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Does wood season quicker in winter, since it’s dry? Weird...

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by thinkxingu, Jan 1, 2010.

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  1. thinkxingu

    thinkxingu Minister of Fire

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    SO, I posted a few weeks ago asking what to do with oak that was reading around 25-30% moisture and was advised to wait another year. Well, this morning I went and tested a couple pieces from the same batch and they're reading around 20%. Can this be right?

    Same wood batch, same moisture meter...

    S

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  2. heffergm

    heffergm Member

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    Did you split a piece and test from the center? I've also found when my wood is frozen the moisture meter is useless. Always reads low. Split a piece, bring it inside to thaw and the check it.
  3. mainstation

    mainstation Feeling the Heat

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    I do think that would does dry out a bit in winter, not like summer time obviously, but a local Sawmill guy around here told me that the frost and cold does draw some moisture outta the wood. If it is windy, the wood will be seasoning.
  4. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    No.
  5. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    This debate comes up every year and rages on. Wood certainly does continue to dry in Winter. I see the most shrinkage on my stacks in Winter. How much it dries in Winter versus Summer can vary a lot by region. The RH of air in Winter can be much lower due to the wide range of temperature that precipitates out the moisture. Winter is Nature's best dehumidifier.

    The naysayers of course often use clothes on the line as an example but firewood is not clothes on the line so it's an absurd analogy. They also use the fact heat is used in a kiln for kiln drying. Somehow they dismiss the practice of freeze drying though. Heat is a component in drying but aside from its use in kilns, it is generally used to change the "Relative" part of RH. The ability of air to absorb moisture from its surrounding depends on what the RH is. Just as heat allows air to absorb more moisture, dehumidifying air with cold also lowers RH.

    Contrary to what some people think, heat does not dry air, cold does. Heat only allows air to absorb more moisture. Heated air returned to its previous temperature will have as much or more RH. Cold causes moisture to condense out of the air. Reheated chilled air will have lower RH. That is the basic principle of dehumidifiers.
  6. bsa0021

    bsa0021 Feeling the Heat

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    I'd have to agree. Once it gets cold, the moisture will freeze and maybe crack the wood but the moisture will not go anywhere for the most part. Now if the wood was stored in the house the dry air would help.
  7. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    Of course regional particulars vary, but, all things being equal wood will dry faster the warmer it is.

    Period.

    The End.
  8. f3cbboy

    f3cbboy Feeling the Heat

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    i live in the northeast and i think my wood dries more in the winter than it does in the summer. it is very humid in the summer around here and the cold dry air in the winter mixed with the winds dries my wood more efficiently than the summer.
  9. EKLawton

    EKLawton Member

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    dont forget that most wood kilns use a/c to dry the air..
  10. karri0n

    karri0n New Member

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    Water freezing inside the wood expands the cells and allows the moisture to escape more quickly. That doesn't necessarily mean the wood will dry faster in winter, but a winter cycle coupled with a spring and/or summer cycle are what contribute to wood completely drying.
  11. Ducati996

    Ducati996 Member

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    Wood dries all year long... its called evaporation

    ever wonder were the snows goes when it melts? same principle when wood dries.
    The sun works wonders in both summer and winter
  12. raybonz

    raybonz Minister of Fire

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    That was an inciteful post... Very well thought out and some valid points were made... Just the other day watching the weather they stated that the snow was evaporating directly into the dry cold air and never melted! I have often wondered if this could happen and indeed it does! Of course the warmer the air the more moisture it can hold but in cold weather it can hold moisture also known as snow... I would also think that a dry low moisture snow on wood would tend to act like a sponge removing moisture from the wood... Good post!

    Ray
  13. dave11

    dave11 Minister of Fire

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    Lligetta--I agree with you in principle, but at the risk of further inflaming this post, I know that I have read alternative statements in woodworker's publications. In fact, the Hoadley book on wood, considered a very reliable source in the woodworkers' world, refers to the drying of wood essentially stopping below a certain temperature. Going from solid water to vapor (sublimation) may occur, but I suspect not as fast as going from liquid water to vapor. And perhaps because of the structure of wood pores, in which the water has such little surface area contact with air, the net effect is to slow the drying of wood as the temp falls, no matter how dry the air.

    Don't know. Just pouring on some gasoline.
  14. iceman

    iceman Minister of Fire

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    wood dries in the summer and in the winter --period.
    summer from wind and sun
    winter from wind and sun but more from wind/and dry air ...

    its really simple we understand a good windy area will dry wood..... so if the area is just as windy in the wintertime it wont dry?
    i find pieces that are quite yet ready to burn put them aside and let winter finish drying it out!
    that BIG blizzard left us with 2-4 inches... everyone was claiing for 8-12... it did snow! but the air was to dry it evaporated before it hit the ground....it was 8 hrs since it was over us before we even saw a flake...
  15. dave11

    dave11 Minister of Fire

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    Well, the original question was whether wood dries FASTER in the winter than the summer. After doodling out on paper the remnants of my college chemistry classes, I'm pretty sure the answer is that the wood must dry much faster in the summer than the winter, though it will dry somewhat in the winter as well. It has to do with the amount of energy (ie. heat) required to convert solid water (ice) in the wood to water vapor, as opposed to turning liquid water (sap) into water vapor. The first requires more energy (heat) than the second, so it will take longer, especially when there is less heat to be had, namely in the winter.

