Hey we’ve all got to learn sometime! So in a nutshell here’s what you need to know.
A growing tree is a thirsty monster and every day it needs a healthy supply of water to sustain its growth. Now to transport the water from the roots to the leaves the tree is constructed of thousands (if not millions) of microscopic tubes that pump the wet stuff to where the tree needs it.
Now you can imagine when a tree is cut down those microscopic tubes are still full of water and if you burnt the tree straight away you’d effectively be trying to burn water with a just a hint of woody overtones. Not a good idea!
You see, freshly cut trees can easily contain up to 60% of moisture and to burn wood efficiently we’ve got to try and reduce that figure to about 20%.
So what do we do?
Well not to put to fine a point on it we dry the wood by cutting it into short lengths, splitting it and then leaving it outside in the sunlight and wind. In other words we season it. Then roughly about a year later after a little careful tendering our firewood should be dry enough to burn.
O.K. I’ve made some sweeping generalisations there but I’m sure you getting the overall picture ‘Wet unseasoned wood is bad – Dry seasoned wood is good’.
Admittedly if you want a fire straight way you can easily buy ‘Kiln Dried Logs’ but will cover that in a separate article.
How can I recognise seasoned firewood?
Thankfully for all of us who haven’t been raised in a forest you can tell properly seasoned wood by:
- Looking at the bark – the bark on seasoned wood has loosened it hold
- The ends of seasoned logs will be darkened
- A seasoned log is lighter in weight than its unseasoned brother
- When a log is seasoned the ends start to naturally crack or ‘check’
- Tap two seasoned logs together and you’ll hear a satisfying clunk. Knock two unseasoned logs together and you’ll hear a heavy thunking sound
- Use a moisture meter and look for a reading of 20% or less.