.

Beech logs for Christmas time,
Yew logs heat well.
“Scotch” logs it is a crime,
For anyone to sell.

Birch logs will burn too fast,
Chestnut scarce at all.
Hawthorn logs are good to last,
If you cut them in the fall.

Holly logs will burn like wax,
You should burn them green,
Elm logs like smouldering flax,
No flame to be seen.

Pear logs and apple logs,
They will scent your room,
Cherry logs across the dogs,
Smell like flowers in bloom.

But ash logs, all smooth and grey,
Burn them green or old;
Buy up all that come your way,
They’re worth their weight in gold.

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“Fire Woods”

The short, anonymous poem “Fire Woods” is so easy for the novice to learn, it is recommended as the most basic of firewood poems:

Beech trees

These hardwoods burn well and slowly,
Ash, beech, hawthorn, oak and holly.

Softwoods flare up quick and fine,
Birch, fir, hazel, larch and pine.

Elm and willow you’ll regret,
Chestnut green and sycamore wet.

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Camp Fire Wood Poem

The 1964 manual for Girl Guides (similar to Girl Schools) included this poem attributed to G. Briggs, Camp Fire Wood Poem. Although it is addressed to those interested in camping fires, it it nonetheless relevant to those burning wood in fireplaces and wood stoves:

Girl Guides use firewood poems to memorize the burning characteristics of wood

You can sit by the camp-fire, watching
The leap of the yellow flame,
But the wood of each tree is different,
And no two burn the same.

ASH I reckon the finest kind:
Burns good whether green or dry.
POPLAR, now, is no manner of use;
You might just as well let it lie.

PINE-CONES and FIR-CONES, they’re kindling wood;
They’re handy to use as such.
Dry JUNIPER boughs burn fierce and hot,
But flare and crackle too much.

BIRCH burns quickly, is mighty good
If your fire be newly lit;
And remember that FIRS are useful too,
But, I warn you, they spark a bit!

There’s magic, Guides, in the camper’s fire;
It’s been told of in song and rhyme,
And the light of it shines down darkened years
To the dim beginning of time.

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“More Wood”

The second verse of “More Wood”, a song composed by Dillon Bustin, addresses the burning characteristics of various firewoods:

More Wood, a firewood song

When the kindling is dwindling, the bottom logs get soggy
Those ricks of sticks and racks and stacks
It makes you wonder where they go and barnfuls of armfuls
They only last a week or so
And then you’ll be hurting for wood.
Well the sassafras it burns too fast,
It starts the fire but never lasts.
And swamp oak likes to smoke you blow it till you think you’ll choke.
But hickory is just the tree to remind you of the ecstasy
Of having a pile of good wood, I said …

Chorus:
Wood (hard wood)
Firewood (dry wood)
There’s not a stove in the world
That’s going to do you any good
Without wood (stove wood)
We could (you should)
Be out cutting more wood.

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Wood Lore

This Old English song of unknown origin is titled Wood Lore:

Old English Wood Lore

Hickory makes the hottest coals in stoves when winter’s bleak,
Apple wood like incense burning through the hall both fragrance seek,
Elm wood fires have little smoke and warm both serf and lord,
Oak logs split and dried this year make good next winters hoard,
Beech burns bright and fill a the room with warmth and dancing light,
Maple sweet, not white or red will burn throughout the night,
Birch logs cut, need ne’er be stored they blaze, then heat the pot,
Ash, straight grain and easy split the kettle sings, and stove is hot,
Poplar logs must need be dried lest smoke both then ensue,
Pine and fir midst showers of sparks burn fast and line the blackened flue.

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Firewood Ditty

In the following short Firewood Ditty, it might help to know that “plane” refers to the American sycamore tree:

fireplace ashes are all that remain of any firewood

No matter which hardwood or softwood you burn,
Oak, Apple, Rowan or Plane
You will find that when to your grate you return
There is one which will always remain …Ash!

 

Did you learn any of these firewood poems or songs growing up? Finally, do you have additional ones to add about the burning characteristics of each type of wood and to answer the pressing question of Which Firewood Burns Best?

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What to Burn for Mosquito Free Fire

What to Burn for Mosquito Free Fire Pit

Mosquitos are the bane of everyone who wants to relax by a fire pit or fire bowl or campfire. A careful selection of  specific eco-friendly firestarters, logs and other fire fuels can safely repel those flying pests.  Here is a list of what to burn for mosquito free fire pit or other outdoor fires.

