A crackling wood-burning fire is always such a nice thing to have. The feel of the warmth, the smell of burning wood, it is inviting and relaxing. If you have a wood-burning stove or fireplace, you are going to have firewood ready to use, but keeping that firewood dry is not always easy.
To dry wet firewood, you have to stack it in a single row off the ground, cut it to the right size, and keep it sheltered. Drying wet firewood might be a daunting task, but it is possible.
There are a few tips you can try to get that wood dry as quickly as possible. In this article, you will learn how to dry out firewood when it gets wet quickly through stacking, proper splitting for optimal storage, and airing it out. You will also learn what happens when firewood gets wet.
Everyone wants their firewood ready for them when it comes time for a fire. It is not preferable to have to go out and buy that firewood every time you want it. With changes in the weather, you will want to stock up on firewood for fast and easy access when needed.
One of the most frustrating and worse things that can happen to your firewood is when it gets all soggy and wet. Not only can soggy firewood not catch a flame, but it can also cause a slew of other issues that will make you not want to bring it into your home. You can split your wood properly, stack it for optimal airflow, or air dry your wood.
Stack the Wood Properly for Optimal Airflow
First, you want to split the wood into the sizes you desire for a fire. Once you have all the wood split into the size of pieces you will need for building a fire, you then want to stack it for proper drying. Stacking your firewood will ensure that there is enough air flowing through it that you do not need to worry too much about moisture if anything happens to the wood.
There are not any hard and fast rules for stacking wood. The general rule of thumb is that you want to stack the firewood to allow for optimal air circulation throughout the wood. This method usually involves allowing gaps between the wood. One of the best ways to achieve the gaps is by stacking in a vertical, horizontal, vertical type stacking so the wood is stacked in opposite directions at each layer.
You will want to remember that you do not want the wood to touch the ground. Laying down a tarp or better yet, a pallet, is ideal for stacking wood on. A sturdy enough platform that allows for air to flow up from under is ideal when stacking wet wood for it to dry appropriately. It is best to prepare this or use some other type of wood that will not develop condensation on it so that the wood can dry and not continually get wet.
If your wood touches the ground, you are leaving it open to the possibility of mold growth, bugs inhabiting the wood, and the wood never fully drying. Laying your wood above the ground slightly will help you avoid all kinds of nasty things happening to it.
Once you have your platform, you want to start stacking the wood with the split side facing downwards. This is so that the bark on the outside of the wood can help protect the wood against the elements. Furthermore, it allows for better air circulation. The bark of the wood is the wood’s natural waterproofing.
After you finish stacking your wood, it is best to protect it. Covering it with a tarp is a popular choice though it will take longer to dry as the tarp will prevent the air from circulating efficiently. Having a shed or carport type structure is ideal as it allows for optimal airflow while protecting your wood from the elements.
Furthermore, a tarp or any other plastic covering is likely to develop condensation that will drip onto the wood and not dry it effectively. Building a structure to put the tarp over allows for proper airflow while still protecting the wood from the elements.
Air Out the Wood in the Sun
The airing out method means you stack your wood on the ground level and let the sun dry it out for you. That means you need a sunny day or two or more. It is always a good idea to check the forecast well ahead of time before attempting this method. You will want as much sun as possible. The sunnier, the better.
Depending on the amount of space you have, airing out your firewood can help to accelerate the process of drying. This method requires more air and sunlight than the stacking method. It will also require a lot more space, but it is very efficient.
- Make sure you have enough space for the wood. It should not touch the ground, so pallets are an excellent idea to have on hand. Using a pallet will provide optimal airflow without letting the wood touch the ground.
- Place the logs of firewood that you want to be dried on the pallets.
- Ensure that the wood is not touching each other so that the air can flow freely between them. You may be able to stack them two or three levels high, but not more than that. The main idea of this method is to optimize airflow for quick drying. The higher you stack the wood, the more it hampers the drying process.
- Once the wood is laid out, you want to leave it uncovered for as long as possible.
As long as the weather is not rainy or causes precipitation, you are good to leave the logs to the elements. However, if rain is called for, you will want to cover them up or stack them in a shed. This method is best used when you have direct sunlight in the forecast.
Quick Dry the Wood
This method of drying wood is going to be the fastest but not necessarily the most efficient. This method is best used only when you need a fire, and you cannot wait for the wood to dry. A few days before you know you will be burning the wood, you want to bring the wood into the house.
Here are some tips you should consider:
- Only bring what you are going to burn.
- If the wood was in snow or rain, you want to put it in an area where the water can drip off and not mess your home.
- Put the wood in a well-ventilated area such as an open room or near a vent.
- Spread it out as much as possible to allow warm air in your home to circulate through, thus drying the wood. If you have the time, you should leave it for at least two days.
When it comes to this method, you want to make sure you start your fire with good dry wood and kindling before adding the logs that were brought in to dry. The key is that even though the logs may still be somewhat damp, they will still burn well once the fire is already going.
Semi-damp wood can go into the fire once the fire is roaring. Make sure you adjust your damper to prevent the wood from smoldering. Semi-damp wood is going to smolder more and cause more smoke than fully dry wood will. There may be some snapping or gurgling sounds that the logs will make as excess water vaporizes.
