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Understanding how long to dry firewood can be challenging, it is a process that is required to ensure the firewood is ready for use in the home.
How long to dry split firewood depends on a few different factors, The process of drying split firewood usually takes between 2-4 months on average and depends upon a number of factors;
The size of the split
Split firewood for drying should be split to a maximum thickness of about one inch, half an inch more than what is required to split the wood into single firewood loads.
Thicker splits will dry longer than thinner splits and larger splits will dry more quickly than smaller ones. It is recommended that splits of up to 3 inches in thickness should be made, as these take longer to dry and give the wood added durability.
The species of tree
Hardwood species tend to take longer than softwood species, although there are exceptions. Hardwoods such as oak and ash will require around 2-3 months drying time compared with softwoods like pine which will require less than 1 month drying time. Ensure you identify the correct species of tree from a reputable supplier if you are not sure.
The weather conditions
How long to dry split firewood depends heavily on the weather conditions that you will be drying your stack in.
In hot, dry conditions split firewood will dry very quickly and in wet or humid conditions it will take longer to dry.
If the weather is hot and dry then drying should start immediately, whereas if it is wet or humid then waiting until the weather improves would be recommended.
An alternative approach is to store firewood indoors until suitable weather conditions arrive before starting drying.
Where the wood was stacked after it was split
There is an art to stacking firewood and if it is not done properly then the wood will not dry very well.
The wood should be stacked in a wind-sheltered area, above ground level if possible, with a north-south orientation, preferably with one split resting on top of another.
Stacking the wood higher will enable better air circulation as opposed to lower stacks which are likely to retain more moisture when it rains.
A layer of straw should be placed on top of the split firewood to help prevent it from drying out during the drying process. Ensure that no other firewood is placed near the split.
The amount of air circulation
Split firewood should be stacked in a way that allows the air to circulate through the top layers of split firewood before it exits out through the bottom layers.
This will help avoid any condensation build-up in the lower layers of split firewood. Ensure that you stack your split firewood so that it allows good air circulation such as in wind-sheltered areas and at a height above ground level.
Split firewood should be kept on a level surface and not in ground-level piles. The wood should not touch the ground as this can lead to mold forming.
The wood should be laid out in a way that allows good air circulation, around one foot apart with the split firewood resting on top of other split firewood.
The area of the stack
Due to the size of split firewood, a large stack is required to dry properly. The wood should be stacked at a minimum of one foot above ground level to allow good air circulation.
More than one stack is recommended to allow a good supply of air to circulate through the wood.
The time of year
Split firewood will dry from summer onwards in warm dry conditions and start to dry from autumn onwards in wet cold conditions. In winter there is little sunlight and therefore less heat required in order to dry split firewood, meaning it will take longer to dry.
It is recommendable to start drying firewood during summer when the weather is dry and warm.
Split firewood should be inspected regularly to ensure it dries and does not mold, mildew, or attract insects.
The splits should be turned over and brushed away any surface molds, if molds are found and are deep then splitting the wood again will normally sort out the problem.
Drying of firewood can take a couple of years to achieve fully dry split firewood and the wood must be dried properly otherwise it can become damaged and be unusable.
How to tell if Wood is Dry Enough to Burn
Seasoned wood will have cracks in the surface and it is lighter in color. It’s a good idea to test a small amount of the wood first, by placing the kindling in an area with no combustibles around it. If the kindling catches, then the rest of the pieces should do so as well.
Drying split firewood is a process that is required to ensure the firewood is ready for use. The process usually takes between 2-4 months on average and depends upon a number of factors.
This means it is essential to implement good drying methods and sufficient management resources are required to ensure there are no delays in the drying process. If you want to know how to dry out firewood fast, read our article: how to to dry wood in an oven.