Storing extra wood uncovered - that ok?

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Amin1992

Feeling the Heat
Oct 9, 2019
318
PA, USA
Hey guys, I'm new to all this and super excited! Just bought my first home on an acre and a half, wooded, with a wood stove insert ready to go. I have 2 racks out back full, with a tarp on top to keep the rain off. This has been working quite well - over the summer we had outdoor fires and the wood moisture was around 18%.

Anyway, a friend of mine has a few dead ashes she wants rid of, and said I can take the wood for free - sweet! However I'm out of room to store! I have a few pallets I thought I could just lay out back in the woods and stack wood there.

Is it okay to leave this stack uncovered? I was hoping to just let it all sit out on a pallet to season to use in a year, when I get through all my good firewood on the racks. I would most likely swap it over to the covered racks next summer, so they'd season uncovered for maybe 12 months, then season covered for another 2 to 4 months.

I know worst case it gets ruined, but the previous owner of this left probably 3 or 4 cords of firewood just stacked on the bare ground, uncovered, and I'm assuming theyre many years old as theyre all squishy, rotten, and covered in fungus... so I dont want any more junk wood than I already have!

What do you guys think? I appreciate your insight.
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,751
NE Ohio
Its not so much that it never gets wet, more that it doesn't stay wet. So if you have a nice sunny spot that gets lots of breeze, and it won't get covered with leaves or pine needles in the fall (anything that holds moisture) it will be fine for a while...that said, if you can top cover it for the last summer before it gets used, it will be fine.
If you have to stack in the woods, I'd really want top cover...doesn't have to be fancy, old metal roofing, old rubber (EPDM) roofing, old billboard material, cheap tarps, old plywood with a coat of paint on it, etc, etc...
Is that 18% from the center of a fresh split? Taking the reading from the outside of an existing split doesn't tell you much.
If that Ash is already dead and half dry, it will be fine in 1.5 years, if it is still alive then 1.5 years might be dry enough, but might not...especially sitting in the woods.
 

Amin1992

Feeling the Heat
Oct 9, 2019
318
PA, USA
Its not so much that it never gets wet, more that it doesn't stay wet. So if you have a nice sunny spot that gets lots of breeze, and it won't get covered with leaves or pine needles in the fall (anything that holds moisture) it will be fine for a while...that said, if you can top cover it for the last summer before it gets used, it will be fine.
If you have to stack in the woods, I'd really want top cover...doesn't have to be fancy, old metal roofing, old rubber (EPDM) roofing, old billboard material, cheap tarps, old plywood with a coat of paint on it, etc, etc...
Is that 18% from the center of a fresh split? Taking the reading from the outside of an existing split doesn't tell you much.
If that Ash is already dead and half dry, it will be fine in 1.5 years, if it is still alive then 1.5 years might be dry enough, but might not...especially sitting in the woods.

Thanks for all that input buddy. That makes sense why all of his old wood piles are rotten - we are in deep woods, most of the property is shaded, and it's muddy here too as we are in a hollow near a creek so it stays pretty damp.

I'll plan on putting a tarp over the pallet to be safe.

The fresh splits are typically 12% moisture which was shocking. From the outside of an old split we're at 18% give or take. These are logs that have been seasoned for 9 months though.

The ash is already dead luckily so hopefully it'll season fast. But great to know about this as I just cut down a Poplar that is fresh and green. I'm hoping it will be seasoned in 13 months when I plan to burn it. what do you think?
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,751
NE Ohio
just cut down a Poplar that is fresh and green. I'm hoping it will be seasoned in 13 months when I plan to burn it. what do you think?
Poplar, CSS (cut/split/stacked) will probably season in a year...generally most low BTU woods like that will season fast. Oak is the worst for slow drying...figure on 3 years CSS, probably 4 in your location...
 

Amin1992

Feeling the Heat
Oct 9, 2019
318
PA, USA
Poplar, CSS (cut/split/stacked) will probably season in a year...generally most low BTU woods like that will season fast. Oak is the worst for slow drying...figure on 3 years CSS, probably 4 in your location...

Holy hell that's a long time! I never realized. Can I ask one more question? I have a lot of standing dead trees. A new septic system was put in 10 years ago, and I believe they cut through the roots, as the trees are all surround the sand mound.

Anyway, they've been dead for many years. Most are missing their limbs and just large, standing sticks, like telophone poles. I'd like to fell these. I'm thinking they will season a lot longer as theyre just standing dead wood - am I right in thinking that?
 

brenndatomu

Minister of Fire
Aug 21, 2013
6,751
NE Ohio
I'm thinking they will season a lot longer as theyre just standing dead wood - am I right in thinking that?
They will season a lot longer....I'm not following you?
Do you know what kind of trees they are? Some trees dry well standing dead and can sometimes be ready to burn when they hit the ground...especially the upper branches...the larger the branches, the less dry they may be, especially once you get into the lower trunk.
But some types of trees tend to rot, or "go punky" when standing dead...you just never know for sure until you cut it down. Best to check the tree before you cut though... try to stab a screwdriver into it, see if its solid...or even drill into it...a tree that is hollow, or rotten in the middle can be dangerous to drop...especially for the inexperienced/untrained. A hollow or rotten tree doesn't leave you any hinge wood with which to control the direction of the fall...a rude and very dangerous surprise, especially if you are not expecting it at all!
 