What to Burn for Mosquito Free Fire: Firestarters

Get off to a mosquito free start by lighting your fire with citronella fire starters. The easy-to-light fire starter pods each burn for about 30 minutes, giving plenty of time for your firewood to catch fire. The citronella in these fire starters help keep mosquitoes away from the moment you first start your fire!

 

What to Burn for Mosquito Free Fire: Logs and Fuel

 

Burn citronella logs for a mosquito free fire. The citronella logs are natural, non-toxic fire logs with citronella oils and scents. They discourage not only mosquitoes but also other flying insects. Because they provide up to three time more heat than natural wood, you need less fuel for the evening around your fire.

 

 

Burning cedar logs, especially the bark from cedar logs, repel mosquitoes. If you have access to cedar trees, consider saving the bark to add to your fire pit as fuel. For those without cedar trees, or those who don’t want to cut their own firewood, adding shredded cedar bark chips to your outdoor fire pit fire, campfire or fire bowl helps dispel those flying pests.

Another way to use shredded cedar bark to repel mosquitoes is to use it as a landscaping mulch in your yard. Particularly in areas you want mosquito free, such as near your deck or fire pit, cedar bark is an ideal mulch.

 

What to Burn for Mosquito Free Fire: Live and Dried Plants to Burn

 

What to burn for mosquito free fire pit lemon grass, citronella, or lemon balm leaves

Lemongrass or Citronella or Lemon Balm Leaves repel mosquitoes

 

Toss into your fire leaves from plants that repel mosquitoes. Adding these fresh leaves to a fire releases the natural repellants within them. Citronella, lemongrass, and lemon balm plants all make great border plantings for yards. Having these plants in your yard helps keep your yard mosquito free. And, to add extra mosquito-repelling properties to your fire, just tear off a few of the leaves. Then add them into the outdoor fire.

 

Sage has been used by Native Americans to ward off mosquitos and other flying bugs and pests. Many like the herbal aroma it adds to a fire, too.  Sage bundles can be added to your fire pit for a mosquito free fire experience.

The fuel you use in your fire pit or other outdoor fire is the best first place to start when creating  a mosquito free zone. Now you know what to burn for a mosquito free fire pit – firestarters, types of real and artificial logs, and leaves that repel those flying pests.

 

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Arbor Day

Arbor Day

We celebrate Arbor Day in the United States on the last Friday of April. The holiday celebrates the joys of trees. Trees provide both people and animals with services as well as goods. Planting trees on Arbor day is a traditional way to honor forest, ornamental and fruit trees.

To those with wood-burning fireplaces or fire pits, the firewood trees provide is a direct connection to the role trees provide in both heating our spaces and making convivial gathering places. Unprocessed except for cutting and splitting, firewood has an obvious and direct link to its origins, a tree.

 

What Things Are Made from Tree?

Some products that come from trees have their tree origins visible in their wood graining. Such tree-based products include wood furniture, wood veneer flooring, wooden shingles and fencing, musical instruments, tools, or even pencils:

Arbor Day - appreciating the trees that give us products

 

Many items we use  in our everyday lives started their lives as trees. Paper products, including paper towels, paper napkins, paper plates and cups, newspapers, envelopes, and are all the products of trees. Computer and writing paper, cardboard boxes and containers are ubiquitous in our lives.  Other paper product examples include postage stamps, gauze and bandages, board games and cards, wallpaper, paper currency, lampshades and the most basic of necessities, toilet paper.

paper products from trees

 

Other products we derive from trees have a less obvious connection to their original source. Arbor Day is an occasion we can use to recognize the contributions trees make to products we use every day, including the following:

Cleaning Products from Trees

tree based cleaning products

Cellulose wood sponges are made from tree pulp and latex gloves from the rubber tree. Pine based cleaners, such as Pine-Sol, and Carroll Company cleaners , have long been used to clean and disinfect. Tea tree oil household cleaners offer a chemical-free way to clean homes.

 

Food from Trees

food from trees

Fruit, nuts, and berries are food for humans as well as animals. Even some tree barks, seeds, sap, roots and leaves are edible, such as tea from sassafras roots and maple syrup from maple tree sap. Spices such as cloves, nutmeg and allspice are tree products. And don’t forget chocolate from the cacao tree!

