1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)

Does firewood still dry below 32 degrees?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by pro5oh, Oct 1, 2008.

  1. glacialhills

    glacialhills Member

    Joined:
    Jun 5, 2008
    Messages:
    222
    Loc:
    S.W. Michigan
    How do you think your meat gets freezer burned? its the dry freezer air sucking the moisture out of it. want to stop freezer burn? freeze meat in a bag of water so it is surrounded by ice. or vacuum pack...no air circulation no burn. I would think wood put in there would do the same. I have always thought that winter is when most seasoning occurs in the wood pile. Heck summer is so humid around here I just dont think it wicks moisture out of wood much when the rh is in the 70's.

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. mulkick

    mulkick New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 8, 2008
    Messages:
    24
    Loc:
    north IL
    I've wondered about wood seasoning in the winter also.
    We all know h2o expands when frozen.
    In northern IL, we get freeze, thaw cycles all winter long.
    I'm guessing the expanding, contracting, would help move the water out of the wood, as would the fact that the water has larger "escape" routes.
    Think this helps in the winter seasoning process?
  3. chiefburritt

    chiefburritt New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2008
    Messages:
    87
    Loc:
    Central NY
    My father in law, all of 82, would cut his sap boiling wood now through Dec. and use it in the spring. Very low moisture content, it would burn hot and fast as required for wood fired sap pans. Cut into 32" lengths, split and stacked on the pond bank with exposure to wind and occasional winter sun would dry it out just fine!!! Once again 82 years of experience. Now with that being said if you you cut today don't expect to burn tomorrow, that's left to the politicians:>)
  4. DavidV

    DavidV New Member

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2005
    Messages:
    792
    Loc:
    Richmond VA
    Hes but much slower. my wife dries clothes outside. even below 32 degrees she will sometimes put towels on the porch (Covered and screened) on a rack....they freze hard but the wind pulls the water off of them and by the next day they are dry. Cold as hell but dry. We also dry on rackis in the living room in the evening. The air inside is usallly so dry in the winter that the moisture is welcome. Your wood will continue to seasopn...but again....much slower.
  5. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 17, 2005
    Messages:
    12,100
    Loc:
    Western Mass.
    Wild guess - wood creates some internal heat when it is seasoning and there is some critical mass in the pile (heat storage), so it would take a colder temp than 32 to make it stop drying....

    how's that for a guess?
  6. chiefburritt

    chiefburritt New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2008
    Messages:
    87
    Loc:
    Central NY
    Like a January 20 below????
  7. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 25, 2008
    Messages:
    3,700
    Loc:
    CNY
    Well if you can get chapped hands and lips at 20 below I'm thinking split wood is drying out too.
  8. bayshorecs

    bayshorecs New Member

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2008
    Messages:
    214
    Loc:
    Central Illinois
    Maybe some of you haven't been outside for an extended period of time on a below zero, very windy day in January. That was the worst wind burn of my life. Worse than any sun burn I have ever had. It felt like 100% of the moisture was pulled out of my face. It actually hurt to open my mouth!

    The wood will still dry out in the winter...
  9. chiefburritt

    chiefburritt New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2008
    Messages:
    87
    Loc:
    Central NY
    In the coldest of winters days there is very little relative humidity!! Even if there is a lot of snow. Now out west they all know what a low Rh means in the summertime.. Wildfires.
  10. shakermountain

    shakermountain New Member

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2011
    Messages:
    2
    Loc:
    Seacoast NH
    Hi all, I'm a new member to hearth here. Originally from northern VT, Now Southern NH.
    My wood-burning background began in the energy crisis/oil embargo of 1971: My father, who was a Mechanical and Electrical Engineer and MIT Mathematician (this accounts at least in part for my inherited OCD and deep respect for the scientific method of observation) bought what was to end up being my first saw, a Stihl 024 Good saw when the fuel line wasn't cracked, which happened a lot.

    Since then, I've heated partly (or exclusively) with wood over the years, first using the open fireplaces in our 1950's house (one with a "heatilator");then a Jotul mini; Hearthstone II; Hearthstone Heritage; Quadrafire mid-size, and currently a Vemont Castings Montpelier fireplace insert.

