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do i have to be concerned - moisture reading

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by olliek, Sep 1, 2012.

  1. olliek

    olliek New Member

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    so I have six to seven cords that I wanted to burn this winter. went out today and split a couple of logs from different stacks and used my $10 moisture reader. I got anywhere from just under 20% to just under 30%.
    Again - this is wood I wanted to burn this season? Do I have to think about buying?

    Thanks!

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  2. mywaynow

    mywaynow Minister of Fire

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    All the same species? Size?
  3. Gark

    Gark Minister of Fire

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    Sorry to say it olliek, but buying wood may not get you anything drier than you already have. There are hundreds of posts here telling of how bought wood sold as "seasoned" seldom is. Also posted here are suggestions that if purchasing wood (and expecting it be dry) you must use that moisture meter to check it before paying. Must test on a newly split surface with the probes parallel to the grain. Is your Castine particular to dry wood?
    ScotO and Backwoods Savage like this.
  4. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    Do you think you will burn all 6-7 cord?

    I would get as much as the 20% as possible. If you have 3-4 cord of that, then you should be fine.

    Even if you burn the 30% its gonna probably be better than "Bought" wood. Just check your chimney often. People are out there that burn much worse than what you have... Much worse.
  5. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    Yes, one species may be your 20% stuff or if the same species, maybe the smaller splits are drier. In lieu of testing every piece, you may be able to develop a feel for how light (dry) certain splits are. Sometimes dry pieces will make a sharp, ringing sound (bowling pin sound) when knocked together. This doesn't always work though. I've had larger splits that emitted a dull thud but when split made a much sharper sound. You could also split your large splits down to a smaller size if most of them are big. Burn your small stuff first, let freshly-split big ones dry longer.
    There are many threads that cover various methods of getting by on less-than- ideal wood. Some are even on the first couple of pages in this forum. Good luck.
  6. mywaynow

    mywaynow Minister of Fire

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    If your looking at oak or hickory, your looking at a longer dry time. If the stuff running upwards of 30% is ash or locust you may still be ok. Like prior posts mention, split size is critical. My opinion is that unsplit rounds are the slowest to cure. If however, the 30% is the oak and hickory you are not so fortunate. Those logs will not dry quickly. My belief is that wood dries best during colder months. The lower humidity will draw out moisture along with the winds and sun.
    ScotO likes this.
  7. Brewmonster

    Brewmonster Burning Hunk

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    If that really is a $10 moisture meter you're using, you should probably take those readings with a fistful of salt.
    amateur cutter, ScotO and jeff_t like this.
  8. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    It's good enough to tell him that some of his splits are much drier than others. He'll find out exactly how wet they are when he throws them on a fire. Could do that now with an outside fire...
  9. olliek

    olliek New Member

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    thanks guys. I only started using wood last year. so I cut down a couple trees last year, but i bought most of it, all of is split, 14 - 16 inches long.

    as for trees i have no idea, all i know i didn't cut down any birches, nor oaks. I am going to heat 80% to 90% with wood and i used about 5 cords last winter and it was a very mild one. (I have 250 year old house with practically no insulation).

    I checked a couple more logs, most of it in the 20 -25 range some over. I had one(!!!!) with 18. Guess I will make have to make that particular one last.

    I had to buy two cords of kiln dried last season at an extortionate price, so I wanted to avoid that.
  10. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    That's getting closer. I like <18 but it sounds like you'll make it OK.
  11. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Olliek, one thing in your favor is that the drying will continue. Hopefully your wood is stacked outdoor in the wind. That is how it will dry the fastest. Also, if it is stacked rather loosely that can also assist is a bit faster drying.

    It really would be good to know what kind of wood you have and you need to keep this in mind for the future. Different types of wood dry at different rates and also burn at different rates. You might burn 5 1/2 cord of wood but if it is all marginal wood, you might find with good wood you can get by with 4 cord or something similar.

    In addition, now is also a great time to be thinking about a year from now. Get next year's wood as soon as possible so it has the time to dry. You will be amazed at the difference once you have good dry wood. It will take less wood to give more heat and that is what you want.
    onetracker, pen and ScotO like this.
  12. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

