Long-Term Firewood Storage

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Peacock, Sep 28, 2006.

  1. Peacock

    Peacock writing some wrongs Supporter

    Messages:
    6,873
    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Location:
    SW Ohio
    How long can you store firewood before it rots or gets otherwise turned into sawdust? And what's the best way to extend that time?

    I've mentioned before that I often see opportunities for free firewood. There's a LOT of construction going on in our area (unfortunately, but I guess it's inescapable in many places) which means lots of trees cut down, and they're not used. In fact, tree maintenance guys get PAID to TAKE the wood, which I'm guessing they will then sell for yet more profit. So obviously, people want to save money by leaving the logs there and offering them free. You just have to age it 6-12 months if you're burning it indoors.

    Lots of opportunities to stock up. We already have a bunch, probably more than we'll use in 3 winters. But I hate to pass up opportunities. About half of the wood stacked in our backyard is already rotting - the previous owner left it, and I don't know how long it's been there. Obviously we need to sort, split, stack and build a shelter for it. But I need to know how long wood can be stored, otherwise if we got any more we'd just be wasting effort.

    OTOH...

    If I invested in a cheap pickup truck and a log splitter, could I turn a profit by hauling cords of wood to sell in snooty neighborhoods on a crisp autumn day? ;)
     
  2. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    8,360
    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2004
    Location:
    MN
    If it's off the ground (or on a dry surface - gravel concrete, etc that stays dry), & covered with a roof, it should last indefinately.

    --->Paul
     

  3. WolfWalksSoftly

    WolfWalksSoftly Level II -Inappropriate

    Messages:
    3,157
    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2004
    Location:
    Missouri (MIZZ U RAH)Ozarks
    A lot of things effect firewood, moisture, bugs, rodents. I would think wood stacked on the ground for more than 2 or 3 years would be pushing it. I am cutting tops of trees that have been logged 2 years ago and am seeing punky wood on the outer edges...this wood is primarily oak.
     
  4. Nancy in Maine

    Nancy in Maine Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    542
    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2002
    I'm thinking that it'll start losing its "heat" after 2-3 years. It'll still burn as long as it's dry, but won't throw as much heat. It'll still be good for not so cold days. It depends on the species as well. Poplar and white birch seem to rot right away. Keep it up off the ground to keep it dry, as the other poster said.

    We get blow down pine off a piece of our property to burn in the fall and spring. Bone dry and light as a feather, but still has a bit of heat to it. And burning it helps clean up our lot.

    Shoot, give selling it a try! Even up here (where folks could just go out in the woods and scrounge around for enough dry wood for a campfire) I see campfire bundled and selling for maybe $4.00 for 4-5 sticks of split firewood. Make it extra fancy by throwing in a "firestarter bundle" of maybe some small cedar sticks and/or pinecones and a book of matches! Maybe a set of instructions too for pure city folks.
     
  5. jnap31

    jnap31 garden guy

    Messages:
    3,516
    Joined:
    Sep 16, 2005
    Location:
    AR (ozarks)
    Where did you learn that from I had never heard it and want to know as I was planning on keeping 7 years worth of wood on hand right now I have 3 years worth.
     
  6. goatlady

    goatlady Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,731
    Joined:
    May 31, 2002
    Location:
    No. Cent. AR
    Had friends cutting, splitting, and stacking wood for me a few months ago. He went on a firewood forum and found out if you sprinkle borax between the layers it really keeps the bugs and varmits out of the woodpile - keeps the bugs from eating the wood to sawdust. Keep it under cover and off the ground (dry) and it should be good for years.
     
  7. Jennifer L.

    Jennifer L. Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    4,908
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    New York bordering Ontario
    Under cover and kept dry, keep out the insects and it will last years. Has your dining room table rotted yet? :)

    I cleaned out the wood house two years ago when I wanted half of it for poultry. I thought I'd be throwing away a lot of wood because I hadn't burned wood in years and most of the wood in there was put in by my father, and that had to be better than 20 years ago. Most of the wood was fine, and it is now stored in a steel granary for emergencies. There was no concrete floor under this wood, either, but water couldn't get under it.

    Jennifer
     
  8. rwinsouthla

    rwinsouthla Well-Known Member Supporter

    Messages:
    1,054
    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2005
    Location:
    South Louisiana
    I built a simple firewood rack with 3/4" black iron pipe from Home Depot with some 4' long threaded pieces, 90s, and tees. I then tied a 8'long piece of galvanized roofing on top and still have part of a cord that I cut 2 years ago. Now we don't use much wood in south LA but like to have it usable when we get the chance. Mine works well. To answer your question, keep it dry and off the ground and you're good.
     
  9. Spinner

    Spinner Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    6,727
    Joined:
    Jul 19, 2003
    I put a tarp down and stack the wood on it, then cover it with another tarp. I have wood that is several years old and it burns like it was new. I was lucky that DH drove a flat bed years ago. When he quit driving we had several large tarps that didn't cost us a thing.
     
  10. Nancy in Maine

    Nancy in Maine Well-Known Member

    Messages:
    542
    Joined:
    Jun 24, 2002
    I don't really know where I heard it.....the old timers? :cool: I can imagine one of them shaking a finger at me and saying, "You can't burn wood that's more than three years old. It's too old, there's no heat in it!"

    So I guess it's just one of those things that I don't really know for sure. If you've got wood that's really old and falling apart, yuou really don't get much heat from it. It burns, yes. Can you store it so it doesn't get like that? I don't know.

    If others here say they've got wood that they've stored for years and it's still good, go by what they say. I've got no scientific evidence. I've just always assumed it to be true.
     
  11. Cabin Fever

    Cabin Fever Life NRA Member since 1976 Supporter

    Messages:
    15,607
    Joined:
    May 10, 2002
    Location:
    Between Crosslake and Emily Minnesota
    I agree with Rambler, if kept dry, under cover and off the ground, the firewood should last forever. In our area, it takes two years just to properly season firewood. Insects and molds, which can destroy fire wood, will not "infect" dry wood. So, cut, split and season the fire wood as quickly as possible so it retains its heating vaue.