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Windy Island Acres
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How long does it take to season wood for woodstove use?
 

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Hi Sue, usually wood that is cut and split in the spring is ok for the fall providing it's been stacked high-N-dry and has good air flow around/through it. I always followed the rule of, later in the summer, means later in the winter, but sometimes, it's best to leave the stuff cut late in the summer for the following year unless you're really hard up for heat, then you do what you have to do sort of speak.

Splitting is the key though. That speeds up the drying cycle.

Hope this helps.

Jay
 

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Windy Island Acres
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Discussion Starter #3
Sigh. We usually buy seasoned. Since the end of this month I become one of the unemployed masses, we thought we'd go cheeeep and get "green" wood. Probably too late for that now, huh?
 

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I fell and buck trees in the winter as the weather permits, split and stack it as early in the early spring as weather permits. Depending on the species and weather it will be well seasoned by autumn. I actually prefer to let most wood season for an extra year - it burns better and the lower moisture content = less creosote if you let a fire 'idle' overnight.
 

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Nope - depending on the species, and how late you have winter set in... Like Jay mentioned, stacking it so a lot of air can get through it is important to how quickly it will dry. Other factors are ambient temps and storage area. If you are buying hardwoods, stack them very loosely in full sun in the open, tarp them only when it rains, and restack them every 2-3 weeks and you will probably be fine. Just burn your fires hot to prevent soot/creosote buildup. You may want to clean your chimney mid-winter just to be on the safe side.
 

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I don't know Sue. honestly, we're only about 3 months away from the start of the heating season. I'm not saying you can't get by with it, but it won't be your best choice.

I've burned wood that wasn't fully seasoned, and yes, it gave me heat, but I was nervous about the build up in the chimney. I think I cleaned the chimney 3 times that winter, and I was still nervous at night and while leaving the house.

It wasn't easy to start the fire either. It took a bunch of time to get the stove up to temperature, and I had to keep it fed with wood or it cooled down enough to where I had trouble getting it back up to temperature.

I would say with all my heart that it's too late to get seasoned if you can help it.

Let me put it like this, I would go without beer for the winter, and spend the money on seasoned wood if I had to make a choice again. :buds: :bouncy: :buds:

Jay
 

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Depending on where you live, I would look for trees that have fallen or been down for a year or so. We live on a three acre woodlot, plus have access to my dads 40+ acres. We live in a very windy area and often have downed trees that Nature has "dried" out a bit. Do you live close to state or National forest property? We live within 20-30 miles and they do give you permits for getting wood. You could look for downed trees there.
 

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Is this 'green wood' split already, can you stack it loosely where the sun and wind can get to it all day, covering the top when it rains, and stacked off the ground, pallets work great for this.

Disadvantages of using wood with more than 25% moisture content:
more creosote
less btu's, lower heat
heavier to handle
more smoke out of the chimney, more cleanings, smoke is unburnt fuel
you will need more wood to serve the same needs

To aid in drying your wood right up to the point of burning:
1)Wrapping the stack in clear plastic on the sides, and black plastic on the top, also known as a poor man's solar kiln.( gets over 160*F inside and kills all bugs)
2)Keep a weeks worth of wood inside stacked loosely so that the wood burner can heat it up and draw more moisture out, it should never be too hot to touch.

I move my 5cords into the basement near the wood furnace after the killing frosts, but before any snow falls, so my wood is continuing to dry all winter, and after one week of 24/7 burning, the cut ends all have wide open cracks/checks from the furnace radiating heat to the pile, which is more than 4feet away.
 

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Sue - the purpose of seasoning wood is to remove the moisture from the fibers. Stack it loosely in east/west rows and drape black plastic over the south facing face of it. That will help 'cook' the moisture out of it and give you your best shot at accelerating the seasoning process. On especially windy days, remove the plastic to allow it to 'air out'. Restack it often (flip the pieces east to west as you do) and by November it should burn ok - especially if you have a warm long autumn. Worst case: If you're not comfortable with it, you can still buy a cord or two of seasoned wood and burn it first - by the time you've burned it the other will have had more time to season...
 

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Not a one size fits all answer.

In Wisconsin, which I suspect has similar climate to CT, some species of wood such as red oak need to be cut/split/stacked and allowed to dry through 2 summers for it to be suitably dry.

Wood that is harvested in april, when the sap (water) content is high, will be unsuitable for use later that year/season.

