Seasoning Firewood - cord wood
Seasoning firewood is a must if you cut fresh timber or natural logs into cord wood for burning in your wood stove. The idea behind seasoning your wood is simple - you have to dry it out in order for it to burn properly.
Frugal living is all about efficient living, and part of that is burning wood efficiently in your wood heat appliance. Efficiency starts with well seasoned wood.
Wood is vegetation, it has moisture, and moisture doesn't burn.
I don't know what the moisture value of wood is, it varies based on the type of wood, and I really don't need to know. All I have to do is let it dry out for a sufficient time to be useful as firewood. More time means the wood is dryer. Dryer is better.
Four Inch Diameter Pieces
The general rule for seasoning firewood is a minimum of 6 months for firewood split into small diameter pieces. That means green wood cut and split into 4 inch diameter pieces and left to dry about 6 months before using it as firewood. Larger diameter pieces should be seasoned for a year before using.
If you work backwards from the first month you use firewood, that will likely have you cutting, splitting and seasoning firewood in early spring in order to have sufficient wood for the start of winter...if you split the wood into small diameter pieces.
Seasoning firewood can be done while it's stacked, so simply cut and split your wood, and then stack it up to let it dry. Place bark side up and/or place a waterproof tarp over the top, but allow the bottom and sides to be open so moisture can drain away and air can circulate.
Position your stack, if possible to get sun and allow the prevailing winds to blow across the stack and between the cut wood. This is the best way of seasoning firewood. If you can't do that, protecting it from rainfall with a cover on the top is most important.
If you're using scrap wood like old dimensional lumber, then be aware that wood of this nature is already plenty dry, so you don't have to season it before burning. Also, some cut and split firewood comes already seasoned. Ask your supplier.
If you can't season your firewood for 6 months, at least get it as close to that as possible. Green wood will burn, but it won't be nearly as efficient a heat source, and it will cause deposits in the flue. Nearly seasoned wood won't be ideal, but it will still work.
Small diameter firewood will dry faster and burn better, so anything larger than 8 inches in diameter should be split again. Ideally, you should strive for 4 inch diameter wood in your wood stoves, and up to 8 inch diameter in an outdoor furnace. Smaller wood such as 4 inches in diameter gives plenty of fuel to the stove with excellent surface area to catch fire quick and burn hot.
One Year is Ideal
The ideal approach to seasoning firewood is to cut and stack the wood far in advance so you have wood that is at least one year old to use in the wood stove. There is no such thing as wood that is too well seasoned. Dryer is better.
In light of this ideal, when considering firewood storage, you might want to double the capacity necessary for a single season. This will allow you to focus half your storage space on the current season (filled with seasoned wood) and half your storage filled with wood for the following season (filled with green wood that requires firewood seasoning).
The idea of two seasons worth of firewood is consistent with my plan for frugal living. I like to anticipate needs and be prepared. My firewood supply is sufficient for many years in advance, and that's the way I like it.
Done with Seasoning Firewood, take me to Heating with Wood