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Relative drying times of split wood

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by wg_bent, May 3, 2006.

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  1. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    Re post of this from a different thread...I decided it might get more traffic on it's own thread.

    I got some cherry home a few nights ago to start splitting. I measurea one of the rounds at 18” Sure is heavy. As long as I hit it hard, it mostly split in one shot. I just hope it’s ready for next burn season. Seems a bit optimistic, but I’ll see.

    Be interesting to get a relative read on the seasoning times of different woods. Granted one persons wood may take less time than anothers due to stacking technique, sun, wind, etc… but I’d imagine some woods dry faster than others. Any one care to take a stab?

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  2. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Maxium fastest drying time cherry sized less than 6" quarters stacked in sun exposure 6+ months
    My best guess
  3. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    So you've been at this for a while Elk, do other species dry any faster?

    These are the woods I usually have available...Please add to the list!!
    Elm - (if you can actually find a live elm around here...most is dead already and good to burn after a month) -
    Cherry - 6 months (from above)
    Pine -
    Oak - Seems good after about 9 months
    Maple -
    Apple - This stuff takes forever to dry...I'm saying 1 year min.
    Sumac -
    Ash - Some say you can burn it green, but I beg to differ. Seems like 9 months is about right.
    Mulberry -
    Hickory - I'd say 6 -9 months.
    Sycamore - Lots around here...usually too big to think about cutting with a 16" saw though.
    Others?
  4. Sandor

    Sandor Minister of Fire

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    Where I live, summertime humidy is high and the wood will only get so dry.

    Wood really starts to dry when we get those 75 degree 25 percent humidy fall days.

    In these parts, I think its absolutely necessary to cover the top of the wood, stack it single file, and have full sun exposure, and room for air to circulate. Cured like this, and it ready to burn with 6-9 months.

    Store it in a shady spot, up against a bulding or fence, and it may never dry.
  5. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    I know this mears more work but rotate the pile. It seems the top logs dry fastest and bottom do not.
    To speed up the process rotate bottom to top at the mid way point. Actually I process wood a full year in advance the left over wood first burnt is 2 years drying.
    Some one else brought out a valid point wood dries fastes stacking criss cross with plenty of exposure to air circulation

    Another factor should be mentioned thin bark softer hard woods deteriate quickly, not split and properly stacked
    Included in this group are maple, cherry, birch. They cannot be left laying around on the ground. I have seeen them get puncky
    in less than a years' time. Split to dry time is about 6 months stacked criss cross in sun exposure. The down side of these softer hard woods they do not hold a fire as long. But for free I do not mind an extra load up. For the most part these woods are easy to split.
    Probably should throw popular in this group. I have some mixed in my piles. Again free, I see no reason not to burn it

    White oak prpbably takes longer to dry than red and harder to split. One can also reduce drying time, by cutting smaller diameter splits. For overnight burns, I prefere finding dead standing oak trees 6" in diameter bark gone load 3 of 4 of those on a decent bed of coals and you can expect reasonable heat for a long time

    I have found 10" or greater cut oak rounds stacked up to 5 years still too moist to burn. However once split and stacked they will dry out enough is maybe 4 months

    Last night I got a call asking me If I wanted the wood from some tree removal. I told them yes. but it would have to be cut enough that one person can move it. In the mix is a 2 big oak and a couple 14" maples. I will take any wood 3" or larger the rest will be chipped up. I have a cord here with just 3" or less rounds stacked takes a full year to get the rounds dry,
    but free, hard wood, it is burnable
  6. KP Matt

    KP Matt New Member

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    I burn mostly hop hornbeam - I think I read somewhere it requires less drying than average and this has been my experience. Over the winter I cut a 6" diameter red oak that was leaning over the cabin and the rounds are much heavier than hop hornbeam of the same dimensions - yet the charts all say that hop hornbeam provides more BTUs for the same volume. Maybe it's that most of the hop hornbeam I cut is at least half dead to begin with. I guess what I'm getting at is that perhaps some species contain more water than others, assuming individual trees of the same size, cut at the same size, etc?
  7. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Cherry dries pretty fast. Of course, most of the weight is water, so you can tell when it's dry because it gets very light. Not as many btus in cherry as in some of the denser hardwoods, such as hickory.

    Most decent hardwood will dry out alright over the summer if you get it cut in the spring and keep it in the sun. Optimal drying time for all woods seems to be about a year. There are exceptions. Yellow birch takes a good two seasons to dry out well.

    Hop hornbeam is supposed to be one of the best woods to burn, btu wise--right up there with black locust.
  8. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    I stack all my wood single file and then put cardboard on top and that is covered by a tarp on the top only.

    Too bad you cant get tarps that are 3 feet wide and 20+ feet long, that would be MINT for my 20-23" splits/rounds.
  9. Shane

    Shane Minister of Fire

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    They make canvas runners that are around that dimension.
  10. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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  11. Rhone

    Rhone Minister of Fire

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    I am one who believes in covering the tops also. Particularly last year, one of the worst drying seasons I can remember. I buy my wood in spring and burn in winter, and even seasoned, stacked loose, tops covered, and moving it to a covered porch in winter wasn't dry enough for satisfactory burns. When I started holding it inside for 3 days before burning it, I was finally able to get somewhere.

