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Author Topic: How long to dry firewood  (Read 32809 times)

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Offline BCinVT

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How long to dry firewood
« on: January 14, 2010, 02:11:07 pm »
Just found this site recently and have found a ton of info already.Recently moved to a new place,and now have some land.So I'll be cutting my own firewood again.Had about 5-6 cord cut and stacked when we moved in,so I don't need wood for this year.But I'm wondering about how long I'll have to let the wood I cut dry?Started to cut some maple and yellow birch already,but won't be able to get to it to cut it to length and split it till the spring.Going to mostly be Maple,yellow birch,white birch,and beech.Also,I have alot of hemlock on the property,is this stuff worth cutting and burning?Any info is appreciated.Thanks
I don't think I know it all. I know enough to ask now.To bad it took so long to figure that out:)

Offline ronwood

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Re: How long to dry firewood
« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2010, 02:34:00 pm »
Welcome to the forum. I would think a year with it cut and stacked would work.
Ron
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Offline Magicman

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Re: How long to dry firewood
« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2010, 02:35:32 pm »
First, Welcome to The Forestry Forum.  I always cut my next year's wood this year, meaning that most has dried around a year.  Of course, our wood species is different.  I burn only red oak.
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Offline beenthere

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Re: How long to dry firewood
« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2010, 02:44:02 pm »
Welcome to the forum.
I find that at least 2 year and half, preferably 3 year, before the wood is dry enough for good burning. I can tell right away when burning wood less than 2 - 3 years split and stacked for air drying. Will it burn less than two years. Yes, it will still burn, but it won't give as much heat - and to me, that is the primary purpose for burning wood.  ;D

Go south, and there is more drying time during the November - April winter months than there is in the northern US. With the low temps and associated high Relative Humidity, wood doens't dry much at all.

When you get a chance to burn wood that is 2-3 or more years drying, you have a hard time going back to wood that isn't that dry. 

My 2 cents.  :)

Some woods, like ash, are more burnable after a year and half drying. Hickory is another. But oak, and I expect maple, take awhile to dry.
south central Wisconsin
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Offline celliott

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Re: How long to dry firewood
« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2010, 03:46:06 pm »
We have a 3 bay woodshed, each holding approximatly a winters supply of firewood, so ours gets dried 2 years, sometimes more in the pile.
Chris Elliott


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Offline motohed

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Re: How long to dry firewood
« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2010, 04:11:59 pm »
Usually a year is good for most maple species ,and 2 years at least for oak , hickory , etc .

Offline Chuck White

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Re: How long to dry firewood
« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2010, 05:23:06 pm »
Around here, most people cut next Winters firewood this Winter!

That way it's seasoned about a year and less creosote problems!
~Chuck~
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Offline beenthere

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Re: How long to dry firewood
« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2010, 05:55:28 pm »
And "most people" burn wood that isn't yet dry.  :)
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Offline Reddog

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Re: How long to dry firewood
« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2010, 06:11:54 pm »
My answer is "As long as you can wait"
If you can wait two years all the better.
For me it is usually about 2 weeks. Most likely why I hate oak for firewood.

Offline John Mc

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Re: How long to dry firewood
« Reply #9 on: January 14, 2010, 10:25:33 pm »
A lot depends on how you are storing it. If I'm willing to put the extra labor into it, I can get beech and maple down to around 15-17% moisture content (good for firewood) by the fall heating season if I cut, split and stack it in the spring.

To do this, I cut, split, and stack in single rows, on pallets so it's up off the ground. The cut ends of the logs are oriented into the sun and prevailing wind. Early on in the drying process, I may leave it uncovered. As it dries, I cover the top of the stack with a scrap of plywood or sheet of old metal roofing. At the end of the summer, I'll move it in to my wood shed (open on 3 sides with good airflow, but still well protected from rain). If it still needs a bit more drying, I'll leave some space between the stacks to allow for better air circulation.

If I take the same stuff and cut split and stack it straight into my wood shed, with little spacing between the stacks, it's nowhere near dry by fall. It's OK by the following fall, but even then some of it is marginal.

Results of these were tested periodically by cutting up a log and checking the interior with a moisture meter.

So I'm seeing a swing from 6 months up to 1.5-2 years to dry wood, depending on how it's stored. Beech seems to dry faster than Red Maple. Oak takes longer.

John Mc
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Offline BCinVT

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Re: How long to dry firewood
« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2010, 05:37:55 am »
Thanks for the replies.Knew I'd get the info on here.I've got some maple down already,and will be splitting and stacking it in the spring.I will be stacking in spaced rows,in an area with good sun,so hopefully it'll dry ok.Also have some downed stuff on the land,so I'll try to get that stuff split and stacked for the coming year.
I don't think I know it all. I know enough to ask now.To bad it took so long to figure that out:)

Offline thecfarm

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Re: How long to dry firewood
« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2010, 07:10:46 am »
BCinVT,welcome to the forum.Everyone gave you good info.Glad to hear tarps are not used.They work kinda good for snow,but not the best for keeping rain off wood while trying to dry it.Split wood will dry better than round wood,if it needs to be split.
I use to burn hemlock in the stove in the basement.Have to remember it is a soft wood.But you will be able to control it and it will coal down some.Best thing is to mix it in with hardwood.Maybe burn it during the fall and spring.This hemlock was dry and did not have trouble with creosote.A shed is really the way to dry wood.
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Offline John Mc

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Re: How long to dry firewood
« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2010, 10:01:06 am »
Another couple of points:

Get the wood up off the ground if you can. Some times I use old pallets. If there are none of them available, I'll cut and lay down a couple of 3" or so diameter poles parallel to each other and stack the wood on that. This improves air circulation, and keeps the wood from wicking moisture up out of the ground. Seems to make a big difference - I find pallets work a bit better for air circulation, but either is much better than stacking on the ground. When stacking out in the woods, it's almost always poles for me.

