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How to Dry Wood for A Fire Place. 10 Things You Should Know

Wood is a mass of tiny or thick long tubes of cell cavities, that runs the entire length of a tree. In these cell cavities, moisture exists as both “free water” and molecular water, and is tightly locked inside the cell walls. The moment a tree is cut or felled, the slow and gradual process of drying commences. During this process, the free water is first to evaporate. After the free water has evaporated, the moisture content of the wood drops to around 30 percent. Soon after, water in the cell walls begins to leave, causing the wood to shrink and crack gradually. When this occurs, it simply means the wood is dried.

Generally, all freshly cut (green) wood retain a lot of water, and for this reason, lighting and sustaining a fire becomes quite difficult. Even if you eventually get your green wood to burn, the wet wood will give off less heat, will burn out quickly, and produce more smoke and soot. This is why the drying of wood is very essential, but it does take time. This is whyit is wise to plan at least five months ahead. Once you cut the wood to the size that you need and stack it, all you just need to do is allow the sun and air to do their work and dry the wood out.

How to Dry Wood for A Fire Place

The most used and cheapest method to dry firewood is air-drying, and takes at least six months to two years to completely dry out. Cut the logs in uniform rounds, and where needed split them. Stack the split wood on a raised bed and cover it. Don’t forget to start early with the drying process

Whether you are heating your home during winter or you’re simply trying to stay warm during a camping trip, dry firewood is essential for keeping the fire burning and essentially keeping you warm. This is why fresh, newly cut wood must be well seasoned before it is dry enough for it to burn efficiently. As stated above, greenwood smolders and does not produce much heat, so they must first be properly dried. For drying firewood, the greatest tools you’ll find are the sun and the air. Also, there are a few more techniques that can help the process. To achieve optimal burning, firewood should be dried to a moisture content of less than 20 percent. If firewood has a moisture content higher than that, although it may eventually burn, it will be hard to light and just as hard to keep it burning. More importantly, your furnace or high-efficiency stove will end up performing poorly as it struggles to burn the freshly cut green firewood. This is because a great amount of the heat and energy produced in the process are wasted on drying the excess moisture of the wood. Do you want to know how to dry wood effectively for your fireplace? Don’t look too far. This article will guide through the best ways by which you can dry firewood for your fireplace.

Best Way to Dry Firewood

If you’re planning to heat your home with wood, then you would most likely spend a lot of time preparing for the winter months. This is usually a year-round process since firewood requires nothing less than six months (roughly six months to two years) to completely dry out. The late winter period and early spring are the best times to cut and prepare your wood for the following year. By doing this, you’ll be giving your wood enough time to dry over the summer months, seasoning in time for winter.

In case you’re new to burning wood as a source of heat for your home, it is very understandable if you have not planned so far ahead. Whether you plan to purchase your wood elsewhere or you’ll be cutting your wood for future use, it is very important to dry the wood properly before burning it. We have carefully gathered some important tips on the best way to dry firewood:

● Gather the Wood Early

Whether you’re planning to purchase or cut your wood yourself, you should always make sure everything is ready in no less six months before you plan to burn it. To achieve the best results, you can even do it earlier to give your wood enough time to dry out. If possible, you can collect the wood a year ahead to ensure proper seasoning. As you already know, the climate is the main factor that affects the drying rate of wood. So if you live in a cool region, or you’re dealing with a denser species, allow for more time.

● Choose a Safe Work Area

If you’ll be cutting or splitting your firewood by yourself, choose an open area outside your home to get it done. Make sure the area is wide and open enough for you to use a saw or an ax without any obstructions. Choose a more level ground over uneven ground to ensure a good footing while you work. Also, make sure you keep people and pets away from your work area for safety purposes. Also, while you’re working, always make it a deal to check behind you frequently to ensure that no one is approaching.

● Cut Whole Logs into Uniform Rounds

The first thing you need to do here is to measure the dimensions of your fireplace, furnace, or any area where you plan to burn the wood. Then remove three inches (7.6 cm) from the length or width of the fireplace, depending on how you will be placing the wood into space. Cut your wood into rounds of equal or uniform length using a saw or an ax. Because wood shrinks as it dries, some people prefer to cut the rounds larger than what’s needed. However, as a beginner, you should take caution and cut smaller pieces instead, until you become familiar with how much shrinkage to expect. If you stay in a wet climate, you should cut the rounds even smaller as these will dry faster than large rounds.

● Split the Wood

To do this, place your chopping block on a level ground, then set a round of wood on top of the block, with either of the cut side facing up. Split the round into equal parts from the top down using a saw or ax. Repeat this as much as required, making sure each subsequent half will fit into your fireplace, furnace, or any other wood-burner you’re using. The wood’s bark is known to seal in moisture, hence, it is important to expose as much inner wood as possible. To achieve an even quicker drying time, you can split the wood into smaller pieces than needed. Also, split the wood into various sizes. You can use small pieces for kindling and larger pieces to ensure that it burns longer.

● Stacking Your Split Wood

Pick an ideal area ideal for stacking, that is, an outdoor area with little or no shade for maximum solar drying. To properly utilize the air, choose an area that is very open to prevailing winds. Try and avoid areas that are prone to flooding or standing water as these will reduce the drying time. To determine the direction of the prevailing wind, you can hold a light material in the air; whatever direction it flows to is most likely the direction of the prevailing wind.

● Create a Raised Bed

Make sure your firewood is not in contact with the ground as moisture may collect below, causing it to rot. You can use any material that won’t absorb water, such as a grid made of horizontally-placed poles. You can also use wooden materials like lumber or pellets that you no longer have a use for. If you’re using a wooden bed,  line the top of the bed with tarps, plastic sheeting, or any material that can block the transfer of moisture from the wood underneath to the wood on top. Also, make drainage holes in the materials to avoid water pooling on top.

