how to season firewood

How to Season Firewood and Keep it Dry

How to Season Firewood

how to season firewood
Firewood develops cracks, called checks, as it dries.

If you buy or cut your wood green, you will need to dry it in order for it to burn more efficiently and safely. Learning how to season firewood is simple. It takes time for wood to fully dry but there are a few tricks I will tell you about below that can speed up the firewood drying process.

When firewood is cut from a live tree it will be green. Green wood is wood that is still alive and full of sap, which is mostly water. When a tree is fresh cut the moisture content can be 60% or more. Before your firewood will burn well it will need to be seasoned. To season wood means to give the wood time for the water to evaporate out of it. Ideally it should be seasoned to about 20% moisture content or less. This can take from 6 months to over a year depending on the wood and your firewood drying conditions.

If your wood is green it should be left out uncovered exposed to the sun and wind. Air circulation is a must when drying wood and direct sun will greatly speed drying. It is common for people to want to cover their wood pile with a firewood tarp but covering it too soon will only cause you problems.

The smaller your wood is the faster it will dry. Whole logs will take a long time to dry and in some cases may not ever fully dry. When you cut them into firewood lengths and split them you greatly increase the surface area where moisture can escape. Splitting your wood will especially help it dry. The bark seals in moisture and when you split the pieces it opens them up so the moisture can evaporate.

Keep your wood off the ground. Wood will absorb moisture from the soil.

drying firewood
Firewood stacks with space between the rows. This space allows air to circulate between the stacks to allow them to dry.

Stacking will help by creating better air circulation. One long stack in direct sun is best. If you make multiple stacks side by side be sure and make at least a few inches of space between the stacks so air can flow between them. Learn how to stack firewood.

If you stack it in a shed it will likely dry slower because it will be shaded from the sun and the walls may inhibit air flow. If you must store it in a shed make sure it’s well ventilated and stack the wood so air can flow between the stacks. Just know that it will probably dry slower than if it was out in the sun.

Don’t cover your firewood pile with a firewood tarp or similar cover while it is still green or wet. This will just hold in moisture and encourage mold and decay. If it rains, it doesn’t matter if the wood gets rained on. The surface water from the rain will dry fast, and believe it or not, according to many people, rain can help the wood dry. Wait until your wood is dry before covering it.

firewood tarp
Stacked firewood with tarp or plastic sheeting only covering the top. Sides are left open so air can circulate into the stack to help it stay dry.

11 thoughts on “How to Season Firewood and Keep it Dry”

  1. I bought a 35 ton splitter from Tractor supply. After welding it up so I could use it with out it falling over. lol

    Have split with it 2 years now and the return cut off stopped working. I opened it up and all the bearing fell out.

    So I need a valve to replace the one I messed up.

    Anyone one around that can explain that to me? What I need?


  2. Was thinking of a 20ft shipping container with a wood stove and a fan in it to speed the drying process. I had a fella tell me I could possibly dry 5 or so cords in a weeks time by doing it this way. I live in a very wet and remote area so I dont have a lot of options. What are your thoughtrs?

  3. Get rid of the splitter. Get a good wood splitting axe and a bungie cord to wrap around the rounds while you cut. I use a Fiskars x27 and can bet I can split more wood, faster, and with less work than any splitter. It sucks to realize a $50 axe can beat a $1000 splitter. this is just one video..

  4. Jeff I read your post how and where do you place the bungee cord. I just purchased a small place with nothing but large oak, hickory and pines. The house has a large fireplace that we plan to use. Any information you have on cutting,stacking, drying will be appreciated.
    Thanks in advance. Rookie

  5. Charles, the idea is to wrap the ring in the bungee then start whacking. A tyre works great too. However I’m not convinced either will come close to the ease of using a hydraulic splitter.

  6. For those talking about shipping containers and other kilns,look up drying wood in alaska. The state published a time and temp table for kiln drying. I believe one week takes 160 degrees of well ventilated heat.Most commercial kiln dried wood uses sawdust for the dryer fuel and it requires a lot.Since we use sawdust for pellets now,there is no cheap way to dry wood other than naturally. Also wood in the new epa stoves is rated for 15-20 percent moisture,due to the reheating of the smoke prior to emmisions. over kiln dried wood will burn faster,and dirtier in them.So will 5 year old stored under cover wood.The feds figured we would not dry it that long and regulated the stoves for it I guess.

  7. Stack YOUR SPLIT CORDS,MY TWO STACKS ARE 16X7X8(2 sheds )17″ lengths as I use a Blaze King, cover and wrap with BLACK visqueen on pallets, leave visqueen 6 to 8 inches above bottom of pallets all the way around stacks, open several 3″ holes( 4 or 5) in top of visqueen different places , in direct sun, visqueen will heat up wood on hot days and bake the wood, u can feel heat coming out of top holes , careful can get hot, u want your wood cut in fall if possible ,green needs to season for a season, I stay at 12 cords and half I can burn, half seasons , then replace what I use sometimes green so it has to season. A moisture meter worth buying(Lowes). I live in very cold winter climate so freezing helps push moisture out during winter. Fairbank AK guaranteed -30 to -60 with snow. Come winter I remove visqueen and tarp it and surround shed with tarps to keep out snow, and reuse visqueen next spring/summer. DR Rapid Fire splitter 6hp motor best investment I ever made. 2 men cannot keep up with it worth the bucks.

  8. Anybody who thinks they can out split a hydraulic splitter by hand in regards to Elm is only fooling themselves….

  9. buy a couple of spare axe handles while your at it if you have never used an axe.and if u have elm good luck

  10. Tom: It’s ‘in regard’ NOT “regards” Drop the ‘s’ But, here, I give you my regards!!

  11. I work for teen challenge we just started cutting splitting and stacking what is the easiest way to sell wood stacked on pallets

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