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How important is sunlight for drying wood?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by dboone, Mar 15, 2009.

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  1. dboone

    dboone Member

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    How important is sunlight for drying wood? I am trying to figure out a place to locate my wood pile and I have a lot of trees that are going to be giving unwanted shade. This time of year it gets sun, but not when the leaves fill out. I have the wood on pallets, 2 rows per pallet, with about 6-10" of breathing room between the rows. Do you think I will be ok if I get mostly shade in the summer?

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  2. madrone

    madrone Minister of Fire

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    I'm guessing you'll be fine. Air flow seems more important than sun to me. My wood piles are all in the shade most of the year.
  3. DaveBP

    DaveBP Minister of Fire

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    All other things being equal, sunlight helps the surface of the wood crack a little and get grey and look seasoned. But it's air flow and the relative humidity of that air that determines how fast the wood dries. I'm also in the group that believes it's better to keep the rain off it. Just keep the sides open so air can move trough it.

    How much sunlight is there in a wood kiln?
  4. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Wind and sun is best, but if you have to choose, go with wind.

    As for the cover vs. non-cover, it just stands to reason that evaporation will improve is you do not cover. Have you ever noticed that when moisture evaporates it goes up? How can it with a cover?

    That being said, we do cover in late fall or early winter and then leave it covered until the wood is used. And we cover the top only. Why do we leave the cover on after once putting it on? Because you get lots of evaporation in the first year and very little or none from then on.
  5. jadm

    jadm New Member

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    Part of my stacks are in the shade. I just don't have the room in the sun as I live in the suburbs and our backyard has several large trees in that keep it pretty shady...

    I was worried about this after reading here about sun and wind on stacks but there wasn't anything I could do about it.

    Wood all seasoned fine but I live in a very dry climate and we have been getting a lot of wind these past few years. I assume your climate has more moisture in it...

    When I began burning in the fall I just took from the stacks that got the most sun first giving the shady ones more time to do their thing.

    As it turned out our winter has been mild so I didn't even get to a lot of the wood that was in the shade so it gets an extra year which is way fine with me.
  6. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    ...just riffing on what the others said. Wood that's stacked in a shady are with little or no air circulation will grow moss on the top...don't let that happen to you dboone.
  7. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    If the RH is high, sun is an important factor. By heating otherwise saturated air, it can take on more moisture. The sun need not hit the wood directly. If you had a stack of wood sitting next to black asphalt, the sun heating the air would probably do more to dry the wood than the little bit of the stack that gets direct sun.
  8. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    Not as important as ventilation and time.
  9. caber

    caber New Member

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    I stack mine back in the woods where I cut it to let it dry. Never had a problem. It gets excellent air flow and the trees keep the rain off my stacks.
  10. vwboomer

    vwboomer New Member

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    I'm hoping it's true that sun isn't so important. Living in the city, my yard is only 45' wide, but 200' deep. I have a 11x12 frame stacked about 5.5' high. That's 6 rows deep. I tried to keep a little air space between em, but I'm not positive it's going to dry very well. It's pretty loosely stacked and there's a fair bit of wind there. Hopefully.

    It's a mix of popple, box elder, willow and ash. Probably 60% soft wood. Think it'll be ready by Nov?

    The yard is deep but full of buildings. Smallish ranch house up front, 2.5 car garage, then a patio, then a 12x15 dog kennel (which I'm tearing down) then a 25x35 shed. Not much room for stacking so I'm going to have to stack along the walls of the shed. Less than ideal :(
  11. vwboomer

    vwboomer New Member

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    Good idea. Less likely to topple that way. I'm probably going to build up the area with gravel as well since it's a bit below grade.
    Still working on getting pallets. A friend talked to a fella that is part owner of a construction/remodeling business and is gonna hook me up with 20 or so this week. woo!
  12. dboone

    dboone Member

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    Thanks everyone! Glad to hear that sun, although maybe preferable is not mandatory. I do plan to leave it uncovered through the spring and summer and cover the tops in late fall & winter. It might catch a little morning sun. This is the first time I have paid much attention to the area. We do have pretty high humidity in the summer.
  13. cityevader

    cityevader New Member

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    +1 on airflow being a priority to sun. No difference at all in my own stacks.

    If you think about it, how much wood's surface area is actually in sunlight? Aside from the topmost layer, at best only the ends will be hit, and only if it is south facing at that.
  14. lexybird

    lexybird Minister of Fire

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    more sun = more heat ..more heat around the splits equals faster dry times .a wet glove will dry much quicker on a sunny july day than a sunny january day
  15. cityevader

    cityevader New Member

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    I agree competely...but what if you had a mound of gloves four feet deep. An entire summer of sun may not be enough to dry out anything but a few layers deep (just like my compost pile that's in the sun). Hang those same gloves on a clotheline in the dark and they'll dry in a few hours.
  16. JotulOwner

    JotulOwner Feeling the Heat

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    I think you are correct. I have to believe that the amount of sunlight heat transferred to the inner splits of a pallet full of wood is not all that significant. I go with plenty of air flow (preferably dry air) around the pile and cover the top (not the sides) at all times. Any water entering through the top must make it take longer to evaporate from the surface of the inner splits and I just don't see how that is beneficial. If I am wrong, please let me know. I am always looking for better (quicker and easier) ways to season wood.
  17. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    The thing to do is to experiment.

    This year, cover some and leave another part uncovered. Two days following a big rain, tear part of the pile apart to see just how much moisture is there. At the same time, compare temperature in different parts of the pile from time to time. I'd highly suggest doing this in late July to mid August but you could do it even into September. Who knows? You might come up with different results than we have! Be sure to let us know.
  18. JotulOwner

    JotulOwner Feeling the Heat

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    Very funny BS (I guess BS has more than one meaning). :cheese:
  19. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Jotul Owner, that is funny only if you think it is. You are right though about BS having more than one meaning. lol

    Actually, I am very serious. What would people do if others were not afraid to experiment?!!! Be afraid to experiment only if you are willing to take everyone else's ideas as your own. Otherwise, why not give it a try to see for yourself what works and what is BS.
  20. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    Fill a 2 liter bottle with water and set it outside on a sunny day...see how much water evaporates. You will quickly appreciate exposed surface area and air flow as the main causes of evaporation / seasoning.
  21. cityevader

    cityevader New Member

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    To stir it up some more...how much wood in a pile is actually exposed to sunlight? Not much. I agree it is beneficial, but compared to airflow, as the original post was questioning, sunlight is a lesser contributor to drying.
  22. JotulOwner

    JotulOwner Feeling the Heat

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    If you are serious, I have to apologize for my response. I know that some of the more experienced members on this forum sometimes grow tired of repetitive discussions and I thought your response was addressing something that was discussed too much. I am still new at this. Anyway, I do welcome experimenting and sharing the results. It is part of what we all enjoy.
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