There are many factors that go into the moisture content of firewood. It is important to know what you need, and how to measure it, in order to make sure your wood will be effective for the job you need it for. This article will give you a brief overview of firewood basics so that you can pick out just the right type of wood for your needs.
How To Moisture Content In Firewood
There are three ways to determine this. The first is the standard of what moisture content firewood should be, which is 20% or less. Another method can be done by weighing it with a cheap hydrometer that you can find at your local store for around $20-30 dollars. One more way would be pulling off one end and slowly seeing how many small chips come out before they start leaving large chunks behind (which means there’s too much bark on them).
What is the Best Moisture Content for Firewood
When it comes to storing firewood, the “best moisture content” is one that has been dried out completely. A piece of wood with any amount of moisture will not burn well and can even lead to a dangerous situation if left inside for an extended period of time.
In order for your firewood to be suitable, you need to make sure that they have been cut down from trees in the fall or winter when water levels are typically at their lowest point. If possible, try looking around outside on fallen logs during this season as well – finding pieces with little-to-no bark can save lots of headaches later!
Once you have your pieces of wood, they should be allowed to dry for a minimum of six months before ever being used in a fire. If you are not looking forward to sitting around and waiting that long, the best option would probably be purchasing kiln-dried logs from local hardware stores or home improvement centers.
As far as more specific numbers go:
- Softwoods (pine) with anything over 20% moisture will smoke while burning; some varieties can even spark and create small embers! This is not ideal – just because it smells great doesn’t mean that it makes for good fuel.
- Medium-density hardwood (oak) between 15%-20% moisture content is perfectly acceptable starting fires but may burn faster than you like.
- Very dense hardwoods (ash, beech) with less than 14% moisture will burn well and last for a while; this is what most seasoned firewood experts prefer to use when building their flame source!
How Do You Know If Firewood Is Dry Enough?
This can be a difficult question to answer, but there are some telltale signs that the wood has been properly dried. You’ll need to pay attention and remember what your eye and nose tell you in order to make sure the wood isn’t too wet or even worse – rotten.
- First of all, look for how much bark is left on the logs when choosing which ones will work best for burning later on. If it looks like almost every bit of surface area was stripped off during processing then it might have been stored outside long enough for moisture content to take its toll. In other words, don’t buy from that supplier again they have changed their quality over time.
- Secondly, you’ll need to look for cracks or splits in the wood itself. While it is possible that they aren’t any better than what might be considered “perfectly good firewood” by most people if there are too many then consider another supplier for your supplies.
- Finally, when holding a log of firewood between your thumb and index finger (assuming both hands) try to get an idea of how heavy it feels like compared to other pieces that appear similar in size even though they may not have been cut from trees with the same diameter at their base. If one piece seems noticeably lighter or heavier after purchasing it then this could mean moisture has seeped into certain areas which could be dangerous when burning.
There are many other signs to look out for in order to make sure the logs of firewood you’ve chosen won’t cause any issues later down the road, but these should help get you started! Don’t forget that wood with a higher moisture content will yield less heat during combustion so it could take even longer than usual to use up all of what was purchased from someone else who didn’t store their supply properly.
Can Firewood Be Too Dry?
If you buy firewood and it is too dry, there are a few problems that can arise. First of all, you will have trouble starting the wood to get your fire going because it won’t burn well when it’s really dried out. Secondly, if the moisture content has gotten below 20%, then there isn’t much energy in what you bought or paid for so less heat output from your fireplace or stove.
Lastly, split logs that are extremely dry tend not to last as long either and start showing signs of checking (cracks) which means they aren’t very stable anymore and could possibly come apart while burning in your stove/fireplace.
- The ideal moisture content for seasoned firewood is 20% – 25%.
- Wood that has a higher than average moisture level can lead to problems such as mold, mildew, and insects.
- If you buy dried-out wood, there are different ways it can be used such as making fires or using an oven to cook with.
- There are many benefits of dry wood including less smoke from the fireplace/stove and more efficient burning which means better fuel economy so your wallet doesn’t take too much of a hit either!
Why Does Firewood Need to be Dried Before Use?
