Wood won't season

  • Active since 1995, Hearth.com is THE place on the internet for free information and advice about wood stoves, pellet stoves and other energy saving equipment.

    We strive to provide opinions, articles, discussions and history related to Hearth Products and in a more general sense, energy issues.

    We promote the EFFICIENT, RESPONSIBLE, CLEAN and SAFE use of all fuels, whether renewable or fossil.

weatherguy

Minister of Fire
Feb 20, 2009
5,906
Central Mass
My ash is usually ready after a full summer if cut and split around April, sugar maple is good wood but it takes me two full summers.
 

ErikR

Burning Hunk
Oct 12, 2013
152
northern WI
Good to know. I will try to find a way to use the tarps in a way that doesn't cover the sides or, like you said, let it season a bit before covering. The tarps are only held by the end grommets, so there is wind flow under them as I have to occasionally pull the middle part back over the stacks when they get blown off.


I also use the wood pile tarps from Northern Tool. I bought a 3 or 4 last fall when they were on sale for $2.99.
I had some extra pallets and stacked them on top of the pile and used some tiny bungee cords to secure the tarp to the pallets. I looked them over this fall before the snow came. They still looked pretty good. If they last 2 or 3 years for $3 I'm happy...

DSCF9607 - Copy.JPG
 

Travishall

Member
Nov 14, 2018
25
Central New York
Could it be this wood has "bacterial Wetwood"? Will it ever season? Should I keep harvesting wood from the tops?

The smell when splitting perhaps should have given it away. No one else around me has to season Ash for more than 8 months and I am almost a year beyond that.
 

SpaceBus

Minister of Fire
Nov 18, 2018
7,087
Downeast Maine
I like to tie a rope across the length of the stack for a kind of ridge of I'm using tarps. This will allow air movement and hopefully prevent condensation from dripping onto the wood.
 

Sawset

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2015
1,280
Palmyra, WI
Could it be this wood has "bacterial Wetwood"? Will it ever season? Should I keep harvesting wood from the tops?

The smell when splitting perhaps should have given it away. No one else around me has to season Ash for more than 8 months and I am almost a year beyond that.
Can a fungal or bacterial disease inhibit the seasoning process?
I haven't seen a definitive answer to that. No literature I've seen (that I can find) points to that. There is plenty of circumstantial - stuff won't dry because of - but the subject always changes to something else, and that question always gets sidestepped. Can a fungal or bacterial disease inhibit the seasoning process? The only time I've heard it mentioned is in the book you may have referenced, and there again, his explanation was circumstantial, info from the native folks saying so. Still leaves me wondering too.
 

Attachments

  • 1225191855.jpg
    1225191855.jpg
    135.4 KB · Views: 145
  • 1225191858.jpg
    1225191858.jpg
    105.7 KB · Views: 143
  • 1225191858a.jpg
    1225191858a.jpg
    143.6 KB · Views: 152

Travishall

Member
Nov 14, 2018
25
Central New York
I haven't seen a definitive answer to that. No literature I've seen (that I can find) points to that. There is plenty of circumstantial - stuff won't dry because of - but the subject always changes to something else, and that question always gets sidestepped. Can a fungal or bacterial disease inhibit the seasoning process? The only time I've heard it mentioned is in the book you may have referenced, and there again, his explanation was circumstantial, info from the native folks saying so. Still leaves me wondering too.
Yes, that section of book is what put the idea in my head as I have never heard of wood that won't season, unless it was rotten or punky. My wood is neither.

I came across "bacterial Wetwood" in lumber production but discussed cosmetic and load bearing issues, not necessarily seasoning as pertains to firewood.
 

Travishall

Member
Nov 14, 2018
25
Central New York
Upon further reading, "bacterial shake" seems plausible. Trees afflicted often have higher moisture content and season/dry more slowly, even in kilns. Wood can often have pockets of high moisture when the rest of wood is relatively low. Also produces putrid odor.
 

Travishall

Member
Nov 14, 2018
25
Central New York
Wetwood and drying
 

Attachments

  • pnw_gtr112 (3).pdf
    1.7 MB · Views: 171

TedyOH

Minister of Fire
Oct 7, 2015
560
NE Ohio
Keep the tarps off green wood for at least 2 summers. (Period...even ash...pine....poplar) Tarp what you think you're going to burn that winter at the end of summer.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
 

Woody Stover

Minister of Fire
Dec 25, 2010
12,285
Southern IN

TedyOH

Minister of Fire
Oct 7, 2015
560
NE Ohio
I might try that if my stacks weren't in the woods..
Stacks in the woods unfortunately sounds hopeless to me for prime weathering (my new term for "seasoning")

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
 

Woody Stover

Minister of Fire
Dec 25, 2010
12,285
Southern IN
No problem getting wood dry, but it's not as fast as in an open, breezy spot. The problem with not covering in the trees is that leaves and catkins pack into the tops of the stacks.
 

TedyOH

Minister of Fire
Oct 7, 2015
560
NE Ohio
No problem getting wood dry, but it's not as fast as in an open, breezy spot. The problem with not covering in the trees is that leaves and catkins pack into the tops of the stacks.
Glad to hear you can get it done in the woods....i guess im just spoiled i have a 2 acre field to stack and stage......not sure i would bother processing my own firewood if i had to stack in the woods.....i feel direct sunlight is more important than wind to weather cordwood properly....

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
 

Woody Stover

Minister of Fire
Dec 25, 2010
12,285
Southern IN
i feel direct sunlight is more important than wind to weather cordwood properly....
I think that the fact that I can get my wood to 18 or even 16% confirms that the sun isn't the prime ingredient.
I only tried one stack in the open, on top of a windy ridge. It was some dead Red Elm that ended up that dry, but in only two years, and I think it would have worked with dead Red Oak as well. Average size splits for me are 4-6".
 

