Rick's Tree Service Blog

How to Dry Firewood

The key to a good fire is well seasoned wood. Although it is technically possible to use moist wood, there really are no benefits and it can harm your fireplace. First of all dry wood burns hotter than moist wood. For moist logs, a lot of the energy that could be used for heat is being used to evaporate the moisture trapped in the wood. On those same lines, it is much easier to start a fire with dry wood. Not only is it much more difficult to start a fire with moist wood, but the fire will tend to go out often.

The biggest problem with burning moist wood is that it encourages the buildup of creosote in a chimney. The production of creosote is a direct result of burning wood at a low temperature, which will happen with moist wood. Creosote is a black, oily substance that will build up on the chimney walls. Creosote causes two main problems. First of all it can block some of the air flow into the chimney, not allowing the fire to get enough air to burn hot. Secondly, it is highly combustible and is the main cause of chimney fires.

The time-honored way to dry wood is to start as soon as possible. Wood should be given at least twelve months to dry out. So the best practice is to go out and cut the wood as soon as possible. The longer you weight, the less time the wood has to dry out. The wood should also be processed as soon as possible. Cutting the wood into the proper size and splitting it will actually expedite the drying process exponentially. The cut wood should all be stacked which will ensure the quickest possible drying time.

The location of the drying wood is also important. There are two important things that wood needs in order to dry quickly: sun and air. The wood should be placed in a location where it can get plenty of both. It is a good idea to cover the wood with a tarp when it is raining, but all other times the wood should be uncovered and in full sunlight.

Time, air, and sun is the best way to season wood, but if you are short on time there is a quicker way that is almost as good: building a greenhouse. To build a greenhouse, place the wood along a fence but make sure that wood is stacked a several inches below the top of the fence. A clear plastic sheet should be placed over the top of the fence and down the side of the wood stack a couple of inches above the ground.

As the sun hits the wood, the plastic will trap a lot of the heat. The moisture in the wood will condensate and collect on the plastic sheet and run down the sides to the ground. This process takes six to eight weeks and can produce results comparable to traditionally seasoned wood.

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