1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

Yet another seasoning question (Sorry!)

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by wendell, Jul 13, 2009.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. wendell

    wendell Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Messages:
    2,026
    Loc:
    Madison, WI
    There have been several comments over the past few days that have me in a little bit of a panic. I have mostly elm, a fair amount of pine and some hickory and birch that were all dead and C/S in April and May and and am now splitting some more pine (which was cut into 24" pieces in 2008 but surprisingly had water seeping out while I was splitting them) and elm (smaller diameter pieces from the top half of the tree) which I am counting on for this season. About a face cord of the elm split earlier this year are 3-4" diameter rounds that i didn't split as I love the overnight burn you an get with them.

    Now, however, I'm wondering if any of this is going to be really ready by October. I've had to lay down some more pallets as the splits from the bottom half of the elm that I am currently splitting is still at 37% with water seeping out when being split so I'm just figuring there is no way it will be ready this year so I am already starting my 2011/12 pile (along with a big oak I recently acquired).

    My stacks have more shade than will be ideal and the rows are closer together than I would like so since I have to rearrange some of the wood anyway to make room for the wet elm, I'm wondering if I need to pull out all of the 3-4" rounds and split them or if they will be fine by the time I get to them in January (they are currently buried and and not in the part of the stacks I was going to move).

    I have not burned pine before so wondering if what I have already split and the dead trees I am taking down this weekend and getting split up will be ready by October. If it is not, I can start stealing from my 2010/11 stacks but that was half live/half dead which was all stacked together so picking out the lower moisture dead pieces would be a royal PITA.

    Thanks for your advice.

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. jdinspector

    jdinspector Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jan 22, 2009
    Messages:
    410
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    I split some pine about a month ago for a friend of mine. It was soaked when I split it. He told me the other day that "it's dry". I am sure it's not, but he said he burned some over the weekend in his fire pit. I'm amazed that it burned! Nevertheless, it appears that pine seasons pretty fast. You just might get lucky for this winter. Do you have a "plan b"? Maybe mix semi-dry stuff in with already dry?

    Good luck.
  3. iceman

    iceman Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2006
    Messages:
    2,377
    Loc:
    Springfield Ma (western mass)
    over here has been very wet, if i were in your shoes i would restack resplit whatever better to be sure .......
    pull a couple pieces out split em if wet in the inside there is no way those will dry before dec ... unless you get hot temp from here on....
    i know its a pain but if you need to burn them this year resplit and try to loosen up the stack.....
  4. burntime

    burntime New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2006
    Messages:
    2,395
    Loc:
    C'mon hunting season!
    Order a cord of seasoned wood now. If nothing else it will show you the difference come winter asuming its really seasoned. Pine should be ready, elm maybe but not ideal, hickory if it is like shagbark by me, well, not a chance....
  5. stockdoct

    stockdoct New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2008
    Messages:
    194
    Loc:
    ilinois
    I'd spend the summer sawing up some pallets and piling the pieces into a usable heap. If you have cordwood thats 30% moisture mixed with some pallets of 11% moisture, the combined product burns just fine --- you'll need 7-8 dry pallets, cut up, to goose the efficiency of 40-50 stove-loads of wood.
  6. madrone

    madrone Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 2008
    Messages:
    1,287
    Loc:
    Just South of Portland, OR
    I think this has something to do with the "pine = creosote" myth. It burns when still fairly wet, possibly because of the resins in it. It's light, and dry on the surface, but there's still water there. I wouldn't burn anything with less than 6 months time split. Even that might not be long enough. I tossed some 3 month seasoned fir in the campfire last weekend and it burned just fine, but sent up plenty of white smoke.
  7. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    15,249
    Loc:
    Unity/Bangor, Maine
    My belief is that you can get just about any wood to burn regardless of the moisture content . . . it all depends on how long you apply heat, the temp of the heat applied, the moisture content and amount of kindling used and/or accelerants used. :) ;) I can get a fresh cut pile of branches to burn if I apply enough heat for enough time and/or use enough dry tinder and/or accelerants.

    Heck, fresh cut pine with the pine pitch burns extremely well when thrown on a fire . . . but smokes like a . . . well . . . let's just say it smokes a lot.

    The same goes for wood . . . of course . . . as madrone noted . . . the wood may still be unseasoned and will produce a large amount of smoke and will not result in as good a fire. Burning outside in a campfire or pit for the ambiance where the smoke may not matter so much is in my mind, a wholly different critter than burning inside a woodstove with the goal of producing meaningful, clean heat.