TedyOH

Minister of Fire
Oct 7, 2015
560
NE Ohio
I think that the fact that I can get my wood to 18 or even 16% confirms that the sun isn't the prime ingredient.
I only tried one stack in the open, on top of a windy ridge. It was some dead Red Elm that ended up that dry, but in only two years, and I think it would have worked with dead Red Oak as well. Average size splits for me are 4-6".
Anything standing dead, if cut in summer, for me is ready in 2 months....2 years in the woods would make sense.....the woods that border my property is mostly damp swampy lowlands so it wouldn't be an option for me....goes to show everyone's situation is somewhat unique

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
 
  • Like
Reactions: Woody Stover

Woody Stover

Minister of Fire
Dec 25, 2010
12,285
Southern IN
Anything standing dead, if cut in summer, for me is ready in 2 months
I've cut Red Oak that had been standing dead for several years, that still had 30%+ moisture in the trunk. Maybe your non-cat will work OK on higher MC wood than my cat stove will. I need 18% wood for easy stove operation. I don't know if you even bother with a moisture meter, and what moisture content your two-month wood would have..?
 

TedyOH

Minister of Fire
Oct 7, 2015
560
NE Ohio
I've cut Red Oak that had been standing dead for several years, that still had 30%+ moisture in the trunk. Maybe your non-cat will work OK on higher MC wood than my cat stove will. I need 18% wood for easy stove operation. I don't know if you even bother with a moisture meter, and what moisture content your two-month wood would have..?
A few things....i do not search out 20-30" oak if im looking for standing dead....im looking for basically barkless, limbless telephone pole trees....maple, ash, beech and hickory (maple being fastest....ash the slowest)...so if i whack that 8" trunk round in half....its good to go in 2 months. 30% moisture or 50%....doesnt matter.....water evaporates much more quickly from standing dead or even from a 4 year weathered stack of oak.....think of standing dead (8-10" dia. trees) as a sponge at 30% moisture and freshly split green cordwood as a potato at 30%.....guess which one drys faster out in the summer sun....obviously the sponge......my clean glass, clean liner i clean once every 2 years and 35 years of processing cordwood is my "go... no go..." for picking out my weathered wood for the winter......i do have a meter and only use it on the rare red oak i come across....but even now I know not to touch it for 3 summers.....4 being better.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
 

Woody Stover

Minister of Fire
Dec 25, 2010
12,285
Southern IN
Gotcha.
....water evaporates much more quickly from standing dead
I hope that's the case on some dead-standing (four years or more) White Ash I stacked for my SIL a month or so back; It was 30% in the trunk and I was taken aback by those high readings, given the length of time it had been dead. If that stuff can get dry over the summer, I'll be thrilled. It's three rows deep on some pallets, so I don't know..
 

TedyOH

Minister of Fire
Oct 7, 2015
560
NE Ohio
If it's stacked under canopy in the woods IDK either.....hopefully you have some space in your rows......i do single rows with 5 foot of space....i stack E/W this way theres never a shadow on my stacks late Spring thru Fall.

Sent from my SM-G930V using Tapatalk
 

Easy Livin’ 3000

Minister of Fire
Dec 23, 2015
2,933
SEPA
I have a mix of sugar maple and Ash that has been cut, split, stacked for 18 months. Wood had been stacked in a single row and off the ground on old fence rails. Plenty of wind and sun. Wood has been top covered only with tarp. Tarp hangs down the side about 12 inches.

Moisture meter reading 25% still. Wood hisses and spits in the stove. What gives?

This wood came from a sanitation harvest removing diseased or dead trees, particularly a fungal canker on the sugar maple. Can a fungal or bacterial disease inhibit the seasoning process? I have read about "wood that never seasons" and am afraid I might have just that.

Open to thoughts or suggestions.
With the tarp hanging 12" over, right on top of the top row, you are likely catching evaporation and keeping it dripping on to the stacks. I've found, In a climate that is probably much like yours, that I have a similar problem with wood drying.

My solution, and it works well, is to put something on top of the stack that puts a pitch on the tarp, and flairs the sides out a little, so the condensate and rain don't constantly re-wet the wood. I've found the advice to keep the top open for a time, so that rain keeps re-wetting the wood, to be counterproductive.
 
  • Like
Reactions: bholler

Travishall

Member
Nov 14, 2018
25
Central New York
With the tarp hanging 12" over, right on top of the top row, you are likely catching evaporation and keeping it dripping on to the stacks. I've found, In a climate that is probably much like yours, that I have a similar problem with wood drying.

My solution, and it works well, is to put something on top of the stack that puts a pitch on the tarp, and flairs the sides out a little, so the condensate and rain don't constantly re-wet the wood. I've found the advice to keep the top open for a time, so that rain keeps re-wetting the wood, to be counterproductive.

Thanks for the suggestions. Can you post a pic of your tarp set up? I can probably tuck the sides up and under the top but would be interested in seeing your setup.
 

ErikR

Burning Hunk
Oct 12, 2013
152
northern WI
For me, the key has been keeping off the ground, 1 pallet's good, 2 is better. I made a small rack out of scrap pallets, a few 2x4s, and a couple sheets of clear plastic panel. The plastic has held up good for several years. It's not yellowing or getting brittle.. I an understand trying to dry in the woods and having tree trash fall on the wood. A simple rack like this would keep the rain and crap off the wood..

DSCF6630.JPG


If I had to do it over again, I'd stack 2 rows deep not 3, add a second pallet underneath or at least reinforce it with some green treated pieces, and turn the around the other way to keep the high side in the front so the snow falls off the back not the front.

DSCF6646 - Copy.JPG
 
Last edited: