Here is the truth:
High-quality firewood has long been a dream of all crispy fire enthusiasts. After all, who doesn’t love bundling up next to their fireplace and enjoying their hot cocoa? We all do!
However, when it comes to seasoning firewood, things can get a bit tricky. In order to get the flames and the warmth you want, you ought to think in advance. Wet wood won’t keep you warm at night – nor will it smell that great!
Because of that, we dug a little deeper and found out how to dry firewood fast.
Short answer – A kiln will give you the fastest results. But, if there’s no kiln, nature has a solution! A bit of sunshine and air is all it takes to fire up your fireplace and cut down on your electricity bill!
Although, let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Without further ado, let’s find how to dry firewood fast and without too much hassle!
- 1 First Things First – Know Your Wood
- 2 Three Ways to Dry Firewood Fast
- 3 How to Tell If Firewood Is Dry
- 4 Bottom Line
First Things First – Know Your Wood
Before we start drying our firewood like the pros we know we can be, we first have to consider the type of wood we can use.
Hardwood, for example, is the best choice if you’re looking to build great and lengthy fires. This type of wood will keep you warm at night, and you’ll probably still be warm by the morning. It’s the robust wood like oak, black maple, and locust that will allow you to efficiently warm your home. However, there’s a catch.
Hardwood is far more difficult to work with. Namely, it needs more time to dry in the first place, and it’s difficult to cut and split it into reasonably sized firewood logs. Therefore, most people tend to opt for softwood instead.
Softwood is not only cheap but also available pretty much everywhere. You can get loads of it for a small amount of money, and it will produce a great fire that will keep your family warm. But, again, things aren’t always as perfect as they seem.
Softwood tends to burn a lot faster than hardwood. Thus, when it comes to expenses, there’s a chance you won’t actually save a lot of money by opting for the cheaper version. You would need a greater quantity of softwood just to make your home crispy and cozy!
Nevertheless, softwood dries a lot faster than hardwood, which is why it is a good option for people who just don’t have time to wait it out.
Both of these options will require a decent amount of time in order to dry. Hardwood could take 18 months, while softwood can sometimes become fully seasoned after only 6 months.
Green Wood vs. Seasoned Wood
Now, you might be wondering why firewood needs to be completely dry before you fire it up. The reason is quite simple, really, yet often overlooked by those who just cannot wait to start cuddling next to the fireplace.
Green wood is the moist wood you get once you cut down the tree. The moisture is due to the tree sap and the tree cells that are keeping it, well…almost alive. Due to that, it’s heavier than dry firewood, and it cannot burn that easily. If you place it into the fireplace, it will just sizzle and generate a lot of smoke. And the heat? Almost non-existent!
Meanwhile, seasoned wood is the wood you want to fire up. It’s actually green wood that has been left to dry out. Once it’s completely dry, it changes its characteristics a bit and becomes high-quality firewood for your home.
But, more on that later. Let’s see how we can dry it!
Three Ways to Dry Firewood Fast
There are three basic methods you can use to dry firewood:
- Natural drying – using what we already have: the sun and the air
- Ventilation – a form of artificial drying. Costs more than natural drying, but it is effective and quick.
- Kiln drying – the fastest method out there, but also the most expensive one.
Drying firewood naturally is not that difficult as it may appear. All you will need is some perseverance, strength to cut the logs into firewood, and a place where you can keep it.
The first thing you will have to do is, of course, find the wood you would like to dry. You may have to use some foresting techniques such as felling, limbing and bucking.
Once that’s done, and you’re happy with your choice, get an ax and start splitting the logs into firewood.
This step is crucial if you want to be warm during the winter. If you get your wood in spring, for example, and you leave it like that (in the shape of logs), who knows when it will dry! It could take years, for all we know! But, when you cut it into the right shape for your wood burner (or fireplace), the drying process speeds up. The wood will be “bare” on the sides, which in turn will allow the air to circulate through it, giving it enough ventilation. Meanwhile, sunshine will dry it out quickly and efficiently.
Once you have your firewood all nice and ready, it’s time to stack it. During that process, we need to make sure we are stacking the wood properly. It cannot be left in a random pile in the middle of our backyard. No, no! Drying firewood requires you to find a nice, sunny spot for it. Furthermore, you ought to stack it in a way that will let the air circulate through and around it.
Here are some of the best firewood carts to aid in the stacking/burning process.
However, bear in mind one thing: don’t try to stack your firewood on the ground. Make sure you place something beneath it to allow the air to do its thing. We’ve found that pallets often work best for this.
Stacking the wood in a sunny spot will get you the best results – and the fastest ones as well. Therefore, make sure you select a good area. Since green wood is still very moist, it’s not a good idea to place the wood somewhere in your house. Termites and other wood-related pests will throw a party! Plus, the drying process will slow down a lot.