What Happens When Firewood Is Wet?
Wet firewood is not the end of the world, but it can cause a lot of trouble. Firewood that is left wet can grow mold that smells bad and is not suitable for burning. Furthermore, wet firewood can become home to many creepy crawlies that you do not want in your home when you bring it inside.
Thankfully, there are ways that you can dry out your firewood before it becomes a kingdom to bugs. There are two main ways that you can dry out your firewood to keep it safe. These two ways include air drying and stacking. The accelerated method is bringing your wood indoors for air drying but it is not preferable.
How Long Does It Take Firewood to Dry?
Drying firewood is not an overnight process. Therefore, you want to start to dry your firewood as soon as possible to make sure you have a roaring fire.
Technically, when cut fresh, most firewood is going to take up to 12 months to dry out thoroughly. Though that may seem discouraging, it is essential to know so that you can begin your firewood preparations as soon as possible. Having ample time to dry your wood properly will provide you a proper fire. Plus, it will cut down on smoke.
There are various types of wood that you can use in a fire, and each has its own time for drying. Therefore, some woods will dry faster than others. These woods include ash, pine, and poplar. However, they also tend to burn faster because they are light woods. Heavy wood like oak takes longer to dry and longer to burn.
What Happens When Your Firewood Gets Rained On?
If your adequately stacked firewood gets rained on, it can be frustrating as it has already been drying. Even if you have a roof over your wood, horizontal rain or heavy downpours can still dampen them. The best thing to do in this case is to hope for warm and windy weather. If, after the rainfall, it is warm and windy, the wood should only take about two days to dry again.
If the rain continues, you will want to bring some of the wood indoors for them to dry out, preferably near a fire that is already going as the warm air will help the wood dry from the rain. However, this is not always feasible. Wood that you dry indoors will not dry fully, but can still burn. Be prepared that this wood will produce much more smoke.
The best way to avoid rain on your firewood is to have a structure to keep the wood in that promotes airflow. A shed with large windows or a carport will suffice. If that is not possible, then secure a waterproof tarp or plastic over the entire pallet of wood.
How to Shorten Drying Times
There are a few things you can do to shorten drying times. Since both stacking and storing your firewood methods require it to be split first, you need to know how to do it correctly. Here is how:
- Remove all the cut branches from the tree trunk as much as you can to get a solid log. You can keep the smaller branches and dry them out for kindling so as to help get a fire started.
- Measure your fireplace or stove, so you know how large your logs need to be to fit inside comfortably without touching the sides.
- Chop logs into the size of the area where you will be building a fire.
- Once in logs, determine if the wood is ready to be split or if you should wait. Greenwood should wait a while before splitting.
- Split the logs into the proper sizes for burning. You do not want the logs to be too big or too small.
The Verdict: There Are Three Primary Methods for Drying Wet Firewood
When it comes to drying your firewood, you want to rely on one of the three methods mentioned earlier to get your wood entirely ready for a fire.
- Stacking is the best method for drying out large quantities of firewood as it keeps it safe and secure from the elements as long as you are careful. It is good to have a shed or some proper storage space for the wood when staking large quantities. A shed or port with at least three walls and a secure roof will help keep the wood dry regardless of weather and let the airflow through the logs nicely.
- Air drying is another excellent method but more reserved for smaller quantities of wood. If you have the space to spread the wood out in a single or double layer, this method will dry it faster than stacking will. Placing the logs so that they are not flush with each other will help promote optimal airflow that is needed for proper drying.
- Quick-drying is when you bring the wood you need in the immediate future into your home and allow warm air to help dry it out as much as possible before placing it on fire. You will need some dry wood so that you can get your fire going before placing the semi-damp logs on the fire. This method will not dry the wood completely, but dry enough to use.
One of the main things you need to keep in mind when drying out firewood is patience. Firewood takes time to dry out completely. Though there is a quick-drying method, that should only be reserved for a situation where you do not have another choice. Always try to prepare your firewood well in advance for properly dried wood.
Drying out firewood is going to take at least nine months to do correctly, preferably twelve months. Therefore, if you intend to use wood to heat your home or build a fire in your fireplace for fun throughout the winter, you will want to get started in the spring or even a year in advance.
Airflow is key to proper drying. The more significant the airflow, the faster and better your logs will dry. That is why you want to ensure that whatever method you use for drying your wood, you do with airflow in mind. This is also needed to prevent bugs from making a home in the wood. It is no fun having a house full of insects that were brought in unknowingly with the woodpile.
Also, burning moldy wood is not at all pleasant and, in some cases, dangerous.
Having a roaring fire on a cold, damp evening or snowy day is a pleasantry that is hard to pass up. The smell of a burning fire coupled with the cozy feel makes a fire worthwhile. However, it takes time to get the firewood ready for this process.
Since you do not want to buy already dried wood every time you want a fire, it only makes sense that you dry out wet wood yourself. Therefore, you need to know how to dry it so that you can use it effectively in your fire.
Following the wood drying methods listed above is the best way to ensure that your fire will be pleasant and cozy when you want it. By having already dried wood at your disposal, you will always have the makings of a warm fire.