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Does oak REALLY take that long to season? Yes.

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by fireview2788, Jun 1, 2012.

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  1. fireview2788

    fireview2788 Minister of Fire

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    My FIL had his oak tree thinned out in November and kept the big limbs for me. I cut them pretty much within a month of that and they have been sitting in the round since then. Yesterday I split everything I had in the round which was oak, maple, hedge, birch, walnut, sassafras, ironwood, elm, and some other non-IDed stuff. You could tell that everything was starting to season (as much as it can in the round) except the oak. You could feel the moisture in the oak with your bare hand.

    I can say that I am started on my 2015-16 supply, even though I'm not done with my 2014-15 supply;).

    fv
    quads likes this.

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  2. scroungerjeff

    scroungerjeff Burning Hunk

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    I know what you mean about oak. What is it about that wood? I have a nice supply of white and red oak that I split and stacked in October and am tempted to burn it in January and February of 2013. That would likely not be dry enough for my EPA fireplace (under 20% mc). I believe most guys around this site say 2 years for oak. My neighbors use outside wood boilers and often leave their wood in rounds and only split them a month or two before they burn them. Most people say that true seasoning doesn't begin until the wood is split and stacked.
  3. fireview2788

    fireview2788 Minister of Fire

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    Boilers are a whole different creature, they can chew anything up. EPA stoves don't like it when the wood is even moist. Two years for Oak ONLY if it is split small and sundried like a tomato, more like 3+ years.

    fv
  4. Joful

    Joful Minister of Fire

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    I suspect that in a boiler or in a stove, you're still wasting a lot of heat on evaporation if not fully seasoned.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  5. onetracker

    onetracker Minister of Fire

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    i've observed everything that's been said here about oak drying time. i think you can safely say that if you have ideal drying conditions (splits, single rows, off the ground, good sun and wind exposure) oak will be good to go in 2 years. although i do recall a post here a while back where someone in the midwest had splits under 20% in one year cuz of full-on drought conditions.

    your mileage may vary

    OT
  6. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    I just split a couple of Tulip Poplar rounds that had been sitting for about ten months. I didn't put a meter on it but the splits were light and sounded good...pretty sure it was almost completely dry. I've got some Black Oak that was standing dead...has been split about eleven months and stacked single-row. I'm thinking it will be pretty dry after this Summer. Yesterday I split some Pin Oak rounds from a storm victim live tree. Rounds have been sitting about twelve months in a pile. Still heavy as heck...the ones that are still solid anyway. Some of the rounds that were buried in the stack have got punked sapwood, resulting in me either trying to save the heartwood, or just tossing the smaller rounds that are too far gone. The stuff on the outside of the pile held up better. Lesson learned; Any Red Oak type wood needs to be stacked off the ground, not piled, until I can split it. Almost any other type of wood holds up much better.
  7. firebroad

    firebroad Minister of Fire

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    I also was very surprised at the moisture content of my oak, which my guy said had been cut and split since April 2011. When he delivered it in March, I had to split and shorten some of it, and was surprised to see so much moisture. It was as though it had been sitting in water, though we had a relatively dry summer and winter(save for the six weeks in August-September of hurricane-related rain).
  8. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    Weather in various areas, other wood may take 2 years to season also.
    I know that 2 year seasoned birch here burns much better than 1 year seasoned.
    Then again, some areas may be able to get oak dry enough in 1 year.
    Time of year the tree is fell, size of the splits, in a sunny area, covered, good air circulation, humidity, stacked tight or loose. single, double - triple or more rows, off the ground, etc...etc... all have influences on how fast wood dries.
    So many "Variables", Backwoods-S says 3 years for oak & someone in Texas says he gets it under 20% in a year.
    There's no "One size that fits all"

    Me, I just wish I had some oak , I bet I could get it seasoned in 9 months. :)
  9. mudbug250

    mudbug250 Burning Hunk

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    It does not take that long here in the deep south. It gets really hot and dry during the summer but with a high humidity. My experience has been in it has been split and stacked for a year here, it is getting bone dry. But I split my wood pretty small.
  10. mudbug250

    mudbug250 Burning Hunk

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    I have also noticed it makes a lot of difference what time of year you cut it. I cut some oak in January and that stuff left a puddle of water in the bed of my truck. But the oak I cut and split a couple of weeks ago was much dryer than the oak I cut in January.
  11. clemsonfor

    clemsonfor Minister of Fire

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    Thats this january!! NOrmally in january there should not be that much water in a tree above ground as the sap has not started rising. Usually in the summer trees in a normal year should have so much moisture that the are running/dripping out of the butts. This is how hard wood on the log trucks use to look like around here when it rained during the summer daily??
  12. mudbug250

    mudbug250 Burning Hunk

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    The oak I cut this January was a blow down. Don't know how long it had been down, but not more than 6 months. Maybe that had something to do with the amount of water in it. We did have a mild winter down here with a fair amount of moisture.
  13. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    I'm not so sure boilers are different but the attitude of the burners surely is. The reason they get away with burning green wood is that the draft is forced; a fan gives the draft. I can also say that those who burn green wood will burn a big amount more than those who let their wood dry. In addition to that, you usually know when you drive past (or ride on a bike) if the wood has been dried or not. This is why they are being banned in some areas and rightly so. If they would burn dry wood those problems would not exist.

