How To Season Wood Fast-Comprehensive Guide That Works

According to a study conducted by the University of Tennessee, the average moisture content of freshly chopped firewood is 66%. The same study reveals that for firewood to burn properly, its moisture content needs to be below 20%.

Instead of burning to release heat efficiently, unseasoned firewood with a high moisture content burns ineffectively to release smoke. That is why seasoning firewood is important.

Below, Watch this video and know about  when and how to properly season your firewood.

So, What is the most effective ways of seasoning firewood.

Let’s get started.

Step 1: Know your wood’s properties

Mostly, the time taken to dry will depend on the type of wood you’re using and the time of felling the tree. Let’s expound on that a bit.

During winter a deciduous tree’s sap goes all the way to the roots, meaning that if the tree is felled at such a time, the moisture content will be low and the wood will dry faster.

Some woods naturally have a low moisture content, and thus don’t benefit much from air drying. These include black locust, cherry, and hickory.

Other woods dry well over extended durations, and they include cottonwood, hemlock, and the American elm.

Generally, softwoods like pine take half a year to a full year to dry while oak and other hardwoods take up to two years.

Do you want to know the actual moisture content in your wood? Hire or purchase a wood moisture test meter. The higher the moisture content, the longer the drying time.

Step 2: Collect and stack the wood at the proper time

Normally, the best season for gathering the wood is summer as the warm conditions allow you to start drying the wood immediately. However, for deciduous trees, it’s better to collect the wood during winter when the moisture content is low.

Consider storing your wood in the open air during summer, as during this time, there’s typically little rainfall and lots of heat from the sun, which are the best conditions for drying.

Step 3: Prepare the wood for storage

One of the most vital preparation steps is chopping up the wood. Ensure the diameter of the wood pieces is not greater than 8 inches while the length is no more than 18 inches.  If you have a small stove, it’s better to bring the length down to 16 inches, as that will fit better.

Step 4: Store it

The best place for storing the wood is outdoors. There, it has a better chance at drying, and again, just in case there are termites, they won’t come to your house.

While storing the wood, you want to stack it doesn’t lean against a wall or sit on the ground directly.

By leaving a space between the stack and the ground and between the stack and any wall nearby, you facilitate the free flow of air, which is vital for efficient seasoning.

You can use two logs of wood as a barrier between your stack of wood and the ground. Consider also, to make long-standing side supports so your stack doesn’t fall apart.

Step 5: Create protection against the rain

Even during summer, there might be little drops of water falling from above, and these might be a hindrance to drying. To prevent them from reaching the wood, consider covering the top with a water-repellent paper. Use the paper to form a roof rather than laying the paper on the wood, so the space that’s left provides room for air circulation.

Handy tip: creating a roof for the wood stack is good for locking out raindrops, but it also might reduce the amount of heat reaching the wood. Therefore, rather than placing a permanent roof, consider placing the roof during the night and when there are showers.

Handy tip 2: the bark acts as a natural barrier against the movement of moisture. Thus, if you prefer not to cover your wood stack, and you happen to be using split wood, consider positioning the bark on the upper side. As a natural barrier, the bark will minimize the entry of water into the wood.

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Step 6: Assess the drying process

As mentioned before, one way of assessing the dryness of wood is to use the wood moisture test meter. Here are a few other easy ways of assessing how much seasoned your wood is.

(A). Bark

If you noticed when you were compiling the wood, the bark was firmly attached. However, as the wood becomes drier, the bark becomes loose and often peels on its own.

(B). Weight

Seasoned wood has lost moisture, and thus it weighs in less than unseasoned wood. Take one of the pieces and assess the difference between the current weight and the weight when you began the seasoning process.

(C). Cracking

The drier the wood, the more it cracks. The cracks stretch out towards the bark but since even unseasoned wood cracks, cracking shouldn’t be the only means you use to tell seasoned and unseasoned wood apart. In fact, you should combine several of these methods for accuracy.

(D). Burning

Take a piece of wood and put it in the fire. If the wood catches fire shortly afterward and burns brilliantly without producing much smoke, that is seasoned wood. If, however, the wood produces lots of smoke and doesn’t catch fire easily, it needs more seasoning.

(E). Color

Unseasoned wood has a vibrant color that might seem a little brownish, but when it becomes seasoned, the color fades and grows more whitish.

(F). Smell

Wet wood has a rich smell that is sort of pleasant and sappy but as the wood dries, the smell fades to woody, and it’s not as strong.

(G). Sound

If you take two pieces of unseasoned wood and hit them together, you will likely hear a dull thudding sound. On the other hand, if you take two pieces of dried wood and hit them against each other, the sound will be more like a hollow ring.

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

1. Should I split wood before or after drying?

If you’re wondering how to season wood fast, splitting the wood before drying is the best approach. It not only makes it easier to stack the wood but also facilitates quicker drying.

2. Do green and standing dead trees take the same time to season?

No. Once you cut a standing dead tree and begin drying it, the wood will take a lot less time to dry than the wood of a green tree. After all, a standing dead tree has already begun the drying process. In fact, you might cut a standing dead tree and burn the wood immediately.

3. What hardwood tree has the lowest moisture content?

It is difficult to say with utmost surety what hardwood has the lowest moisture content but ash is one of the hardwoods that are known to have a super low moisture content. Some people burn it green, but for best results, we recommend you season it for at least 6 months.

4. What is the difference between hardwood and softwood?

Hardwood comes from flowering plants (known scientifically as angiosperms) while softwood comes from non-flowering plants (known as gymnosperms or trees whose seeds are not protected by fruit or ovary.

As hardwood is denser, it is found in high-grade flooring and furniture, and other structures that are built to last. Softwood, on the other hand, is less dense and typically for making timber and paper.

Hardwood is denser, and thus more resistant to fire than softwood, which catches fire easily while dry. Although hardwood takes longer to catch fire, when it catches fire, it burns longer and emits more heat than softwood.

Regarding seasoning, hardwood takes longer, typically more than a year and up to two years, with the exception of ash, which might take only up to 6 months. Softwood, on the other hand, takes less time to season, normally 6 months to a year.

Lastly, hardwood is more expensive than softwood, but for the quality of fire that hardwood presents, coupled with the fact that it burns longer, we’d encourage you to go for it rather than purchasing softwood.

5. Can you name a few hardwoods and a few softwoods?

Common hardwood includes walnut, maple, oak, alder, ash, and mahogany. Examples of common softwood include spruce, fir, cedar, pine, yew, and redwood.

Final Word

That’s virtually everything you need to know when it comes to seasoning wood at home. Remember, the best time to collect wood for seasoning is at the beginning of summer, with the exception of wood from deciduous trees, which should be collected during winter when the moisture content is low.

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