 

Medicines from Trees

People have used bark, leaves, twigs, buds and roots of trees such as ash, beech, birch, camphor, elder, hawthorne and elm for medicinal purposes for ages. Pharmaceutical grade drugs made from trees include the following:

  • Antimalarial drug Quinine comes from the bark of the Cinchona tree.
  • Taxol for breast and cervical cancers derives from the inner bark of the Pacific Yew.
  • Reserpine for lowering blood pressure comes from the root of the Serpent-Root tree.
  • Aspirin, a pain and fever reducer and anti-inflammatory agent, derives from the bark of a Willow tree.

 

Services from Trees

Trees release oxygen during the photosynthesis process, essential to human and animals. They provide cooling shade from the sun and windshields from strong winds. Trees absorb harmful pollutants and reduce noise pollution. Trees are climbing toys and swing holders for children. They are sources of serenity and inspiration. And even in their death, rotting stumps and limbs and dying leaves nourish the soil.

Origins of Arbor Day

The father of Arbor Day is Julius Sterling Morton. He moved to the Nebraska Territory in 1854. He became the editor of Nebraska’s first newspaper. His newspaper was a popular source of agricultural news, and he used it to advocate for environmental stewardship. He worked with the Nebraska State Board of Agriculture “to set aside one day to plant trees, both forest and fruit.”  The first Arbor Day was celebrated in the United States on April 10, 1872 with tree plantings.

Nebraska - Home of Arbor Day

Celebrations of tree appreciation and tree planting days are also holidays in other lands: Greening Week in Japan, New Year’s Day of the Trees in Israel, Tree-Loving Week in Korea,  Student Afforestation Day in Iceland, and the National Festival of Tree Planting in India.

 

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Firewood Fact or Myth

Firewood Fact or Myth

Have firewood in your life? If you have a wood stove or a wood-burning fireplace, fire pit or fire bowl, you have probably heard some common sayings about firewood. Some call them firewood Old Wives Tales or Old Husband Tales. How can you tell which one is a firewood fact or myth? Which ones reflect wisdom and which ones are nonsense?

 

Cut in fall; burn in winter.

Firewood Fact or Myth: Cut in fall; burn in winter.

Myth: Firewood needs to dry or season before it is used. When first cut, firewood can have up to 60% water content. The short time between fall and winter is just not long enough for either softwood or hardwood firewood to sufficiently season. Burning firewood with a high moisture content is often frustrating because it is so hard to light and keep lit. Even when it is burning, much of its energy is going to drying out the wood instead of warming your home.

Softwood indicates that the wood comes from trees with needles instead of leaves. Example of softwoods are pines, evergreens, spruces and yew. Softwood takes 6 to 12 months to season and be ready for your fireplace or stove.

Hardwoods are trees with deciduous leaves, such as beech, oak, apple, teak, and birch. Hardwood firewood needs one to two years to season.

 

Firewood warms you twice.

Firewood Fact or Myth: Firewood warms you twice – when you cut it and when your burn it.

True But…: If you are cutting your own firewood, you know it warms you both when you cut it and when you burn it. However, it also warms you when you haul it, split it, and stack it! So “twice” underestimates the warming potential of firewood.

In addition to warming you during those tasks, firewood also saves you time at the gym.

 

Don't burn wood from a tree struck by lightning.

Firewood Fact or Myth: Don’t burn wood from a tree that was struck by lightning.

Myth: George Jones Frazier’s The Golden Bough, first published in 1890, claims the Wendish people, an Anglo-Saxon group, had a taboo against burning lightning-struck wood in their hearths. They believed it would cause their homes to burn down. Likewise, according to Ernie Bulow’s Navajo Taboos, the Navajo or Diné people, believing lightning to be very dangerous, are said to have a strong taboo against using lightning-struck wood for building or burning.

A tree that has been struck by lightning can heat up internally, causing splitting and cracking. But there is no scientific evidence that using the wood from the lightning-struck tree in your fireplace will bring harms to you or your home.

 

Sweet gum firewood lasts forever.

Firewood Fact or Myth: Sweet gum firewood lasts forever.

Myth But…: But this myth has a basis in fact; sweet gum firewood seems to last forever because it is so difficult to split. It takes up to three times the work to split a cord of sweet gum compared with most other firewoods.  And it doesn’t even really split. It just frustratingly twists and shreds and tears. So if you have a pile of sweetgum logs to turn into firewood, it will, indeed, feel as if that wood lasts forever. It will seem to take forever to split it and use it up.

A sweet gum tree can be identified by its distinctive 5-point, star shaped leaves and the hard, spiked shells of the seeds which fall to the ground and are commonly called sticker balls or burr balls.

 

So now when you hear one of these old adages about firewood, you will know if it is a firewood fact or myth.

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