● Test the Dryness

When testing the dryness, first inspect the color of the wood. While the color varies from species to species, your wood should grow darker as it dries. So, when you first split the wood, take note of how bright it is on the inside to monitor the color change and to ensure it burns properly.

● Smell for Sap

When you first split your wood, smell it, and familiarize yourself with the smell of its sap. Then after drying, pick a sample piece, split it open, and sniff. If you still smell sap, then it needs further drying.

● Test the Bark

To know if your wood is safe for burning, most or all of the bark should have fallen off on its own. If they haven’t, slice the bark off using a knife and inspect the wood underneath. If any pieces appear greenish, then it needs further drying.

● Judge by Density

When you first split the wood, take note of how heavy each piece feels. The same piece should weigh less once it loses enough moisture weight. To double-check that it is dried, hit two pieces together. If they sound hollow,  then you’re good to go.

● Build a Fire

If you’re still uncertain, assemble a few pieces of dried wood for a rest fire. If none of the kindling or larger pieces catch fire, then you should give them more time to dry. Also listen for hissing, which is a sign of water.

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  1. Kristin Moore says:

    Can I dry wood indoors if I don’t have outdoor space?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      To dry wood indoors, consider using a dehumidifier or a wood drying kiln. Air-drying is ideal but may not always be possible indoors due to the risk of mold.

  2. Douglas Lynch says:

    Is there a specific time of the year that’s best for cutting and drying wood?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Hi Douglas! Cutting and drying wood should ideally start early to ensure it’s well seasoned for the winter months. Plan ahead, since it takes at least six months to two years to fully dry.

  3. Janice Hart says:

    Would a dehumidifier help in drying the wood?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      A dehumidifier can assist in drying wood, but air-drying is the most effective method for optimal results. Patience is key as it will take at least six months to two years.

  4. Vanessa Morgan says:

    Very helpful tips, thank you for sharing.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for reading Vanessa. Your feedback is appreciated. So glad you found the tips helpful! Happy wood drying!

  5. Troy Burns says:

    Can you recommend a specific type of tarp for covering the wood?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for your comment, Troy! A UV-resistant polyethylene tarp with reinforced corners would be a great choice for covering the wood while it dries.

  6. Wesley Thomas says:

    I never knew drying wood was so important.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thanks, Wesley! Yes, drying wood is crucial for efficient burning and heat output. Properly seasoned wood is essential for a successful fire. Make sure to plan ahead for the best results.

  7. Alvin Ruiz says:

    Great tips on how to properly split and stack firewood.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Alvin! Properly dried firewood is crucial for a successful fire. Make sure to start the drying process early to ensure the wood is ready for winter!

  8. Kristen Marshall says:

    How can I tell if the firewood is completely dry?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Kristen, to know if firewood is dry, check its weight, color, smell, bark, and sound. If it feels light, has darkened, smells woody, lost its bark, and sounds hollow when hit, it’s ready to burn.

  9. Cindy Wheeler says:

    Great article, very informative!

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thanks Cindy! I’m glad you found the article informative. Properly dried wood is essential for efficient burning, so take your time with the drying process for the best results!

  10. Avery Murray says:

    Should I cover the wood while it’s drying?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Air-drying wood is best left uncovered to allow proper circulation of air and faster drying time. Avoid covering it as moisture buildup can slow down the process.

  11. Delores Burton says:

    Thank you for explaining why greenwood isn’t ideal for burning.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for reading the article and understanding the importance of properly drying firewood before burning. Happy to provide valuable information on ways to dry wood effectively for your fireplace.

  12. Harold Simmons says:

    This article made me realize the importance of properly drying firewood.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Harold! Properly dried firewood is key for efficient burning. Glad you enjoyed the article and learned something new. Stay warm!

  13. Judd Payne says:

    I never knew the importance of stacking firewood off the ground.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      “Properly dried firewood is key! Thanks for highlighting the importance of stacking wood off the ground for optimal drying. Your tips are invaluable for those new to burning wood for heat.”

  14. Annie Gordon says:

    Interesting read, thank you.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for reading, Annie! Drying firewood is essential for optimal burning efficiency. Make sure to start early to allow plenty of time for the wood to dry properly.

  15. Scarlett Mason says:

    Are there any tools that can help speed up the drying process?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Hi Scarlett, air-drying firewood naturally takes time, about six months to two years for complete dryness. To speed up the process, you can use a wood moisture meter to monitor progress. Hope this helps!

  16. Ray Berry says:

    Very clear and concise instructions on drying wood for a fire.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you, Ray! I’m glad you found the instructions helpful for drying wood for a fire. Happy burning!

  17. Herman May says:

    Is there a specific type of wood that dries faster?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Herman, any type of wood will dry faster when cut into uniform rounds and stacked in a raised bed for air-drying. Six months to two years is the recommended drying time.

  18. Lorraine Curtis says:

    I appreciate the detailed instructions provided.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Thank you for your feedback, Lorraine. I’m glad you found the instructions helpful. Let me know if you have any further questions about drying firewood for your fireplace.

  19. Carlos Fields says:

    What’s the best way to store dried firewood?

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      For drying firewood, air-drying is the best method. Stack rounds on a raised bed in an open, windy area. Allowing six months to two years for the wood to fully dry is ideal.

  20. Luke Burke says:

    I’ll definitely be following these tips when preparing my firewood next time.

    • Allard Vdhooft says:

      Great to hear, Luke! Following these tips will definitely help you get the most out of your firewood next time you’re preparing it. Enjoy the warmth!