Thursday, February 7, 2013

It's Not the Size That Matters

Trey Smith


Last night -- like most nights during the winter months -- I built a fire in the fireplace. Compared to the fires I had built in previous days, this was a rather small one. In total, I only burned 4 sticks of wood from the firewood bin plus two charred remains from the night before. Though its size was small, the heat the fire put out was intense. In fact, it burned far hotter than Tuesday night's fire which consumed nearly one dozen sticks of firewood.

What accounted for the difference? The type of wood burned.

The vast majority of our firewood is fir and alder. Both of these types of wood are on the low end of the BTU scale. We also have quite a bit of western hemlock and this species produces more intense fires. So, even though I can have a blazing fire of fir and alder, a much smaller fire with one piece of hemlock produces a lot more heat.

What is true of wood often is just as true for people. Bigger, stronger or smarter isn't always best.

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