This post was most recently updated on April 1st, 2021
Wet, green wood will not burn well. To get the most out of your firewood, you are best to make sure it is well seasoned and dry before you burn it.
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Knowing how to dry firewood fast will ensure that you are getting the most amount of heat from your firewood as you can.
We love our wood cookstove, it heats our house, we cook on it and it heats our hot water over the Winter months. This means less power bills and less problems when the grid goes down.
What is does mean though is that we need a good supply of dry firewood each Winter.
There are good ways and there are bad ways to get your firewood ready to burn. Below I will share with you the best tips that I have to help you get your firewood dry super fast.
Why do you need to burn dry wood?
Freshly cut wood will have a moisture content of about 30-50%. Wood that has been left in damp conditions can be even more wet than this.
There is a difference between sap-wet (or green) and water-wet. Some woods have very flammable sap and will burn well green – pine and gorse being two such examples.
Water wet wood will use all the heat of the fire to dry out, and you will be left with a smokey, cold fire that is frustrating to manage.
If you have had firewood that is wet and sizzling instead of dry and clean burning, you will start to understand the importance of seasoning your firewood correctly.
What is dry or well seasoned firewood?
Dry, seasoned wood has been left exposed to the air and sun and allowed to dry out. Ideally your firewood should be at 15-20% moisture or less.
If your firewood has a moisture content of greater than 20%, the fire will spend most of it’s energy on drying the wood out and not on producing heat!
What is the danger of burning wet wood?
Burning wet firewood will leave you with a cold room, a lot of smoke and lots of that sticky creosote up your chimney that can (and will) cause a chimney fire.
However, you do not have to run this risk, as you will see below, it is easy to turn green wood or wet wood in to dry wood quickly and easily with these steps.
Many types of wood, when dried correctly can be seasoned in 6-12 weeks.
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What about kiln dried wood?
Kiln dried wood is exactly what it sounds like, it is when they take green or damp wood and it is dried in a kiln to a certain moisture level. It is unusual to buy kiln dried firewood as kiln drying timber uses a lot of energy so it is usually reserved for drying building lumber.
However, you can use kiln dried timber in your woodstove or fire if you have access to scrap pieces of dry wood.
Kiln drying wood makes for wood with a very low moisture level, which is perfect to use for kindling in your wood burning stove or fireplace. It ignites very quickly and will burn hot.
10 Hacks for Drying Firewood Super Fast: Seasoning your Firewood Quickly
1. Make your wood the right length
Cut your logs in to the length that fits best within the fire that you plan on burning it in.
Ideally the wood will take up most of the length, so as to be efficient without too much space at either end, while not needing to be wedged in or left at an awkward angle to get the door closed.
Cut it right the first time and you won’t have to re-cut it just before you use it. You can make a mark on the bar of your chainsaw to remind you how long the wood should be when you cut it in to rings.
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2. Split the wood
Wood that is split along the grain will dry up to 15 times faster than wood that is surrounded in bark. The more split surfaces, the faster the wood will dry.
Unsplit wood can actually stay green and wet even in perfect drying conditions for a whole Summer!
Try to split wood in to smaller pieces. Wood that is 10cm/4inches in diameter (across the end measurement) will burn most efficiently, so aim for that if you can.
3. Leave lots of air gaps
When you are stacking your wood, make sure that there is plenty of space for air to flow in and around each piece.
Tightly stacked piles may look more pretty, but they are much less efficient at actually seasoning firewood.
If you can, make the sides of your woodshed slatted or half open to allow plenty of air through.
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4. Cover with a roof
Stacking your unseasoned wood out in the sun and wind certainly helps it dry faster, but it will need a lid to keep the rain off once you want it to start drying.
Do not wrap your pile totally in waterproofing as covering the whole stack in a tarp can double the time it takes for drying wood.
By all means if it is for a short rain shower throw a tarpaulin over it, but if it is for longer than a day or two, you should add some boards or pallets over the top of the wood under the tarp or roof to allow for air flow and minimize condensation.
