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How long does it take stacked wood to dry from rain?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by joefrompa, Sep 27, 2010.

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  1. joefrompa

    joefrompa New Member

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    Hi all,

    Getting ready for my first season. Unfortunately, I'm not going to be using truly seasoned wood this year. My supply is almost entirely log-length wood that sat on the ground for 1-3 years and is only being split as of September (I'll start burning in November). I'm giving it plenty of air in the stacking in the hopes it seasons faster.

    Anyway, so far my stacks are unprotected from the elements. They are getting lots of rain. I understand there is no general consensus on whether or not this helps/hinders wood seasoning, but what I'm wondering is: How long does it typically take to dry wood once it's been rained on prior to burning it? For example: worst-case scenario would be it'd be in dry-air 45 degrees ambient.

    In the future, I'll be tarping it or similarly covering the top. For now, I'm just wondering how much of a pain in the arse this makes it.

    Thanks and I did search for this. However, searching on this forum for stuff like "Wood/dry/rain/how long" is like trying to find a needle in a 6-cord wood stack.

    Joe

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  2. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    I never cover my wood till late Oct. or so, I guess on a 45 degree day two to three days, on a windy 80 degree day I have had it dry completey in one day. That is after a heavy rain, light rains dry quicker, maybe a day to day and a half with the 45 degree day.
  3. gpcollen1

    gpcollen1 Minister of Fire

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    You may have rain for a few days now so it will be good and wet. If the wood is stacked, a good day of wind can dry that sucker right out. It is no different than your lawn or a puddle - depends on the temp, amount of sun and the amount of wind. I'd bet that it will take a few days given the weather we are looking at. Depends on how much wind we get for sure. Don't worry about it as you just have to wait for a fry pile in October or November to cover it. No need to cover it yet...
  4. mayhem

    mayhem Minister of Fire

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    Really soaked and lousy drying conditions...a week to dry out a stack, max. Its not the water thats the problem, its the sap.

    Burn what you've got...if its really bad buy a couple bundles of kiln dried wood from the supermarket and mix in a piece here and there when you need it. Also check out local lumberyards for pallet scraps. Or just find some pallets and cut them up yourself.

    Keep an eye on your chimney cap for signs of creosote buildup and do your best to clean it off if it starts to become a problem. Getting the fire good and hot once a day really helps keep the chimney clear for me...and I always wind up burning half seasoned wood (not by choice).
  5. joefrompa

    joefrompa New Member

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    Thanks all. Good to know this isn't a concern at all. I didn't realize it was sap that seasoned out, I thought it was inherent moisture (Yes, I know that's what sap is...)....hehe.

    My plan is to get the stove up to ~600 degrees once or twice a day. Realize this will most likely burn some wood faster, but I think my house is going to benefit from getting a roaring hearth going and then letting the good air-sealing & insulation retain the heat for a long slow burn.

    I'm all about heating it up nice and hot to keep it clean running. I'm getting a Lopi Republic 1750, which is one of the cleanest burning stoves around too.

    I wonder how many cords of wood I'll go through this winter....
  6. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Lot of variables as to how long it would take to dry out once rained on . . . how tight the stacks are, wind, temps, direct sun vs. indirect sun, etc. In general I would guess it would take a day or two for the surface moisture to dry up.

    For the record I think it's not a bad idea to top cover now . . . especially if you may begin using this wood . . . while the wood would probably be fine with the rain it's always easier to get dry wood to ignite when you want a fire on these damp, chilly Fall days.
  7. joefrompa

    joefrompa New Member

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    It would be covered right now by $5, 5-mil tarps except my wife thinks blue tarps in the backyard looks tacky and she wants me to find clear ones.

    Yeah, you heard me right....

    I'm starting to think I should just cover them with something else. I have alot of asbestos wood shingles remaining from an old siding job. Maybe I'll layer some of those on top?
  8. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    She thinks the blue tarps look tacky but the wood doesn't? :cheese:
  9. joefrompa

    joefrompa New Member

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    No comment :)
  10. elijah

    elijah Member

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    It's funny, my wife loves the look of the stacked up wood. Doesn't want me to cover it with my blue tarps either :)
  11. Bspring

    Bspring Feeling the Heat

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    Try it and see but I can tell you that most of the wood around here that sat on the ground for 1-3 years would be way too wet to burn after a week. I think it would be over 30% even after a month at this time of year. Do you have CAT stove? If so that should be something to consider.
  12. charly

    charly Guest

    I was cutting on 5 year old Oak Tops, probaly 60 or more in a field on my property. Left from logging some of my woods. After splitting the pieces open, and checking with my moisture meter, the wood is still at 35-39%,,, even though the wood looks like standing dead. The only thing I noticed is it looks to be drying quick once it's been split. Anyone else experience a good outcome of this drying quick once it has been split? Being the woods has been down for 5 plus years.
  13. pyper

    pyper New Member

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    I had been covering mine with black plastic (just on top, to keep the rain out), but now I'm using some torn off metal roofing.

    New sheets of 5V roofing are about $20 for an 8' section.
  14. Got Wood

    Got Wood Minister of Fire

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    I have this tarps that are forest green on one side and brown on the other. The brown really blends in well. Much better than the Blue tarps for eye appeal.

    This summer I came across metal siding from an above ground pool that was painted brown, a little more than 4' wide. Works well for laying on top of my pallet width stacks. I do need to put weight on top to keep it from blowing off.

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  15. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    I cut a lot of dead oak and yes it does dry out fairly quickly after being cut and split, but I have some bigger splits that have set in single rows all summer and are still at 35%, the smaller splits are at 18 to 20%, that was about 4 weeks ago. This oak was over 45% last spring when I cut it.
  16. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    Keep track. When it dries tell us. That way we'll all know.
  17. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Joe, congratulations on this being your first year of burning wood.