    As for the oaks, we've handled this wood off and on for over 50 years and I can say that after 3 years that wood is par excellence. Two years is sometimes possible but there is a world of difference between 2 year and 3 year dried.

    As for those who dry their oak in less time, some folks have lower standards than others. But yes, if one dried oak in west Texas vs in the New England States, there will be a difference. But then, west Texas is also much different from east Texas. Same thing for parts of Arizona and for sure California. Shoot, there is a big difference between southern and northern MI too.
    onetracker, quads and fireview2788 like this.
  14. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    Freeze dried in ALaska, 10% humidity, 9 months tops LOL :)
    Bring me a cord & I'll prove it.......Please :p
  15. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    Dennis is right about oak (and occasionally right about lots of other stuff!). It takes a full 3 years to properly season it, at least around New England. I tried burning 2 year oak and was disappointed. 3 years - what a difference! As others pointed out, there are lots of variables, but I think the 3 year rule is good.

    I'm also thinking even wood furnaces need well seasoned wood to be efficient - even old smoke dragons burned better with seasoned wood, even though they were somewhat more forgiving.

    I have some extra big splits that will have 4 full years before I burn them. Those will season the first year uncovered until fall, then get top covered.
  16. scroungerjeff

    scroungerjeff Burning Hunk

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    I can attest to this point. My neighbors can really get the smoke rolling and we have had some debate in our township about banning or limiting their use. Luckily for my friends next door, their properties are large enough to diffuse the smoke before anyone complains. Other folks around here have put these boilers on one acre lots or less and literally smoked-out some neighbors. This is where the ordinances are being made for it seems.
  17. Locust Post

    Locust Post Minister of Fire

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    As Sav said these outdoor burners can burn green wood as they have fan forced draft. But they are burning more wood also because they are drying out the moisture for quite a bit of the early stage of burn. I think Sav summed it up in another post. "Never have seen water burn"
  18. weatherguy

    weatherguy Minister of Fire

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    Ive talked to people that burn those outdoor boilers and most tell me they burn between 15-20 cords a year. Not sure how much it would cut down if it was drier wood but those things eat wood.
  19. Locust Post

    Locust Post Minister of Fire

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    A good friend of mine has an OWB. His is an older one. He gave it a once over last year and also was better prepared with drier wood and he cut his consumption down. He was burning about 12 cord but most of that was slab because he has a portable sawmill. We have him set with 2 years worth of regular cord wood now so it will be interesting to see how much better yet he does.
  20. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Since I have a smaller stove i split my oak smaller for easier loading. It makes a big difference in drying time. I can get away with 2 year old Oak where as I use to get a lot of 2 year old sizzlers with larger splits. I try to keep my splits under 4" diameter and have found it doesn't effect my burn times either. My shed holds 2 years worth and I also have a years worth of overflow so I'm sitting pretty good.
  21. Oregon Bigfoot

    Oregon Bigfoot Feeling the Heat

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    I bet, with the sun up 20+ hours a day in the summer, and 20+ hours of winter darkness freeze drying, even live trees season on the stump in Alaska. ;)
  22. richg

    richg Minister of Fire

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    I've burned oak that was seasoned for three months (from a firewood seller, and it didn't actually burn), seasoned for one year (it burned but not acceptable), and seasoned for two years (fantastic....great heat output, long burn times and a great coal bed). I measured the moisture content of the two-year oak at 8% outside, 17% inside. This year I have two cords of three-year cut/split/stacked ash and white oak, and a cord of two year cut/split/stacked shagbark hickory. Oak takes time to season, but there ain't nothing like burning oak during a raging snowstorm. It's a primal thing...wood good, cold bad.
    onetracker likes this.
  23. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    It's not during the storm that you need the big heat; it is after the storm when the cold front reaches you. That is when the wind comes up from the NW and the temperature plummets. Ha! Haven't had much of that since the winter of 2010-2011 in most places.
  24. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    I'd be willing to bet the amount of wood burned would be cut by a minimum of 30% but probably much more like 40%.
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