The process of seasoning wood involves storing it and letting it become free from moisture. If you are going to be using the wood to light a fire, then seasoning it helps to reduce the amount of smoke that is produced from buring it.
Dried wood also has a number of benefits when it is used for construction, but in this article we will be just be discussing when the wood is used for firewood.
Wood that has not been seasoned is sometimes referred to as green wood. When green wood is burnt in a fireplace it can cause several problems.
Burning green wood leaves a build up of creosote in the chimney which will affect how well it works. Green wood does not always burn very well and so you may find it difficult to get a fire going and the heat generated from green wood is less than that or seasoned or dry wood.
Wood is considered to be seasoned when the moisture content falls below 20%. When there is less moisture in the wood, then less smoke is produced when it burns. It will also burn more efficiently.
The information below will tell you everything that you need to know about seasoning your own firewood.
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Research The Properties Of The Wood You Are Using
Different types of wood will all have different properties. This means some will take longer to season than others.
Softwood may only take a few (6 to 12) months, but hardwood could take several (2 or more) years.
Before you begin the seasoning process you will need to do some research into the type of wood that you are using.
Knowing what type of wood you are dealing with will affect a lot of the decisions you make when seasoning, and so it is important that this research is carried out.
Related: How many logs in a cord of firewood?
Process for Seasoning Firewood
Gather The Wood
When you know what type of wood you are dealing with and the properties of this wood, you will need to gather it.
The best time to gather wood is generally during the summer months as it will already be starting to dry out. You would need to make an exception if you were using wood from a deciduous tree. This is because their saps are lowest during the winter.
Chop The Wood
The wood will need to be chopped into small logs at some point, and they are easier to store when they have been chopped. Therefore it makes sense to do this straight after the wood has been gathered. Ideally, you will want the logs to be 20cm in diameter and 45cm in length. You may need to adjust this if you only have a small fire.
Check How Dry The Wood Is Already
If you know how dry the wood is already, you can use this to determine whether it can be used immediately. There are meters available which will measure the moisture levels in the wood and so you may want to invest in one of these.
However, there are ways that you can check the wood without the use of this tool.
If you knock two pieces of wood together they are more likely to make a dull thudding sound if they are still wet. They will make a sharper sound if they are dry.
You may also be able to tell if the wood is dry just by looking at it. If there are radial cracks at the end of the wood, then this may suggest that the wood is dry.
You can repeat the process of checking the wood after you have left it to season to see if it is ready or you need to leave it for a little longer.
Think About Where The Wood Will Be Stored
The best place for the wood to be stored is outside because you don’t want anything that is going to attract termites to the inside of your property. Depending on how much wood you have, you may also have more space to store it all outside.
Stack The Wood
When you stack the wood you will need to make sure that it is not placed directly on the ground. You should also avoid having it leaning against a wall or fence.
Wooden pallets are often the best choice when you are looking for something to stack the wood on. This will provide a base for the wood while ensuring it is kept off the ground.
You can use side supports if you want but this may not be necessary if you turn the wood 90 degrees every time you start a new layer. This will make the wood self supporting.
Remember To Leave Spaces Between The Stacks
In order for the wood to season well, you will need to make sure that there is air circulating around it. When you are creating your stacks, don’t put them too tightly together.
If you leave a bit of space then the air will flow around them much easier.
Ensuring that enough air is able to flow around the stack is another reason why it should be kept off the ground.
Ensure That The Wood Is Covered
When the wood is being seasoned, you will need to ensure that it does not come into contact with any other moisture.
If you have a woodshed, then you should keep your wood in there. If you do not have a shed, then you will need to cover the top of the wood with tarpaulin or a similar waterproof material.
It is important that the wood is not completely covered because air will still need to flow around it.
There are some people that believe that keeping the wood uncovered will let it season just as well.
The theory is that it will dry much faster when it is does not have anything over it and this will compensate for any moisture that comes from rain or snow.
If this is a theory you want to test for yourself, then you could keep a small pile of wood uncovered and see how quickly it dries compared to the wood that does have some sort of covering.
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