What Is Seasoned Wood? How Do You Season Firewood Quickly?

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You should always use seasoned wood for both indoor and outdoor fires.

Whether for a wood-burning stove, firepit, fireplace, or other appliance, seasoned wood burns most efficiently and produces more heat.

So what is seasoned wood?

Basically, it’s just dry wood.

When a tree is cut down, it has a lot of moisture in it, and it is not suitable for burning right away. It needs to be sectioned up, split and then left to dry for approximately a year.

We buck and split most of our wood each year and season it differently around the property. Here’s what we’ve learned!

What Is Seasoned Firewood?

stacking seasoned wood inside

Seasoned wood is just wood that’s been left to dry.

Exposure to the elements, both rain and sun, allows moisture to escape.

The firewood stack in the picture above is in our sunroom (and now 3 rows deep).

While not everyone wants a wood stack inside, it works well for us. This wood dried out quickly in such a hot, dry area and was ready to use in our wood-burning stove after only a few months.

seasoned firewood

We also have this covered carport, which has become our main woodpile.

It’s north-facing and gets the sun most of the day. Wood dries out faster and is more accessible when stacked, but I don’t always make the time.

Using our neighbor’s MTD log splitter, I can chuck the wood straight in here, and it dries out fine.

There are multiple different ways you can buy firewood:

  • Fully-seasoned
  • Semi-seasoned
  • Green/wet
  • Kiln-dried

Kiln-dried and fully-seasoned firewood are more expensive, while semi-seasoned and greenwood are cheaper.

If you’re a good planner, it’s often best to buy unseasoned wood, stack it, and then use it once it’s dry – simply because you can save a lot of money over time.

When buying seasoned wood, the level of moisture can vary from seller to seller, but it’s generally not something to get upset about. If you are buying fully seasoned wood, you want it to be ready to burn, but it might sometimes arrive ‘rain-wet.’

Rain wet means it’s been split for a good amount of time, but it’s been in the rain. This type of moisture evaporates quickly.

Benefits Of Seasoned Firewood

seasoning firewood

Why should you only burn dry, seasoned firewood?

There are a ton of benefits, some that are obvious and some that are less so!

The obvious ones are that it’s a lot easier to start a fire with dry firewood, and it will stay alight without much effort. Wet wood does not burn well and takes much more management to keep it going (if you can get it started).

Burning dry wood also produces much more heat. It’s like night and day. We do not recommend using green or semi-seasoned wood in your fire; it wastes time.

Other reasons why you should only burn seasoned wood are:

  • It creates a lot less smoke/emissions when burning – wet wood generates a lot of smoke
  • Stops build up in your chimney or flue – if you are burning wet wood you will have to sweep your flue regularly
  • Dry wood is often easier to split with an ax – though that can depend on the variety
  • Dry wood is much lighter to carry into the house – wet wood can be very heavy

Outdoor fires like Chimineas are especially difficult to start with wet wood. The drier the wood, the better!

How To Tell If Firewood Is Dry

Because seasoned firewood can be unreliable, you can check it before putting it on the fire.

You can buy a firewood moisture meter and test the wood’s water content before using it. These devices will tell you the moisture content of a piece of wood in a percentage figure.

You’ll get a clean fire if the water content is 20% or less. Let it dry out a little more before burning it if it has a higher moisture content.

how to use stihl moisture meter

We just bought this Stihl moisture meter for firewood.

It’s been fun checking out the moisture content of firewood, lumber, and even paper!

Signs of seasoned wood include:

  • pale in color
  • visible cracks
  • bark comes loose easily
  • lightweight
  • feels dry
  • no sap

Firewood’s water content often makes it quite heavy. Since seasoned wood loses much of this moisture, it weighs significantly less.

The final notable marker of seasoned wood is its sound. When you tap two of the logs together, it will make clear knocking sounds.

This sound will be very different from greenwood logs coming together, which is like a dull thud.

How To Season Firewood

what does seasoned wood mean

The wood we have been splitting has been down already for at least 5 years.

The previous owners of our property had dropped dozens of trees, mostly hardwood, and left them there. Most of them were held up from the way they were felled and were not sitting on the ground.

Therefore, the wood was already reasonably dry before even getting the chainsaws into it.

Although it’s been down so long, most of the wood, especially the gum, has not even started to rot or decay. The downside is that the wood has become much harder than when it was first down, making it more difficult to cut and split.

If you are starting with very green and wet wood, here are some of the best ways you can season it.

1. Location

The first step to seasoning your firewood is choosing a location to do it in.

The best position to season wet wood is:

  • facing the sun
  • stacked
  • with good air circulation
  • against a wall or shed to prevent it from falling
  • on the ground that tends to remain dry – though you can stack on timber

You don’t have to season wood completely out of the rain because this can help, at least when the wood is first split.

After a while, you might like to cover the top of the stack to keep it dry.

2. Size

Split wood dries faster than larger logs.

The sooner you can split the wood after it has been cut, the better.

The smaller you split wood, the faster it will dry, but this doesn’t mean you should turn your entire store into kindling!

Just cut it to the perfect size for your fireplace.

A hydraulic log splitter is best for splitting wood, but an ax or chainsaw can also be used (though a chainsaw is usually only used for sectioning up logs for splitting).

3. Stacking

Stacked wood will dry faster than piles of wood.

If you have the time and energy to stack it, that’s a preferable method for storing firewood, and it will season much quicker.

4. Time

Different types of wood require different lengths of time to be ready to burn.

Softwoods like pine can dry out quickly, whereas hardwoods like oak and gum take much longer.

The trick is to plan well ahead to ensure you have a constant supply of dry, seasoned firewood for the cold months!

A general rule for all wood is to leave it a year. However, some will dry faster than this, and others will take longer.

For the best results, only burn dry seasoned wood in your wood-burning stove or outdoor fireplace. It will be much easier to get going and will warm you up a whole lot more!


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