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Seasoning Oak Question

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by isipwater, Jul 20, 2013.

  1. isipwater

    isipwater Feeling the Heat

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    Hi,

    I am new here and new to burning wood for heating purposes.

    I got my first delivery of wood, 2 cords of oak. I was told at time of purchase that it was seasoned because it was split in Sept of 2012, however, I since learned (via this forum) that it is not seasoned.

    I used my new moisture meter today and every piece of wood showed 36-37% moisture.

    My question is, what do you think the moisture content will be by November.

    I live in eastern Massachusetts. The wood is stacked in single rows, gets a good breeze, and gets about 8 hours of direct sun each day.

    Here is a photo of how I have it stacked:

    [​IMG]

    Thanks!
    Joful, basod, ScotO and 1 other person like this.

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  2. scroungerjeff

    scroungerjeff Burning Hunk

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    I'm not as experienced as others on this forum, but I doubt you will be happy with how the wood reads in November. Oak is excellent wood to burn but is notoriously slow to season. The folks that sell wood and say their wood is seasoned often split it but leave it in huge piles that don't breathe enough to dry out. Your stacks look great and if the size of the splits are modest true seasoning will happen eventually. If you plan to burn all that wood this winter you might want to order another load for the following winter. Also, clean your chimney frequently this winter. My space is limited but I learned to get a year or two ahead. What a difference.
  3. NortheastAl

    NortheastAl Minister of Fire

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    You're gonna have to wait another two years until the oak is ready to burn. Might get by with one more year, but three is usually the deal. You can see that the wood is at a high moisture content at almost a year of drying. It isn't going to be burnable this year.
  4. Coal Reaper

    Coal Reaper Minister of Fire

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    Looks real nice and you are on the right track to do the best you can. Others with more experience will chime in. Anything will burn but i wouldn't count on it being efficient to burn this year.
  5. paul bunion

    paul bunion Minister of Fire

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    Looks good. You have stacked that wood in the most optimal manner for drying. They look like they are pretty small spilits which is to your benefit. Did you resplit to measure or was that at the surface? If you have 37 at the surface you were lied to. I'm guessing you will get it into the lower 20s% range. It isn't going to be the best for burning come November but it will probably be useable. Come winter if you are able to keep a significant amount inside, like a 2week supply, it will dry a bit more from your stove heat.
    isipwater likes this.
  6. isipwater

    isipwater Feeling the Heat

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    Yes, I keep thinking I should put the next order in for the the 2014 winter. Sure takes a lot of advanced planning.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  7. isipwater

    isipwater Feeling the Heat

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    Yes, I did resplit to measure. What are your thoughts if I mix this oak with Envi blocks?
  8. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    Oak is notoriously slow to season and the summer is already half over. I would expect maybe lower 30is in the fall. Ty to call round and find some ash. That's usually in the upper thirties when green and dries to the lower twenties within 1 year. If you can split that small and stack it like the oak above it will probably burn better than the oak. I would wait with the oak until next year. The way you have it seasoning it should be pretty good by then.
  9. rdust

    rdust Minister of Fire

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    From 37ish to lower 20's from now to November isn't going to happen with red oak. It'll be lucky if that wood is 20 anything by November. 25% on a meter and you're good to go, everyone here shoots for 20% or better but it's not necessary for decent burning wood. 25% on a meter is 20% wet basis and while not perfect for most people here it will be acceptable and you won't freeze.
    isipwater likes this.
  10. Applesister

    Applesister Minister of Fire

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    It looks like you got a full 2 cords. Thats unusual. Oak is a very good high BTU wood and youve got some great wood there. If you burn it before its fully seasoned you will lose a portion of your investment. You will not lose money by seasoning it yourself. You just put 'money' in the bank. A 2-3 year CD.
    You can get a log hoop and put it next to your stove and try seasoning some of it a little faster that way. If you want to try burning some of it. Ive never burned straight oak. I use it for overnight burns in the deadest part of winter, when I need serious heat. You still need to find some med to light heat wood(these woods are easier to come by)
    But you need to find some other wood. Or those blocks you mentioned.
  11. osagebow

    osagebow Minister of Fire

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    Nice looking stacks, Isipwater!
    I like Grisu's idea on getting ash. Also see if you can get some locust going now for next year. Then your oak will be ready for year 3. Many of us on here, myself included, jumped in feet first with little knowledge, and struggled for the first 2 winters.This will be my first winter with 100% properly seasoned fuel.
    Are you planning on cutting any of your own wood?
    Soundchasm and isipwater like this.
  12. Ram 1500 with an axe...

    Ram 1500 with an axe... Minister of Fire

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    You did a great job stacking it, it looks great and is ideal for the drying process, unfortunately I don't think it will be ready at all. If you are going to Order more for 2014 like you said, I would call the guy that sold it, tell him your not happy and see if he will cut you a deal on another delivery of something that will be more ready. Either take your moisture meter to his place or test it before he dumps. He wasn't truthful about it being seasoned so he should work with you. But you need different wood for the upcoming year, this wood will be ready down the road. Now let me just tell you, here in Jersey after sandy hit, all seasoned wood was gone, atleast from my searching, so a lot of the wood out there is fresh from sandy. If you get wood that dries fast and stack it like that, you should be ok, my maple is at 17% in just 3 months of being cut down, mine is stacked similar to yours, single row and in the sun and wind all day....gl and get more wood
    isipwater likes this.
  13. rdust

    rdust Minister of Fire

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    That is seasoned to probably 90%+ of firewood users out there. Wood split for a year by the time you need to burn it is about the best most people do. This topic has obviously been beat to death on this forum, the vast majority of firewood sellers have no interested in becoming educated with what seasoned firewood is for the modern EPA stove.(most states don't have what "seasoned" firewood is defined) Not enough return on their investment to properly season firewood when you figure the space and time required to keep a couple/few years of firewood on hand. Sounds like he was honest on when it was split that is the most I'd hope for if I bought wood.

    Unless you're one of the few/fortunate ones that has a firewood guy that sells seasoned firewood it's best to figure on seasoning it yourself.
    isipwater and Grisu like this.
  14. red oak

    red oak Minister of Fire

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    Those are great looking stacks and you are doing everything you can to get it dry. Good work!

    Will it burn this winter? Yes it will. Many people do this and give it far less time than you. Will it burn efficiently? Well a good bit of heat will go up your chimney, used to burn off the extra moisture. This will require you to burn a bit more wood, and check your chimney fairly regularly. It can be done - I did it this way for years before I joined this forum. I agree with osagebow about trying to get some ash, or some other softwood that will dry faster. Mix in with the oak and it should be okay. If you have the space I would order a bit more now for future winters, or cut your own if that is a possibility. Good luck!

    One last thing: Will 2 cords get you through the winter in Massachusetts?
    isipwater and osagebow like this.
  15. Applesister

    Applesister Minister of Fire

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    I think you got a great load of wood, I would contact that same dealer and ask for seasoned lighter woods. Tell him you are unprepared and ask for his help. Birch, soft maples, poplars, cherry, ash or dead elm.
    isipwater and pyroholic like this.
  16. Grisu

    Grisu Minister of Fire

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    I second this. He may have some of those but only offered the wood to you that was seasoned the longest not knowing the differences in drying time between species. If he cut and split one of those species mentioned above in this spring they may well be ahead of the oak by now.
    pyroholic likes this.
  17. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    Do you know anyone who's got some land where you can scrounge dead wood? Small dead standing trees with the bark falling off might be mostly ready to burn, depending on what kind of wood it is. Even a dead Oak can have some burnable wood in the upper branches.
  18. NortheastAl

    NortheastAl Minister of Fire

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    That sounds like a great idea. Those Envi Blocks are about 7-8% moisture and should balance out the high moisture oak.
    isipwater likes this.
  19. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Isipwater, that is unusual to get wood that was split last September! That is good even if you have to wait longer before you burn it. As someone else stated, look at it like a CD only this will give even greater returns on your dollars.

    The only other suggestion I will make is on your stacking. You did a good job! Perhaps a bit too good. For sure when you want the wood to dry the quickest, do not try to stack the wood really tight together. Yes, it does look nice and you can be proud, but the wood will dry faster if you stack it a bit more loosely. Again the key; air circulation. So space between the splits will actually help you. Now I would not tear those stacks apart to redo them but do keep this in mind for the future. Good luck.
    isipwater likes this.
  20. Paulywalnut

    Paulywalnut Minister of Fire

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    isipwater, Your actual pieces of oak are a good size for optimal drying. Some of those deliveries can leave you with some
    pieces that look like they split an 18 inch round in 4 pieces. Good job on the stacking though.;)
    isipwater likes this.
  21. Nick Mystic

    Nick Mystic Minister of Fire

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    I don't know what your situation is as far being around home during the daytime, but if you happen to be retired or work from home you can also speed up the drying a bit more by removing your tarps in the morning when you know it's not going to rain. Of course, you need to be available to put the tarp back on if rain is immanent. I have permanent shed roofs over my wood areas, but when I get an overflow of wood that won't fit under my covered areas I resort to a covering the stack with a sheet of plywood with a tarp stapled onto it. This makes if fairly quick and easy to flip the cover on and off. It seems to me if you are trying to dry wood and a tarp sits right on top like with your stacks it has to trap some moisture as the water vapor evaporates. It just makes sense to me that the wood will dry faster if the sun can heat the stack and the water can evaporate right off the top.
    isipwater likes this.
  22. Ram 1500 with an axe...

    Ram 1500 with an axe... Minister of Fire

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    I love what you have, just not for this year, I also don't agree with rdust, do not settle, you got a great product but it will do you no good this year, call the guy you got the wood from and tell him you need his help to get good burning wood for the upcoming season, see what he will do for you....
    isipwater likes this.
  23. isipwater

    isipwater Feeling the Heat

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    I might resplit some of the oak and restack a littler looser, to get it ready for next winter. Thanks!
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  24. isipwater

    isipwater Feeling the Heat

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    Thanks, I wish I could have the cover off, but where I live, the weather changes three times a day.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  25. isipwater

    isipwater Feeling the Heat

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    I just emailed the place where I got the oak to see if they know how I can get some properly seasoned wood for this winter. Thanks.

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