When firewood is cut, it leaches out a lot of water. That fresh-cut wood has an average moisture content (MC) of anywhere from 50 to 90 percent – and that’s too wet for ideal burning conditions. If you burn green or unseasoned firewood in your fireplace or woodstove, the log will not combust efficiently, and there may be smoke coming out your chimney as well as creosote buildup which poses a serious risk to both you and your home’s safety.
Firewood needs to be dried before use because:
- Green or unseasoned firewood can cause creosote buildup in your chimney, which is a hazardous byproduct of combustion. Creosote has been linked as a major cause of house fires and should not be taken lightly. In fact, the National Fire Protection Association reports that “more than 25 percent” of home heating-related fires involve an improper fuel load – usually green or wet wood.”* The smoke from burning too damp wood may irritate eyes and lungs.
- “Green” firewood is any wood that has not been allowed to dry out after cutting. It contains more than 40 percent moisture and, if burned in your fireplace or woodstove, can result in poor heat output, excessive creosote buildup (a major cause of chimney fires), corrosion, ash residue on the hearth, and perhaps a few dead fish at the bottom of your flue!
How Can you Tell if your Wood is Dry Enough to Burn?
- You should be able to hear a slight crackling sound when you drop a piece of dry wood onto the ground. If it does not make any noise, then the moisture content is too high and will cause smoke in your chimney or have trouble lighting up. The best way to test if your firewood is ready for burning is by using an analog oven thermometer that has been calibrated at 212 degrees Fahrenheit (100 Celsius). Your logs should reach this temperature after 30 minutes into their burn time to ensure they are fully seasoned and good quality fuel source.
- If you are unable to hear any crackling, then your wood is too green and will smoke unmercifully.
- You should be able to see the moisture content as well as feel it if you shake a piece of firewood in your hand. If it makes a rustling sound or feels like there may still be water inside, then they need more time to dry out before burning them for fuel. The best way to test this is by checking how easily they split apart when struck against another piece of wood (a splitting maul works very well). When done correctly, two pieces should break off evenly where one shaves off small shavings that curl upwards along the line of impact while the other breaks cleanly in half.
- If your logs are very hard to break apart, then the moisture content is too high and will cause smoke in your chimney or have trouble lighting up. If they fall cleanly in two pieces but leave behind a lot of debris that can be easily crumbled into even smaller bits with little effort, then you probably need dry kindling instead because it’s still too wet for burning properly as firewood (you’ll get more sparks this way).
How to Drying out Wet Wood
Wet wood can still be used for fuel. However, it will not burn as efficiently and also creates a lot of smoke when burned. Fortunately, there is an easy way to dry out the wet firewood – by using heat from your fireplace or woodstove!
If you have some extra time on hand then curing them would be an even better idea. It means that after bringing home newly cut logs they should sit outside for several months so all moisture in them evaporates away naturally while being exposed to sun and rain. If possible place them somewhere where they get direct sunlight but don’t let rain puddle underneath them because this may lead to logs rotting.
If you don’t have any spare time it is still worth bringing them inside for a week or two until the weather gets better and then leave them outside again. This will allow moisture in logs to evaporate faster because of higher temperature indoors (around 70 degrees Fahrenheit) compared with outdoors where the temperature usually makes around 50-55 degrees during daytime at this season.
After several days of drying out firewood, take one log from your pile and check how much weight difference there is between the wet piece and dry one by using some accurate scale if possible but feel free to use a simple bathroom scale as well – just place it on top so that all wood pieces are balanced together on both sides before reading their total weight which should be somewhere close or the same before and after the drying.
If you notice that there is more than one pound of a difference it means your logs still contain some moisture and need to be dried out further until they become completely dry (almost weightless).
Don’t let them stay outside in wet weather because this can lead to rotting! This is why curing firewood for several months may not always work – if the wood dries too slowly then it will get rotten, moldy, or covered with insects faster.
Even when cut freshly from a tree all pieces should have at least 20% of their original moisture content removed so they don’t smoke while burning inside your fireplace or stove. If you are looking for an efficient heat source that does not require extra maintenance like splitting firewood more often than necessary then it is best to buy kiln-dried wood.