Seasoning - oak, standing dead vs alive

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Minister of Fire
Jan 24, 2012
In March of 2019 I had a tree service take down one tulip poplar and four large oaks on my property. That wood was cut, stacked and covered almost immediately. 20 months and two summers later, I've started burning the oak, and was disappointed to have blackened glass and incompletely burned logs at the back of the stove. I took some initial MC readings at outdoor temps and got 20%, so I went to my assumed "premium" stack which was oak that had been standing dead for 2 years prior to felling. That oak was also giving less than ideal burns, so I took splits from both stacks and allowed them to come to room temperature for a few days. Surprisingly, I could see no difference in MC between the standing dead and the oak which had been felled alive, both types were still 22-23% in the very center. This is burning well enough, but I do need to give just a pinch more air than I normally would, and it isn't as easy to keep a low slow burn keeping stoveop just over 400F, which would normally give me long clean burns.

Admittedly one of those "Summers" was one of the wettest on record, and we all should know oak needs at least two years to season properly, but I'm surprised to see that standing dead did nothing significant to season the wood. Another interesting observation was that splits from "inside" my wood shed, i.e. completely sheltered from sun and rain had seasoned identically those in front which are exposed to sun, but also to any side blown rain.