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What is better for drying wood... wind or heat?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Big Donnie Brasco, May 1, 2013.

  1. Big Donnie Brasco

    Big Donnie Brasco Feeling the Heat

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    I know in a perfect world you'd have a dry, sunny wind blowing nonstop through your stacks every day, BUT.....If you had to choose one or the other what would it be?

    The reason I ask is my back yard gets FULL sun all day and I have a S/W exposure that stays HOT all summer, but not a lot of wins due to fencing.

    Conversely I have other areas of my property that would get more WIND, but not full sun.

    In my back yard where I get direct sun all day I am even thinking of constructing a temporary wood shed with clear plastic corrugated panels to cook it!

    Just trying to decide where to stack for the fastest drying time. Of course I will eventually stack EVERYWHERE :)

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  2. Paulywalnut

    Paulywalnut Minister of Fire

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    I would rather have warm windy conditions.
    Just hot sun could cause high humidity which
    is moisture in a way.
  3. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    Go for the windy spot and put your fastest-drying wood varieties there. The sun isn't going to heat up the stack all that much so the heat is mainly a function of air temp. Go for the warm air moving through the stack...single-row, loose stacking, non-huge splits are best for that if you're under the gun for next season.
  4. thewoodlands

    thewoodlands Minister of Fire

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    I'll go with what Sav always told me (wind is more important) which makes me agree with Woody Stover too.
  5. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    That is not true in this case. If one area is hotter, then it's RH will be lower than another area close by.
    Jon1270 likes this.
  6. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

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    The most important thing is air circulation, followed by sun. Ideally you want a little of both, and you don't need strong winds or full sun.

    If you stack it where you get a morning/afternoon/evening sun and the air doesn't sit stagnate all the time, those are good conditions for wood drying.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  7. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Wind trumps Sun, but I want both.;)
  8. Big Donnie Brasco

    Big Donnie Brasco Feeling the Heat

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    this will give me a chance to TEST my areas!
    I will stack in a few different and monitor the progress!

    Thanks all!!

    Don
  9. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    That's the spirit! :) Nothing like an experiment to tell you what's actually going to happen in your particular situation.
  10. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    Theory guides, experiment decides. Keep us updated
    PapaDave and Jon1270 like this.
  11. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Wind
  12. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    Wind
    Above freezing temperatures help too. :)

    South side of my stacks, the wood looks more checked & split thru winter
    but the North side is close to the same when it's above freezing.

    Mine get south side sun in a open windy area. (E-W rows)
  13. Shane N

    Shane N Feeling the Heat

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    Try to keep things constant by using similar sized splits from the same tree that were CSS'd the same day.
  14. Big Donnie Brasco

    Big Donnie Brasco Feeling the Heat

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    I will make sure that the first time I CSS at home I will stack 1/3 of it in 3 different locations and take weekly moisture tests, as well as record the weather and conditions! :) *NERD* !
    BoilerMan likes this.
  15. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    Heat definitely matters. The lumber industry rule of thumb is that increasing the temperature by 20F doubles the drying rate. That said, even when you stack a woodpile in a sunny area, most of the surface area of most of the splits is in shade 24/7. Only the splits at the ends of a stack and on the top layer (if uncovered) get any sun on their long sides. The rest of the splits only see sun on one end for a significant chunk of the day, or briefly on one end in the morning and the other in the evening, depending how the row is oriented. It would be interesting to track the internal temperatures of splits in nearby sunny and shady areas.

    On the other hand, all wind does is carry away moisture that has already made it to the surface. You need some air movement, but high winds probably aren't much better than a light breeze.
  16. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    Get a good scale, then, and make your checks by weight. Electronic meters are extremely inaccurate until the wood is nearly dry enough to burn.
  17. cptoneleg

    cptoneleg Minister of Fire

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    Time - you stack in both places and give it 2 yrs and you won't know the difference
    Big Donnie Brasco likes this.
  18. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    Wind is better. The more air exposure, the faster it will dry.
  19. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Wind is definitely the best key to drying wood. Many, many times we have stacked wood where it get little or no sun but still exposed to wind. We've never had a problem drying our wood either.

    In addition to the important things about drying wood, how you stack that wood also has a big effect. For example, if you look at several pictures folks have posted you will see some that are stacked and looking good enough to use as a foundation to a building! Others you will see are a bit hap hazard while there are many in the middle. Believe it or not, those stacks that are hap hazard will tend to dry the fastest. The reason is the air circulation. If the wood is stacked really tight, then there is less air circulation. Stacked loosely = good air circulation.

    Many have accused me of stacking really neat and tight but I don't think so. Below are two pictures of a couple wood piles. Except for the junk in the second picture that I had yet to clean up, the stacks are neat but if you look closely you will find they are stacked also rather loosely.

