Does wood dry when it's freezing outside?

vwmike

Feeling the Heat
Oct 7, 2013
253
Chilliwack, BC, Can.
ok stupid question. I live out west where we only get a week or two of consistent below freezing weather during the winter. Mostly it is just above freezing during the day, then dips to just below at night. Right now we have a high of 15f with a windchill of 0f. My guess is that the moisture just freezes until it warms up, but just curious.
 

JSeery

Burning Hunk
Feb 12, 2015
247
Irvington, NY
Yes. If you search the threads, somebody put up a relatively scientific study of this a couple years back. If the air is dry, and you are getting lots of wind, you might be surprised how much wood can season when the temps are low. I would venture that it seasons more in these conditions than it does during the more humid parts of summer.
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
4,128
NE Ohio
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hickoryhoarder

Feeling the Heat
Apr 5, 2013
304
Indiana
According to my eyes/hands, it seasons pretty rapidly below 32 degrees. I see quick changes in wood I set (not stacked, leaned against the wall) under the soffitt, against the house, for a couple weeks before it goes in the fire.

My skin and body dry out more in this weather than any other (even if inside the house the humidity is the usual 40%).
 

Sawset

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2015
507
Palmyra, WI
One thing to think of - alaska has no sunlight in winter.
Around here, in later winter, like now, the south facing sides of stacks can sure get warm. Given that the emc is so low, lots of potential there.
 
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vwmike

Feeling the Heat
Oct 7, 2013
253
Chilliwack, BC, Can.
Interesting reading for sure. Right now we have a relentless 40mph wind, sun, and humidity below 40% so I figured I should get some drying. I don't need it right now as this is next winters wood, was just curious.
 

weatherguy

Minister of Fire
Feb 20, 2009
5,360
Central Mass
Even frozen moisture in wood will sublimate so it's always drying to some degree. We notice new burners claim that their wood burns much better at the end of the season, that's due to drier wood.
 

tsquini

Minister of Fire
Jan 8, 2009
707
North Shore, MA
Cold winter weather is dry. When you have dry air and windy conditions, water will evaporate. The key indicator is dew point. When you have a low dew point the air will absorb water.
 
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Sawset

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2015
507
Palmyra, WI
I remember the first year I had a 55gal barrel filled with sopping wet small cutoffs and pcs (oak). I put the barrel in the garage thinking that maybe a year from then they will dry off enough to burn. The garage is about 10deg warmer than outside temps, even so, that winter it was well below freezing most of the time. Much to my surprise, they were dry by the end of Feb. Low dew point, dry conditions, yet below freezing most of the time.
 
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Kiotick4010

New Member
Jan 5, 2019
13
UP
Google sublimation, as Weatherguy explained.

My mother would hang sheets on the line to dry in sub freezing temperatures. Took a while, but the moisture in the sheets sublimated.
 
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firefighterjake

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
18,901
Unity/Bangor, Maine
Google sublimation, as Weatherguy explained.

My mother would hang sheets on the line to dry in sub freezing temperatures. Took a while, but the moisture in the sheets sublimated.
My Amish neighbors still do . . . my wife and I tend to use the dryer more than the clothesline in the winter though (with an occasional use of the indoor clothesrack).
 
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SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
2,788
Downeast Maine
My Amish neighbors still do . . . my wife and I tend to use the dryer more than the clothesline in the winter though (with an occasional use of the indoor clothesrack).
I want to buy one of the Amish hand clothes washing machine from Lehman's and dry clothes outside in the summer. Maine has the best summer. I didn't know there were any Amish living in Maine.
 

