How Long Should You Dry Firewood? (User’s Guide)

Firewood is a necessity in many homes. Some people prefer to use it for heating their homes, while others like to use it for cooking. Either way, the wood needs to be dried before you can burn it! This guide will give you all of the information that you need when deciding how long to dry your firewood so that you get the best results possible.

Drying firewood is a process that can take up to six months. If you don’t properly dry your wood, it will not burn correctly and could be dangerous to use in the fireplace. There are several ways you can tell when your firewood has dried enough. In this article we will go over some of the most common methods and how long they typically take for complete drying:firewood

  • Checking moisture content with a hygrometer 6 weeks
  • Hefting the piece of wood 3 weeks
  • Testing weight with scales 8 weeks
  • Singing along to your favorite song 30 minutes. Please stop singing now, it’s giving me earworms.

Factors To Consider When Drying Firewood

There are many factors that you need to consider when deciding how long your firewood is going to be dried. The length of time spent in the drying process will depend on a number of things, for example: what type and size of wood is it? How much moisture does the wood have before leaving its original location? What humidity level do you want in your home? And finally, how long do you have to wait for the wood to be ready.

  • Drying time is a variable process. It can take anywhere from six months up to two years.
  • The best way to know when your firewood has been dried successfully is by using a moisture meter. You want the readings of the wood’s moisture level to fall between 20% and 25%. This will be enough for it to be used in your home without worrying about fire safety.
  • If you are looking at the bigger picture, then make sure you take into account all of these factors when deciding how long your wood should spend drying.

Water Content of Wood

When you cut down a tree, it’s alive and has living cells that are full of water. Trees take in the sun’s energy from photosynthesis to convert carbon dioxide into sugars through a process called cellular respiration. This creates water as a byproduct—and trees need lots of H20 for growing! In fact, a woody plant’s roots draw up water from as deep as 200 feet underground, and its trunk can transport it to the leaves which produce their own supply.

  • In a living tree, the cells are full of water and it’s alive. In order to cut down a tree, you must first kill it by removing its root system which can get up to 200 feet deep. This means that when you use freshly cut firewood in your wood stove or fireplace, these dead trees still have lots of water in them.
  • If you don’t properly dry your firewood, it can catch on fire and burn quickly. This is because the cells in a freshly cut tree are full of water which helps to feed the flame! However, once dried out through air circulation over many months, these same dead trees will produce less heat as they are now mostly made up of cellulose and lignin, both which are solid.
  • Heat is produced through the process of combustion where the cellulose breaks down into sugars again to release energy as it combines with oxygen in a chemical reaction called oxidation. As air flows around this woody fuel above an open flame or other heat source, that fire will burn less intensely.

Average Humidity and Temperature

After years of research, the American Wood Council determined that it takes an average of one year for firewood to dry. However, there are other factors that contribute into how long you should age your wood before burning it.

When determining how long to dry firewood before burning, you should consider the humidity and temperature in your area. If it’s a very humid summer night or if winter is approaching soon, this affects how quickly your wood burns down. The longer the wood stays outside (in good conditions), the better quality of firewood that will be produced.

  • Humidity and Temperature are factors that affect how long to age firewood before burning it.
  • If you live in a more humid area, wait longer for your wood to dry out after cutting down trees until winter arrives.
  • The higher the humidity, the longer you should age your firewood.
  • If it’s a humid summer night, wait to cut down trees until winter is approaching soon.
  • In colder months, if you live in a more dry area and temps are going to drop below freezing soon, then get out there earlier for cutting wood before winter approaches.
  • If it’s a dry winter night, wait to cut down trees until summer approaches.
  • The lower the humidity, the less time you should age your firewood.
  • If there is not much humidity in your area during warmer months, then get out there earlier for cutting wood until winter arrives.