One final thing about natural drying – you should cover your firewood. You can use plastic sheets or maybe even a tarp. But, if there’s no need for it, don’t do it!
We all want the wood to dry as fast as possible. So, if the weather is fine, you can leave it uncovered until it starts raining cats and dogs (or snowing).
And, that’s it. For the rest of the time, you will have to wait it out. But, if you follow these steps correctly, you could have dry firewood ready for winter, even if you got the wood in summer!
Now, another way you could speed up the drying process is to use forced ventilation. Of course, there’s no need to cover up the obvious – it is not the cheapest method out there.
You would need to place the ventilators underneath the wood so that the air can circulate and dry effectively. Furthermore, you would still need to place the wood on pallets or perhaps even net bags. But, the good news is that the wood will dry a lot faster this way.
Nevertheless, there is a catch. This sort of artificial ventilation requires you to keep humidity in mind. It has to be lower than 75%. Otherwise, you’re in trouble. It might prove to be counterproductive because it could lead to re-wetting. Thus, all your efforts would be in vain, and the process would, yet again, be lengthy.
Here is a pretty useful video that I found:
Therefore, if you can, install ventilation channels and a sensor that will tell you when you should turn them off. Furthermore, bear in mind that they should be turned off at night and when there’s a lot of fog or rain.
And, of course, you can always add some heat to it. But, beware. Your electricity bill could go through the roof!
The mighty kiln is a dreamy invention if you’re really into drying firewood.
It is a specially designed chamber with fans and air vents where you can easily stack your wood and control the humidity and the drying process by following the parameters.
The best ones have moisture meters that are very important if you want to sell or use high-quality firewood. These meters will tell you the amount of moisture that’s left in the wood so that you can adjust your process and maybe even speed it up.
But, alas, the devil’s in the details. Even having a home kiln is not a cheap idea, no matter how much you cut down on your other expenses. Furthermore, not having the meters probably won’t do you any good, as you won’t be able to know exactly how the drying process is going.
If you don’t have access to a kiln, your oven can be a great alternative!
How to Tell If Firewood Is Dry
Whichever way you pick, the most important thing is to know when your firewood is dry and ready to be used.
If you’ve put in the effort and followed some of our advice above, then in a few months (or less if you have a kiln), you will see these results:
A Moisture Meter
The best and quickest way to tell if your wood is ready is a moisture meter. When using a moisture meter, it is important to get a fresh cut of the wood right down the center. Then simply stick the prongs in the wood and take a reading. You don’t want more than 15-25%. Anything higher and the wood is not ready.
The Wood Will Change Color
It can either appear a bit bleached or go dark. This aspect usually depends on the type of wood you’ve picked. Nevertheless, the color doesn’t really matter in terms of aesthetics. If it’s dry, it will burn!
The Ends Might Have Some Cracks
The ends of the wood play a vital role in the drying process because that’s where the air needs to seep into. Therefore, if we see some cracks there, there’s no need for us to worry. That’s a good sign that shows us that the wood has dried successfully!
Take a small piece of firewood and try to fire it up. If it catches fire quickly, then you will know that it’s ready for use. However, if it starts to sizzle and produce a lot of smoke, then wait a bit longer. It’s still moist!
It Will Weigh a Lot Less Than Before
Just like pretty much everything else in life, wood also loses a few pounds once it dries. Now, don’t get us wrong. Once you cut firewood into reasonably sized pieces, it’s not that heavy. But, if you have one moist piece of firewood on hand, compare the weight. The dry firewood should weigh a lot less than it used to, which means that it’s ready to be fired up.
The Ends Will Be Warm and Dry
Once cut, green wood sort of feels a bit slimy and cold. It’s still wet because there’s tree sap in it, and before it dries, it will stay a bit too cool for our taste. So, a good way of checking if it has seasoned nicely is to feel the ends of the firewood. If they are warm and dry, then you might be in for a cozy fire afterward!
Finally, if you’re not quite sure about other signs, you can always go the easy route and thump two pieces together. If they create a hollow sound, then your wood is ready. If not, then you’ll just have to practice patience and wait a bit longer!
We all know how appealing perfectly dried firewood is. However, we also know that it can sometimes take months and months until we can enjoy it.
When it comes to drying firewood, the best thing you can do is to prepare yourself beforehand. Even if you speed up the process, it could still take months until you can fire up the wood. Therefore, if possible, try to get your wood early on so that you have some time to dry it completely.
Still, even if you get it in summer, for example, there’s no need to worry about it. If you live in a sunny area, just leave the firewood outside and let it soak up the sun. The drying process will be shorter than usual, but the quality of the wood won’t be bad at all! Plus, you won’t go over your “wood drying” budget nor have to check it often.
Of course, if you have a kiln or a ventilation system, and you’re not afraid of paying a bit more for your electricity bill, then dry your wood that way. Not only will you get exquisite results, but the wood itself will be ready for use in a few short months that will just fly by!