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Relative Drying Times for Various Woods

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by daninohio, Aug 13, 2006.

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  1. daninohio

    daninohio New Member

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    I've seen the usual charts er: wood BTUs, difficulty of splitting, smoking, sparks, etc., but is there enough variability in the speed of drying between various species for there to be a chart for that? If so, does anyone have a good reference chart?

    Thanks,
    Dan

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  2. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Good question. I've never seen a chart for drying times. Guess tere are too many variables like climate, sun exposure, ext. Best way to make sure wood is dry is to get a year or two ahead. That way you know it's seasoned for sure.
  3. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

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    Todd hit the nail on the head. " too many variables "
  4. Sandor

    Sandor Minister of Fire

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    This is maybe the best advice!

    The leftover cord from last year, that was full of cracks by spring, looks like freshly split wood now. Tropical humidy around here. But the inside is maybe drier after sitting for the year. Need one of those moisture meters like you have Todd to see what is really happening.
  5. suematteva

    suematteva New Member

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    The above guys are right about the variables..Last year I cut a bunch of maple in late April, buy August it had cracks in it like it was ready to go...We were very dry the whole time...This year (rain humidity) I am glad we are ahead, anything I have been cutting since may is for 3 winters out.
  6. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Dan, This isn't exactly what you asked for, but you may find it interesting. The chart gives the final expected average moisture content (or equilibrium moisture content, EMC) of wood for lots of different U.S. locations. Doesn't tell how long it takes to get there, but it is interesting to know what it should be once it does.

    Explanation: http://www.woodweb.com/knowledge_base/Equilibrium_Moisture_Content_of_Wood.html

    Chart (Ohio is on pg 7): http://www.woodweb.com/knowledge_base_images/zp/equilibrium_moisture_content.pdf

    BTW: Ash is generally considered the fastest drying of common firewoods, although a recent post indicated that Pine can dry in as little as a month. I've heard that ash can be burned freshly cut, although I've never tried it. I believe its on the stump EMC is around 30%, which ain't that much.
  7. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    Well, I had an aquaintance drop off about 2 cords of pine early in the summer. I promptly split it all and stacked it. That stuff was the most god awful stuff to split. The maul would just bury itself and the wood would not budge at all. Now, a few of the peices I left (rounds were probably 18" diameter or so) sitting in the sun all summer are pretty easy to split now. Chain saw goes through them like butter now, and they weigh around half what they did 3 months ago. The ends are very checked, and the end color is gray, not tan like the insides are.

    I'd say they are close to being seasoned. The question is now if the splits that are stacked on pallets 4wx6hx8L are as well seasoned. My bet is that it's not since the inside peices are not in the sun so do not get as hot. The other factor is that it was a very wet summer earlier.

    The Oak I split last year in like August burned poorly in March and April. It's now around a year old split, so I'm figuring that it's prime fuel now.

    My bet is that the denser the wood the slower it dries. So woods like white oak, hickory, and Apple dry slower than the mid grade woods like cherry, ash, and soft maple.

    It's been said that when a log looses it's bark it's dry. I've got some species (Mulberry I think) in the pile that's now been split for around a year right next to the Oak. The bark is still quite solidly attached, but it's gotta be dry. The splits are on the outside, and in the sun around 5-6 hours a day. Point is I think the bark thing works for most species, but not all. I also noticed that some species of pine don't loose their bark when seasoned, others do.

    Good topic...bet this one comes up EVERY year.
  8. daninohio

    daninohio New Member

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    I certainly agree about the variables in drying times. E.g. Is it split? In the sun? Exposed to wind? Covered with tarp? Etc.

    The equilibrium info was interesting.

    But it seems like you should be able to say that under the same circumstances that X dries faster than Y dries faster than Z. In perfect conditions maybe that is 3,6 and 9 months and in lousy conditions maybe that is 12, 18 and 24 months.

    Just like splitting wood depends on the length and diameter of the round, whether it is dry, whether it has cracks on the end, etc. -- but in the end we can say that ash is easy, oak is harder and elm is rock hard when everything else is equal.

    I thought I read somewhere that honeylocust was one of the fast drying woods (like ash). Does anyone have personal experience with that? (I have a LOT of honeylocust.)
  9. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    I've burned some honeylocust and liked it, but it was delivered in a mixed bunch, so couldn't tell time to dry, etc.

    At least I think it was honeylocust. It was very reddish or rusty colored wood. Very unique looking. Medium high density. Do you think that was honeylocust? Is yours reddish or rust colored inside?

    I found this interesting:

    There are people who insist that wood should be dried (seasoned) for at least one or two years. Experimental evidence has established that that is nearly always unnecessary, as long as the pieces of wood are cut to length and stacked. Natural airflows through the stack, and particularly through the cut cells of the pieces of wood themselves, dries them sooner than that. Experimental evidence has established that one-foot long cut pieces generally dry to acceptable levels in just two or three months. Two-foot long cut pieces take about six or seven months for similar acceptability. Four-foot long cut pieces DO require at least a year.

    From this web site: http://mb-soft.com/juca/print/firewood.html
  10. daninohio

    daninohio New Member

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    Funny, mo. I read that info this morning when I tried to google for more info on this topic. It looks like black locust is up there near ash as far as "good" green wood, so I'd bet honeylocust does dry faster than most. Anyway, after much searching I couldn't find anything better than that info you just linked. It seems like everything out there about drying wood is geared to drying commercial lumber.

    It is reddish/honey colored and I am sure it is honeylocust as I was splitting 30" rounds of it with my maul like my name was Eric.

    Anyway, I've done what I can. I split to 16-18", stacked the wood on pallets, placed it in an area with full sun all day, made long rows with good surface area exposure to the wind and then covered the top of the rows with a tarp. Probably two-thirds of the wood is honeylocust and most was split open in July, so I think I have a decent chance of having usable firewood by December. I'm still working on splitting up a neighbor's huge tree that has been down and bucked for a year or two, so hopefully that will be ready too.
  11. mar4thbpos

    mar4thbpos New Member

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    LOCUST WOOD
    My question is about Locust wood. I don’t know if it is Honey or Black. But it was grown on Cape Cod in Massachusetts. I have access to about a cord or so. It was standing dead wood before it was cut into 18” length rounds. Can anyone tell me if locust wood is easily split. I am trying to figure out if I will need to rent a power log splitter. Also, because it was standing dead wood for quite some time (years) is it possible it would already be “seasoned” such that I could burn it this winter? Any info would be appreciated. Thanks!
  12. daninohio

    daninohio New Member

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    The charts say that honeylocust is easy to split and black locust is hard to split. I had honeylocust and had no problem at all splitting 30" rounds of that by hand.
  13. mar4thbpos

    mar4thbpos New Member

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    Thanks, Burning Hunk. I'll give it a try.
  14. bruce56bb

    bruce56bb New Member

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    i took down a spruce tree july 9th and split it within a few days. i didnt want to burn it it the stove only because i have a lot of good wood(oak,locust,ash) available, so i saved it for camping. i was shocked, 2 months after splitting it burned fine.
    here is a pic of the tree that made roasting marshmellows and hot dogs possible last night. may she rest in piece

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