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    My HF meter showed around 30% on oak that had been split and stacked for three years plus. Then I checked a fresh split cherry round that had been bucked up for a few months, and it showed 16%. I don't put any faith in it. But then, fresh split red oak blew it over limit, and standing dead ash checked 25%, about as I would expect.
  13. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    what method are you all using to test the MC of this stuff with your MMs? Make sure we are all taking out readings with the probes both along the grain, not perpendicular to it. It's sometimes good to remember that a split is not one solid MC number. it is dryer on the surfaces (not the fresh face) and dryer towards the ends. Therefore, when you say 30% that may be the wettest spot and an inch from either end could put you at 18%, halfway between the 18 and the 30% spots on the split might be mid 20s, then suddenly the overall average doesn't look so bad.
    Backwoods Savage and ScotO like this.
  14. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    If you're checkin that wood at a fresh split area, let it sit a couple days and check it again. Zap did this with some wood he had drying out, he did a resplit on it and it was pretty high on the meter. Couple days later, it was in the 'good to go' zone. I don't own a MM, I don't feel you really need one. Big thing is, split your longer-to-dry woods (oak, hickory, beech) smaller, say 3"x3" or 4"x4". They will dry out much faster if you keep the them on the small to medium size. As MWN said, wood seems to dry better in the colder months (at least I feel it does). Keep your wood that you plan on burning this winter 'top-covered', to keep the fall monsoons off of it.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  15. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    I guess we'll have to determine the true MC by the oven-dry method. I'll dig up some of the old Battenkiller threads to refresh my memory. ==c
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  16. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

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    I avoid a few inches from each end, and check in two or three different spots.

    Do different species conduct electricity differently? Maybe the probes push in farther in softer wood? Dunno. Don't really care that much. I'll be burning four year old oak this winter. I bought the meter because the cool kids have them.
  17. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    I do not think you will need to buy any wood - especially as it will unlikely be any better. I would do the following: Split them to small size and stack them loosely in the spot with the most sun and wind on your property. At best perpendicular to the prevalent wind current. (Edit: ) Stack the splits in single rows at least 1 ft better 2 ft apart. Put a top cover on since it is going to start raining more in the coming months. That should get you close enough to be able to burn it somewhat effectively in your stove. Clean your chimney often!

    Another alternative is to find someone who is several years ahead and would switch some cords of seasoned wood for the same number of cords from you. That depends on how many other woodburners you know.

    Overall I would not worry too much. Your wood is not optimal but better than the wood of most woodburners that are not on this site.
    pen likes this.
  18. weatherguy

    weatherguy Minister of Fire

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    You should be ok this year but as Dennis mentioned you should get next years wood soon so you'll be ahead of the game and not have to worry about it next winter, just remember if you get oak Id wait at least 2 years if not 3.
    Backwoods Savage and Gark like this.
  19. olliek

    olliek New Member

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    And thanks again. I have most of it stacked with a cord or so that has been lying on my drive for the last three months or so - my wife wanted chickens, so building a coop took priority (I had no choice but just nod, smile and say yes ma'am).
    I will split the bigger ones in there again. I re-stacked a pile yesterday to a spot in front of the garage that gets the most sun a day. No I just need to find a spot for the remainder.

    Not wanting to be a stickler for detail, but what do you consider small in terms of splits?

    Also - yes , MM fresh split along the grain. And I measure at multiple spots, but usually go by the highest reading.
  20. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    3x3 to 4x4 is what I consider to be a 'small' split.
  21. red oak

    red oak Minister of Fire

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    If possible I would address this before winter. Otherwise the heat that you worked so hard to create is going straight out of your house (a good portion of it anyway). Also maybe check around your house for areas that may be contributing to heat loss, like windows and doors. When I lived in an old farmhouse I put caulk and plastic on the windows before each winter, it may be something you want to consider.

    As for the wood, burn what you got. Start with the driest and work your way back. With luck you may not have to use the greener wood, or if you do it will have had a few additional months of drying. And yes start thinking now about wood for next year! Good luck!
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  22. clemsonfor

    clemsonfor Minister of Fire

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    I think EPA stoves state 25% MC but im not sure? Ill go pull up my manual online, but you will be fine with 25% wood, it may hiss for 15 mins, but it will burn fine. Yea we wish we all has 10% wood but unless you have a barn full of the stuff for 3 years its not gonna happen. I have a stack of oak in the back of the shed that im saving for i dont know what (i take a split and resplit it for kindling every few days) and its sitting at about 10-13%, but its going on 4 years spit i think.
  23. cptoneleg

    cptoneleg Minister of Fire

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    I thought the purpose of checking the inside of a FRESH split was to find out what the moisture content is inside, checking it in a few days just means the outside has dried some.

    Burn the wood, just work on being better prepared in the future.
  24. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    throw the moisture meter away, just use good judgement. If it sizzles bad, check your flue often.:p
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  25. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Just burn the stuff with the highest reading last. That means it keeps drying for another six or seven months before you get to it. Drying doesn't stop the first day you light off your stove for the season.

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