Properly Store Your Firewood Outside
To get the most enjoyment out of your fireplace or wood stove, your firewood needs to be seasoned or dried. The process of properly storing your firewood outside begins with the initial cutting of the wood. The timing is also important because it can take up to a year for wood to dry, though between six and nine months is more typical.
Tips for Cutting Firewood
Initial cutting of a tree is important because each log needs to be able to stand sturdily on end for splitting. Logs are easier to split when they are short. You don’t want logs that are too long, anyway, because it can make fires more difficult to build and adjust. When swinging an axe, aim for hairline cracks in the logs. By doing this, the effort needed for splitting is reduced. Also, try not to cut through knots because they, along with branches, change wood grain’s direction, making logs more difficult to split. When splitting wood, try to avoid striking on knots.
Storage of your firewood is important because burning firewood that contains too much moisture means that your fires are smoky and inefficient and create far more flammable creosote in your chimney lining.
Storing logs in a proper wood shed built for the purpose of seasoning firewood is most ideal. The following are some qualities of wood sheds that are especially effective at allowing wood to dry out as quickly as possible:
- Maximum breathe-ability is built into the design of the shed. Ventilation is provided on every side and underneath the shed.
- In the most ideal conditions, sunlight is able to contribute significantly to the drying process.
- The internal portions of logs are able to dry out as well as the ends because the firewood stays dry, gets plenty of ventilation, and is exposed to a lot of sunshine.
- Done right, wood sheds add to the aesthetics of your property while serving its practical purpose.
- Prevailing wind direction is an excellent consideration for placement of a wood shed, since the wind is an important part of the drying process.
If you are storing your firewood outside without a wood shed, there are a number of things you can do to help keep moisture away:
- Logs can be protected from rain and snow with low-cost tar paper and a fiberglass tarp.
- It’s best that the firewood be off the ground by at least a few inches, which can be accomplished with 4 by 4 runners.
- The idea is keep the stacked wood off of damp soil so that the bottom row doesn’t rot. Storing the wood on well-drained gravel usually works well.
Stacking the Firewood
The following are some tips for stacking your firewood for purposes of drying out the wood:
- It takes firewood longer to dry if it is stacked too tightly. Leave air in the wood pile, to allow for needed ventilation.
- Stack the wood so that the long rows are parallel to the prevalent wind direction. When a cover is placed over the wood, a wind tunnel is created that blows across and between the pieces of firewood.
- Keep an adequate amount of space between each row of firewood; some recommend six inches of space.
Fires are so much more enjoyable when built with seasoned firewood. Don’t forget to have your chimney inspected before you light your first fire of a new wintry season.