5. Let in the sun
Allow sun and wind to reach your wood pile, the more sides of the wood it can reach, the faster your firewood will season.
Your freshly cut wood can be left out in the wind and sun in a roughly built firewood stack for a few months before stacking it to speed along the drying time. Stacking firewood straight in to a covered and closed wood shed may increase drying time by 12 months or more.
6. Leave your wood out in the elements for the Summer
Believe it or not, rain actually will help your wood to season. Rain will help flush out sap that keeps the wood green.
Leave your wood pile uncovered for the Summer, and move it under cover for the Autumn/Fall to allow the last of the moisture to dry off before the cold weather sets in.
7. Don’t leave it too late to season your firewood
Ideally you should be harvesting or buying in next Winter’s wood this Spring time or early Summer. Autumn/Fall is really too late to get any beneficial drying done as the air is too humid for the wood to season properly.
Do not underestimate the length of time the drying process takes.
Even wood drying in a covered shed in Autumn is unlikely to get under 30% moisture content.
8. Keep your wood stack small
Short and narrow wood piles dry much faster than a thick and wide solid stack of wood. Stack firewood in a single row up off the ground so the sun and breeze can draw the moisture out the cut ends more easily.
9. Stack your firewood away from walls
Wood that is stacked out in the open, away from walls, buildings or trees do dry the fastest.
If you leave the wood out for the Summer then stack it away later in to the woodshed once it is seasoned is the best of both worlds.
10. Stack firewood off the ground
Wood that is left on the dirt or grass will struggle to dry. Place the wood pile on concrete or gravel or raise it up with some boards or pallets to let the air circulate underneath the pile as well.
Wood that is kept damp will rot rather than dry, not to mention the wood lice and other bugs that will start eating it if you leave it on the ground.
What types of firewood dry fastest?
Soft woods will dry much faster than most hard woods. However, they also burn much faster and at a lower temperature.
With that in mind it is best to try and get a mixture of both soft and hard woods to burn in your wood fire.
Using a good moisture meter will help you check the moisture content of your logs.
Woods like pine and willow will dry the fastest, but you will need a lot of them to keep you warm over a long winter.
Should you use a dehumidifier to help dry firewood?
If you are in a bind, and you really need your firewood to dry quickly, you have the option of bringing it inside and running a dehumidifier to suck some of the moisture out.
This will speed up the drying time of the wood, but it is best used to remove superficial rain wetness from otherwise well seasoned wood.
Be sure to stack your pile with plenty of air gaps, and don’t run your dehumidifier outdoors or anywhere the plug can get wet.
Can you dry out damp wood in the oven?
Yes, if your firewood is just a little damp, or your kindling bag accidently got left out in the rain, you can dry it off in a low oven. Be wary of putting firewood in an oven that has an open flame, we do not want to burn down your house.
Set your oven to as low as it can go, and if it has a fan function, use that to speed up the drying the process.
How do I know my Firewood is dry?
There are a couple of ways to determine if your firewood is well seasoned. Different types of wood will take different amounts of time.
Generally harder, hotter burning woods like gum or oak take longer to season than softer, cooler burning wood like white pine.
- Well seasoned wood will feel lighter to lift than wet wood and will have some long cracks developing across the grain.
- If you hit two pieces of well seasoned wood together they will make a higher pitched clear sound. If you hit two pieces of wet wood together, you get a very dull ‘thud’ sound.
- The cut ends will feel warm and dry, vs cold and damp when freshly cut.
- Place a small piece of firewood into the coals of a glowing hot fire – wet wood will sizzle and steam, dry wood will catch on fire within a minute.
- The most reliable way of checking the moisture content of your firewood is to invest in a moisture meter . This will tell you exactly how dry your firewood actually is.
If you are planning on running a wood fire or wood cook stove this winter, be sure to follow these directions to ensure that you have plenty of dry wood and kindling for your fire. Unseasoned wood will give you poor heat from the fire, and can cause horrible creosote build up.
For peace of mind I suggest that you organize your green wood nice and early to give it plenty of time to season, and get yourself a moisture meter so you know that you are drying firewood enough.
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