    Wood-2009e.JPG Wood-2012b.JPG

    In addition to all of this, we tend to stack our wood mostly in rows of 3 (see picture below) or even more. We've stacked up to 20 rows together with no space between the rows and have had no problem with the wood not drying.

    Now here is a strange one for many. Most want space between the rows. Yet, we have never noticed any problems with our wood not drying even stacking together like this. Many times we have kept track of the height of the wood stacks. We tend to stack approximately 4 1/2' high and most times the wood gets split and stacked in March or April.

    In most years we find that by the time we cover the wood in early winter, the height of the wood stacks are down to around 4'. Yet, each of the three rows will still be the same level. We figure if the middle row has problems drying out, then it should be higher than the outside rows in that 6 months of drying time, but it is not. This tells us that the wood has all dried out approximately at the same rate.

    Wood-2009c.JPG
    milleo, Jon1270 and Nixon like this.
  20. BoilerMan

    BoilerMan Minister of Fire

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    Overall I think RH has the most to do with it, and the wind moves the moisture away so slowly it may not make that much of a difference.
    Wood stacked on the north side of a building that recieves no sun and more wind will just grow mushrooms and rot. Whereas wood on the south in simmilar proximity to the building splits very quickly.
    My vote is RH which is a constant in your expierement. I've been trying to figure out a way to fit 4 cord of wood in my attic for years, kiln dried, heat only! Ah well..........

    TS
  21. Apprentice_GM

    Apprentice_GM Member

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    <cough>
    I've already run the experiment in conjunction with my Holz Hausen vs Standard Ricks experiment and although I didn't detail everything the way I did with my HH vs ricks experiment, I found the answer was wind was much more important than sun, and in particular to stack the ricks (wood rows) along the prevailing wind direction with the splits lying 90 degrees to the prevailing wind direction. For me, my prevailing winds are N and S (courtesy of the valley in which I live slightly channeling the NE into a N) and the ricks which were N-S with splits lying E-W seasoned to 20% average moisture content (MC) compared to the ricks running E-W with splits lying N-S which seasoned to average MC of 25% over the same 3 summers (from initial "pegged" MC ratings of 44%+ from my basic moisture meter, but at least all wood used in the experiment was CSS in the same session).

    From this my theory, for what it's worth, is that the moisture gets sucked out of the end grain and having both split ends in good wind flow is most advantageous to seasoning. Have fun and look forward to seeing if your results match mine.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  22. Jack Straw

    Jack Straw Minister of Fire

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    There is an old saying around here that I just made up "whatever the sun takes out the moon puts back in"
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  23. BobUrban

    BobUrban Minister of Fire

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    I have to agree with Boiler Man that first and foremost in the equasion is relative humidity and it will trump all other factors to be considered. You cannot get below 100% humidity underwater so if you had a super tightly stacked cord of wood with complete wind block in New Mexico it is going to dry out quicker than a tiny split hanging on a string in the Amazon with high winds.

    All that considered it just means that some have better - or quicker - firewood drying locations than others - but all wood, stacked off the ground in the most open and dry(windy) spot you have to offer will dehydrate to "relative surrounding humidity" over time. The issue is - how much time do you have?? Get ahead - way, way ahead and you will never regret it.

    Until then - put the quickest drying species in your windiest spots and it will dry the fastest in my non-scientific opinion.

    I base this on the clay based soil I live on and the standing water in my yard every spring. It can be relatively cool(60ish) and windy and my yard dries right up. HOT(75-85) and calm and the water, in full sun, just becomes a bath tub. If you really want to test this set up two equally filled cake pans and put a fan on low in front of one. The one with continuous air flow will dry up quicker because the molecules are being moved away. You could do the same with two similar splits by weighing them at intervals and leaving one in front of a fan. Not exactly science but much more controled than two stacks in different places in the lawn. You could even do three splits with one perpendicular to the fan to find the optimal direction to stack your wood relative to prevailing winds.

    I will quote one of my favorites from this site: "the best moisture device for firewood is a multiyear calendar - the more calendars the better"
    BoilerMan and Backwoods Savage like this.
  24. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

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    you likely have enough wind to make for little difference
  25. Flame On

    Flame On Member

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    Sun and Wind are the names of my two stacking location. Wind is in a shaded area but gets a crap ton of wind off of a large field. The wood I stack there is always dirty and dusty by the time I bring it in.
    The Sun spot gets a good deal of direct sunlight. About 6 hours over the course of the day, most of which is in the hottest part of the afternoon.
    My expert opinion based on the above... it really doesn't seem to matter. The wood is all good and it burns nice.

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