I know many many people, that because of the procrastination factor, wind up burning green, unseasoned wood, year after year. Yes, green wood will burn. Not particularly well, but it will burn.
It is wildly inefficient, as green wood throws off little heat. But it does throw off some heat.

I'm convinced the best route to take for ones woodstove supply is being a year ahead. In fall, when the temperatures cool off, set this as a time to lay in a supply of firewood for the following year. Cut/split/stack the wood and forget about it until the following heating season.

If one finds themselves behind the 8 ball and in short supply of wood, its possible to find standing dead trees, which require no seasoning. Of course, finding a source of standing dead trees, readily accessible, won't be easy.
 

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I season oak for two years after it is cut and split.
 

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Windy Island Acres
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Discussion Starter #12
Thanks for all your responses. Sounds like we'll go with seasoned wood and switch to hamburger :D
 

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I'm with ol Cabin Fever. Wood needs to sit around for at least a full year here in the South to really be seasoned.

suelandress, here's something that may help. Be sure you drop a log of that "seasoned" wood onto a concrete sidewalk, driveway, or other hard object. If it sounds hollow when it hits, it is seasoned. If it hits with a dull thud, it is not. Also, if it has radial cracks in the ends, it is better seasoned than if not.

I say that because about every other year, I buy some "seasoned" wood from some woodcutter who has had it stacked really for just 6 months. Awful stuff, hard to light, and moisture oozes out while it burns. Does burn slow, though.

On your green wood, buy half seasoned and half green for a heat stove. Start off with the seasoned, then add the green on top once the fire is really going. The green wood will last longer due to the moisture, and the seasoned will provide more btu per log. It's a good workable mix that can save some money.
 

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Creosote comes from the water in the wood. Like many have said stack it up off the ground, cover the top so water doesn't run down thru it. I have seen wood cut and covered in 6 months be great, then again be still green. Depends on the kind of wood, which way it is stacked (sun hits the ends?) how long and big pieces are...... when I had a stove in the house I cleaned the chimney Thanksgiving, and depending on the season...(how hard burned) New Years day, and Valentines day...... With it being outside now I just stand with the door open and let it dry out and tap on the pipe when needed. I always KEEP my wood covered.........always...........Wet wood is the same as green wood...............

Hope that helps.

Scott
 

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Windy Island Acres
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Discussion Starter #15
LOL Jim S. Is that kind of like checking if a watermelon is ripe? :D We may try to 1/2 and half mix. On the overnights, it's usually dampered way down. I guess a green log would last even longer? We do occassionally burn those "pipe cleaning" fires to get the creosote out, and that has varied by the year, so I'm guessing that some years our seasoned wood was less seasoned than others!
Scott, we have a wood shed, so the wood is always covered, but it sounds like if we go with any amount of green, we'll have to stack it outside and then restack it inside? It probably wouldn't fry well inside...
 

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I've never done it, but a large, strategically placed fan would dry stacked wood in a hurry...if you have access to a large fan!
 

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Windy Island Acres
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How large is large? Are we talking a turbo fan? I think the electricity to run one would cost more than our wood savings
 

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I can answer this question!! I just did a blurb for a brochure our community is creating for new people moving to the country.... questions you always wanted to ask about wood heat ....

It's the moisture content and not the type of wood that is responsible for creosote buildup in your chimney ... so you want the wood to be as dry as possible when you burn it. Dry means split & stacked under cover for one year.

And, did you know [or even care] that 2 truck loads (1/2 ton truck) is equivalent to one full cord of wood whether it is neatly put in the box or just rhrown in? The useless information I have picked up ...... :p
 

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As a general rule of thumb, wood dries about 1" per month from any cut or split edge and stacked and kept dry.

If you split all your wood to an inch thick it would dry in about a month, but the down fall is you would burnit up to quickly..

If I was looking to save money I would still cut and split some wood, but would also buy seasoned wood for the first part of the heating season.
 

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I agree the kind of wood makes all the difference. Our swamp maple dries quickly and doesn't have the BTU content of oak. It does burn faster, but it easier to split. I burned much more not quite seasoned wood last year and the chimney shows it. I usually do as others here in starting the fire with the real dry stuff, then adding a log of greener stuff on top of the fire. Unfortunately I got caught without a good amount of dry wood last year. This year I made sure of a good supply of good wood.
 
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