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Winter seasoning vs. Summer seasoning

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Cutterman, Nov 30, 2012.

  1. Cutterman

    Cutterman New Member

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    OK, I'm well stocked for this winter but I have a few maples and one white oak leaning after Sandy. I can drop, cut and split them now or wait till spring. Questions is: will they season / dry over the winter or shall I wait till spring ? I know humidity is lower during the winter months but the wood would be frozen till spring. Does wood season any better or worse during the winter ? Thanks ! Joe
    firecracker_77 likes this.

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  2. Boom Stick

    Boom Stick Feeling the Heat

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    I like to have everything put up before winter.....a cold dry windy day will dry anything out. Think about how your lips chap in the winter.........As far as the wood freezing, I don't know much about that. I believe sans any real scientific evidence that, yes, wood will season during the winter.
    ScotO likes this.
  3. Snotrocket

    Snotrocket Burning Hunk

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    I think it seasons better in the winter than the summer. The dry, cold, windy air dries it quickly.
  4. Kenster

    Kenster Minister of Fire

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    Since all my trees are oak, they're pretty much going to be in stacks for at least two years anyway so the summer/winter thing doesn't affect me.
    But...I would much rather do my wood working in the winter than during the summer with temps 100 or better and humidity almost that high.
    Applesister likes this.
  5. PapaDave

    PapaDave Minister of Fire

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    If you have the time now, do them now. Any time c/s/s is better than not c/s/s.
    raybonz likes this.
  6. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    Sooner the better.
    Some buck up thru the Winter & split early Spring. Sooner it's split, sooner it starts to dry.
    CSS wood will dry out quit a bit thru the winter.
    2, 3 & 4+ year seasoned wood is always a good thing to have. Means you are ahead & you have dry wood ;)
    Lots better than watching TV :)

    Various winter climates effect drying rates. Be nice to weigh a split now & in the spring & see how much water is gone.

    I doubt wood seasons much in the Seattle area in the winter, rain & mist 24/7

    Here I'm seeing dry cracking on the ends of the splits that I just stacked from green birch 6 weeks ago.
    Supper dry here. Will suck the moisture out of a prune.
    Ice & snow evaporate (sublimation)
    onetracker, Bacffin and raybonz like this.
  7. Seanm

    Seanm Feeling the Heat

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    My wood continues to dry through the winter but I agree if you can get ahead by splitting it now you should. I lived in Whistler BC for close to 10 years and I dont remember my wood drying in the winter, out there you get a decent winter with some very cold days but they were short lived and the humidity is out of this world (makes the air way colder). It wasnt until I moved to the Rockies that i even thought about humidifiers. I can expect here that wood that isnt ready now might be worth a second glance come March! So I guess it depends on how dry your air gets.
  8. HDRock

    HDRock Minister of Fire

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    I'm not a veteran wood burner, but I do know a little about drying wood, and I agree the sooner the better, logs dry slow especially with bark on them, the smaller the splits the faster it will dry. When you open up the capillaries that normally supply water to the tree they will release moisture no matter what the weather or season..
    Realstone and raybonz like this.
  9. Wildo

    Wildo Feeling the Heat

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    Excellent post I was just contemplating starting a similar one yesterday.

    Living in Me. I am a believer that our dry cold winters are very good for seasoning wood. My great grandfather and grandfather both cut wood in the winter for the following year as there was significantly less moisture to worry about in the first place. After you add a summer of drying it would have serious checking and hardly more than 10-15 mins of sizzling. We burn Rock Maple, Beech, and Yellow Birch primarily. The only exceptions are when they are curly, then it takes longer to dry as you could imagine. They would say that 40 mph winds and -40F would suck the water out of wood likkity split. In winter when it is ridiculously cold you can hear and occasionally see trees that had to much water/moisture left in them explode when you are out in the bush.

    Has anyone compared moisture contents of green winter wood and green summer wood? That was what I was wondering?
    Applesister likes this.
  10. weatherguy

    weatherguy Minister of Fire

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    Wood doesnt dry as well in the winter as summer and spring months, but it does season a little so its not wasted time if you split it now. This question comes up every year, usually several times and someone had a chart once that showed drying time per month. Definately more seasoning going on in the warm months, even frozen wood will sublimate moisture out so it is seasoning all the time, unless of course its cold and rainy.
    Backwoods Savage and raybonz like this.
  11. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    Good question.
    Trees here have to get rid of their water before winter. the sub zero temps would make them brittle & snap off or do cell damage.
    I notice a big difference in weight, spring & summer birch is allot heavier than October cut trees.
    Nothing scientific but a noticeable weight difference, gotta be water content.

    I wonder if you cut the bark off down at the stump now, & let the tree leaf out in the spring, if they would be drier yet.
  12. basod

    basod Minister of Fire

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    As far as trying to girdle the trees and allowing them to leaf out it won't make much difference in drying the wood all that much as it would to c/s/s now.
    Water moves up the middle and sugars run down the outer layers to the roots.
    It will kill the tree but may take a couple years.