    Saws were the 024, then a Wood Boss, and now a Dolmar 510. I like this new saw a lot. Starts right up and seems to want to keep cutting wood even after I shut it down.

    After learning the hard way about burning unseasoned, wet wood from our family wood lot, and after I saw one of these used in my first job at Woodbury's bowl mill in Shelburne, VT, I bought a kiln-quality Delmhorst analog moisture meter with the long probe. This is a very accurate meter. Since the 80's I have routinely checked "control pieces" in my stacks throughout the summer and winter, both to see how they're drying, and to know the best area of the huge stacks had I felled and cut up I should next pull wood from to bring in the house. I always covered the wood enough to keep the center of the pile/stacks dry, but exposed the edges to sun, wind (and wind-driven rain/ snow). I kept some simple notes on the results.


    With all that introduction stuff behind us now, and having read all the other posts in this thread, I have two observations to share here:

    1) Covered, but with sides wind/sun exposed (shed roof or loose tarp, didn't seem to matter) stove-length wood drys out at a pretty regular rate, pretty evenly throughout each individual control piece, all year round (around a percent or two a month). It will reach an ambient MC of around 9 to 10 % outdoors. After six months and below a 14% MC tipping point, it will burn more readily than it will "sulk and char" (good imagery from an above post here:~) Splitting increases the drying RATE by a half to a full percentage point or so per month, but it does not affect the MC bottom line, presumably because it allows humidity to infiltrate as easily as collected moisture to evaporate from the wood. Bringing wood dried this way indoors and left for ahwile will allow it to then dry to about 7%, at which point it it will burn like old 2x4's.
    I recommend against bringing non-stack-dried wood into a garage or house as it severely retards drying to be in unventilated space - no matter how hot it gets in summer - and there's the nasty parasite and carpenter ant potential to think about. I never tested the drying time the one year I did this, but the wood hissed and spat all that winter, and we had to call an exterminator in January.

    2) With regards to some of the math in previous posts, My dad always said: "The more equations one adds to an earnest but theoretical formula, the more critical variables one will have missed in the ultimate field result.":)
  11. wood-fan-atic

    wood-fan-atic New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2010
    Messages:
    870
    Loc:
    Long Island, NY

    ......uh.....what...?? ;-)
  12. cptoneleg

    cptoneleg Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 17, 2010
    Messages:
    1,466
    Loc:
    Virginia
    My opinion is yes, seasonig wood , needs all the seasons, I have noticed that after a hard freeze, ther is more checking, (cracking) of the splits, which stimulates more circulatin. But you know what they say about opinions, (everyon has one)
  13. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 11, 2008
    Messages:
    15,972
    Loc:
    Anderson, Indiana
    Pretty Good and probably not a guess at all! lol
  14. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Not worth a crap compared to the warmer months, think about it and do some research, much more moisture lost with the warmer temps.
  15. Wallyworld

    Wallyworld Member

    Joined:
    Mar 24, 2009
    Messages:
    205
    Loc:
    Downeast
    In the warmer months isn't the humidity higher than when its 20 below. If you have a moisture content higher than the surrounding area its going to give it up.
  16. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    Messages:
    7,358
    Loc:
    NW Ontario
    That's not the only flaw in that test. Nature dehumidifies air by varying the temperature. In the Summer you see this as dew condensed on the grass. In Winter, you see it as frost on the windshield and hoar frost on trees.

    The freezer maintains a relatively constant temperature deliberately so as not to freeze dry its contents. Yes, there are defrost mechanisms in place but the overall intent is to not dry out the food.

    As for humidity Summer or Winter, it is of course relative to temperature and how much of this humidity gets squeezed out of the air will vary by region and the source of the humidity. Around here, Summer humidity tends to be more constant while Winter humidity fluctuates a lot.

    Sometimes I process my wood in Winter/Spring and leave it out all Summer. In late Fall, I rank it up in my shed tight to the rafters and can see how much the stacks shrink over the course of the Winter by the space that forms under the rafters.

