How long can you store ash firewood

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HappyTrails

New Member
Jan 9, 2018
12
MN
Hello,

I've been burning wood about 19 years, and 99% of my wood has been red oak. I generally keep an eye out for loggers in the area selling cheap wood, and then buy in large quantities. I only have another year of firewood on hand, so I've been looking harder lately.

There's a logging outfit about 8 miles north of me selling ash firewood for $50 per cord (128 sq. ft). I thought that was a good deal, but then I found a logging outfit 16 miles south of me and they are selling ash for $25 per cord. Cheap oak seems to be hard to come by these days.

I haven't burned much ash, but have had a few logs here and there mixed in with the oak I've purchased in the past. I like how easy it splits and it's always significantly dryer than the red oak when I get it.

I'm considering buying 40 cords of this ash, but since I've never burned much of it, I don't know how well it keeps after so many years. The logger I spoke with said the wood has been dead standing for a couple years so it's already started to dry out. My mother-in-law still has some ash she bought about 10 years ago. She bought a 3 cord load for a fireplace she almost never uses. I tried to use it in her fireplace over Christmas and it didn't burn well at all. She stores it uncovered outside so that might be a factor.

I also store my firewood uncovered outside in long rows, but I bring the wood inside in the late summer that I'm going to burn for the winter. Oak seems to last forever outside without decaying. How long will ash last and still be usable?
 

SeanBB

Burning Hunk
Aug 15, 2016
199
Wales
I have a large piece of ash that I use as a chopping block, it is over 20 years old. It is normally kept in my barn but on occasions it has been left outside for a week or two. It is as hard as steel now; I wouldn't want to try to split it!
 

jackatc1

Feeling the Heat
Aug 15, 2011
384
Port Crane ny
It depends how you store it . Off the ground covered a long time.
In a shed/barn a very very long time.
I have 50 plus year old ash baseball bats in my garage.
If you don't cover it, every year it will degrade.
 
Last edited:

ohlongarm

Minister of Fire
Mar 18, 2011
1,488
Northeastern Ohio
Hello,

I've been burning wood about 19 years, and 99% of my wood has been red oak. I generally keep an eye out for loggers in the area selling cheap wood, and then buy in large quantities. I only have another year of firewood on hand, so I've been looking harder lately.

There's a logging outfit about 8 miles north of me selling ash firewood for $50 per cord (128 sq. ft). I thought that was a good deal, but then I found a logging outfit 16 miles south of me and they are selling ash for $25 per cord. Cheap oak seems to be hard to come by these days.

I haven't burned much ash, but have had a few logs here and there mixed in with the oak I've purchased in the past. I like how easy it splits and it's always significantly dryer than the red oak when I get it.

I'm considering buying 40 cords of this ash, but since I've never burned much of it, I don't know how well it keeps after so many years. The logger I spoke with said the wood has been dead standing for a couple years so it's already started to dry out. My mother-in-law still has some ash she bought about 10 years ago. She bought a 3 cord load for a fireplace she almost never uses. I tried to use it in her fireplace over Christmas and it didn't burn well at all. She stores it uncovered outside so that might be a factor.

I also store my firewood uncovered outside in long rows, but I bring the wood inside in the late summer that I'm going to burn for the winter. Oak seems to last forever outside without decaying. How long will ash last and still be usable?
 

ohlongarm

Minister of Fire
Mar 18, 2011
1,488
Northeastern Ohio
Hello,

I've been burning wood about 19 years, and 99% of my wood has been red oak. I generally keep an eye out for loggers in the area selling cheap wood, and then buy in large quantities. I only have another year of firewood on hand, so I've been looking harder lately.

There's a logging outfit about 8 miles north of me selling ash firewood for $50 per cord (128 sq. ft). I thought that was a good deal, but then I found a logging outfit 16 miles south of me and they are selling ash for $25 per cord. Cheap oak seems to be hard to come by these days.

I haven't burned much ash, but have had a few logs here and there mixed in with the oak I've purchased in the past. I like how easy it splits and it's always significantly dryer than the red oak when I get it.

I'm considering buying 40 cords of this ash, but since I've never burned much of it, I don't know how well it keeps after so many years. The logger I spoke with said the wood has been dead standing for a couple years so it's already started to dry out. My mother-in-law still has some ash she bought about 10 years ago. She bought a 3 cord load for a fireplace she almost never uses. I tried to use it in her fireplace over Christmas and it didn't burn well at all. She stores it uncovered outside so that might be a factor.

I also store my firewood uncovered outside in long rows, but I bring the wood inside in the late summer that I'm going to burn for the winter. Oak seems to last forever outside without decaying. How long will ash last and still be usable?

Top covered off the ground five years easily,in a building at least ten,I have an ash that layed on the ground for fifteen years and I finally cut it,and had 80% usable wood. The tree was thirty inches though. Ash is good wood in my opinion.
 

HappyTrails

New Member
Jan 9, 2018
12
MN
I store my wood uncovered on a large rock bed made of 3/4"+/- to a depth of about 8". The rock bed has excellent drainage. The oak has never rotted on the rock, but when I use the wood and get to the bottom row I put it on the top of another row and wait a year to burn it. Never had a problem with oak. I cut up a few cords of birch a few years back, and it started to rot within 2 years (c.s.s) and was almost fully rotted within 3 years. Very disappointed with that.

The wood they are selling sounds like the leftover stuff. It's only 5"-12" in diameter, so nothing big. I wouldn't leave it in log form very long, but perhaps I should limit myself to what I can use in five years. The price is hard to beat, so I don't want to miss a good buying opportunity.
 

johneh

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
3,617
Eastern Ontario
I have a 30 x 20 white ash log barn built in 1853 and
I am still using it for hay . No rot yet . there is some 10 year
old ash fire wood stacked off the ground under a roof that is
as hard as nails only use on real cold nights (three nights last week
Very hot.. If it is off the ground and covered should last a life time
 

ratsrepus

Minister of Fire
Jan 5, 2018
596
Howell, Mi
40 cords? how long will that last you.
 

HappyTrails

New Member
Jan 9, 2018
12
MN
40 cords? how long will that last you.

It depends. My land is mostly oak and maple. Unfortunately, I have a little bit of a maple syrup 'addiction' and tap more trees every year. You'd be surprised how much wood the evaporators use.

The guy who owned my place before me had the addiction really bad. He tried to make a living just doing the maple syrup. He had a bulldozer for making trails you can drive a truck down (this is many years ago before the tubing became a thing). The attic of the pole barn was loaded with supplies when we bought the place. The old timers around here tell me stories about the previous owner and his maple syrup operation.

If I didn't do the maple syrup the wood would last a lot longer, but it's one of those things that makes me happy...
 

Firefighter938

Feeling the Heat
Dec 25, 2014
440
Central Indiana
That sounds like a very fun and tastey hobby. The ash will last for several years no problem. If it was dead it may have some rot in it already though. If it does it won't last near as long.

Some things you can do to help it last longer is try and stack it off the ground. I use pallets. Some members us landscape timbers and others cut small timber poles.

The second thing would be to top cover it. I use old corregated metal. That sounds like a decent price per cord. I would buy some of I needed the wood.

Ash doesn't last as long in the stove as oak, but is still very good wood and will be dry in a year.
 

cahaak

Member
Feb 12, 2012
47
MN Twin Cities
It will last a long time. I'm assuming that the ash is cheap because it is being cut down due to EAB. If that is the case, make sure the wood is not infested and that you are not under any time obligation to debark or chip it. Up here in the twin cities, anything that comes from a suspected area has to be chipped rather quickly.
 
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HappyTrails

New Member
Jan 9, 2018
12
MN
It will last a long time. I'm assuming that the ash is cheap because it is being cut down due to EAB. If that is the case, make sure the wood is not infested and that you are not under any time obligation to debark or chip it. Up here in the twin cities, anything that comes from a suspected area has to be chipped rather quickly.

We're further north and not in a quarantine area. The first load gets delivered tomorrow, so maybe I'll learn a bit more from talking with the delivery person.
 

BenTN

Feeling the Heat
Aug 30, 2015
345
East TN
Ash is listed as a "perishable" wood and white oak is listed as "very durable" per the wood database. Comparing these two woods as far as rot resistance is apples to oranges, they are opposite ends of the spectrum. My experience here is that dead standing ash rots very fast 2-3 yrs when killed by eab. Wood in smaller diameter 12-16" will be even faster. Dense humid stands of timber seem to accelerate rot. Ash left uncovered in stacks in the humid MN summers wouldnt last more than a couple years before its all punk IMO. This is probably what your MIL has now.
 

HappyTrails

New Member
Jan 9, 2018
12
MN
Ash left uncovered in stacks in the humid MN summers wouldnt last more than a couple years before its all punk IMO.

I'm loath to spending any money on a structure for large quantities of firewood. When all you folks say cover firewood, does a tarp count? I'd consider putting a tarp on top the ash if that "counts" as covering.
 

