What do you call "seasoned" wood?

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Backwoods Savage

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2007
27,812
Michigan
Time and time again we see the words, "Seasoned wood" used in this forum. Yet, time and time again, when further questioned, many own up to the fact that their wood just is not seasoned. They get creosote, logs sizzling in the stove, hard to light fires, can't get temperatures up, etc.

So, what exactly is seasoned wood?

When you purchase seasoned wood from a supplier, is it really seasoned? Or did the supplier just say it was seasoned? Well, they have to make a living...

How do you season your wood?

Does different types of wood take different lengths of time to season?




As for me and my house, we'll burn seasoned wood! This is how we do it in the backwoods by this savage:

Cut during winter (Sap is down. Birds aren't nesting. Much better than sweating in summer and swatting skeeters and other pesky insects. And what about those yellow jackets?!)

Cut this winter what you will burn next winter, or better yet, two winters ahead or further. Starting right after Thanksgiving we'll be cutting for the heating season of 2014-2015 (maybe sooner depending upon how much wood we give to the needy).

We stack the wood in the winter, then when it starts warming some in the spring, that is when we do the splitting and final stacking. Some final stacking gets done in the winter but only that wood which does not need splitting.

The wood is stacked up to 4' in height, rows vary in lengths depending upon where we are stacking at the time. Wood is also sorted according to type (softer woods for spring, fall and daytime burning; harder woods for winter and nights).

Wood is left uncovered! This allows for better evaporation of moisture that is in the wood.

Wood pile gets covered in late fall or early winter. If excessively wet fall it may get covered earlier. The cover is top only, never the sides or ends. Once covered, stays covered until wood is used.

On snowy days, stay indoors in warm, toasty house! Put extra log on fire to make clothing come off of certain bodies. Have cold drinks on hand. Enjoy!
 

iceman

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2006
2,403
Springfield Ma (western mass)
very good info...
funny thing though it 20 outside with a high 30-35 wind chill all day will be in the teens
and i am splitting wood for next year or the year after to try and get ahead!!
i want it all done before thanksgiving and the real cold hits us!!
i wiss i had enough land to stack more than 2 years ahead but my neighbors call the town
 

CowboyAndy

New Member
Feb 29, 2008
744
Chateaugay, NY
Not that I prefer sweating my ass off, but I definitly do not like the cold...

but I think that your routine is spot on, we are just about the same way.
 

Bigg_Redd

Minister of Fire
Oct 19, 2008
4,153
Shelton, WA
From live standing to ready to burn Douglas Fir needs about 4 months assuming it's kept dry.

Broad leaf maple needs 8 or 9 months.

Since these two species represent 80% of the wood I burn the answer is 4-9 months.
 

Martin Strand III

New Member
Nov 20, 2005
763
NW MI near nowhere
"SEASONED" WOOD: cut and split pieces of firewood that have been stacked for at least 6 months, ideally uncovered in the sun and in a windy spot. The purpose of this is to decrease the wood's innate moisture content from about 50+% down to about 20%. You don't want water or a lot of moisture in your firewood: it robs your fire of heat by taking energy to first boil off the H2O before pyrolysis of wood occurs.

You do not need a moisture meter to determine if your suspected wood purchase is well "seasoned". Just look at it and feel it with the below in mind. Keep in mind, smaller splits dry faster than larger splits and some species take longer to dry than others; sugar maple takes longer than ash.

Characteristics of "Seasoned " wood:

1. Radial cracks on the split ends - indicating shrinkage
2. Loose or missing bark - indicating shrinkage
3. Dark discoloration - "suntanned"
4. Lighter in weight than a green piece of equal size - indicates water loss
5. "Clinking" sound when 2 pieces are hit together rather than a "thud" - water dulls the sound
6. Maybe a mouse nest in the stack

Aye,
Marty
 

LLigetfa

Minister of Fire
Nov 9, 2008
7,360
NW Ontario
I buy winter cut wood for the reasons mentioned and get it delivered on frozen ground to save my driveway and yard. I buck it up right away (hate to sweat). In the spring before the heat, I split it all and lose pile it outdoors to dry. In summer I drink beer (hate to sweat). Come fall, when it's cooler (I hate to sweat) I stack it in the shed. I try to keep two years ahead of the game where possible.

Oh, did I mention I hate to sweat?
 

smokinj

Minister of Fire
Aug 11, 2008
15,980
Anderson, Indiana
5+ year hedge apple or 5-6 mo.silver maple!
 

Jags

Moderate Moderator
Staff member
Aug 2, 2006
18,163
Northern IL
With the Oak I like a little fresh cracked pepper, a dash of salt with a little chipotle dipping sauce. Now the apple, I use a little cinnamon and sugar and thats all. Don't go french 'in it up or nothin, it just don't need it. Now THATS proper seasoning.

Oh, and Dennis's method will work too.
 

ScottF

New Member
Aug 7, 2008
411
Southern NH
What do you call "seasoned" wood?
Depends on what I have been doing ,

Sometimes I call it "Bobby and the back breakers"
Sometimes I call it "Harry and the heat misers"

Sometimes I dont call it at all because I dont want to be on a first name basis when Im about to incinerate the heck out of it.
 

adrpga498

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2005
931
New Jersey
iceman said:
very good info...
funny thing though it 20 outside with a high 30-35 wind chill all day will be in the teens
and i am splitting wood for next year or the year after to try and get ahead!!
i want it all done before thanksgiving and the real cold hits us!!
i wiss i had enough land to stack more than 2 years ahead but my neighbors call the town

Try building a Holz Hausen or two. Works for me.
 

Bigg_Redd

Minister of Fire
Oct 19, 2008
4,153
Shelton, WA
adrpga498 said:
iceman said:
very good info...
funny thing though it 20 outside with a high 30-35 wind chill all day will be in the teens
and i am splitting wood for next year or the year after to try and get ahead!!
i want it all done before thanksgiving and the real cold hits us!!
i wiss i had enough land to stack more than 2 years ahead but my neighbors call the town

Try building a Holz Hausen or two. Works for me.
Engrish, Prease.
 

BrotherBart

Modestorator
Staff member
The words "seasoned wood" need to go the way of the buggy whip. It is ether dry wood or it's not dry wood.
 

Jags

Moderate Moderator
Staff member
Aug 2, 2006
18,163
Northern IL
BrotherBart said:
The words "seasoned wood" need to go the way of the buggy whip. It is ether dry wood or it's not dry wood.
Careful BroB. Using that kind of logic may get you nominated for a cabinet position. ;-)
 
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