Wood Species for Home Heating

There are several species of woods which you can burn in your home heating fireplace. Two popular types include pine and spruce, but it’s important to note that not all pines or spruces make great firewood even though they might look good to use for this purpose. This is because the density of the wood is the biggest factor when it comes to how well a species of tree or plant will burn.

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When you are sorting through which types of wood to use for your fireplace, make sure that you pick out one with a high density because these woods have more energy in them and they tend to give off more heat once they are burned.

Wood Species for Home Heating Pine Versus Spruce Firewood

There are several species of woods which you can burn in your home heating fireplace. Two popular types include pine and spruce, but it’s important to note that not all pines or spruces make great firewood even though they might look good to use for this purpose. This is because the density of the wood is the biggest factor when it comes to how well a species of tree or plant will burn.

When you are sorting through which types of wood to use for your fireplace, make sure that you pick out one with a high density because these woods have more energy in them and they tend to give off more heat once they are burned.

When it comes to pine versus spruce, the difference is that pines grow faster than spruces do because of quicker growth rates. Spruces need a little bit longer time for their tree trunks to grow in diameter so there’s a difference in the density of their wood as well.firewood

Proper Stacking

Proper stacking is important to ensure the firewood stays dry. Ensure that it’s not in an upright position and stacked so rain water can drain off of it, otherwise you will have wet wood at best and maybe even moldy or rotted pieces if it has been exposed for too long. You should also put a tarp or cover over the wood if you are stacking it outside.

  • Stack your firewood in a flat position so that water can drain off of them and they stay dry longer.
  • If possible, stack your firewood under shelter to protect them from rainfall.
  • Cover your firewood with a tarp or other cover if it will be exposed to rainfall, as this can cause them to rot.

How To Test Firewood for Dryness?

If you have a moisture meter, test the firewood every three inches starting from the outside of what will be your stack. If wood is under 20 percent moisture content it will burn hotter and faster than wetter or green wood. Properly seasoned logs can also avoid destructive creosote buildup in chimneys that’s associated with burning unseasoned (green) firewood.

If you don’t have a moisture meter, use the bend test to see if your wood is dry enough for safe and efficient burning. The two types of trees that are commonly available in North America include hardwoods and softwoods. Softwoods usually produce more creosote than hardwoods, so if you’re burning softwood in your home furnace or stove, it should be well seasoned.

The Visual Test

One of the best ways to tell if your firewood is dry enough for burning in a wood stove or fireplace is by looking at it. The piece should not have any green areas, as this means that it hasn’t been dried well enough and could introduce too much moisture into your home when burned. In addition, you want to be sure that the wood is not brittle, as this can cause it to break while burning and could result in a safety hazard.

Another good way to tell if your firewood has been sufficiently dried out is by tapping on it with another piece of wood or a knuckle. If you can hear a faint hollow sound when thumping the ends of the log, this means that it is dry and ready to be burned. If you hear a dull thud sound or nothing at all, this likely indicates insufficient drying and should therefore not be burned in your fire pit or fireplace yet.

One last test you can perform on your firewood involves seeing if it has cracks running through its length. If so, the wood has been dried out well and should be burned. Should you find otherwise, it is recommended that you wait a little longer for more moisture to naturally leave the firewood before burning it in your fireplace or stove.

The Audio Test

If you have a fireplace, chances are good that you’ll use it at least once during the winter. If so, then consider investing in firewood! It’s much cheaper than buying logs from your local home improvement center and can save you money when used properly.

After you’ve cut your trees down and laid them to rest, it may seem like all that hard work might be in vain because of how long they take to turn into something useful. However, the important thing is not when they will become logs for a fireplace or wood stove; it’s how long they should dry. This is not a question you can answer with one simple number, but instead it depends on the time of year and will vary from log to log.

The most important thing that determines how long your wood needs to dry is the season in which you cut it down. If possible, wait until winter to do your cutting because the wood will be much drier and thus ready for use much faster. If you can’t wait that long, try to at least cut it in September or October as those months are usually driest.

