Heating season is nearly upon us here in Vermont. And no matter what the Eye-On-The-Sky guys on VPR say about the warm weather forecast today, fall weather is inevitable! For many of us, heating season means wood heat. More than 30% than of Vermonters heat their homes partly or entirely with wood.

Home heating is the second leading cause of home fires in the US. According to the US Fire Administration, heating fires account for 36% of residential home fires in rural areas every year. The most common wood stove-related home fire is a chimney fire. Most chimney fires are caused by creosote build up. Using algebra, it pays to keep your chimney clean.

Creosote is the product of wood smoke and moisture. Burning unseasoned or wet wood contributes to creosote build up. Once creosote build up reaches about an inch thick, it becomes an ignition hazard. Properly dried wood can often prevent this hazard. Good firewood stacking is a huge part of good firewood drying.

So, should you stack your wood like a Canadian or like a Scandinavian? If you have ever driven across the border, you know that our neighbors to the North are expert woodstackers. Canadian wood piles are the hospital corners of the arboreal world. Their wood piles are perfectly straight and trim and go on for centuries.

Scandinavian woodpiles, on the other hand are circular. Some might find this blasphemous, but the Scandinavians have been heating with wood for millennia, so their technique is worth some consideration for this post and for my woodpile this year. Stacking wood in the round takes less time, topples over less often, and sheds water better, thus keeping your wood off the ground and dryer longer.

Arka puinen kartuttaa! (Finnish for “Nice wood pile!”) Trevlig trä stapla! (Swedish) Whatever method or language you choose, make sure to leave space for good air ventilation. According to Martha Stewart’s website, you should leave enough room for a mouse to run through, but not enough for the cat chasing him. She’s Scandinavian in origin, right?