fastest drying wood, OR wood with lowest moisture content...

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Big Donnie Brasco

Feeling the Heat
May 29, 2012
315
East Central Kansas
I am sure this dead horse has been beaten to DEATH on here but I am gonna ask again as I haven't seen a post about it.

As a lot of you know I am REALLY under the gun to get some DRY wood to burn for this coming winter. I have some hackberry, ash and oak that I have split and stacked, but I know the oak needs a few years!

In the next few weeks I am going to cut some dead-standing or down (off the ground) stuff, but what is your opinion about what drys the FASTEST or starts out with the lowest moisture content. I know these two may not be the same species, but if I am short on time this will give me some target species to target.

Thanks again for the free education!

BDB
 

steeltowninwv

Minister of Fire
Nov 16, 2010
768
west virginia
ash comes to mind....
 
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albert1029

Feeling the Heat
Nov 15, 2011
398
Southwestern PA
have cut a bunch of down or dead standing Black Locust that was below 20% at the center of a fresh cut...don't know if this is available to you in KS...Silver Maple seems to dry quickly...
 

bogydave

Minister of Fire
Dec 4, 2009
8,426
So Cent ALASKA
Soft (Red) maple , ash, poplars

Donn't know the trees in your area but live trees now, are as full of water as they get.
So any green, fresh cut stuff will take a while to dry.

Most of us cut in late fall & winter when harvesting live trees. (wood is driest it gets then)

Your plan for cutting "dead standing " is a good one for wood you'll burn this coming winter.
It will be as good as you can do for burnable in Nov .

Most everyone goes thru the learning curve for dry wood.
The wood you have now will be better than any you could buy. It may not be perfect , but will burn & produce heat .
You may have to clean the chimney every 6 weeks or so but you'll get thru OK.

You have the right idea, just running out of time to get wood CSS & dry for this coming burn season.

I'm betting this will be the only year you are this far behind. ;)
A bit frustrating, but chalk it up as a learning experience.

Might try to get a cord or 2 of splits delivered now. (not oak)

One good thing you have going for you is Kansas has hot dry summers, so the wood should dry quicker than other places ;)

Good luck :)
 
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StihlHead

Guest
Standing snags are a good source of what should be fairly dry wood. I used to leave some snags in case we ran out of wood for the OWB and needed a quick source of dry wood in the later winter/early spring. Alder and grand fir mostly, both are light weight wood that will dry in a single season even if they are cut wet. Also as mentioned by Dave, cut when trees are dormant and they will have less moisture in them. Dormancy depends on the species. Most deciduous trees go dormant when they lose their leaves. Here Doug firs are dormant from November through February and that is a better time to cut if you need to dry them faster. Another tree in California are the live oaks, which have more oil than water in them and so they season in a single year (very heavy oak at that, they likely have the highest heat per unit volume of any wood grown in the US). If you can get conifers, they tend to dry faster than hardwoods. Ash is similar. I expect my cedar, fir and cypress to be dry by fall. Pine is another wood that dries fairly fast, though the heat from it is not that great. Whatever you get, split it ASAP, split it smaller, stack it perpendicular, keep it dry and it will dry faster.
 

Woody Stover

Minister of Fire
Dec 25, 2010
11,564
Southern IN
Soft Maple is the drying king of the medium-output stuff, and I'm still stacking live wood for next season. I've found some down White Ash that is still in pretty good shape, but probably drier yet is dead standing with the bark starting to fall off. Also, look for trees that have most of the small branches and twigs gone. Those will have been dead several years and will be drier than something that just died within the last year or two. You might have to cull a little marginal punky stuff off these type of trees but you'll still end up with plenty of solid wood. You might even find some dead Oak where some of the smaller upper branches are pretty dry...
 

Jon1270

Minister of Fire
Aug 25, 2012
2,049
Pittsburgh, PA
www.workbyhand.com
Here's a handy-dandy USDA document, with charts showing the typical green MC of most domestic species.

Among hardwoods, mesquite is hard to beat at 21% MC when live. Osage orange is at 31%, flowering dogwood 33%, black locust 41%, and white ash 46%. At the other end of the scale is buckeye, at 143%.

That said, I have been tracking the drying of a split of elm, weighing it every week or so on a gram scale and calculating the MC. It has gone from 76% when fresh-cut to 26% in about two and a half months, and the summer heat hasn't even gotten going yet. So starting MC definitely isn't everything.
 

mywaynow

Minister of Fire
Dec 13, 2010
1,369
Northeast
Cut, split and stack the stuff in groups. Keep each tree together until stacked and get a moisture meter. They are cheap. Check the stuff as it ages and you can burn the lowest stuff first. You could always keep the mm with you while cutting and only take a certain level of moisture content wood. One cut, check and decide if that tree is what you want.
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,297
Philadelphia
Of the three you listed, Donnie, ash is the winner. In fact, ash may be one of the fastest drying hardwoods.

Most softwoods (poplar, pine, fir) also dry in less than a year, but.... they're softwoods. Burn times on poplar are probably only 60% of that with oak.

Every standing dead tree is unique... get a moisture meter for those.
 
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Lumber-Jack

Minister of Fire
Dec 29, 2008
2,007
Beautiful British Columbia
I second the motion to get a moisture meter if you don't have one already.
Where I live now i don't have a lot of room to stockpile years and years worth of wood and wait for it to season like so many people need to do. Even to try and get 1 year ahead would have been a challenge for space. So my solution was to find the perfect source of wood that was already reliably dry (< 20% moisture content). I finally found the perfect source of dead standing trees in my area that are < 20% MC, so now I basically just need to cut what I need for the winter in the fall. I probably couldn`t have figured out which trees were good without using a moisture meter.
You likely don`t have the same type of trees there in Kansas, so you`ll have to figure out your own source, if you can.
 

lukem

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2010
3,668
Indiana
Ash and black locust are about the best if cutting green trees. I would focus your attention on standing dead trees right now. The tops on them are probably stove-ready....the middle may be OK for this fall...and who knows what you'll find in the bottom. I always like standing dead elm...dry as a bone...no bark.
 

foamit up

Member
Apr 9, 2010
92
Central, Maine
Here in Maine because of so much moisture i cover all wood stacks with black plastic just on the top. It sheds the rain and creates heat under plastic when the sun shines. This dries the wood faster.
 

WeldrDave

Feeling the Heat
Nov 14, 2012
460
New Jersey
I get a lot of Maple down here, and it works well. if you can find some and split it down, it will dry "enough" this summer for the winter.
I personally like the rounds 6" to 8" but I get the big stuff and split it up, I try to use that last.
It's not the hottest burning but it'll keep you warm and burn fine. Try to get it as early as you can, also store it in a sunny and windy spot as best you can. Good luck;ex;)
 

CageMaster

Feeling the Heat
Nov 5, 2011
323
Central Canada
dead ash split to a "reasonable" size, stacked in the sun and wind will burn this fall
 
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Big Donnie Brasco

Feeling the Heat
May 29, 2012
315
East Central Kansas
All GREAT info! Thank you!
I will be on the hunt for dead stuff, get a moisture meter and also try and get some Osage Orange cut ASAP!

Any recommendations on a relatively inexpensive yet decent moisture meter?

Thanks again!

BDB
 
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Backwoods Savage

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2007
27,812
Michigan
If I needed firewood this coming winter and had none right now I'd look for 3 types of wood (but you maybe have different trees there). My first choice would not be ash but instead would be soft maple. For sure I believe you could get that ready to burn by fall.

Second would be dead elm. Dead enough that the bark has fallen or at least most of it had fallen off. Perhaps not the entire tree would be burnable next winter but at least the top half would be. This is a good rule of thumb for any standing dead tree.

Third would be ash. If dead, so much the better. But you would still be well advised to split the wood small, stack it loose and stack it where it can get the most wind and hopefully a little sun but aim for wind as the most important. I do believe you folks out there do have some wind so you are in luck there.

Another wood could be some popple. Again, split it small and stack it in the wind to dry.
 

Backwoods Savage

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2007
27,812
Michigan
Donnie, I have often wondered how much fun it would be to go border to border on a bicycle with the wind at my back. I do notice that rather than west to east, the folks who ride for records in Kansas always go from south to north. I also not so fondly remember last June when we went through during the Race Across America we had an awful wind and, of course, it was south to north while we were going west to east. It was an awful day with 50+ mph wind and 100+ degree temperature. I took one racer to the hospital in Greensburg and he was dehydrated.
 

Woody Stover

Minister of Fire
Dec 25, 2010
11,564
Southern IN
Lowes, $30. I think it's made by General. Many of us use this model.
I don't know if I'm accidentally turning it on or what, but mine eats batteries like crazy....
 

Ashful

Minister of Fire
Mar 7, 2012
15,297
Philadelphia
Still using the original battery in mine, but only a year old.
 
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DexterDay

Guest
Silver Maple was my fastest. Measured with MM.. Then cherry and ash (both almost tied).

As you said, dead is better. But if alive? Silver Maple (soft) is king in my opinion. I burned quite a bit of it and had great results. I even spilt a lot in 6x6's and from Apr-May to burn season, it was fantastic!
 
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