Seasoning Firewood: Do it Properly

What You'll Need
Axe or log splitter

Seasoning firewood is necessary before the wood can be safely and reliably burned on the fire. Firewood will always need to be seasoned regardless of where, when and how you are going to be burning it. Seasoning wood will take some time and the process and amount of time required varies considerably depending on the type of wood. Whether you need firewood for camping or burning in your home, you will need to season it appropriately. Wood that is inadequately seasoned will simply not catch light or, if it does, may cause spitting of sparks potentially causing harm to those around you. Wood that is unseasoned can cause a chimney fire. Before seasoning, freshly chopped wood contains as much as 50 percent in water content. This will not burn easily, if at all, and can cause problems. The wood needs to have less than 20 percent in moisture content before you should burn it.

Step 1 – Prepare the Wood for Seasoning

The wood basically needs to be dried out before it can be burned. It does not matter if the surface remains damp for much longer, so long as the majority of the moisture from inside the wood has disappeared. In order to make this possible in the shortest amount of time, the wood should be split up into fairly small logs. The smaller the logs are, the less time they will take to season. For most uses, it is optimal if each piece of wood is cut into 1-foot long sections and several inches of thickness. Split the wood down the middle with an axe. If you regularly use firewood and need to work with a large quantity of it, you can also use a log splitter. A log splitter and a saw horse is ideal for cutting and splitting large amounts of wood safely.

Step 2 – Remove the Bark

Stripping the bark off the wood, if practical, can also help to make it dry faster. If there is no cover available, it is best to leave the bark on the surface of the wood which gets the weather. This is because the bark can also act as a protective 'lid' over the wood'. In this case, the wood should be stacked accordingly.

Step 3 – Place the Wood for Seasoning

The wood can remain outdoors for seasoning. What is important is that the majority of its moisture content disappears. If you have a woodshed, this will be ideal. The wood needs to be placed off the ground so that air can circulate around it, including beneath it. Something as simple as placing it on some racks or cinder blocks can be perfectly satisfactory. So long as air can get around the wood thoroughly, it will dry. Stack the logs so that there is some space between them. Do not pack them tightly together as this will not be as effective. You can then cover the wood with a tarpaulin so that it is out of the weather.