How to Dry Firewood

You have just finished cutting up that tree that fell in the backyard, and your hopes turn to keeping yourself toasty warm this winter in front of the fire. Before you can enjoy that luxury, there are a few things you will have to do first. Seasoned wood tends to burn the most efficiently, in order for the wood to season, or dry, you have to expose as much surface area to the surrounding air. Although you have cut the wood into manageable log lengths of 16 to 20 inches, unless you split this wood, it is still going to take way more time than it should to dry out for the coming winters fires.

By Splitting the wood, you open the log up to drying, and giving up all that moisture that kept it alive as a tree, the bark of a tree is very good at protecting the tree from all sorts of bad things, including drying out, so it is important to create as much surface area for your logs to give up their moisture. In addition to letting the wood dry out, splitting also makes it easier to handle the wood and when building a fire, the more surface area to burn, the more heat your fire will give off.

I like to split my wood in the following manner, anything under 3 inches in diameter I simply cut to log length, and leave it at that, from 4-8 inches, I split the log once, in half, 8-16 inches, I split it in quarters, and for logs over that size, I split it accordingly, so as to leave myself with a piece of wood that I can manage with one hand.

I always take the time to split some wood into smaller pieces to use for starting the fire, as the smaller pieces tend to dry quicker, and also manage to start burning much easier.

Once you have all your logs split to your liking, its time to stack them. Although you can leave the split wood in a pile on the ground, it is better to get the wood elevated so as to eliminate ground contact. The easist way to do this is lay out a few wooden pallets or skids on the ground where you plan to keep your firewood, most pallets are 48 inches wide, so you can line up as many as you want to create a row 48 inches wide, and however long you may have wood for.

Since you will probably have smaller stuff like branches cut to log length, as well as pieces that you split extra small, followed by larger and larger splits, I suggest stacking your wood according to sizes, this way, when it comes time to build a fire, its easy enough to grab some twigs and branches to get the fire going, followed by some larger pieces once the fire is good and hot, and finally a spot for those extra large pieces that should burn long into the night keeping you warm long after you have stopped feeding the fire.

Don’t worry about being efficient while your stacking the wood, inn fact the less neat you are, the more air space you will have in your wood pile, which will encourage the air to circulate that much more, all the while taking the moisture away from the pile. Many people are inclined to wrap the pile tightly with a tarp so as to keep the rain off the wood, but unfortunately, this makes the wood more prone to rotting as the moisture within the pile does not get to escape.

Better than wrap the pile tightly is to drape a sheet of plastic across the top of the pile to deflect the rain , leaving the sides fully exposed for the wind to carry the moisture away as the sun warms it, by stacking and covering your pile in this manner, you will create an air circulation under and through the pile that if split and stacked by memorial day should be ready to burn by thanksgiving. You can tell when you have the perfectly dried pieces of wood for your fire when you hit one against another, and it gives off that beautiful clinking sound that you get when knocking two 2x4s together, anything that gives you nothing more than a thud should be allowed to dry longer before using it, or if that is not an option, it should be placed on a well burning fire after getting it going with the well dried wood.

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