Yes, of course, as long as they are dry. You may have heard that these types of wood cause “tar” or “sap” problems in chimneys but it’s just not true. However, like all wood, they need to be burned at a high enough temperature. Softer woods are less dense so you’ll need to use around 25% more softwood to get the same heat output as hardwood. A kilo of softwood will give about the same heat energy as a kilo of hardwood but because it’s less dense it will take up a bit more space in your store. These woods are not so suitable for open fires as they tend to spit and spark.
It’s important to use dry wood. It should contain 20% moisture or less. Logs should not be too large – 5 inches wide (125mm) will give the best result. If you use large logs to make the fire last longer will generally result in a lower burning temperature, more wasted fuel and more pollution.
If you are buying for immediate use then tell your supplier you want to use them now and you want logs with 20% moisture or less. Or look out for the ‘Ready to Burn’ logo for reassurance that the logs are dry.
Stack logs so the air can get at them. If you cut and split them yourself try to do this when the wood is fresh cut as it is much easier on you and your tools. Once split, you have greatly increased the surface area of each piece and it will dry much faster. Logs need to be properly stacked, not heaped in a pile. A well ventilated log store with open sides and a roof on it is the best situation. You should be able to achieve moisture content of 20% or less in 6 to 12 months if your logs are the right size and properly stored. Beware of the word seasoned, it means nothing in reality. The only important consideration is the moisture content.
A moisture meter is a very useful tool. Aim for 20% moisture or less. To test the moisture content of any log, split it first and then test the split surface. See our useful video here.