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hickoryhoarder

Minister of Fire
Apr 5, 2013
674
Indiana
Rain won't tend to ruin uncovered firewood. This has never happened for me. My stacks get sun and breeze.

But always keep firewood off the ground, even if stacked on a driveway or patio.

The top row of splits serves as a cover to some extent. Ash without a lot of bark lasts better in stacks than almost any wood, in my experience.

I find it more convenient to remove snow from a cover than from a top row of splits.
 

hickoryhoarder

Minister of Fire
Apr 5, 2013
674
Indiana
Holy hell that's a long time! I never realized. Can I ask one more question? I have a lot of standing dead trees. A new septic system was put in 10 years ago, and I believe they cut through the roots, as the trees are all surround the sand mound.

Anyway, they've been dead for many years. Most are missing their limbs and just large, standing sticks, like telophone poles. I'd like to fell these. I'm thinking they will season a lot longer as theyre just standing dead wood - am I right in thinking that?

Your dead wood might be ready to burn right away.
 

Amin1992

Feeling the Heat
Oct 9, 2019
318
PA, USA
They will season a lot longer....I'm not following you?
Do you know what kind of trees they are? Some trees dry well standing dead and can sometimes be ready to burn when they hit the ground...especially the upper branches...the larger the branches, the less dry they may be, especially once you get into the lower trunk.
But some types of trees tend to rot, or "go punky" when standing dead...you just never know for sure until you cut it down. Best to check the tree before you cut though... try to stab a screwdriver into it, see if its solid...or even drill into it...a tree that is hollow, or rotten in the middle can be dangerous to drop...especially for the inexperienced/untrained. A hollow or rotten tree doesn't leave you any hinge wood with which to control the direction of the fall...a rude and very dangerous surprise, especially if you are not expecting it at all!

Meant dead wood will season faster, not longer sorry!

And these are great points... Thanks for telling me that, might have saved my life! I'll drill some before I try dropping them.

Rain won't tend to ruin uncovered firewood. This has never happened for me. My stacks get sun and breeze.

But always keep firewood off the ground, even if stacked on a driveway or patio.

The top row of splits serves as a cover to some extent. Ash without a lot of bark lasts better in stacks than almost any wood, in my experience.

I find it more convenient to remove snow from a cover than from a top row of splits.

Thanks for the insight! Good point on the snow
 

WoodBurnerInWI

Feeling the Heat
Feb 2, 2020
278
Madison, WI
I would say yes it should be fine storing wood outside, covered or not. Before I built my wood shed I had all my split wood stored out at my wife's grandfather's farm for nearly 2 years. Just had tarps over it for what good that did lol!! After I built my shed and moved the wood, there weren't any major issues with the logs. Some slight punkiness on pieces that were probably already starting like that when the log was split but that was about the only major issue I had with those cords of wood.

Currently I have two 10 ft pallets sitting in front of my wood shed holding all the split pieces from my recent splitting, since the bins that were empty quickly got refilled from this last splitting session. I am estimating, using the cordwood calculator, that there is around 4 cords on those pallets, stacked 5 ft high. I may throw a tarp over it but since its just temporary till they can be stacked within the wood shed I likely won't bother and the pieces will be fine.
 

Ctwoodtick

Minister of Fire
Jun 5, 2015
1,615
Southeast CT
I am a fan of top covering. It can only help. That said, I didn’t for years and got along fine for the most. Your one issue would be if you get a trend of wet weather. If you have it stacked for years then you’ll be fine. If it’s stacked for less and you get a real wet Fall, you might have issues. I once had a stack of red maple at 20% mc that got rained on extensively. It shot up to 30% and stayed moist for quite a while even after moving it indoors in dehumidified area.
 
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Woodsplitter67

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2017
2,081
Woolwich nj
If your doing the work yourself... cutting splitting.. stacking.. You'll fined its alot of work and if you value your time and you enjoy higher quality wood , youll take care of the wood you process. I dont ever leave wood out. Its always taken care of like all of the other things I have. Its up off the ground and is always covered. My wood either sits in one of my wood sheds or on some of the racks I have up off the ground and covered. There should never be a question of should cover it, even if its just a basic rack and cover..Keeping it as dry as possible only speeds up the drying process. .may the force be with you.. ...always...
 

MissMac

Minister of Fire
Dec 4, 2017
908
NW Ontario
The fresh splits are typically 12% moisture which was shocking. From the outside of an old split we're at 18% give or take. These are logs that have been seasoned for 9 months though.
The fresh splits are typically 12% moisture which was shocking. From the outside of an old split we're at 18% give or take. These are logs that have been seasoned for 9 months though.
something here doesn't sound right. the split will measure drier on the outside than on a fresh split, which is why it's important to always test on a fresh split. 12% is very, very low - unless you live in the desert or have kiln dried those logs, i find that difficult to believe. what exactly is you moisture testing process?
 

Amin1992

Feeling the Heat
Oct 9, 2019
318
PA, USA
something here doesn't sound right. the split will measure drier on the outside than on a fresh split, which is why it's important to always test on a fresh split. 12% is very, very low - unless you live in the desert or have kiln dried those logs, i find that difficult to believe. what exactly is you moisture testing process?

You're right - that's what I get for multitasking at work! I meant the outside is typically 12-15% and the inside is 18-20% give or take.

Im using a moisture meter I bought online.
 
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