Most of the drying is out the end grain. When you think about it, this is how water flows within the tree when it's alive. So long lengths don't dry as quickly as short ones. Just dropping and limbing a tree doesn't do much to get it dry. At least buck it to stove length. Splitting helps even more (more surface area exposed).

If you can't get a freshly cut tree bucked to stove length right away, I've heard that leaving the limbs and leaves on will help pull moisture out of the tree. Once the leaves are brown/dry, this stops helping much. I have not confirmed this with any experiments but it does seem to make sense... the leaves will try to pull moisture out of the trunk as long as they are alive.

Exposure to wind is as important as sun for fastest drying. (Just ask a farmer about wha it takes to dry up his fields). Having at least a breeze passing through the woodpile helps carry away some of the moisture that has been driven out of the wood.

Dry, fully seasoned wood that got rained on dries back out a whole lot quicker than green wood dries initially. It's mostly just surface wetness that it needs to get rid of, as opposed to the green wood that needs to drive moisture out from the middle of the piece.

Woodheat.org has some good wood seasoning and burning tips. (Admin: is posting another web site on here OK, if it's not really a competing site?)

Sorry for the long ramble. There are a lot of rumors and old wive's tales about drying firewood. I've probably repeated some of them, but hey, swapping and arguing about firewood lies is part of the wood heating ambiance...

John Mc
Small time fire-wooder in a neighborhood cooperative.

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Offline fuzzybear

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Re: How long to dry firewood
« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2010, 02:02:56 pm »
   I had an old bushman teach me a trick that I have used for years.  When I drop the tree I cut a groove with the saw about 1/2"-1" deep down the tree. Then when I buck it up I stack the wood with the groove up and it dries a lot faster.  I can leave the blocks round and split them in the winter when it's easier. 
   I first thought this was just a myth, until I tried it. it really does work.
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Offline celliott

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Re: How long to dry firewood
« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2010, 02:22:19 pm »
   I had an old bushman teach me a trick that I have used for years.  When I drop the tree I cut a groove with the saw about 1/2"-1" deep down the tree. Then when I buck it up I stack the wood with the groove up and it dries a lot faster.  I can leave the blocks round and split them in the winter when it's easier. 
   I first thought this was just a myth, until I tried it. it really does work.

I have heard of doing that also, especially with birch trees, which seem to retain alot of moisture.
Chris Elliott


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Offline WildDog

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Re: How long to dry firewood
« Reply #15 on: January 15, 2010, 03:02:26 pm »
You guys get it easy, we generally only burn hardwoods, eucalyptus species etc. I don't know about moisture content but for reasonable  burning at least ten years to dry. Last winter we tried burning heads I had fallen 6 yrs back and my wife was not happy, still too green. The narrow limbs would of been OK but not the stuff that needed splitting, the loggers went through our place 12 yrs back and I am only just splitting that for firewood for sale. I like the standing dead "Box" trees that were ring barked more than 50 years ago, (getting harder to find)the only problem with these is a lot have hollows for parrots and sugar glider nests, they say a good nest hollow takes 100yrs to form in a living tree, so I leave these ones.
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Offline Magicman

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Re: How long to dry firewood
« Reply #16 on: January 15, 2010, 03:08:15 pm »
Some times I use old pallets.  John Mc 

If we used pallets, the termites would eat more wood than we burned..... ;D
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Offline beenthere

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Re: How long to dry firewood
« Reply #17 on: January 15, 2010, 04:13:04 pm »
........ cut a groove with the saw about 1/2"-1" deep down the tree. Then when I buck it up I stack the wood with the groove up and it dries a lot faster.  ..........

And your thoughts as to why this would work are...??   ::)
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Offline fuzzybear

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Re: How long to dry firewood
« Reply #18 on: January 15, 2010, 07:20:02 pm »
........ cut a groove with the saw about 1/2"-1" deep down the tree. Then when I buck it up I stack the wood with the groove up and it dries a lot faster.  ..........

And your thoughts as to why this would work are...??   ::)
   I don't know exactly how it works, It hink it allows an area for the moisture to escape through the bark.   I know when I don't do it to the poplar I cut it takes 3 years to dry. When I do cut the groove it only takes 1 for the logs to crack.
   I've never tried it on birch but others that have here say it cuts the drying time in half.
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Offline beenthere

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Re: How long to dry firewood
« Reply #19 on: January 15, 2010, 08:07:38 pm »
Okay
Apparently you are figuring if/when the wood develops a check (crack), then the wood is dry.
That kerf line will help that check develop sooner, and at the kerf line. As to the wood being any drier....I wouldn't be too sure on that.  :)

south central Wisconsin
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