    Personally, I'm with Madrone . . . 6-12 months of seasoning for all wood is a good idea.
  8. gzecc

    gzecc Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2008
    Messages:
    3,873
    Loc:
    NNJ
    Try and find some white ash or black locust for this coming year. They dry the fastest.
  9. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    15,249
    Loc:
    Unity/Bangor, Maine
    My experience with American elm is that it really needs to be cut, split an stacked for 9 months to a year to be any good . . . with the exception being if it is standing dead elm . . . and even then it depends on how dead the standing dead elm is . . . if it is just dead or if it is dead-dead (bark has fallen off it.) Elm seems to hold quite a bit of water . . . when dried however it burns well.

    Pine . . . this should season relatively quickly . . . but as mentioned before . . . I would give it at least 6-9 months . . . preferably 9-12 months. And if you burn pine you will most likely find that it will burn fast and hot . . . good for quick, warm-up fires in the early fall and late spring . . . but not so great for mid-winter fires unless you want to constantly stoke the fire.

    Hickory . . . no experience here with hickory sadly.

    Birch . . . different types of birch burn differently. Around here white birch seasons pretty quickly once split. Not the best wood for BTUs, but not bad. Yellow birch is a half decent wood for BTUs . . . not the best, but not the worse either. In any case, splitting the birch to expose the inner wood is a good idea to speed up the seasoning.

    It almost sounds as though you're where many of us are in our first year of burning . . . behind the proverbial 8-ball and a bit worried. My thinking is that you have two options.

    Option A) Sort through your wood. Split the rounds. Have more small splits than large. Smaller splits dry faster than rounds or larger splits. If split smaller and loosely stacked with sun and wind (wind is more important in my opinion) you may have it dried enough to give you some reasonably good burns. As another member mentioned you can help things along by getting some pallets which can help bring the temp up in the firebox.

    Option B) Save the wood you have this year for next year. Next year this wood will be prime and good to go. The drawback with this plan is that it means you're without wood for this year and/or have to take a chance on finding some truly seasoned wood to burn this coming year . . . which in some places may be next to impossible as the "seasoned" wood you may purchase may be in the same seasoned state as the wood you have stockpiled already.

    There's no easy choice . . . about the only sage words of advice I can offer is that we know what you're going through and we're here for you.
  10. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2009
    Messages:
    4,084
    Loc:
    Central PA
    I think if I were in your shoes, I would try to take about 2 or 3 cords (which I assume would be half or more of your firewood needs for the winter), make sure it is split small and stacked very loosely (lots of air space) in the best drying spot I had. I would start with the fastest drying wood for this, which would be I guess pine or whatever other wood I have that is already partially dry, and proceed through the easier drying woods until I had enough. My hope would be that split smaller than normal and stacked in a good spot, this wood would be ready to burn by late fall. I would also try to find a cord or so of really dry wood, either already dry wood sorted out of my stacks, or perhaps pallets, bought wood, scrounged wood, traded wood, etc. that I would use at the beginning of the season, to allow extra drying time for the newly split and stacked wood. My plan would be to end up with a cord or so that is already dry and ready to use first, a couple of cords that are resplit and drying and hopefully ready to burn second, and then leave the rest to dry until late winter. You still have several good months of drying time to make up for the wet spring.

    Another option is to try to find a local burner with a few years supply of wood and trade unseasoned for seasoned. This might at least get you some seasoned wood to mix with the less seasoned stuff.
  11. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    28,740
    Loc:
    Northern Virginia
    The plain fact of life is that none of the wood is going to be "ready" as in seasoned as it should be. It'll burn but you will have a harder time maintaining secondary combustion and you are going to be cleaning that chimney during the winter rather than just once after the season. It is a pain but we have all been there and you burn what ya gotta burn to keep the joint warm. Before I got wood burning religion I cut and split throughout the summer and burned it starting in the fall for decades. It can be done but you just get less heat and more creosote for your efforts.

    I don't think you are going to find anybody that will swap seasoned hardwood for the pine. Especially if it was dead standing pine. A good third of dead standing pine is punky really soon after the tree dies. That part dries fast but the heartwood hangs on the moisture just like any other wood.
  12. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2007
    Messages:
    3,477
    Loc:
    SE Mass
    I've got plenty of pine that's not cut to length nor split.
    I'll trade one trailer load of seasoned oak for two triler loads of pine.
    You've got to come get the pine and leave the oak, though.
    I'll help unload the oak.
    I won't even watch you take the pine.
    Back up three times for all I care. :)

    -----

    unseasoned pine has a nice campgroundy smell to it.
    If I smell that in the Winter I cringe.
  13. wendell

    wendell Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Messages:
    2,026
    Loc:
    Madison, WI
    Thanks for all the advice. I did some checking last night and I don't think I'm in as bad of shape as I thought. The elm and pine I put up in April are at 23-27% and the 2-3" elm I am currently splitting is at 19-21% and the 4-5" is at 27-28%. I am going to move all of this years wood from it's current stacks to our patio which is the only place on my lot that gets full sun, plus I'll get the reflection off of the house. It does get really hot there.

