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)

How much can/does wood season in a month or two?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by BillLion, Oct 16, 2013.

  1. BillLion

    BillLion Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Messages:
    503
    Loc:
    Greater Hartford, CT
    Yesterday I got these moisture content readings from a MM on some of my wood (yes, I tested on fresh splits):

    Norway Maple -22%
    Oak -30%
    Elm -28%
    Black Locust -25%

    I assume the Norway Maple will be ready sometime this season (and could actually be burned right away if necessary). I also assume the Oak will NOT be ready this season.

    So, back to my original question: How much can wood season in one or several months? Any thoughts on how good this wood might be to burn this season? (All of it is CSS).

    Is there any type of monthly average
    or does it all vary on type of wood, local climate, season, etc.?

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. gzecc

    gzecc Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2008
    Messages:
    3,957
    Loc:
    NNJ
    It varies on species, climate, size of split, orientation to the sun and wind, stacked loosely or not, cross hatched stacked etc......
    I personally would start with your norway, move to norway/locust for the cold months, then back to norway for warmer times.
    Makes sure to prepare for next year. I personally stay away from oak (unless it is literally dropped in my yard for me). Look for ash, locust, norway, silver maple etc. They will usually season in one year.
    TreePointer likes this.
  3. USMC80

    USMC80 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Mar 27, 2013
    Messages:
    842
    Loc:
    New Jersey
    too many variables
    TreePointer and Backwoods Savage like this.
  4. paul bunion

    paul bunion Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Apr 3, 2013
    Messages:
    820
    Loc:
    NJ
    Exactly that. Google "drying hardwood lumber usda" and sit down for a long read. (I can't figure out how to post links with this ipad) There is a wealth of information in it. Although it's about drying lumber, wood is wood.
  5. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 12, 2006
    Messages:
    4,876
    Loc:
    Schenectady, NY
    I don't think any of that will be anywhere near ready to burn this year, but it's what you've got. Split it small to create as much surface area as you can and put it in a windy spot. I'd be looking for pallet wood to mix in with it in an attempt to bring the total moisture content of the charge of wood down. Pallets got a number of us through our first year of burning.

    Keep an eye on the chimney for buildup.

    Matt
  6. BillLion

    BillLion Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Messages:
    503
    Loc:
    Greater Hartford, CT
    Thanks for the tips. Fortunately, I do have some seasoned wood to stretch things. Yeah, I am working on getting ahead for next season.

    I understand what you mean about oak. That said, I am accepting a free load next week because my neighbor is having a chestnut oak cut down and it will be all cut to rounds that I can literally roll across my property line. Hard to pass that up!
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  7. BillLion

    BillLion Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Messages:
    503
    Loc:
    Greater Hartford, CT
    Thanks for the reply. I do have some seasoned stuff to stretch some of the wood, and may have to buy more if necessary.

    Even at 22% on the norway, you don't think that'll be good this season?
  8. gzecc

    gzecc Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2008
    Messages:
    3,957
    Loc:
    NNJ
    Norway will be fine. Unless your moisture meter costs $100 + you really can't go by the exact #. The cheaper ones are not exactly accurate. Use it like you did, as a relative guide, not an exact #.
    Last edited: Oct 17, 2013
    BillLion likes this.
  9. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Wood loses a fair amount of moisture in the first 40 days or so (pulling this from memory so not sure about time frame, should have saved the webite) and slows way down after that, the Norway Maple MIGHT be ok.
  10. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Messages:
    27,816
    Loc:
    Michigan

    Please remember Bill that the readings you get from the MM are not absolutes; use them only as sort of a guide line. I've also seen three people measure the same piece and get 3 different readings.

    If the measurements are accurate, the maple should do fine. Elm next then the BL and finally the oak. But it would be best to figure the oak and BL for next year or even longer if you can.


    But back to the question of how much can wood season in one or several months. Too many variables to answer that one. For instance, someone in most of the western states would get better results than those in the eastern states. Even oldspark who lives in Iowa can get better results than someone in the NE states. In addition, it depends upon the size of the splits, how it is stacked and the weather. I can give you one example of what we normally find though. We cut in winter, split and stack in spring. We stack to approximately 4 1/2' high and by October those stacks will usually be around 4' high. That is simply because of shrinkage from the moisture leaving. Another reason wood sellers don't like to dry their wood before selling it.
    BillLion likes this.
  11. BillLion

    BillLion Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Messages:
    503
    Loc:
    Greater Hartford, CT
    Great point about the MM. Who knows the true MC, but at least I know which has the least!

    I think your rotation makes sense. I'm doing some more spot checks on others woods. I think I might have to just bite the bullet and buy a cord to tide me over so I can let some of my stuff season. The good news is that will leave me with a lot on hand CSS and a lot to process still for re future.

