Author: Lisa Smith
If you collect your own firewood or buy unseasoned firewood, you will need to dry it before you can use it. The time it takes for firewood to dry out can vary depending on several factors, such as the type of wood, the size of the wood, the moisture content of the wood when it was cut, how you stack and store it, and the climate conditions in the area where the wood is stored. However, in general, firewood can take anywhere from six months to two years to dry out completely.
The ideal moisture content of firewood is around 15-20%. Wood with a moisture content higher than this will be more difficult to light, produce less heat, and create more soot buildup in your chimney.
To help speed up the drying process, firewood should be cut into smaller pieces and split to expose the inner wood to air. The wood should also be stacked in a way that allows air to circulate around it, as this will help to dry it out faster. The wood should be stored in a dry, well-ventilated space, such as a purpose-built firewood shed, where it is protected from rain but still exposed to sun and wind.
Here are some tips on how to stack firewood:
- Choose a dry, level location that is protected from the elements as much as possible. Ideally, this should be a location that gets some sun and wind to help dry out the wood.
- Use a firewood storage shed. Ideally, use a purpose-built firewood shed that is well-ventilated and positioned in a sunny and aerated location. The shed should have a ventilated floor to keep the firewood off the ground allowing air to circulate underneath. It should also provide good protection from the rain. See our range of firewood sheds.
- Stack the wood in rows, with the end grain being exposed to the air. Make sure to leave a small gap between the rows to allow air to circulate.
- If the firewood is properly seasoned and dry, stack the wood tightly to ensure the stack is stable and to prevent gaps.
- If the firewood is not yet dry, stack it less tightly to allow air to circulate around the stack and help the wood dry out.
Here are some tips on how to dry firewood quickly:
- Split the wood. Cutting the wood into smaller pieces and splitting it open exposes more surface area to the air, which can help it dry faster. Aim to cut the wood into pieces that are no more than 6-8 inches (15-20 cm) in diameter.
- Remove any bark from the wood. Bark can trap moisture, which can slow down the drying process.
- Stack the wood more loosely. Stacking the wood in a way that allows air to circulate around it will help it dry faster. This means stacking it loosely with plenty of gaps between the pieces of wood. Make sure the end grain is exposed to the air.
- Store the wood in a dry, sunny location. Choose a location that gets plenty of sun and wind.
How to tell if my firewood is dry:
- Wood that has been properly dried will have a darker colour, cracks on the ends, and will weigh less than freshly cut wood.
- Softer woods like pine may not show cracks when dry.
- Knocking the end of dry wood together will produce a sharp hollow sound.
It's important to note that even wood that has been dried for several months may still contain some moisture, particularly in the centre of larger pieces. If you're unsure whether your firewood is dry, it's best to test it by burning it. If the wood burns quickly and produces a lot of heat, it's likely dry. If the wood smokes a lot or doesn't burn well, it's not yet dry.
By following these tips, you can help to ensure that your firewood is dry and ready to use when you need it.
Outpost Buildings offers a range of kitset buildings and sheds for all your storage needs.