What Is The Best Firewood and How Long Does It Take To Dry?

When “seasoned” or dry firewood reaches a moisture-content below 20% it is then ready for burning. How long firewood takes to get to this stage will depend on a few factors. Most of the best types of firewood will become “seasoned” in a period of 6 to 9 months. However, there are many variables that may affect how long it will really take for firewood to dry. 

The hardwoods take longer to dry as they are denser when compared to softwoods. Some of the hardwoods can take up to 1 or 2 years in order to season properly. Having ideas on how to season firewood will help you save money and get prepared for the winter season.

The best firewood can be determined from the wood type you plan to use, which means the tree species, to climate changes throughout that year, how long the logs are, and the way that you have stored your wood will all contribute to the overall drying time. Below are a few tips you can use on how to dry firewood as quickly as you possibly can. 

How Can You Tell When Your Logs Are Seasoned?

Whether you plan to cut your own wood or you are buying the wood from a local retailer, you need to understand what is the best firewood and how to know if it is ready for burning. Below is a list of things you should be looking for before you decide to use it in your fireplace or your burner. 

  • Color

When firewood starts to season, the color starts to darken and fade. It will change from a fresh and bright greenwood to a grayish and dull color. The color is usually a good indicator of whether your wood is ready. 

  • Weight

Dry wood will weigh less when compared to the greenwood. As moisture starts to leave the wood it will obviously become lighter. Fresh green wood can weigh close to 50% more when compared to dry wood. For example, 1 cord of oak that is still green will weigh just less than 8,000 lbs, while 1 cord of oak that is dry will weigh just under 5,000 lbs. 

  • Smell

Use a cutting tool or hatchet to cut into a log to smell it. If there is a pungent aroma still present, the wood is usually too wet for use. If the piece where you cut is still damp, it is also a sign that your wood is not yet ready for the fireplace. 

  • Cracks

One of the other indicators includes cracking. Look out for the cracks that begin from the heartwood (the middle of the log), that stretch out to the outer most parts of a log or logs. When the wood starts drying out, it shrinks which results in cracks in the wood which will continue to increase as the wood continues to lose its moisture. 

  • Bark

When your firewood starts drying out, the bark will start to loosen and it will eventually come off. 

How To Use A Moisture Meter

One of the easiest ways to detect the moisture content in firewood would be to invest in a moisture meter. These are usually hand-held devices that feature an LCD display, that will indicate the moisture percentage inside the wood. Firewood is ready to use once the moisture content drops below 20%.

These moisture meters come with 2 prongs on one end of the device. To check your firewood, insert these prongs into the log that you would like to check. To arrive at a reading that is more accurate conduct the test in several places. Try to aim for the middle of the logs. Use either a small ax or hatchet to split one of the logs in half. Now test the middle of your log using your moisture meter. 

Tips For Drying And Storing Your Wood

Now that you have the information that you need to tell whether or not your firewood is dry, here are a few tips o how to dry wood that is not quite ready for the burner. Keep in mind that any reading above 20% moisture content means that your wood is not ready for burning. The most efficient method to dry wood is in a kiln. These are usually found in the industrial and commercial industries, where lumber in large volumes is processed. Since you probably do not own a kiln, here are a few other steps on how to season firewood fast. 

Increase The Air Circulation 

Increasing airflow around the logs will speed-up your drying process. If you are able to, stack your logs away from the ground on racks. This allows air to flow from underneath. 

Put Your Firewood In The Sun 

Spread logs that have been freshly cut on either your driveway, a drying rack or a sidewalk making sure they are fully exposed to the sun. When your wood is stacked up it will dry a lot slower as some of the pieces are never exposed to direct sunlight. If you have limited space you can dry the wood in increments by taking the top layer off and moving this wood to a storage rack, which will allow the following layer to dry out in the sunshine.

The Size Of Your Logs Will Matter

Cutting your firewood into sizes that will ensure they fit inside a burner or your fireplace makes sense, yet this can also assist you with the overall drying process. In general, the smaller logs are going to season faster when compared to large logs. This will help each log to dry out a bit faster, and save you on the time and effort to process your firewood again before you are able to use it. 

Stack Your Firewood The Right Way

Firewood must be placed in the right way. It has to be put in the firewood storage where air can pass through. Moisture will leave the wood from the ends that have been cut, and not from the center. You should make sure that these ends are exposed to airflow and the wind. Stacking your firewood in a rack outdoors, with the cut ends exposed will dry a lot faster than the wood you have stored inside a barn.  

Final Thoughts

Using these simple tips, you can increase the speed of the overall drying process. You may still need to wait a few months, but these steps will definitely help. But if winter is imminent, you can directly buy seasoned firewood. Its cost will be more expensive than the regular rate because of its high demand during that time.

You better know how much is a cord of firewood and compare the price to the other stores so you can know where to buy firewood at a lower price.