    Years ago, before I got educated on the value of staying years ahead and proper stacking, I would leave my processed wood in heaps all Summer and then rank them up in the shed come Fall. Since heaping doesn't dry evenly, as I was ranking it up, I would sort the wood into now, later, and much later stacks. As the Winter progressed, the later stacks would become suitable to burn and by Spring, so too would the much later stacks, evidence that wood does in fact continue to dry in Winter. Also, since I would stack over 9 feet high in the shed, the much later stack would dry and shrink much more on the exposed face causing the stack to curve and lean, clear evidence of shrinkage.

    Since I am so much smarter now, I rank my wood up outdoors right away and stay years ahead so none of this matters any more.
  17. iceman

    iceman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2006
    Messages:
    2,377
    Loc:
    Springfield Ma (western mass)
    This topic has been debated to the fullest...
    However, yes would will dry in the winter but less than a warm breezy summer. Warm air can carry much more moisture than cold.o
    Snow evaporates at about a tenth(may be 100th gotta look) of an inch a day below 32
    In Jan when the suns rays aren't strong..
    Think of it this way ... lol if I freeze meat when it thaws its moist like before it was frozen .. maybe not as much but it is
    When you cook the meat (overcooking) it comes out dry.. no matter what temp - higher temps - less time .. lower temps more time..
    I believe that the cold does help and contribute ... but I believe wind may be the most important..
    There is a thread around here somewhere, where someone stacked wood in a garage with a fan and got remarkable results.
  18. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    Messages:
    7,358
    Loc:
    NW Ontario
    The title of this topic is "Does firewood still dry below 32 degrees?" so why does everyone want to turn this into a debate about whether Summer or Winter is the best drying time?
  19. jimbom

    jimbom Combustion Analyzer

    Joined:
    Dec 19, 2010
    Messages:
    1,022
    Loc:
    Missouri Ozarks
    I got my stove in 2008 and really knew nothing factual about burning wood. So I developed the habit of marking a split with a permanent marker including the date cut, and the weight when fresh cut and immediately split. Doing that, I started to get a little idea what my wood was doing in the summer and in the winter. I still am not very knowledgeable, but am picking up certain information as I go. Your wood, your climate, your storage location/conditions, your lengths, your split sizes, etc will vary so much from others that you may have to become the expert at your house. I am finding out my oak is darn hard to dry.
  20. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Well one can think how much it drys in the winter would be of interest to some.
  21. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2008
    Messages:
    7,358
    Loc:
    NW Ontario
    Keeping it true to the OP...
    How much more it will dry outside of course depends on local conditions, how it is ranked, etc.
    What "putting it in storage" means is also subject to interpretation.
    Addressing the assumption as well depends on local conditions and the first above.

    So, with these details it really is a "how long is a piece of string" question. Greybeard has not returned to to add any clarity so this thread runs on conjecture and local anecdotes. At times I think some folks drop these vague "trolling" posts only to sit back and be entertained by the zeal of the respondents.
  22. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Well I think it was relevent so I will post as such, since when have a lot of these posts stayed on point all the time.
  23. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2007
    Messages:
    1,643
    Loc:
    Champlain Valley, Vermont
    I love this. (not) Here and on every other forum I've ever participated in, there are always some people who join up, ask a complicated question or plead for advice, half a dozen folks leap to help, spend time explaining whatever it is and what to do about it, ask a few questions about the poster's situation-- and the person who asked never shows up again, even take the 20 seconds to post a thank-you.

    At least here at Hearth.com, at least the regular denizens manage to make an entertaining argument or two out of it and the OP is quickly forgotten.
  24. iceman

    iceman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2006
    Messages:
    2,377
    Loc:
    Springfield Ma (western mass)


    Did you forget about me? Already? Cmon Lol
    We answered this in another long post that brought some real scientific facts


    But the answer is to the person who brought this thread back to life is yes.. but not as much as it would in a normal summer


    I
  25. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 25, 2007
    Messages:
    1,643
    Loc:
    Champlain Valley, Vermont
    You are unforgettable, Iceman. (But you weren't the OP in this thread, so I'm not sure why yer askin'.)

Share This Page