Kiln-dried wood woes- help!

Larico Posted By Larico, Mar 30, 2013 at 11:50 AM

  1. Larico

    New Member 2.

    Oct 13, 2012
    Hi all! This is the first season that my husband and I have had a fireplace insert. We've got a Lopi Revere and we love it. What we don't love is the hunt for good wood from a reputable dealer.
    We've had issues with wet wood, short cords, irregular, filthy and over-sized wood. And now, strangely enough, kiln-dried wood.

    This stuff is beautiful. Clean, light, perfectly sized and dry. It makes that nice hollow knocking noise- not the dull thump that wet wood makes. Now, we thought this stuff would practically light itself and that we'd have a hard time controlling the temperature. Just the opposite. It takes a tremendous effort to get the stuff to ignite. When it does, it often chars around the outside and then goes out. When I can get it going, it rarely gets above 300 degrees by my stove thermometer. It requires a tremendous amount of oxygen... I have to leave the door ajar and have the flue bypass open or it will smolder and smother. I swear it was easier to light the wet stuff!

    We are baffled. Any insights would be greatly appreciated!
  2. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage
    Minister of Fire 2.

    Feb 14, 2007
    Welcome to the forum Lauren.

    Sad to say, you have come upon the same problem that 99% of new wood burners have. That problem is getting good fuel.

    So long as you buy your wood you much assume that it is the same as if you went to the woods and cut down a new tree. That is, it just is not going to be good fuel until it has the proper amount of time to dry. In addition, it takes different types of wood different lengths of time to dry. For example, many are aware that oak is one of the best firewoods that are available to us. However, new wood burners should not buy oak! The reason for this is it takes 3 years to dry in most cases.

    In addition, one should know that wood dries very, very little before it has been split. Wood sellers usually split the wood just prior to delivery. Some like to say a tree has been down for 2 or 3 years so the wood is dry. That is a false belief. Others point to the ends of the log and see checking, or splits on the end of the log and think that shows the wood is dry. False! That shows only that the ends of the log has dried. It says nothing for the center, which is the last to dry and if the wood is not split, that can take many, many moons.

    For sure if you are buying wood, you should already have next year's wood on hand! If not, get it as soon as possible. Then stack the wood outdoors in a windy spot. Sunny will help too but wind is the most important. Stack it rather loosely; don't try to stack it tight because you need air circulation. Stack in single rows. Depending upon your area (and putting in that information will help others), you might choose to cover the top of the wood stack. Never cover the sides!

    fwiw, we cut wood in winter, split and stack in spring, then top cover the following fall or early winter. Then we simply wait. We want our wood to be a minimum of 3 years in the stack but quite typically will have wood up to 7 years in the stack. The benefits of this are tremendous. You wont have problems getting your stove to the right temperature and the best part is that you will actually burn less wood. Well, maybe the best part is that your home will be warm.

    So please, do yourself a favor and get next year's wood on hand fast! And don't buy oak.
    Redlegs likes this.
  3. Lumber-Jack

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Dec 29, 2008
    Beautiful British Columbia
    Not long ago there was a thread where someone mentioned they got some kiln dried wood that sizzled in their stove and didn't burn well, so they split some of the wood open and checked it with a moisture meter and found it to contain a lot of moisture (can't remember the exact reading they got).
    Just because wood goes through a kiln doesn't mean it's been dried properly. Kind of like sticking a turkey in the oven till it's brown on the outside doesn't guarantee it ain't still pink in the middle, and banging two drumsticks together won't tell you much either. If you want to be sure your turkey is done you use a cooking thermometer, if you want to check your wood, use a moisture meter. Neither is perfectly accurate, but they'll be close enough to tell you what you need to know.
  4. fabsroman

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Jun 1, 2011
    West Friendship, Maryland
    Yep, the only thing I can think of is that the kiln dried wood, while drier than the other stuff you got, is still not dry enough. I am having that problem with some locust that I c/s/s in 2011. It was not lighting up very easily, so I bought a moisture meter for $10 and figured out it was 31% MC on the inside even though it had been c/s/s since 2011. The oak I had c/s/s since September 2011 was coming back at 25% to 26%, which isn't optimal but it is what I used since it was the best wood I had on hand. Best thing to do is to get 3 years ahead with your wood supply. That way, you can buy green wood if you hvae to and let it season for 3 years before using it.

    My advice, get a moisture meter, split a piece of the kiln dried stuff, and take a reading. If it comes back at 20% MC or less, then I'll start trying to think of other reasons why it isn't lighting right up.
  5. gzecc

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Sep 24, 2008
    Post a picture of your kiln dried wood.
  6. jeff_t

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Sep 14, 2008
    SE MI
    Is this wood in bundles from a store? Most of the time, that stuff is kiln dried to kill pests and allow for transport. It's not necessarily dry.
  7. jdp1152

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Oct 4, 2012
    The kiln dried market is blowing up with sellers these days. People dry it just enough to claim it's dried and serious wood burners aren't their market. It's people who want to store wood inside and burn in open fireplaces. I sent a load back because even the smaller splits weren't reading below 20%. I told the guy up front that I would be checking and he said if I wasn't happy, he'd take it back. Even knowing my expectations, he brought the load. I bought a cord of it last year and it was great. Unfortunately that guy jacked up his prices which were already quite high. If I had to hazard a guess, I'd say there are at least 20 more kiln dried sellers around here compared to this time last year.
  8. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover
    Minister of Fire 2.

    Dec 25, 2010
    Southern IN
    "Yep, it's kiln-dried wood! I have a solar kiln; I tossed a sheet of plastic over some ten-foot logs for a week.." :rolleyes:

    That stinks! :( Hopefully you live in a place where winter is about done. If not, maybe get some of those "reconstituted wood" logs at the farm store to mix in with your wet stuff (read up here on the use of these log, they burn hot.) Then follow Dennis' advice for setting yourself up for the future.

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