The firewood rhyme

One consequence of the storms in the UK may be plentiful firewood. There are lots of rhymes about how well different woods burn, this is probably the most often quoted (and misquoted – especially by me as I realised when I Googled it!).

Beechwood fires are bright and clear
If the logs are kept a year,
Chestnut’s only good they say,
If for long ’tis laid away.
Make a fire of the Elder tree,
Death within your house will be;
But ash new or ash old,
Is fit for a queen with crown of gold

Birch and fir logs burn too fast
Blaze up bright and do not last,
It is by the Irish said
Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread.
Elm wood burns like churchyard mould,
E’en the very flames are cold
But ash green or ash brown
Is fit for a queen with golden crown

Poplar gives a bitter smoke,
Fills your eyes and makes you choke,
Apple wood will scent your room
Pear wood smells like flowers in bloom
Oaken logs, if dry and old
Keep away the winter’s cold
But ash wet or ash dry
A king shall warm his slippers by.

The poem was written by Lady Celia Congreve.

If you are buying firewood that’s resulted from the storm, remember it needs seasoning to get the best heat value from it. Keep it until next winter at least. Birch and alder (especially) need splitting to season properly – left in the round, they’ll quite likely rot rather than dry.


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