    I do hope that wood is ready to burn and that it serves you well. On the stacks, lay down a couple saplings, poles, landscape timbers, pallets or something similar to keep the wood from touching the ground. That will help a lot plus allow air under the wood to help dry it.

    On the tarps, I don't blame your wife for not liking the blue tarps! I agree fully with her. I've used tarps in the past and the heavier tarps will do better but it is hard to beat something solid. The tarps will get wet and then freeze to the top of the wood pile. They will last one year and still do a poor job. We like to use old galvanized roofing as it works really nice. We have one stack covered with rubber roofing too but the solid galvanized works better and you can use it over and over and over.

    How long to dry the wood after a rain? Naturally it varies but if the sky clears and you have a wind, it is just a matter of a few hours. The wood is not a sponge so it just gets wet on the outside. Watch other things like maybe your porch or driveway. When they dry out the wood has too. I still like to cover the top of the wood pile before the snow flies. This year I'm ahead of schedule as all of our wood is now covered but I usually don't cover until late November or early December, depending upon how much snow we get and how early it comes.
  18. charly

    charly Guest

    Oldspark, I did just that on some the wood , split them into 2-3 inch wide pieces, just to get things moving a little more on some of the wood. I'd say better wet then punky. Be big waste of all the Oak sitting and waiting to meet Mr. Stihl :snake:
  19. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    As others have said, it depends on many things. If your wood gets soaked by a passing thundershower, it will dry out relatively quickly, in a matter of hours if it is hot and breezy out. If a front moves in and it rains for a week, a lot of water will get soaked into the wood surface, and this could set you back several days. Then there are the factors of relative humidity, temperature, and air movement to consider. If the RH is up near 100% with no air movement, the wood will stay wet for a very long time.

    One thing is certain, your wood won't dry out even a smidgen if the outer surface is wetter than the inside. Water molecules follow a moisture gradient whose general direction is to go from an area of wetter wood to an area of drier wood. If you're getting steady rain every day, the outside of the wood will never get dry enough to allow inner moisture to escape and it will start to move in the wrong direction - back into the wood. This appeared to be the case here in the Northeast last year, when there were weeks at a time with rain almost every day. Many folks here who cut and split in the spring and burn in the fall suffered by having bad wood when it came time to burn because it never had a chance to dry in the first place.

    One good thing is that, if your wood is already seasoned, it won't be harmed much even in a steady rain. Most of the water runs off the wood before it can soak in very far. Wood is said by many experts to be like a sponge, but it is an extremely slow acting sponge. Unless it is in constant contact with water, once it's dry on the inside it stays fairly dry. The thing is, the OP suggests that this wood isn't very dry at all. I'd get it covered as soon as you stack it, just in case we get a lot of rain this fall. Galvanized roofing in 2' width is fairly cheap and will last for many, many years.
  20. golfandwoodnut

    golfandwoodnut Minister of Fire

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    We just had a slow steady rain all day. I just brought a couple of pieces of Oak in that were right on the top and threw them in the fire. They lit up within a matter of a minute. The wood dries from the inside out, not the outside in so rain is not a huge deal. When the ice comes that is another issue, and with tarps the ice can freeze them solid and they can rip, atleast in my experience. It is nice to have a place with a roof or as Backwoods Savage has said cover them with something solid. I know some guys, like Quads, that never cover their wood and never have a problem. I believe the saying that "my wood laughs at the rain" has been used before. The only wood that really has a problem is punky wood(wood that has gone soft), as it absorbs water.
  21. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Tried the tarps and they keep blowing off even with them nailed down and logs on top (gets windy here). I think I'm going to get some sheets of plywood or OSB instead.
  22. joefrompa

    joefrompa New Member

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    Alright, after reading through here I've got to say that there doesn't seem to be a NEED to cover the wood (except that snow/ice gathering could be very annoying). Even people who cover the wood respond that it dries out quickly from surface moisture accumulation, and some coverings are a real PITA.

    So at this point, I think I am going to join the crowd that doesn't cover. I haven't yet really heard an argument about why covering is beneficial, and it reduces air-flow to the pieces that are most likely to be first burned....

    Joe
  23. ChillyGator

    ChillyGator New Member

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    I don't cover until the first hard snow of the year.
  24. CJRages

    CJRages Member

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    Put white oak splits on top of all your woodpiles... White Oak is naturally water-tight.

    Wiki--

    "White Oaks have cellular structures called tyloses. Tyloses give the wood a closed cellular structure, which does not allow water to pass. Tyloses are cell ingrowths of living wood parenchyma into the cavities of xylem conducting cells. The white oaks, with tyloses, are used in making wine and whiskey barrels as well as outdoor furniture. Red Oaks do not have the tyloses, thus white oak barrels are used in wine and whiskey production to prevent leaking, which would be the result of using red oaks. It has been used for construction, shipbuilding, cooperage, agricultural implements, and interior finish of houses.[2]"

    This HAS to be part of why it takes sooooo long to season oak!

    EDIT: sorry found another article that explains things better

    http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/trees/glossary.html

    "If a wood's permeability is low because of tyloses, it dries very slowly. It is also very difficult to treat wood with preservatives for use as outside lumber if it has abundant tyloses. For production of barrels, heavily utilized in the wine or whiskey industry, white oak (high number of tyloses) with its very low permeability is preferred to red oak (low number of tyloses). When wood is examined in transverse section, tyloses usually glisten."

    All that glistens is not gold. :lol:
  25. Bspring

    Bspring Feeling the Heat

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    Thanks, CJ. That's good info.
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