How to choose the right fire wood

Always choose small logs. The best wood for burning is dry, seasoned, untreated hardwood. This means wood that: 

  • dried over time in nature, or was kiln-dried
  • has no chemicals added to it. For example, paints or stains. 

Dry, seasoned and untreated hardwood is best for burning because it: 

  • makes more heat and less smoke than other wood 
  • doesn’t clog your wood heater’s flue. The flue is the pipe that releases smoke from your wood heater into the air. 

Always use the type of fuel listed on the heater’s compliance plate or check your wood heater’s manufacturers’ guide about safe fuels.

How to know your wood is dry

There are two main ways to know if wood is dry: 

  • Bang two pieces together. You should hear a loud, hollow crack. 
  • Tap the wood with a key or coin. Dry wood makes a sharp, resonant sound, wet wood makes a dull sound. 

How to buy or collect firewood

You can buy dry, seasoned, untreated hardwood and use it straightaway. You can also buy it unseasoned in spring and dry it yourself. This is cheaper than buying seasoned hardwood in winter. To dry your unseasoned hardwood: 

  • store it for at least eight months in a shed or covered area that has good air flow  
  • stack the wood in a ‘criss-cross’ pattern to allow for air flow.

There are strict limits on taking firewood from public land. There are heavy penalties for doing the wrong thing. Find more information at Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning or phone them on 136 186.  

What you shouldn’t burn in your wood heater

Burning the wrong things in your wood heater can make toxic smoke. This can be a risk to human health and the environment.

Do not burn any of these in your wood heater: 

  • Driftwood, treated or painted wood. This wood can contain unwanted chemicals. 
  • Treated timber or green-coloured pine logs. For example, those used at parks and playgrounds. 
  • Household rubbish. 
  • Coal. 
  • Coke. This is a fire fuel made from coal.

Read more about wood smoke and air quality

About wood smoke and air quality

About wood smoke pollution

Reducing wood smoke pollution

Report smoke

Smoke and the law 

Reviewed 11 May 2020