Firefighter938

Feeling the Heat
Dec 25, 2014
440
Central Indiana
I have old sheets of metal that I place on top of my stacks. It keeps the moisture from penetrating deep in the stack, and basically just the ends get wet, but still allows the wind to move through the stack. It also keeps leaves and stuff from accumulating in and on the stack which hold moisture.

If you stack in a windy location you will get several years out of it even if you don't top cover.

I stack in a sunny windy spot, and have around 14 cord stacked. I burn around 3-4 cord per year. Not all of it is top covered and it is all solid. I do keep it up off the ground though so air can move under the stack also.

I just moved a cord of wood I split in the woods two winters ago but didn't move out until a few days ago. It was sitting in a pile on the ground for 2 years and it was all solid, even the stuff on bottom.

I think tarps would work fine, but I would fold them to double it up so it doesn't rip and I wouldn't cover the sides.
 
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BenTN

Feeling the Heat
Aug 30, 2015
345
East TN
I use tarps for the 2 yrs+ my stacks are not in the shed. My shed only holds what is being burnt that year. I stack 3 rows on 4x8 pallets scrounges from sheet metal fab shop and top cover with cheap tarp or peice of old pool cover, sides are open. I have found stacking my center row 8-12" higher than the outside rows give the tarp enough pitch to shed water and debris. I think the key to long term dry wood is off the ground and top covered.
 

weatherguy

Minister of Fire
Feb 20, 2009
5,805
Central Mass
I use tarps but stuff I cover for a couple years I buy a roll of thick plastic 100 feet long and double it up then staple it to the wood, looks better than tarps and stays on better in the wind.
 

hickoryhoarder

Minister of Fire
Apr 5, 2013
645
Indiana
I'm loath to spending any money on a structure for large quantities of firewood. When all you folks say cover firewood, does a tarp count? I'd consider putting a tarp on top the ash if that "counts" as covering.

I cover my firewood with firewood -- the old-fashioned method.
 

hickoryhoarder

Minister of Fire
Apr 5, 2013
645
Indiana
Hello,

I've been burning wood about 19 years, and 99% of my wood has been red oak. I generally keep an eye out for loggers in the area selling cheap wood, and then buy in large quantities. I only have another year of firewood on hand, so I've been looking harder lately.

There's a logging outfit about 8 miles north of me selling ash firewood for $50 per cord (128 sq. ft). I thought that was a good deal, but then I found a logging outfit 16 miles south of me and they are selling ash for $25 per cord. Cheap oak seems to be hard to come by these days.

I haven't burned much ash, but have had a few logs here and there mixed in with the oak I've purchased in the past. I like how easy it splits and it's always significantly dryer than the red oak when I get it.

I'm considering buying 40 cords of this ash, but since I've never burned much of it, I don't know how well it keeps after so many years. The logger I spoke with said the wood has been dead standing for a couple years so it's already started to dry out. My mother-in-law still has some ash she bought about 10 years ago. She bought a 3 cord load for a fireplace she almost never uses. I tried to use it in her fireplace over Christmas and it didn't burn well at all. She stores it uncovered outside so that might be a factor.

I also store my firewood uncovered outside in long rows, but I bring the wood inside in the late summer that I'm going to burn for the winter. Oak seems to last forever outside without decaying. How long will ash last and still be usable?

To me, red oak is the best all-round firewood. But when it comes to lasting long, white ash is maybe the best I've had. Can be used after a year, but zero bugs or fungus or anything after it's out there three years. I just make sure my stacks are up off the driveway -- on pressure treated four by fours. Most wood lasts real well that way.
 

Nateums

Member
Dec 11, 2017
52
Southern Tier
Ash is the same BTU as Oak but is much dryer from the get go. I have Ash split last summer, from a partially living tree, that is sub 20% moisture reading already.

If you stack it so air gets to the bottom and the water drains away, my opinion is it will be fine outside, uncovered, for many years.

If you put a tarp on it, be careful that it is on there in such a way that it does not inhibit drying. It is easy for a tarp to do more harm than good. I would only cover the top, not the sides. If you have scrap plywood, anything rigid.. that's the best in my opinion.
 

Paulywalnut

Minister of Fire
Nov 29, 2012
2,659
Kennett Square, PA
If ash sits long enough,4 or 5 years I've noticed a lot of powder post beetle infestation. I stack in wind and sun and never experienced rot. The bark does fall right off revealing powdery beetle trails. Still burns great.
 

Stinkpickle

Minister of Fire
Jan 13, 2015
575
Iowa
I don't cover my ash stacks, but I keep them off the ground. I've never had rot issues, but my stove eats it by the time it's five years old.