Another factor which affects how long they dry is where you live. In humid areas, such as the east and south coasts, wood needs to dry more than it would in a drier climate.

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For example, the first year after you cut down your tree is when most of its water content will be lost as it slowly becomes firewood. If you want some that can burn right away for any reason then try splitting up that first winter and then stacking it in a dry, well-ventilated area. This will help to speed up the drying process and you’ll have enough ready by next winter without any problems!

The Weight Test

This is an important test, one that can give you a clue as to whether or not your firewood will be dry enough in time. The idea of this test is quite simple: pick up the wood and see if it feels lighter than normal. If it does, then there’s a good chance that it’ll burn quickly…

The Electronic Test

You can also use an electronic test to tell when wood is dry. Again, this requires you to take the time out of your day and do some testing with a tool that most people may not have lying around their house. Most readouts are in Celsius degrees (C), but if they’re available in F, subtract 32 to convert it.

The drying time for green wood is around 0 to 60C or 32 to 140F, while seasoned wood takes about 100C or 220F and up before the moisture content stabilizes at 12%. For an electronic test with a readout of 20% (which you can find in most ovens), it should take around 120C or 250F before the wood stabilizes at 12%.

If you want to learn more about using an electronic test, look up “wood moisture meter.” There are many different types with their own features and capabilities that make them worth looking into for any serious firewood burner. A quick search online will pull up numerous results which you can explore further.firewood

So, How Long Should You Dry Firewood?

As we’ve said, the answer depends on where you live and your climate. If you live in a dry area with low humidity and limited rainfall year-round, it could be as little as six months to one year. But if you reside in an area that gets lots of rain or snowfall during fall/winter seasons (and even spring), you should allow for a longer period of time.

Also, keep in mind that if you live somewhere where the temperatures can drop below freezing during winter months, wood will retain its moisture longer. So again, expect it to take more time for your firewood to dry before being used as kindling or burned for warmth.

Typically speaking though, about one year is a good guideline for how long to dry firewood.

Environmental Protection

Firewood is an environmentally friendly way to heat your home and the great outdoors. The wood you burn emits fewer greenhouse gases than other heating sources such as oil, gas or electrical appliances. The only emissions are carbon dioxide and water vapour, both of which are natural.

The fuel source is also renewable so it will never run out unlike fossil fuels. Trees continue to grow after they have been harvested for firewood so there is no shortage in supply either! You can reduce your impact on the environment even more by using wood from locally grown trees.

Safety Tips

  • Make sure you have a safe place to work. To dry firewood, it is best if the weather is nice and sunny outside where there is little wind. Mild temperatures are also necessary for this process so that the humidity does not cause any problems with your wood drying too quickly or mold forming on top of your logs before they can be cut into useable pieces.
  • Keep your work area safe and free of any tripping hazards as you will be working with logs that can cause a slip-and-fall risk if not properly cared for. Do not operate machinery such as chainsaws near or around the firewood pile, either; this is very dangerous and should always be avoided.
  • Wear protective clothing when working with dry firewood, such as gloves and safety glasses to avoid splinters or any other painful injuries that can result from this process.
  • If you are not using a chainsaw for this task, make sure to use the right tools. For example, if you plan on splitting your logs with an axe or maul (which is recommended), then do not choose something like a hammer; it will break! Also remember that safety comes first and foremost when operating any type of tool.
  • Keep in mind that you do not have to cut down your own trees for this task; there are many companies who will bring the logs right to your door! If you go with a company, make sure they use trucks or trailers rather than open pickup beds so that your wood stays clean and dry while it is being transported over to your residence.
  • If you are using a chainsaw, remember to wear safety gear such as earplugs and protective eyewear while operating the tool in order to keep yourself safe from all types of injuries that can arise while cutting dry firewood.
  • Keep children and pets away from the work area when working with dry firewood; they could get injured if the wood falls or is not properly handled.
  • Store dry firewood in an area with good air circulation to avoid mold build-up on your logs before you are ready to use them for fuel purposes. Also keep it away from any moisture sources such as sinks, washing machines, dishwashers, and even the kitchen stove.
  • Make sure to store your firewood in a safe place that is well ventilated, away from any moisture sources such as sinks or dishwashers, and also keep it apart from children and pets who could get injured if they were to play around with these logs.
  • Find a local company that will bring the logs to you.
  • Use safety gear when working with dry firewood, such as gloves and protective eyewear.
  • Store your firewood in a safe place away from moisture sources but also well ventilated so they do not become moldy before use.
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Is it important to have seasoned firewood?

