While watching the fire in my fireplace or outside in the firepit I often wondered why does firewood pop? Especially pine and poplar wood. So I did some research and here’s what I came up with.
Why Does Firewood Pop
In the wood, there are small pockets of liquids, such as water and sap. When the wood starts to burn, the fire heats these liquids up as if they were in a pan on the stove.
The heat from the fire causes the liquids inside the wood to first boil and then vaporize into steam. This steam gets trapped in the pocket within the piece of wood. The steam that is trapped in the wood begins to exert pressure on the surrounding wood.
In time, thegives way. The snap, crackle, or pop sound you hear is the wood splitting along a crevice and releasing steam into the fire. If you’ve ever tried to use wet wood for firewood, you’ve probably noticed that it snaps, pops, and crackles much more than usual. That’s because of the excess water trapped within the wood.
Does Seasoned Firewood Pop?
Yes. How much it pops depends on the moisture content of the wood and also what kind of wood it is. Ideally, you want the moisture content of the wood to be at or below 20% to get the most out of it far as heating goes.
Far as popping goes, there’s always going to be small tiny pockets of fluid in the wood, that are going to heat up and pop and crackle.
There is a device you can buy to test the moisture content of your firewood, its called a moisture meter. You can check it out on Amazon here, Moisture Meter.
What Kind Of Wood Pops And Crackles The Most?
That would be any kind of evergreen tree. Most people say you shouldn’t burn evergreen wood in a fireplace because of how much creosote it makes. Burning the wood outside in firepits is fine. In fact, I prefer pine over all other kinds of wood (for burning outside) because of how much it crackles and pops, plus it has a really good smell to it and it throws off a ton of heat. One bad thing is it also burns fast. Guess you really can’t have your cake and eat it too huh?
Is Wood Popping Dangerous?
It can be because it can throw super hot ambers out of your fireplace and catch something on fire if you’re not careful.
Most fireplaces have a screen of some kind to put between you and the fire itself to prevent anything bad from happening.
If your burning in a wood stove you’ll be fine. A woodstove is enclosed, the amber can’t go anywhere unless you have the door open to feed your fire. Common sense will take over then and you’ll be safe because you can keep an eye on it as you fill it.
Watching a fire is a calming experience and part of that is hearing the wood crackle and pop. Plus, watching the different colored flames shoot up from the wood. So I hope I helped you find the answer to, why does firewood pop.
If you want to listen to firewood popping and crackling without having to do anything for it, here is a random video of a log burning.