How Do You Season Firewood?

Do you wonder why your wood heater is using too much wood or why the fire produces more smoke than flame? 

Well, it’s most probably because the wood you are using for fuel is not seasoned properly. In other words, the wood is still wet and contains more than 20% of moisture. Looking for answers to how do you season firewood? Read on!

Yes, no matter if you buy or cut your wood, it is important that it is appropriately dried for it to burn safely and efficiently. Freshly cut wood is usually green and contains 60% or more sap or water.

You have to give your wood time to evaporate so that its moisture content reaches 20% or less. Based on the wood and firewood drying conditions, this takes about 6 months to a year.

Besides, not only is it annoying and a waste of time trying to burn wet wood, carrying moldy wood into your house is unhealthy. The mold from the wood can escape into the air and multiply to pollute the air, create a musty smell at home and trigger allergies in some people. This is why you should learn how to season firewood before allowing any mold growth.

While you can buy dry’ wood, it’s better if you dry the wood yourself as you don’t know how ready the wood is for drying. Some store owners may partially dry the wood, think you will dry it at home later on. It’s okay if you dry the wood; it’s when you don’t that you end up with a smoky fire and less wood fuel efficiency!

Cut the wood into small pieces

You first have to cut the wood into small, convenient and consistent lengths to use in your stove, furnace or fireplace. It’s better to cut the wood shorter and not longer than ideal, as its difficult stuffing too-long pieces into the stove.

Besides, smaller pieces are not only easier to handle, but also dry quicker. Not only do entire logs take a longer time to dry, sometimes it may not even dry fully.

Start splitting wood

Once the wood is cut to the desired size, it’s time to split the wood as firewood starts drying properly only after it’s cut and split to the right size. Leaving the wood in log form only retains the moisture in the wood bark.

Splitting with an axe helps the wood dry faster as it increases the amount of surface area for moisture to escape from. Besides, the bark seals the moisture in wood and once you open it up, the moisture has space to evaporate.

You have to split the wood as per your burner requirements as even big, un-split pieces don’t burn well in furnaces. Most wood stoves work best if the wood is split into no more than 6 inches at the largest cross-sectional dimension.

But it’s always better to have a range of wood piece sizes as it helps with kindling fires or reloading coal beds. To maintain different wood pieces ranging from 3-6 inches in diameter used in wood stoves, and about an inch longer should be enough for use in furnaces.

Leave to dry in the sun.

Now the wet, split wood has to be left uncovered and exposed to the sun and wind to let dry. While the wind is necessary for air circulation purposes, the wood dries quicker under direct sunlight.

It’s better to stack all your wood into one long stack of wood, placed in direct sunlight for improved air circulation. The moisture escapes quickly when the sun heats the wood, and when the wind blows the moisture away.

In case you don’t have sufficient space to stack your wood in a single long stack, you have the option of making multiple stacks side by side. However, if you opt to do this, make sure there is some space, at least a few inches, in between the rows. This way there will be sufficient space for both the sun and wind to penetrate through the stacks and reach the wood to help dry it. It’s also better if the wood is kept off the ground as there is a chance of the wood absorbing the soil moisture.

Longer time to dry in sheds

Wood takes longer to dry if it is stacked in a shed because of two reasons. There is no direct sunlight reaching it, and because there is limited air flow in the shed.

 However, if you have no option but to stack the wood in a shed, then you have to ensure it’s properly ventilated. It’s also better to stack the wood in such a way that there is sufficient space in between the stacks for air to flow through.

No covers

Most people tend to cover their wood pile with firewood tarp or some similar cover when it’s still green or wet. This, however, is not at all advised as the cover only retains moisture in the wood, which in turn encourages the growth and development of mold and decay.

If you are considering covering the wood because of possible rains, it’s not necessary nor do you have to worry about the wood getting wet in the rain. Not only does any rainwater on the wood quickly dry, rain ironically helps wood dry!

A long wait for seasoned wood!

Don’t think that your wood gets seasoned overnight, or by drying it for a few days. Firewood takes a lot of time to season, as long as six months or even longer. So the wood should be ready for use by October if you have your wood chopped, split and stacked by early spring.

Of course, the wood may take even longer to dry if you live in a place with a damp climate, or if the wood to be dried is dense, like oak. This is why if you buy and opt to use very hardwood for fuel, you have to buy and ready it for seasoning perhaps in the fall so that it’s properly seasoned and ready for use the next fall.

By now you should know that you don’t season wood just by cutting and throwing it into a pile. It takes some time, patience and effort on your part as you have to cut, stack and leave the wood to dry for six months to a year. However once seasoned, you have firewood ready to burn and keep you, your home and family warm and cozy!

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