Just about everyone prefers to have their own firewood, rather than needing to purchase the materials for a nice fire every single time you want one. With the weather becoming colder, more and more people are beginning to stock up on firewood so that they can have a comfortable fire going in their fireplaces. However, with colder weather often comes more rain and snow, which can end up soaking through any firewood that you have lying around outside.
One of the worst things that can happen to your firewood, before you actually make use of it, is the firewood becoming wet and soggy. Soggy firewood does not catch on fire very well, and it can end up becoming a home to a multitude of bugs and pests that nobody really wants to bring inside the house. Thankfully, there are ways that you can dry out your firewood so that it can be used again.
There are a few things that you should know before you get to drying out your firewood though. There are two main methods that people rely on to get their firewood dry and ready to be used in the fire pit.
Additionally, firewood can take varying amounts of time to dry depending on factors such as how much water the wood soaked up, the type of wood, and the condition of that wood. You should have an idea of how long it takes for firewood to dry, and what you can do to speed up the process as much as you can, if you are in a hurry.
How Long It Takes Firewood to Dry
Depending on just how cold it is outside, you might find yourself in desperate need of a roaring fire in the fireplace. Because of this, it is important to take note of just how long it generally takes for firewood to dry so that you can either take the appropriate measures to wait it out, or find an alternative way to warm yourself up.
Technically, firewood takes about 9 to 12 months to dry out completely. While it might be discouraging to read this at first, this makes it all the more important for you to prepare the firewood in advance as soon as winter begins or begins to end if you want to make sure that you have firewood for your house. This is assuming that you want the best firewood possible, which means that the wood is almost completely dried out.
Keep in mind that some types of wood are going to dry out noticeably faster than other types of wood. The cut of the wood is also going to make a difference, and is one of the reasons why firewood logs are so much smaller than traditional logs. If you want to be on top of things, you should research the kind of wood you are using for firewood to see if you can get an idea of how long it takes to dry.
How to Dry Your Firewood
Now that you have an idea of just how long this process is going to take, you should probably begin preparing the process as best as you can. There are two commonly used methods for keeping firewood safe and dry throughout the year. There is the method of stacking the firewood properly so that air can circulate through it, without taking up more space than it needs to. There is also the method of letting the wood “air out” so to speak, letting the sun and wind take away the moisture before you stack the wood up.
Some people use a combination of these two methods, letting wet wood air out before stacking it. Other people simply stack the wood and hope that the circulation dries it out completely by the time the wood will be needed again. There are even some people who let the wood air out on large platforms. The last method is used most often when there isn’t a lot of firewood to dry out and you can afford the space to do this.
How to Split the Firewood
Both methods of stacking and storing the firewood involve splitting the wood first. With that being said, you should have a good idea of how to split firewood properly so that it not only burns well, but that it can dry out as quickly as possible. Optimally, this process is done when you first get the firewood and when the firewood isn’t soaking wet.
First things first, you should remove all the cut branches from the tree as best as you can. You should measure out how big your fireplace is, and how much space it has to accommodate firewood. These are the measurements and sizes you are going to use to cut the firewood with. Although it doesn’t need to be perfectly precise, using the measurements can help you get a good eye for just how much firewood you are going to need, and what size firewood you are going to need to cut.
Once you know the measurements of the wood your fireplace (or wood-burning stove) needs, you can begin chopping the logs into pieces that closely resemble that size. If you are going by an estimate, always remember that smaller is better for a number of reasons. Not only does it dry out quicker, but it makes for slightly better firewood as well.
If you are working with green wood, you should try and wait a few weeks before you split the wood. This allows the wood time to mature and grow the nice material that is so suitable for burning. If you want, you can move this wood out of the way and onto a platform where it won’t get wet, this works well as long as you have the space.
If you are working with very dense wood, you might want to wait until the dead of winter to split it. During the winter, what moisture that remains in the wood is going to freeze over, making the wood particularly brittle. In turn, this will make it much, much easier to chop and split. Before you know it, all of your firewood is going to be split and ready to be stored in one of the two methods.
