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Thaumas P. Ehr, Landscape Architect

What is the best type of firewood to use in your fireplace?

Alligator juniper: Juniper, from Arizona’s high country, is wonderfully fragrant with a cedar-like aroma. It has medium hardness and mixes well with other woods. Alligator juniper is excellent in the fireplace or in a backyard fire pit and produces a cozy lively fire with crackle, pop and pleasant aroma. It is excellent for grilling and smoking. It’s a wood used by many of Arizona's elite resorts.

Oak hardwood:This long lasting hardwood burns hot with a good bed of coals. Excellent for grilling and smoking

Pecan: Pecan is a great wood for cooking, barbecue smoking and fireplaces. It’s one of the better hardwoods and burns with very little smoke. It’s a great mixer to burn with other aromatic woods. Pecan is the choice of many professional chefs for grilling and smoking and in pizza ovens.

Shag bark juniper: This wood, also called Utah juniper or cedar, is slightly less expensive than alligator juniper and has the same burning qualities. The shaggy bark can provide kindling for your fire. This juniper has medium hardness, burns clean and mixes well with any hardwood. It is excellent for grilling and smoking.

Mesquite: This slow-burning hardwood is excellent for grilling and smoking and is very popular with valley steakhouses. Tends to be too smoky for fireplaces and camp fires

Mixed hardwood: Mulberry, eucalyptus, ash, olive and pine (used for starting the fire) make a good mix of local hardwoods but don’t produce much aroma.

Piñon: This wood (pronounced "pin-yon") is found in the mountains of the Southwest. Its smoky pine fragrance adds a great aroma to any occasion. It’s perfect for chimineas (freestanding, front-loading fireplaces with a vertical smoke stack), outdoor fireplaces, fire pits, and campfires. It burns hot and produces an aroma that can repel flying insects, including mosquitoes. It is excellent for grilling and smoking.

Eucalyptus: Also known as river red gum, this wood is native to Australia. It is clean burning, produces good heat and should always be mixed with other wood due to it's high oil content.

Why should I use seasoned wood in my fireplace?

Seasoned wood burns cleaner and more efficiently. Wet wood causes smoking and odor problems and can increase the build-up of dangerous creosote in your chimney. Properly seasoned wood should be dull gray with dark ends. Sure signs that wood is seasoned are when its bark starts to fall off, it splits on the ends and it displays cracks. Seasoned wood is also lighter to pick up. Wood should be cut six months to a year before burning.

What is a cord of wood?

A standard cord measures four-feet high by four-feet wide by eight-feet long (128 cubic feet).A "face cord" is 1/4 of a cord or 32 cubic feet.

What is a self-cleaning log?

So-called "chimney sweep" logs or cleaning logs can help only slightly in cleaning a dirty chimney. They work by depositing a chemical on creosote so that it will flake off in bits onto the fireplace floor. But they cannot remove heavy layers of buildup from walls.

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