First the real reason you are here. How do you store firewood?
To properly store firewood you want to have it stacked neatly and raised slightly off the ground. Cover the top but leave the sides open and exposed to air. If you don’t then the cover will trap moisture. This will both cause your wood to burn badly and result in faster decay. A lean-to or open sided shed works great for storing firewood, you just want to ensure that air can freely flow through the stacked wood.
Why Store Firewood?
Many people rely on firewood every year to heat their homes and in some cases fuel cooking stoves. In addition to being an excellent source of heat for both warmth and cooking it is also extremely dependable. You do not need water, power or any other utility to make it work. Additionally mankind has relied on fires as a source of heat for thousands of years.
You might be wondering why you need to store the firewood and not just cut it as you need it. Wood inherently contains moisture and fresh cut wood with high moisture content is referred to as green wood.
Green wood since it is moisture laden does not burn as well as dry wood. This results in sub-optimal heat output, shorter burn times and possibly extra build up of carbon monoxide since the fire is not burning hot enough.
Ever notice how a fresh lit fire smokes for a bit then the smoke tends to taper off as the fire gets hotter, this is evidence of that. By storing the wood and allowing it to properly dry out you can minimize this effect.
Surprisingly where and how firewood is stored is more important than you think.
How Long Should I Store my Firewood Before Use
In order for green wood to be burned efficiently it needs to be seasoned. Seasoning the wood is storing it in a manner that the moisture content can evaporate and dry the wood out. Generally speaking wood should be seasoned for at least four to six months if possible.
Many people choose to use mainly split firewood. Splitting firewood can be time consuming or relatively simple depending on which type of log splitter you use. Today there are many options from manual, to electric and even gas powered log splitters (Amazon Link) which can aid you in this task.
Split firewood has several advantages over whole logs. Often split wood will fit in your fireplace easier, ignite easier and dry faster. All of these are beneficial.
Where is the Best Place to Store Firewood?
Knowing where to store the firewood is just as important as knowing how and why you should store firewood.
Many people give little thought to this and prefer the conveniences of having it stacked inside by the fireplace. I mean after all that’s where it is going to be used, right?
Though if you actually think about it, inside your home is probably not the best option for storing your firewood. Oftentimes unwanted insects and other pests, namely spiders,termites and ants will make homes inside of the firewood. There is also the possibility of mice and small rodents building nests inside of large stacked piles of wood.
Lastly, the possibility of an errant spark igniting a large pile of dried firewood, in their living room, is not particularly appealing to most people.
By keeping the majority of your firewood outside you will minimize these unwanted critters. It is also more likely that the firewood will age and dry better outside due to increased air flow around the wood.
The ideal location for storing your firewood, and allowing it to age properly has the following characteristics.
- A dry breezy area.
This is for obvious reasons, you want the wood to remain dry and have plenty of air flow in order to properly season.
- Between 25 and 50 feet from your residence, outbuildings are fine.
This is to avoid the mice and other rodents from having easy access directly into your residence. Avoid stacking firewood next to your home as it could invite these unwanted visitors inside of your residence.
- The area is slightly elevated off the ground.
If the wood is sitting directly on the dirt it encourages rot, adds easier access for termites and exposes the wood to moisture from the soil.
- If stacked next to a building leave a few inches between the wood and wall.
This goes back to the air flow needed to properly dry the wood. If there is only one end exposed to air while the other end is tight against the building it will take far longer to properly dry and will result in uneven burning.
- Stack the firewood off the ground.
In order to improve air flow and drying firewood should be stored at least a few inches from the soil. This can be done by using a firewood rack, pallets or even other logs to elevate the stack. If you cannot elevate it then you can use gravel to drain the water away. Similarly you could stack the firewood on concrete, while not the best it will help with moisture.
How do I Properly Stack Firewood?
Stacking firewood properly is a relatively easy part of storing firewood. Wood should be stacked no taller than four feet high and in rows that are a convenient length for you. Log racks (Amazon Link), pallets with posts and even in between two trees are all options.
In each of these cases make sure that you place something on the ground to elevate the firewood. This can be a pallet or even several pieces of firewood laid 12 inches apart and running the length of the stack you plan on making. These will most likely not be usable later but will serve to protect the remaining firewood.
If you are using round logs, stack them all side by side running in the same direction. You will want to lay them in a manner that uses either the sides of the rack, the posts or the two trees to keep them from rolling off of the stack.
Make sure that the cut ends are exposed on each end of your stack if possible. This is where the majority of the moisture will be removed from. This is due to the fact that trees normally move the liquid inside of them from bottom up, the same as these ends would allow the water to exit.
If you are going to stack split firewood then you may want to lay them with the bark side down if they still need to age. Alternatively you could place them bark side up to allow the bark to shield the main portion of the wood from the rain.
Even though it may be tempting to use the angles in the split wood to stack the firewood tightly. You want to avoid doing this as it could prevent air from flowing through the wood. This will affect your curing times and should be avoided.
By stacking your firewood in this manner instead of just throwing it in a pile, you will ensure proper air flow and drying time. This will prolong the life of your firewood and ensure it burns at its optimal ability when you need it.
Protection from the Weather
The last step in properly storing your firewood is protecting it from the elements. After all it does not do any good to properly age and stack your firewood if it is ruined by rain.
Another danger to the firewood getting wet is the growth of mold and mildew. Neither of these would you want to willingly bring into your home and then burn, potentially releasing spores into the air.
There are quite a few options for protecting the wood from the rain.
You could cover it with a tarp, or large flat board. Just remember not to cover the sides if you do so. If possible a board large enough to create a 6 inch overhang on each side of the stack is ideal. This prevents dripping water from soaking into the ends.
You can also stack seasoned firewood inside of a barn or other structure as long as it has already dried out. If it is not completely dried then you will want to store it in an open bard, shed or lean-to. Remember to keep it a few inches off of the wall to allow air flow.
Keep Your Firewood Storage Clean and Free of Debris
It is important to keep grass, weeds and other debris away from your wood pile. These items can increase the moisture trapped in the area, as well as provide habitat for the unwanted creatures we are trying to avoid.
In addition to that, these areas can make your yard look sloppy and unkempt potentially causing complaints from your neighbors depending on where you live.
In Conclusion, Keep These 6 Steps In Mind When Storing Firewood
- Properly Stack Your Firewood
- Stack Your Firewood Off The Ground
- Keep Your Wood Dry
- Do Not Store Large Amounts of Firewood Indoors
- Keep Your Firewood Storage Area Clean
- Do Not Stack Firewood Against Structures Especially Your Home
When collecting your firewood, make sure to look out for fat lighter and store that separately as a nearly perfect kindling.