    I don't understand how a criss-cross method improves drying time of wood. I think it hinders it. Some turbulance is a good thing. A real world example is the solar hot air panel whose air tubes are recycled soda cans with the round tops & bottoms cut out stacked on top of each other to make a tube. The extra turbulance created between the joints instead of a smooth straight tube creates turburlance and improves heat transfer to the air passing through. Some is good, but I think criss cross wood creates too much. Physics people may be able to explain it. I see the wind trying to work its way through my wood pile which is all the same direction. Some of the wind happens apon a tunnel in my wood, some happen on a piece of wood and must work their way around. There isn't a lot of restriction for the air to go through my pile so not much loss of flow. The collision of the wind trying to go through my tunnels and trying to work around a piece of wood creates a little turbulance as it passes through which is a good thing, but not so much that the air flow is being heavily restricted. With wood stacked criss-cross, there are less tunnels for the wind to travel through and greater restriction. That will reduce the air flow through the pile, and hence reduced the amount of air to whisk moisture. If it's best to criss/cross why are catalytic converters on stoves a bunch of tunnels facing the same way instead of tunnels in a criss/cross pattern? I believe besides other things that would restrict air flow too much which would hinder the total effectiveness of the cat. I think criss-crossing your wood pieces does likewise. It reduces your air flow and hinders the effectiveness of the wind to dry your wood over having it stacked in all the same direction with plenty of air tunnels.
  12. count brewski

    count brewski New Member

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    dang, wish I'd known about that tarps-online site sooner, thanks babalu for the link
  13. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    There are so many variables, I doubt you can make many generalizations. Take this statement from ( http://ncrs.fs.fed.us/pubs/nh/nh_5_03.pdf ) for instance:

    In general, the weight of a load of summer-cut (June-July) birch and aspen can be
    estimated by assuming that half the weight is water. Wood cut in January or
    February has more moisture and could be 6 or more percent heavier than the same
    volume cut in summer.

    Moisture content will vary from year to year so you should calculate it for individual
    cases if you wish to be precise. In addition, if you want to compare the weights of
    winter-cut and summer-cut wood, the samples should include equal proportions of
    top, middle, and bottom logs because of moisture content variations within the
    tree


    I've even read the opposite in another place I couldn't dig up. It said that some trees cut in winter can have less than 50% of the moisture they have if cut another season. I guess it depends on your climate, the species, the ground moisture, how frozen the ground is (trees can't drink ice), etc.

    Drying is significantly influenced by both split diameter and length for the same species from the same tree.

    Here's an interesting calculator: http://www.csgnetwork.com/emctablecalc.html

    And here's an interesting drying (EMC) table for various U.S. locations:

    http://www.woodweb.com/knowledge_base_images/zp/equilibrium_moisture_content.pdf

    When it all boils down, seems like you need to wait about a year before burning it. ;)
  14. KP Matt

    KP Matt New Member

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    or

    Which is it? I would love to know. I cut at least a cord of wood this past winter on the assumption that wood had less moisture in the winter.

    Think of maple trees and the movement of sap - the right time of year is when it's below freezing at night (sap flows down into the roots) but warm during the day (sap flows up into the branches).
  15. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    The answer is that it depends on the species and to some extent, the site. Dry spells deprive trees of water, so they're lighter. Stressed trees are less vigorous and thus contain less water. The list goes on and on.

    Personally, I cut firewood whenever I get the chance. And I'm always grateful. If you can get far enough ahead (like a year), all drying concerns become moot.
  16. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Don't forget about the Holz Haufen. I have one that was built in March with 6 month old Oak, and it is definitely ready to burn now. My other one I finished last month with freshly cut Oak, and it's showing good signs of drying. Lots of those radial cracks on the ends and a darkening color. But I can't tell how the stuff on the inside is doing unless I take it apart and that's not going to happen. Also have a long 26' row against my garage to compare and see which drys better.
  17. clambdin

    clambdin New Member

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    I have found that 30# roofing paper works much better than tarps for covering a stacked wood pile, it is tough and just the right width. just stack some wood on top to hold it down works great !!
  18. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    ??????????
    So, that big Red Oak I cut down this Winter is ready to burn????
    I think not, the tree still needs water, even in Winter.
    It may not draw any water up from the root system during Winter but rest assured, all those trees in the forest are wet inside.

    Hmmmmm roofing paper?
    I have a roll, maybe I'll try it.... its the right color for sure. Increase that ambient temperature around the woodpile can only help the cause.
    For $5.00 a tarp I'll be ordering three long skinny ones today
  19. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Well slick, you are contradicting what is in the link I posted so I'll assume you looked it up somewhere other than there. Can you point me to it? ;)

    This is from my link:

    In general, the weight of a load of summer-cut (June-July) birch and aspen can be
    estimated by assuming that half the weight is water. Wood cut in January or
    February has more moisture and could be 6 or more percent heavier than the same
    volume cut in summer.


    As I said, and Eric (Mr. Logger Head) Johnson backed me up, different trees act differently, different climates can influence, different wetness this year and that, and on and on and on. So sweeping generalizations like yours are highly suspect IMO. Even more so with no references. :smirk:
  20. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Hey Todd, Thanks for the holz hausen update. Keep 'em comin'.
  21. martel

    martel Member

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    I looked up some neat stuff about aliens:

    http://www.iwasabducted.com/

    must be true ;)
  22. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    I wonder why maple surup runs late winter. Last time I checked it is useless to try to extract sap in July. In fact due to drought conditions, trees like grass can, go dormant and spring to life in cooler wetter fall weather. What about this theory trees with leaves loose water transpiration. Trees without leaves can have more water containt due not loosing it to evaporation transpiration cycles ?
  23. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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  24. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    Is That another picture of Craig from the 60's before the beard? :)
  25. Henz

    Henz New Member

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    another question..When felling trees which have started to leaf out, is it a good idea to fell them and then keave them with the branches on for a few weeks since the leaves will still be growing sicne htere is water/neutrients left in the felled tree and it should pull the water out while growing the leaves?
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