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Pondering the moisture content of wood

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by wendell, Sep 5, 2009.

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  1. wendell

    wendell Minister of Fire

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    I have had the amazing good fortune of a A+ member here sharing a truck load of 2 year c/s/s hickory with me yesterday.

    Out of curiosity, I split a couple pieces and was shocked to get a reading around 30%. Kept splitting and kept getting the same readings even though the wood looks fantastic. This morning I went out and re-measured the freshly exposed surfaces again and am now getting 19-24%.

    I know I always believed that the measurement off of the freshly exposed surface is the most accurate but maybe this is not the case?

    And to save the effort of you telling me I did something wrong, I did check in numerous places and different directions with the pins to make sure there was no operator error. And I know many of you refuse to use a meter and just use the bang two pieces together method (and yes, they did sound pretty good). ;-)

    I was counting on burning this wood this year but would love to hear your thoughts on what is the true moisture content of wood.

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  2. drdoct

    drdoct Feeling the Heat

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    30%
    The only measurement that counts is the one taken right after the split. It doesn't take long for the moisture to burn off a surface. This is the same as members telling people to split it thin/small to help it dry out quicker. You should also notice that the split gets drier the closer you get to an end. I was playing around with one today and it was 37% in the middle and 20% 2" from each end. Sorry for that answer, but you've still got a month or so of seasoning and 30% in the very middle doesn't mean you can't burn the wood. It'll probably burn quite well, not the best, but good enough to keep you warm.
  3. branchburner

    branchburner Minister of Fire

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    I think hickory is a bit like oak: real dense, high BTUs, but need the extra dry time. Curious, how/where has the wood been kept the two years?
  4. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Dunno. I do know that happens with my moisture meter when the battery is low.
  5. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    put one splitt on every piece and will be good for jan. and I am one of those that refuse to use a moister meter to tell me what i already know.lol
    2 years at this point and jan.4 months off is more than enough time to get it ready
  6. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    How far do you stick the pins into the wood? My directions call for 3-5mm and if I bury them they read high. Can you blow bubbles with the liquid soap test?
  7. WOODBUTCHER

    WOODBUTCHER Minister of Fire

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    Are you sure its been split for 2 years? I've burned alot of Hickory over the years and 18 months usually cures it.... and I split big 20" long pieces.
    It trumps everything on the BTU chart..... Did it recently rain in your area?


    WoodButcher
  8. northwinds

    northwinds Minister of Fire

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    I'm sure it's been split at least 18 months. I've been pulling my wheelbarrow around it for at least that long.
    It was on a pallet but fairly tightly packed and not small splits. It was faded and checked and felt light to me,
    so I didn't even put a moisture reading to it when I offered it to Wendell. It was in the woods clearing and doesn't
    get much wind but does get sun. I'm surprised and disappointed for Wendell since he wanted it for this winter.
  9. Archie

    Archie Member

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    24 months seems plenty to me, but there are variables, as others have said. Split anything that's too big ASAP, and take advantage of Sep and Oct. You'll probably be fine.
  10. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Save it til the coldest part of January, it should be ready by then if not sooner.
  11. branchburner

    branchburner Minister of Fire

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    I've been packing my wood as tight as possible due to my OCD tendencies (gotta make the most of that space! huh? hello, you have 6 cord and 14 acres, do the math!) - but I've resolved to now do nothing but single row for year-one air drying. Ah, another resolution...
  12. gzecc

    gzecc Minister of Fire

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    Shagbark Hickory supposedly has very low moisture to begin with. Approx 40%. Do you know the type of hickory?
  13. wendell

    wendell Minister of Fire

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    Maybe we can have you demonstrate the soap test at the GTG on the 19th! :cheese:
  14. wendell

    wendell Minister of Fire

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    It is shagbark. The purpose of the thread wasn't a question if I could burn the wood. It was just to find out what people's thoughts were on why wood that should be be below 20% isn't and to maybe to make people aware that some wood isn't ideal even after 18 months to 2 years.

    That's why I'm pondering. ;-)
  15. lexybird

    lexybird Minister of Fire

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    the average meters arent accurate in my opinion seems you get a different reading about every place and time you check
  16. wendell

    wendell Minister of Fire

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    I'm actually surprised how consistent mine has been. I always get the same reading within 1-2% when re-checking.
  17. gzecc

    gzecc Minister of Fire

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    Maybe it was cut down at the wrong time? In the early spring.
  18. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Ha, now that would be a site in a Wisconsin tavern. I would do it to, but can't make it, my son is coming home on leave from the Navy Friday night and we are having a family get together Saturday.
  19. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    "The next part of the program was going to be Todd blowing on his wood, but he couldn't be here tonight. We are sorry he couldn't be here. We think."
  20. northwinds

    northwinds Minister of Fire

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    I wasn't able to replicate Wendell's results today with my moisture reader on the same pallet. My
    readings were from 16% (small wood) to 22% (big wood) from the middle of fresh splits.

    Maybe some guys coming to the Wisconsin get-together can bring their moisture readers and we
    can take some more samples from other moisture readers. Mine's a harbor freight cheapie, but
    my wood has burned well when it tests below 20%.

    The real test, I suppose, is to just burn the wood. Too hot today (81) to mess around with that.
  21. wendell

    wendell Minister of Fire

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    That is a great idea. I will bring mine and we can have a scientific experiment! Mine is a 4 pin model so maybe there is some operator error involved. Mine is from Amazon. Anybody else have one they can bring?
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