Yes, the best wood is dry. When you buy logs for burning in your fireplace or stove they should be cut and split at least six months before using them so that they are thoroughly dried out. If not, then when starting a fire with green logs there will be more smoke emitted which is undesirable. Not only this, but the lack of dry wood causes your chimney to become clogged with tar and creosote which can be dangerous for both people and property.

How should I store firewood?

Firewood needs to be stored in a place where it will not be exposed to moisture or insects. Cover the logs with a tarp and stack them off the ground so they can be kept dry. The area should also have good airflow to help prevent bugs from getting into your firewood pile.

How long does it take for wood fuel to become seasoned?

Generally speaking, hardwoods will require one year of air drying before being used as firewood.

What is the difference between hardwoods and softwoods?

The distinguishing feature of a hardwood tree versus that of a soft wood one, is whether or not it sheds its leaves in winter. Hardwood trees keep their leaves all year long (oak, cherry, maple, etc.) while most conifers like pine or spruce drop their leaves in the fall.

What is a cord of firewood?

A cord is a measure of wood that equals 128 cubic feet, which works out to be about four by four by eight feet or as tall as your ceiling. In other words, it’s a lot!

What is a face cord of firewood?

A face cord of wood means that the pile has been stacked on skids and is typically eight feet high, sixteen feet long, and four-to-eight inches deep. For example: two rows by eight feet with a depth of about four to six inches equals one face cord.

How much firewood should I store?

For a family of four you will need about two to three cords for the winter months. If you are stocking up more than this, make sure that your storage area is adequate enough to keep it dry and pest free. Another thing worth mentioning is that if you have children, they will need to be taught how, and where, firewood is stored.

How long can I store seasoned wood?

In most cases you should have no problem if your firewood has been properly dried for a year or more. In some regions it’s recommended that hardwoods are used within two years as the bark and sap in green wood can cause it to rot and lose its value as a firewood source.

What is the best way to store hardwoods for burning?

There are many ways in which you can stack your wood, but one of the most popular methods is called an upside-down barrel design that allows the air to circulate from all directions. A simple design for stacking wood is a teepee shape with the logs leaning against each other so they can dry evenly and remain pest free, plus it’s easier on your back!

How do I store my firewood?

If you have an adequate storage area then storing hardwoods for burning is really not all that difficult. First, you need to ensure the area has good ventilation and then stack your wood in a way so it can dry out naturally while being protected from moisture.

What does seasoned firewood look like?

The bark starts to break away on its own or with help of some light tapping along the length of the wood. Depending on your area, it may be best to leave bark or remove it (if bark is loose) so that insects cannot make a home in the firewood pile and expose you to diseases like black-legged tick fever.

What do I need to consider when using seasoned firewood?

When burning hardwoods, you will need to make sure you are not burning green wood as it does not give off enough heat and can cause creosote build up. If your firewood has bark on it, be aware that the sap in green hardwoods is what causes unseasoned wood to rot so only burn seasoned wood for a cleaner flame and better warmth.


It is important to note that the drying process may take longer or shorter depending on many different factors. There are some helpful suggestions you can follow if you’re unsure of how long it will take for your firewood to dry out, however these time estimates should provide a good ballpark range. If the wood becomes too wet at any point throughout the drying process, it may become unusable.