Hearth Hack: How to Stack Firewood for Efficient Seasoning
There’s not much more comforting than warm fires during the frigid fall or winter seasons. However, many suffer from poor-quality fires, which can also create health and home safety risks. Learn the proper techniques for how to stack firewood for better and safer fires all winter long.
Why is Firewood Stacking Important?
To Prevent Hazardous Wet Firewood. Freshly cut wood can retain up to 100% water. All that water requires more energy to burn, which creates dangerous safety and health hazards. Not only does wet firewood produce more smoke that can be harmful to your health, but it also causes creosote buildup in your chimney that creates a greater risk for home fires.
Ultimately, you need to know how to stack firewood the right way in order to efficiently season (or dry) wood for better and safer fires. Seasoning requires stacking your firewood in a well-ventilated area in order to allow sufficient air-flow throughout your entire pile for a moisture content of 20% or less. Our Why You Need Firewood Protection blog further explains the importance of seasoned firewood.
How to Stack Firewood
1. Split your wood before stacking.
According to Burn Dry Firewood, “Splitting the wood in advance of stacking it increases exposure to air, which improves the drying process.” Cut firewood into halves or quarters for better ventilation and faster seasoning.
2. Alternate directions.
When stacking firewood on its own (without a barrier or rack), alternate directions between rows. This simple hack is another way to save space, increase ventilation and air exposure, and prevent your pile from toppling over.
3. Store outside.
While it may seem counterintuitive to store firewood outside to be exposed to rain or snow, it is much safer outdoors than indoors. An indoor firewood pile increases the chance of termites, ants, mice, and other unwanted creatures infesting your home.
Store your firewood outdoors and away from your home to prevent any home infestation risks. Just keep a few logs by the fire and restock as needed. What comes next will protect against the outdoor elements.
4. Utilize a cover.
As promised in the last step, a firewood cover is essential for protecting against outdoor precipitation. Choose from multiple sizes and styles of both firewood racks and covers to accommodate your specific needs. Select durable covers that can withstand harsh UV rays as much as heavy moisture (such as this ShelterLogic Cover from Sheds.com). If you’re just beginning the seasoning process, keep the sides open for better airflow.
If you decide to opt out of a firewood cover, store bark side up. According to KCET, “Bark is a natural barrier and will keep some of the rain from saturating your wood.” Make sure to leave your firewood exposed on sunny days for warmth and added airflow.
5. Keep it off the ground.
Moisture from the ground can easily seep into your firewood pile, leading to fungus growth, wood decay, and insect infestation. Keep firewood off the ground and efficiently seasoned from top to bottom by utilizing an elevated firewood rack (such as this ultra-duty option!) or by providing some kind of base barrier for your pile such as tarp.
How to Tell If Your Firewood Is Ready
Typically, it takes about 6 months (or more) for firewood to season, or to reach 20% or less moisture content. Factors such as storage solution, regional climate, current season, and more do affect drying times but expect at least a few months of preparation for burnable firewood.
There are a few ways to tell if your firewood is ready. Mother Earth News recommends considering these factors in order to determine whether your firewood is ready to burn.
- Color. Because wood darkens as it seasons, look for dark and faded yellow or grayish wood.
- Smell. If you smell a “pleasant, sappy aroma”, your firewood is still too fresh.
- Loose bark. Bark separates from the wood as it seasons.
- Sound. Dry wood sounds hollow when you bang them together.
- Weight. Seasoned wood is much lighter than wet wood.
Properly stacked firewood helps your pile efficiently dry for safe and successful fires. Use these tips on how to stack firewood to enjoy safe, seasoned firewood faster than ever. For firewood storage solutions and more for your deck and patio, Sheds.com has the solution you need for a safe home indoors and out.