    I won't need the current wood until February-March and I'm already done for next year and have a good start on 2011/12 so this won't happen again.
  14. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Messages:
    27,816
    Loc:
    Michigan
    Wendell, perhaps you worry too much?! lol I predict you will make out just fine.

    Our experience on that awful elm stuff is not the same as everyone else! We have excellent luck with the elm seasoning rather quickly even though it starts out pretty damp. As long as it is split and stacked where the air can move through the pile it dries quite fast.

    As for the stacking on the patio rather than out in the wind; I'd choose the wind over the heat, but you will probably be okay with either. You still have 3 good months to season before heating season. Then the wood will still continue to dry after that time. Too many get the idea that wood dries only in the summer. Not true! Wood will continue to dry in the fall and winter months.

    Do the best you can and go with it. Even if you have to clean that chimney an extra time and you burn a little more wood, you'll still be able to keep those toes toasty.
  15. burntime

    burntime New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 18, 2006
    Messages:
    2,395
    Loc:
    C'mon hunting season!
    Wendell if you are getting those readings you will do fine like Dennis said! Get going on next years now! I should talk, I am only a third or so of next years. But those 2 ashs are coming down thrusday :cheese:
  16. wendell

    wendell Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Messages:
    2,026
    Loc:
    Madison, WI
    I definitely worry too much! :red:

    I'm over reacting because last winter, right at the coldest point of the year, I got to some Norway maple that I assumed would be more than ready and after 2 weeks of assuming that the stove didn't seem to be putting out the heat because of the cold, split and tested some of the maple and realized it was still above 25%. I switched to some elm and wala, back came the heat.
  17. wendell

    wendell Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Messages:
    2,026
    Loc:
    Madison, WI
    Next year is already done. I'm one of those crazy people who work backwards. Actually, didn't mean to. It's just the way it worked out. I was supposed to be done with this year in April but the buddy I have been getting my wood with (his land) the last couple of years and I just couldn't get our schedules to match up. Oh well, live and learn.
  18. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    15,249
    Loc:
    Unity/Bangor, Maine
    I've heard of elm . . . but never heard of this wood you call wala. It burns pretty well, huh? ;) :)
  19. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Messages:
    27,816
    Loc:
    Michigan
    Jake, because you live in Maine you don't have such blessings. If you ever try it though, you'll never go back...
  20. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    15,249
    Loc:
    Unity/Bangor, Maine
    OK, I was trying to be funny, but perhaps it backfired on me . . . is there really a wala wood species. I thought the poster used the word "wala" when meaning "voila" . . . but perhaps there really is a wala tree.
  21. maplewood

    maplewood Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2008
    Messages:
    610
    Loc:
    NB Canada
    Burn what you have. The burning season is many drying days away - don't freak out yet.
    I'm very late this year,too - I just cut my 2009/2010 winters wood 4-19 June (white maple, split to 5" or less) and it's gone from 38% to 19% moisture already!
    (Okay - that was on the end... In the middle of a fresh split, it's now 36%... But I have hopes of being in the 20's when I put the wood in my heated basement in September!)
    I'm just finishing cutting my wood for 2010/2011.
    Pictures will soon follow. :)
  22. wendell

    wendell Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2008
    Messages:
    2,026
    Loc:
    Madison, WI
    Yes, jake, you succeeded at being funny. I knew wala wasn't right but it was late and I was tired and I didn't have the brain power to figure it out. So, yes, I meant voila! (And I just got back from the eye doctor with dilated eyes so can't really see what i am typing so please forgive any mis-types.
  23. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 14, 2007
    Messages:
    27,816
    Loc:
    Michigan
    Jake, I'm sure everyone here knew you were being funny. Now realize that most folks will use wala and viola as meaning the same thing. Wala! There you are.
  24. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    28,740
    Loc:
    Northern Virginia
    Heck I was burning up Google looking for what wala bark looked like. :lol:
  25. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    15,249
    Loc:
    Unity/Bangor, Maine
    Ah . . . late at night + dilated eyes (got to love walking around after having the eyes dilated, looking like you're whacked out on some drugs or abnormally scared) = misspelled word . . . wala . . . I mean voila . . . mystery solved. :) ;)
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page