    The only real reason to girdle one is if its prone to be a sucker shoot tree and you want the area clear for good.
    If you have to do this make two cuts all the way around ~1ft apart and apply glyphosate to them. It'll travel down to the roots and kill the entire root system.
    I wouldn't bother with an oak but if it were a sweetgum,poplar, privet, or locust that you're trying to eliminate for good I recommend girdling prior to cutting.
    Bacffin likes this.
  13. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    There is no question that the heat along with moving air will dry the wood faster than the cold wind. Same with laundry on the lines. It does dry (mostly) in the winter if outdoors but when taken into the warmer air needs a little more drying.

    It is sort of like the analogy of washing. Wash your hands in cold water or warm? If they are really grimy, for sure the warm or hot water will clean them much faster.

    We cut in the winter and yes, there seems to be less moisture in the wood. We stack during the winter and then split in the spring. We stack around 4 1/2' high in March or April and find that by October of November the wood pile has shrunk by a half of a foot. Perhaps I should some day split some in the winter and stack at 4 1/2' to see how long it would take to shrink the stack to 4'.
    Bacffin likes this.
  14. Shane N

    Shane N Feeling the Heat

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    Considering that moisture is water, and water freezes in the cold, I'm guessing it doesn't dry much in the winter. You won't get water movement from the center of the wood to the outside. You might get some moisture loss from the outside edges due to sublimation. But any moisture removed from the outside from it won't be replaced as the water in the middle isn't in a form conducive to moving.
  15. red oak

    red oak Minister of Fire

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    So much depends on your local climate, but I agree that wood will dry faster in the summer. In your situation,I agree that you should cut and split it soon, which gives you the advantage of splitting during a more pleasant time of year, and taking advantage of the warm weather for drying as soon as it arrives. I still have a bit of Sandy damage to clean up, but I'm going to try real hard to get it split and stacked before summer. I've had to cut and split wood every summer for the last 11 years and I'm tired of the bugs and sweat.
  16. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    I think wood dries faster in the summer than in the winter, but I would definitely get any wood split and stacked now if possible. It dries at least a little in the winter, even when it is frozen.
  17. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    If you have then ambition and the room, knock them down now.
    ScotO likes this.
  18. Cutterman

    Cutterman New Member

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    Thank you for the info Gents. I have decided to CSS these trees now. The dryer, the better !

    Joe
    ScotO, Bacffin and Backwoods Savage like this.
  19. firecracker_77

    firecracker_77 Minister of Fire

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    I just had a bunch of free wood delivered today, and I c/s/s about 2 face cords tonight. I'm hoping it will season some sitting in that pile over the winter. I did a search for that topic and found this thread. I think it makes sense based on having wet clothes freeze up outside in the winter where they would drip freely in the summer and dry quicker.

    Does it make a difference if stacked in neat rows or just heaped into a large pile? It comes dowin to air movement I suppose, which is part of the equation. I see tree services with large mounds of wood. It would take alot more time for this wood to be neatly stacked in rows as opposed to tossed haphazardly into a pile. The difference is getting alot of wood cut and split for winter or having a bunch of logs laying around not seasoning at all till spring. Time is a precious commodity for me.
  20. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    Seasoning starts after the wood is Cut, Split & Stacked (CSS) off the ground.
    Neatly or at least stacked in row with 12" or so of space between rows to have wood season.
    Some wood is good to go (dry enough) in a year, some in 2 years & the red oaks in 3 year CSS.
    Allot depends on your weather, wood type & air circulation.
    I believe top cover only helps keep the rain off but still gets lots of air circulation.

    "Time" is what wood need to season. Precious commodity for fire wood too ;)
    2 to 3 years ahead is a goal for me.
    Burning dry wood: burn less wood, get more heat, no or very little creosote, burns cleaner .

    Large mounds of wood will rot in the center & bottom of the pile way before it dries well enough to burn.
    If not Cut & Split & reasonably stacked, it won't season much if at all.
    Wood don't season in the log form. (very little in rounds ) Drier than a live tree but not dry enough to burn.
    ScotO likes this.
  21. firecracker_77

    firecracker_77 Minister of Fire

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    The wood exposed at the top of the pile will season some though? I may have time to clean that up, but for right now it's a mad dash to get my logs cut and split.
  22. firecracker_77

    firecracker_77 Minister of Fire

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    Go for it. Has to season better even if splits are partially frozen.
  23. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    To dry it best, off the ground and stacked in single rows. Stack it where it will get wind and do not try to stack really neat. Stack it rather loosely for the air circulation. Stacking loosely like this also means to not stack it very high as it will not be as stable. 4' would be my maximum and perhaps that might be too high. Just remember that it is air circulation that you need the most.

    Stacked in the heap looks impressive to some but only that wood that is on the outside of the stack will dry. The rest will happily hold most if not all of its moisture so that you can do battle with that later. Better to get it all drying ASAP.
  24. JP11

    JP11 Minister of Fire

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    I just keep cutting, splitting and stacking on pallets. I'm down to about 13 cord now. I'm pretty sure I won't use all that this winter. My hard part now is rotation. I'm trying to re arrange them so it makes some sense. Trying to get ahead 2 or 3 years.. then it won't matter.

    Stuff I'm burning currently is hurricane Irene blown down hemlock. It burns hot, but the piles disappear fast.

    Get it seasoning.. as fast as I can. But now.. with low snow.. I'm gonna just keep piling up 10 foot length while the skidding is good.

    JP
  25. Got Wood

    Got Wood Minister of Fire

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    One fact is certain - it will season faster once split regardless of the temp..
    ScotO likes this.

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