Monday

Seasoned Firewood - How to Recognise It and Why You Need It

So the man in the wood burner shop told you ‘Just throw in some seasoned firewood and you’ll be warm in no time’ but to truthful you hadn’t got a clue what ‘seasoned firewood’ was!


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.

2 comments:

  1. Costs of all types of firewood are increasing as demand grows, so bulk buying in advance of winter is certainly a good idea if you have room for storage! Another option to reduce the cost of logs is to buy them ‘green’ or ‘unseasoned’, for example http://www.logalog.net supply ‘unseasoned’ logs at a saving of 33% compared to ‘kiln dried’. If these are stacked outside in an ‘open’ shelter so the air can circulate, they will dry over the summer and be ready for burning next winter.

    The term ‘load of logs’ is so vague and the amount can vary hugely depending on the size of vehicle your supplier uses to deliver. Weight is also very inacurate as ‘seasoned’ logs weigh around 25% less than ‘green’.

    Volume is the most reliable way to buy logs, a typical 2m3 (two cubic metres) would contain around 700 loose stacked std size (8-10") logs. This volume of hardwood logs would weigh approximately 800kgs when unseasoned (wet/green) but would need to loose approx 200kgs of moisture before being ready to burn, weighing only 600kgs when seasoned (dry).

    For further information and prices please see http://www.logalog.net

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