How to Stack Firewood
Stacking your firewood properly ensures that if something does happen to it, there is enough air circulating through the stacked wood that you won’t have to worry about it retaining the moisture too much, especially during the summer months. Although, if you are concerned, you can always put tarps over your firewood to make sure that nothing gets into them.
There aren’t too many rules for stacking the firewood, so you won’t have to worry too much about the process itself. Generally, you will want to stack the wood in a way that allows air to circulate from the bottom to the top of the pile, as well as hitting all of the logs on its way up. This usually involves allowing some gaps in the stacking of the wood. As unpleasant as it may look, it is important for those gaps to be there.
You will also want to remember that cut wood, or the side of the wood that has been freshly cut, should never touch the dirty ground. Many people build special platforms for their firewood to ensure that this doesn’t happen. You can easily build a strong and sturdy platform for your firewood made from some scraps of lumber lying around.
Once you have your platform, you should place the split side of the wood facing downwards. This allows for the semi-waterproof bark to protect the softer interior wood from moisture and other issues, since rain doesn’t usually fall upwards. It also allows the air to circulate better, hitting the parts of the wood that need to be dried the most.
Now that you have your wood stacked, you should find a covered place to put the wood, or purchase a tarp to put on top of the wood stacks. If you purchase a tarp, you should make sure to leave the sides of the piles uncovered to some extent so that there is some airflow going through the pile, drying everything out.
With this method, you have nicely stacked piles of wood that will be dry enough to use by the time the cold weather rolls around.
How to Air Out Your Firewood
Depending on how much space you have, and how quickly you want your firewood to dry out, you might want to consider using this method to allow more air and more sunlight to reach your wood. While this isn’t going to be nearly as efficient when it comes to space, it is going to be much better at drying out your wood.
First things first, you are going to want to set up as much space as you can for this wood. Again, you shouldn’t let the wood itself touch the ground, so you should consider some sort of platform that allows some airflow for the wood from underneath.
From here, you are going to want to place each log of firewood that you want to be dried out, with some space between the logs for airflow. You can consider stacking them to some extent, but remember that the main point of this method is to maximize airflow, and the more you stack the wood, the more it hampers just how much air gets to all the logs.
Once you have this done, you will want to leave the wood uncovered for as much time as you can. When it is sunny, cloudy, windy, or any other form of weather that doesn’t involve precipitation, you will want to leave the logs uncovered so that they can get as much sunlight as they can during the day, and as much airflow as they can during the night.
When it does rain, sleet, or snow, you will want to consider your options when it comes to materials you can use to cover the wood with. Some people will cover all of their wood with a clear plastic sheet because it still lets the sun in while keeping the water out. While plastic can do a wonderful job at not letting any water in, it can do almost too good of a job. When the water in the wood begins to condensate, it will drip down from the plastic back onto the wood, beginning a cycle that nobody really wants.
Instead, you should try to find a material known as tarpaper. It is strong enough to keep light rain and dry snow from getting inside the logs, while also letting the air circulate as much as it can. No matter what kind of material you use during the clear and sunny days, you should always remember to uncover the logs.
How to Dry the Wood Quickly
This final method is, by far, going to be the fastest method at drying out the wood, however, it will not be the most efficient method. This method is best suited for times when you absolutely know you will need a fire and you can’t afford to wait a year for your firewood to dry out.
Approximately one or two days before you know you will want to burn the wood, you should bring it inside your house and find a well-ventilated area to place the wood. If the wood is covered in ice or snow, you should place it on the floor for a while first so that you only have one area to mop up after the ice and snow has melted.
You will want to spread the wood out a fair bit so that the warm air inside your house will be able to circulate it and dry the wood out. You should leave this wood to dry for two days at the very least so that it will be as dry as possible when it comes time to burn the wood.
When it comes down to burning wood from this method, you will want to use dry wood or kindling to start the fire. The key to this is that even mildly damp wood can burn well once there is a roaring fire in the fireplace. With that being said, once the fire is going nice and strong, you can begin putting the logs of semi-damp wood into the fire. Consider adjusting the damper so that the burnings from this wood do not begin to smolder.
Armed with these methods, you can rest assured knowing that one way or another, you will have dried out firewood that you can use the next time you decide that you want to curl up near the fireplace for a relaxing winter evening.