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Moisture Content Question

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Mass. Wine Guy, Dec 3, 2012.

  1. Mass. Wine Guy

    Mass. Wine Guy Feeling the Heat

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    I bought two cords of good looking hardwood (oak and maple, mainly) from a guy who said he seasoned it for six months. Seemed somewhat short a time to me, but he insisted it was enough time. It burns pretty well, though some is clearly more seasoned than others. I bought a General moisture meter, split a few logs and measured. The average moisture content was between about 15 and 18 percent.

    I know that many say that anything below 20 percent is seasoned, but I've got my doubts. I'd be grateful for opinions about this and about my wood.

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  2. will711

    will711 Minister of Fire

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    The Maple maybe fine but no way Oak is ready in 6 months 2yrs min 3 is better.
  3. Mass. Wine Guy

    Mass. Wine Guy Feeling the Heat

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    Wow. Guess I'll be looking carefully for the maple. I'm buying another cord from someone else who swears he cut and split the wood 12 months ago. I'll have my moisture meter ready before he unloads the wood.
    albert1029 likes this.
  4. Boom Stick

    Boom Stick Feeling the Heat

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    They can swear all they want grab a couple random splits, split them and meter them.....the meter don't lie. I c/s/s almost a cord or red oak last year and I on the pieces I split open I am getting 20%. I don't think that will be the case i the middle of the pack but I burned a few pieces on a cold night and it was nice. I do not plan on using it until next year, though as per the forum rules!
    albert1029 and Standingdead like this.
  5. will711

    will711 Minister of Fire

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    Oak is a great firewood it just takes a long time to give up the moisture. If you can get maple, ash or cherry good to go in about 12 - 18 months . Also consider getting some Envi bricks tractor supply has them mix in with wood it will help to get you by for this season. Hope this helps.
  6. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    Don't have a MM.
    But know 2 year seasoned wood burns allot better than 1 year or less seasoned.
    No experience with oak, but trust what is reported here, that oak takes 2+ years seasoning to burn well.

    6 month seasoned wood (other than oak) will burn, Just not well.
    6 month seasoned oak may not burn much at all.

    Check the chimney monthly, clean as needed. Your 6 month seasoned wood is gonna create some creosote.

    You burn what you got ;)
    albert1029 likes this.
  7. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Can't always believe the MM either. Give that oak 3 years and you won't be sorry. 6 months on soft maple is good but not hard maple.

    Just because the wood seller says it is ready to burn does not make that true. I've seen most split it and deliver it that same day and swear it is ready to burn. One fellow cut some oak, split and delivered the next day and swore it was ready to burn. Either these guys are ignorant and actually believe what they say or else they are just in it for the bucks and will say anything to make a sale.
    albert1029 and Nixon like this.
  8. Boom Stick

    Boom Stick Feeling the Heat

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    I would say the latter.....anyone dealing with wood for a living should understand and have some knowledge about what they are selling.
    albert1029 likes this.
  9. Mass. Wine Guy

    Mass. Wine Guy Feeling the Heat

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    Of course it's the latter. If anyone were actually stupid enough to think wood was ready the day after it's been cut, I can't see how they could breathe and walk at the same time.

    I don't think I have the option of saving the oak for two or three years, but maybe I'll get a couple of those Eco logs and see how mixing them in works.
  10. jdp1152

    jdp1152 Minister of Fire

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    This year was rare up here. Very dry, warm, and windy....6-9 months might be fine for most wood. I've got white ash and Norway maple that are both ready in 9 months. I cut red oak at the same time and its still in the 30% range. Oddly enough, my elderly neighbors gave me a half cord of red oak rounds that were cut three months ago and fresh splits are 26%. Every tree will be different, what you get here on this site is reliable rules of thumb. Heck, I just got around to cutting some the limbs from the ash (12+ inches) and most are under 20% (though it was standing dead).

    You need to understand your needs the best. Some folks here are fulfilling their family's heating needs here....they're going to maximize the value of each log, and rightfully so. Some have plenty of acreage to cut and store their own wood...others have .25 acres and have more than a cord or two bought at a time is problematic. Some of us (me) are just tired of pissing house and fire heat up a chimney so we have inserts or smaller stoves for evening and weekend use. It's ok to fall in either category, but the requirements of our wood needs will vary.