    Holy cow...a half a foot is a lot of water lost!!! But I see what you mean about too many variables. And definitely being as humid as it is on the NE doesn't help things. :)
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  12. Paulywalnut

    Paulywalnut Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2012
    Messages:
    2,183
    Loc:
    Kennett Square, PA
    Bill if your not doing anything. Split the maple again. It will dry faster and give you some decent burning wood this winter. I've always split my locust small because it tends to dry slow. The moisture in the different woods seems correct though. Oak being the highest and maple being the lowest. Meters are guides to me, nothing accurate.
    BillLion likes this.
  13. BillLion

    BillLion Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Messages:
    503
    Loc:
    Greater Hartford, CT
    Funny, I just started splitting the maple smaller last night! Boy, I wish I had split my BL smaller. Initially I said my BL was 25%, but some of the larger pieces still have 50% according to my MM. Definitely have to wait on that!

    Agreed on the meters. I don't count the reading as the actual MC, but it does I think help me know by comparison which types of wood are further along than the others. While it may not be 100% accurate on the reading I will say it is at least consistent. I've gone back over the same types of wood and got the same/similar readings over the span of a couple days. So it at least provides a benchmark.
  14. cygnus

    cygnus Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Oct 23, 2010
    Messages:
    336
    Loc:
    Central, NJ
    It's not linear over time and it varies by species but I use a very rough rule of 2% per month. Oak is the biggest exception and closer to 0% ;)

    The maple will be fine. I'd probably try done of the smaller locust splits but anything else is going to give you trouble.
  15. MrWhoopee

    MrWhoopee Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2011
    Messages:
    567
    Loc:
    Shingletown, Northern California (elev. 4000 ft.)
    If you want to know the actual moisture content, weigh a piece, place it in an oven at 105::C (221 ::F) overnight, then weigh it again. The difference in weight divided by the dry weight multiplied by 100 is the % mc.

    An important thing to remember: When you split a piece and measure with a meter, you are measuring the HIGHEST moisture level in the piece. As you move closer to the outside, the mc drops. This means that the AVERAGE mc is always lower than the measurement you get from the center of a fresh split.
    Soundchasm likes this.
  16. BillLion

    BillLion Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Messages:
    503
    Loc:
    Greater Hartford, CT
    That's helpful. I know it's a rule of thumb, not a guaranteed %, but having some kind of gauge gives me an idea of what to potentially expect/plan for.

    That is super helpful; thanks for the insight!
  17. TreePointer

    TreePointer Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2010
    Messages:
    2,272
    Loc:
    Western PA
    If you want a practical test, put a piece or two in the outdoor fire pit. See how long it takes to catch using your usual fire starting method. Look to see how much it smokes and listen for hissing.
    BillLion likes this.
  18. BillLion

    BillLion Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Messages:
    503
    Loc:
    Greater Hartford, CT
    Great idea; thanks!
  19. STIHLY DAN

    STIHLY DAN Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 15, 2013
    Messages:
    651
    Loc:
    So NH
    If you have an EPA stove, none is ready to burn. Smoke dragon will take the maple. Pay up this year, your still saving $$$$ then heat free next yr. Same wood will = more heat ta boot.
  20. BillLion

    BillLion Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 4, 2013
    Messages:
    503
    Loc:
    Greater Hartford, CT
    Happy to say my insert is not an EPA stove; otherwise I'd really be in trouble.
  21. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Older non EPA stoves will burn greener wood better the EPA stoves but it still sucks, how do you think they got their name, by burning green wood, very easy to get a non EPA stove to burn clean, not as clean as a EPA stove but clean none the less.
  22. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2012
    Messages:
    1,426
    Loc:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Here's a graph or some ongoing tests I started earlier this year. So far, this represents about 7-9 months of drying time, uncovered in a sunny location in Pittsburgh. It's not a great dataset, since I've only been measuring one split from each species and they're not even all the same size or cut at the same time, but it might give you a general idea. MC plummets in the first couple of months after cutting green wood, but the trend doesn't last...

    Untitled.jpg
  23. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Jon1270 you just confirmed what I found on a wesite that I can not find right now, big % of the moisture is lost in the first 60 days or so and then slows to a crawl. So a low % wood like Ash could be 25 % or so (guessing) in a few months with good drying conditions.
    My MM only goes to 42% so those figures you have are interesting.
    Good job with the chart by the way.
  24. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    So before anybody starts talking about varibles let me make a few points, both from jon's chart and from what I have found on the net.
    This is green wood so %'s will change with diferent stages of wood, dead standing or laying on the ground.
    All the other varibles we talk about so often all apply to this.
  25. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2012
    Messages:
    1,426
    Loc:
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Thanks.

    Yeah, electronic meters are very inaccurate for anything above 28-30%. This was done by weight, based on small samples which I oven-dried within hours of the time that each tree came down.
    MrWhoopee likes this.

Share This Page