    And though the analogy isn't exact, the idea is demonstrated by the example of the wet towel hung on a line. It will, in fact, dry on the line in the winter, but will do so much slower than the same towel hung on the line in 70 degree weather.
  16. rdust

    rdust Minister of Fire

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    Your wood is frozen, bring a piece in for a while, split it and check it. Wood will continue to season in the winter but your oak will not go from 25-30% in a few short weeks.
  17. thinkxingu

    thinkxingu Minister of Fire

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    Mornin',
    I thought it was strange, but it never occurred to me that the water in the wood might have frozen up--making the moisture meter not all that accurate. Looks like I'll be re-stacking to get to the wood in back.

    Side question: how much longer would it take for wood to season in a woodshed? My racks aren't big enough to hold the amount of wood I need PLUS wood being seasoned, so I'm thinking about building a woodshed--but I can't have both.

    S
  18. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    Side answer: It depends.

    It depends on air movement, how much higher the temperature is over ambient, and the RH. Since the wood won't get direct sun unless you build a greenhouse, you will rely on lower RH and air movement to dry the wood.
  19. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    Drying wood requires that water in the wood evaporates, and evaporation requires energy. There is a lot more energy available in the warm summer than the cold winter. However, summer can also be a lot more humid, so despite lots of available energy, some of the time the air doesn't have a lot of extra capacity to absorb moisture and evaporation can be slow. Still, on balance there is more potential for evaporation in summer than winter no matter where you live, even in humid climates. This is certainly true of evaporation from something like a pond where the water is in contact with the air and there is an unlimited supply of water. The situation with wood is a little different, since the water is closely held in the wood cells or intersticial spaces between wood cells, but I think wood is likely to dry better in summer, as long as you have a decent place to store it (not too damp in summer, not too shady, not tightly enclosed, etc.) Now if you happen to live in a spot where it is always calm in summer and always windy in winter, that might tip the balance, and I could probably think of some other exceptional situations, but for most of us I think summer means faster wood drying. I have not actually tested this, and i don't really pay close enough attention to say I have observed it, so this is just speculation.

    Also, I don't think oak dries fast winter or summer, so my response to the original question about whether oak can go from 25 to 35% moisture content to 20% in a few weeks is I don't think so.
  20. Rockey

    Rockey Minister of Fire

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    I'm glad someone here has their head on straight. By and large wood seasons quicker in summer. Something no one hit on is the fact there is much more daylight during the simmer, combine that with an integration of temperature over the course of a summer day. More heat = more energy= more evaporation.
  21. DBoon

    DBoon Minister of Fire

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    This post is just begging me to go check the moisture content of my meadow drying cut, split, stacked and covered hickory after what seems to be weeks of 20-30 m.p.h. winds and subzero temperatures...

    It's a long hike, but now I'm curious. I'll reserve mention of my hypothesis until the data is in.
  22. ihookem

    ihookem Minister of Fire

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    A cup of water will dry faster in the summer than in the winter. Wood will dry faster in the summer too. I always thought wood did dry out some in winter though because it's in moisture form and not solid form. Is my head on straight too?
  23. iceman

    iceman Minister of Fire

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    wood dries in summer and winter------- thats the correct answer.... which one will it dry faster, --- depends on your geographical location...
    personally, in my area you cant convince me wood will "season" more or less in the summer... our weather typically starts getting nice around end of may beg.. of june... it doesnt really get consistantly "hot" until july and august... sept is a up and down month......however thats when the air starts to become more dry.... winter is bone dry.. but it can get real cold.. so the water in the wood would freeze causing it expand, which would cause cracks and then when the temp get above freezing allow more air in the wood ... right?????? so in the end winter needs summer and summer need winter..... unless you are somewhere that gets extreme dry heat... then of course it would dry faster sitting in dry heat and sun all day... but over here .. we dont have tht and people up in canada do see 90 degrees that much and their winters are longer than ours.... so when does their wood season?
    i dont believe there is a right or wrong.. it just depends on YOUR location and climate on which one will get you more...... up here hot summers with high humidity isnt any good.. 60-80 degrees of dry air with a breezy summer is awesome! a warmer winter with temps mostly in 20-40 degree range with not a lot of precip is just as good ...
    all i know is around here oak needs 2+ years which is a bummer!!
    living out in ohio or the plains i am sure you guys get a lot done in the summer, its very breezy out there ... when i was a kid we always knew when a bad storm (tornado) was coming cause the air would get still!

    i am sure there is some formula or guide/chart we could come up with ex... 30 degrees to 80 degrees with x amount of humidity means good/bad evaporation....add in wind of x amount of mph equals ?
  24. Rockey

    Rockey Minister of Fire

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    I saw that you mentioned it takes 2 years to dry oak. It takes 260 hours at 140 degrees F, 90 hours at 180 deg f, 30 hours at 220 deg F. See a trend here? The more heat you add the quicker it dries. unless Ma has lower summer time temps than winter your argument has no merit. I also saw a commment about freeze drying something. The argument here is not whether or not you can freeze dry somehting its about whether firewood seasons faster in the summer. There has been data and time spent ad nauseum to prove that more heat equals equals quicker seasoning in both lumber and firewood. until I see some documentation proving that freeze drying is quicker than adding heat then that argument is also meritless.
  25. ChrisNJ

    ChrisNJ Feeling the Heat

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    Damn good thread guys, thanks, while I enjoy both sides of the argument, here in NJ it gets awfully humid in the summer and dry in the winter, I am gonna be a chicken and agree with those that think that the year round of seasons is necessary :p

    Although my hands don't crack and bleed in the summer like they are now :-O
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