    I've probably got five years worth of wood stacked based on my current set up and have no desire to maintain that level long term. Just happened to do some lot clearing and some occasional tree dropping from clist. Those needs will likely change if we add more wood supplements to the house but who knows since we are converting from oil to geothermal.

    long winded reply in summary. ...do what is best for your situation.
  11. blacktail

    blacktail Minister of Fire

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    6 months is short, unless it was dead/down to start with. 15-18% moisture content doesn't sound bad.
  12. Mass. Wine Guy

    Mass. Wine Guy Feeling the Heat

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    Well, I just received that other cord of wood and it looks really good. Moisture seemed to be ok and the wood makes a real baseball bat kind of loud SNAP when you bang two together. Tonoght's supposed to go down to 25 so we shall see.
    Nixon likes this.
  13. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    It's what you got.
    Sounds like you'll be fine. :)
    Burn on high for a bit longer (15 min or so longer than normal) to burn off excess moisture
    before setting it to the longer burn setting & check the chimney in a few weeks.
    What stove are you burning it in?
  14. Mass. Wine Guy

    Mass. Wine Guy Feeling the Heat

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    I've got a Jotul Castine. So far, the new wood seems to burn extremely well. Maybe I finally met someone who was telling me the truth about how long he seasons his wood. Amazing.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  15. will711

    will711 Minister of Fire

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    Sounds good!!
  16. Lumber-Jack

    Lumber-Jack Minister of Fire

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    Are you splitting open a fresh split and taking a reading on the freshly opened side?
  17. XJma

    XJma Member

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    Father in law took a ~16" oak down in late march/early april this year. Dropped it, and let it sit there. On thanksgiving I bucked it up for fun. He had left a ~3' stump from felling and I took that down to grade. The stump wood was GREEN, you could tell before even splitting it. No MM on hand but the portion of the tree that had been on the ground with the crown was substantially drier than the stump wood. If the crown had been limbed when it was taken down, I doubt that there would have been much difference between the stump and the main tree. I'm thinking that it may be ready for burning next year, effectively only one year of seasoning for oak, but we will see.

    Unfortunately most people don't have the luxury of being able to let oaks sit on the ground with the crown intact for the whole spring/summer.
    Applesister likes this.
  18. Mass. Wine Guy

    Mass. Wine Guy Feeling the Heat

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    I split two logs. The readings may have been higher than ideal (upper teens), but the little amount of wood I've used tonight has burned quite well. And not much hissing at all.
  19. DexterDay

    DexterDay Guest

    If its hissing. Its way higher than "Teens". IMHO

    Wood in the teens wont "Hiss" at all. If its hissing. Then there likely is foam or bubbles coming out of the ends?
  20. Mass. Wine Guy

    Mass. Wine Guy Feeling the Heat

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    Perhaps I'm wrong because I looked carefully and didn't see any signs of moisture escaping. I'll listen more closely. Teens is what my General moisture meter read from freshly split pieces.
  21. Pascale

    Pascale New Member

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  22. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Not good to hear any hissing.
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  23. Applesister

    Applesister Minister of Fire

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    Hi guys...Im buttin in here. Moisture content and moisture meters.
    A logger guy told me once that he cut trees all year long. Not just in the winter "season" when typically the wood contains the least amount of sap. I asked him about cutting in the spring during sap season. And he said the same thing. He left the crowns on the trees and let the leaf growth continue to pull sap up the tree into the crowns until the trees starved to death. It was a technique of seasoning the wood.
    I tried it with culled poplar trees and it seems to work well. When the tree is full of sap its moisture content may read higher?
  24. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Welcome to the forum Applesister.

    That method will take a little moisture from the wood but not enough that you can notice a difference. We used to think the same way as your logger friend (I used to be a logger too) but that has been proven false. The little difference in moisture drop is not enough to even measure.

    In addition, your statement about it being a technique of seasoning for sure is false. Wood simply will not dry enough for good burning until it has been split and stacked outdoors for at least a year, preferably in the wind. Some wood, like oak needs a lot more than a year after splitting! We give it 3.

    I do still prefer to cut in winter and just got started last Saturday. Depending upon how much wood we might sell or give away, we are cutting for probably the year 2017-2018 or perhaps a year later than that. By having this much wood on hand to dry properly there are many benefits. The biggest benefit is that it takes less wood to heat the house! Most are surprised just how much heat goes up the chimney and when the wood has too much moisture you have to give it more draft to keep the fire going and this simply means more heat along with the smoke goes up the chimney.

    In short, there is no better way to handle your wood than to stack it outdoors and let Mother Nature dry the wood for you. It is okay to cover the top of the stack too but never cover the sides. That would simply lock in the moisture you are trying to get rid of.
    firefighterjake and DexterDay like this.
  25. Applesister

    Applesister Minister of Fire

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    I dont know what my logger friend did with his wood. He did say he returned to the downed trees later in the season and finished. Whether he sold the wood as "seasoned firewood" to unsuspecting buyers like me, I dont know. But what I do is cull unwanted species from building areas and growing fields. Poplar grows back with a vengence, like sumac.
    And like sumac it gets burned one way or another...one neighbor girdles their trees and lets them die standing in hopes of killing the roots as well.
    As far as trees reading higher levels of moisture after a longer seasoning period, Im just speculating it may be due to a higher sap content. Sugars and nutrients and not just water.

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