Nothing says “cozy” quite like a roaring fire on a cold winter night. Few things in life are better than snuggling up under a blanket, hot chocolate in hand, in front of a blazing fireplace. Indeed, even modern gas fireplaces can fail to capture that special something that comes from a crackling fire. But what causes a fire to make that crackling noise in the first place? Sit down in front of your Glen Arm fireplace (firewood from Lehnhoff’s in tow, of course!) and settle in to learn more about why wood fires crackle.
Firewood Basics: Combustion
To learn why wood fires crackle, we must first understand some of the basic principles of combustion. While it may not look like there are any explosions going on in your fireplace, the process of fuel burning is indeed combustion. Combustion is a chemical reaction in which fuel and oxygen react, releasing heat in the process. This heat is a crucial part of the crackling sound.
Firewood’s Texture and Moisture Content
Wood is porous and typically has an irregular texture, and remnants of sap and moisture are contained in pockets throughout each log. As firewood burns, the fluids inside are exposed to heat. When these liquids are heated, they expand and produce steam. As steam and other combustion gases build up within the pores of the wood, they generate pressure. This pressure can build to the point that a small explosion occurs, resulting in an audible “crack!” While all of this talk of combustion and explosions sounds dramatic, it’s really just a description of chemical reactions that we see (and often ignore) every day. The next time you hear firewood crackling, just know that it’s the result of a lot of minuscule (and essentially harmless) explosions.
Wet Firewood Crackles More Than Seasoned and Dried Fuel
Of note, there is a discernible difference in the sound of a fire made with either dry or wet fuel. Correctly seasoned and dried firewood produces much less noise since there is less moisture available to produce steam. Wet or “green” firewood can (when it is able to ignite at all) create more of a crackling sound.
Questions? Lehnhoff’s Supply is Here to Help
If you still have more questions about how to best prepare your landscape or garden for summer and fall, the trained professionals at Lehnhoff’s Supply are here to help you. Find us at 2708 Belair Road, Fallston, MD 21047 and give us a call at 410-510-7646. For tips, tricks, and to see what we have been up to, be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter!
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