Snapdragon III

New Member
Dec 30, 2018
6
Seattle
This is total speculation, but my theory is that the surface of the wood will dry in freezing weather, but the water that is trapped in the center of the wood is less likely to move out to the surface to replace the water lost if it is frozen.
 

firefighterjake

Minister of Fire
Jul 22, 2008
18,901
Unity/Bangor, Maine
I want to buy one of the Amish hand clothes washing machine from Lehman's and dry clothes outside in the summer. Maine has the best summer. I didn't know there were any Amish living in Maine.
Quite a few actually . . . community here in Unity/Thorndike, a couple up in The County (one in Smyrna Mills and another in the Houlton area) and I believe there is another community north of here, but I may be mistaken . . . I know there is a Mennonite community near Dexter and it may or may not be confused with the Amish communities.
 
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peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
4,631
Northern NH
Mennonites have community in Brownfield in Southern Maine.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
2,788
Downeast Maine
Wow, that's really neat. When I lived near Fort Campbell KY/Clarksville TN my parents used to shop at the Amish owned stores. They had awesome produce. I really respect the Amish and Mennonites.
 

EPS

Burning Hunk
Jun 5, 2015
127
NH
I was just wondering the same thing yesterday as we were on day two of wicked windy conditions but full sun. Here in coastal New England we get really dry winters and incredibly humid summers so sometimes I feel as if the drying is about the same pace all year long.
 
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vwmike

Feeling the Heat
Oct 7, 2013
253
Chilliwack, BC, Can.
I was just wondering the same thing yesterday as we were on day two of wicked windy conditions but full sun. Here in coastal New England we get really dry winters and incredibly humid summers so sometimes I feel as if the drying is about the same pace all year long.
We’ve had over a week of sunny, freezing and really low humidity. I noticed yesterday some of my fresh cut wood that is facing the wind is already starting to crack!
 
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StudlyHogly

New Member
Sep 10, 2019
1
Cowichan Valley
I stack my wood on 48x42 pallets in the sun and wind to dry, top-covered during rainy season with pond liner. I had a few giant plastic bags designed to go inside 4x4 cardboard boxes, so I pulled them over the wood and cut a slit for venting under the tuck at the bottom of the bag (now at the top). Makeshift solar kilns, no data on temps or moisture readings but every morning while doing my rounds I saw frost on the inside of the bags, which I would get rid of by shaking the bag. Some of the moisture could have come from the ground but I believe a lot came from the wood. Temps were typically around -5 at night and maybe around zero during the day with very little sunshine. Seemed like the sunnier it was during the day, the more frost would be on the bag. Kilns ran from January until a few weeks ago when they shredded due to UV rays... just in time to go into the woodshed.
 

blades

Minister of Fire
Nov 23, 2008
3,299
WI, Leroy
y
I stack my wood on 48x42 pallets in the sun and wind to dry, top-covered during rainy season with pond liner. I had a few giant plastic bags designed to go inside 4x4 cardboard boxes, so I pulled them over the wood and cut a slit for venting under the tuck at the bottom of the bag (now at the top). Makeshift solar kilns, no data on temps or moisture readings but every morning while doing my rounds I saw frost on the inside of the bags, which I would get rid of by shaking the bag. Some of the moisture could have come from the ground but I believe a lot came from the wood. Temps were typically around -5 at night and maybe around zero during the day with very little sunshine. Seemed like the sunnier it was during the day, the more frost would be on the bag. Kilns ran from January until a few weeks ago when they shredded due to UV rays... just in time to go into the woodshed.
you just replied to a 6 year old thread
 
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Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
1,061
Woolwich nj
So the answer to your question is yes and no.. Yes if your wood is a light wood and easy to dry like poplar. I split up some poplar this past January and stacked it in the shed. By may it was ready to burn and the wood was sub 21% mc. No if its a dence harwood like oak. 4 years of so i checked my stacks to see what the seasoning process was like through the spring the winter and the fall. I found over the course of the winter which would be December January and February that my stacks only lost an average of about. 25 to about .3 % moisture loss over the 3 months. So basically im not really considering .25% over the course of three months actual seasoning.. or if you want to consider it seasoning than just barely. So if your stacks are hardwoods dont plan on alot of mc loss..
 
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