What is the best/fastest way to dry firewood this summer?

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MacPhly
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Joined: 08/14/2004 - 12:01am
What is the best/fastest way to dry firewood this summer?

Seems like there is a lot more green firewood than out there then dry. Whats the best method for drying it this summer? Seems like I read a post on this subject last year but I could not find it with the search feature of AMG. So, all you wood burning pros.... Whats the fastest way to 'get er done'? How dry is dry enough?

Bob MacGregor
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Joined: 12/13/2003 - 1:01am
What is the best/fastest way to dry firewood this summer?

Well, the dryer the better, but realistically if you can get the wood down to 20% moisture content or below, it makes a big difference. (There are meters to measure that for you, but an average homeowner isn't likely to want to buy one). If there is too much water in the wood, you use a lot of energy just getting the water out of the wood, and the fire won't burn as hot or as clean as if it was dry.

As for speeding up drying, if you can find a place where it can be stacked undercover, and still exposed to the wind, that's an ideal situation. I have toyed with the idea of putting fans in the center of my woodpile to help move the air, but haven't done it. There are plans on the internet for solar wood drying kilns (for lumber), and I think a clever person could find a way to create a natural draft through their stacked wood using the same principles.

In my other life I sell dry kilns, and many firewood sellers (like the local AMG'er Doug Thomas) dry their wood in a kiln to move their inventory faster, and it also can help reduce the bugs you might find in a wood pile. There is a lot of excess lumber kiln capacity in Maine these days, I am surprised no one has taken up residence at one of the sawmills and rented out a kiln or two. If you can kiln dry your firewood before selling it, you don't have to sit on the inventory for a year to season it.

But keep in mind, just because it says it has been kiln dried doesn't mean it is dry enough. It;s the actual moisture content that matters.

One last thing; if you pile a lot of green firewood inside the house, or in a basement, remember there is a LOT of moisture that is going to come out, and that moisture has to go somewhere. it will raise the relative humidity quite rapidly as it dries, and if it can't escape it can lead to problems such as mold pretty quickly.

For comparison, wood pellets will have a moisture content of only 3-4%, so they are very very dry.

Naran
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Joined: 10/06/2004 - 12:01am
What is the best/fastest way to dry firewood this summer?

Bob M - bless you for the learned advice and information. This is the kind of dialogue that makes "As Maine Goes" a wonderful resource for everyone, on so many levels!

8)

Bob MacGregor
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Joined: 12/13/2003 - 1:01am
What is the best/fastest way to dry firewood this summer?

Assuming what I say is true. 8)

(Thanks)

Naran
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Joined: 10/06/2004 - 12:01am
What is the best/fastest way to dry firewood this summer?

No problem - I trust you completely.

However, as with any other free advice, "Le Caveat Emptor" is a good watchword.
:D

[i]*(Let the Buyer Beware).[/i]

Country
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Joined: 05/31/2005 - 12:01am
What is the best/fastest way to dry firewood this summer?

[quote]In my other life I sell dry kilns, and many firewood sellers (like the local AMG'er Doug Thomas) dry their wood in a kiln to move their inventory faster, and it also can help reduce the bugs you might find in a wood pile.[/quote]

You heartless person, killing all those little critters in the kiln. You should be ashamed of yourself. :wink:

More seriously, when things get to the point where firewood is dried in a kiln I question the direction we're taking. Firewood dries just fine if you take care of it, and let nature take its course.

Naran
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Joined: 10/06/2004 - 12:01am
What is the best/fastest way to dry firewood this summer?

Well, sure it does. However, there may be some folks who need it fast, as in this fall, and don't have a pile sitting around from past years. So, those who don't know how best to accomplish that need help and advice.

Bob MacGregor
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Joined: 12/13/2003 - 1:01am
What is the best/fastest way to dry firewood this summer?

Of course it does. But if you want to process and sell large volumes of firewood, letting it dry naturally requires you invest in a lot of wood that has to sit for a year to "season". With a kiln, you can cut and dry wood in a matter of weeks, and you don't need to stockpile any more than you can process. It's a pretty good business model if you set up the kilns right.

Also, kiln drying at high enough temperatures does indeed assure you will kill any bugs, which is important if you are packaging firewood for resale at stores and such. Bugs can still move back in, but if they are living in the wood when it goes into the kiln, you should be able to kill them.

Naran
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Joined: 10/06/2004 - 12:01am
What is the best/fastest way to dry firewood this summer?

Heh heh... take that, you wee buggers.
:D

Bob MacGregor
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Joined: 12/13/2003 - 1:01am
What is the best/fastest way to dry firewood this summer?

Sterilization of most wood going for export is now required virtually worldwide. That includes "packaging" like pallets, skids, crates, etc. It has spawned a huge business in heat treating these products in recent years. If you shipped product overseas on a pallet that isn't properly labeled as treated, there's a good chance the pallet, and the product will be impounded and destroyed at the dock. It all comes from attempts to stem the spread of insects like the Asian long horned beetle, which can be devastating to forests. There are areas of the country where you can't even shop certain woods (ash for example) across county or state lines because of the emerald ash borer.

If you have ever stored a lot of firewood indoors, you've probably seen how many insects come with it.

(Not that you asked)

landry
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Joined: 07/25/2002 - 12:01am
What is the best/fastest way to dry firewood this summer?

MacPhly, The fastest way to reasonably dry wood is to fall your trees now Earlier would have been better. Cross your trees as much as possible to keep them off the ground. Do not limb them. The leaves will suck the moisture out of the wood and when all the leaves are dead and dry the wood will burn well with a reasonable lack on creosote. I then cut mine stove length and hauled, split and put under cover. You can cut four foot and saw at home. If you fall your trees in the spring, before leaves come out, the leaves will have your wood well dryed by July., but if you fall your trees now, they will burn well if you cut and split in Sept. or Oct.
Good luck, Bud

knucklehead
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Joined: 02/13/2004 - 1:01am
What is the best/fastest way to dry firewood this summer?

Bud is right about the leaves if dropping your own wood.

There are moisture meters that are quite inexpensive if one wants to find the relative change in moisture over time and not necessarily maintain lab grade accuracy. The cheapest moisture meter is to knock two pieces of wood together - a semi metallic "clink" means the wood is "dry" while a dullish clunk means it is still on the wet side. This of course is all relative but with practice one can learn to detect dryer wood this way.

The idea behind drying wood is to take advantage of the energy in the wood to produce heat and use less of that energy to evaporate moisture. It is only one facet of efficient wood burning; if one burns dry wood in a low oxygen state (a typical overnight load or a damped down stove being used on a warmish day), then the combustible gases merely escape up the chimney, were some of the products condense and adhere to the lining. Some models use secondary air to burn the gases - depending on which model one has. Greener wood may be burned on a hot fire at a loss of the energy required to evaporate the moisture. When one burns green wood on a low or oxygen deprived state (overnight loads), that is where the combustion products accumulate the fastest in the chimney. If you burn greener wood burn it hotter; if you load an overnight load in the stove, use the driest wood.

If you are cutting green wood now for burning this fall, make sure it is cut to length and split as needed soon as possible because it dries along the length of the fibers. Stack it loosely with plenty of room for air circulation between the rows (a few inches is enough). A loose tall stack with space between the rows is far more likely to fall over, so for safeties' sake especially with kids around, make low long stacks of 3' or even 2' height instead of trying for 4x4x8. Stack on old pallets if you can get them and gain circulation under the pile. A covering like a tarp should not drape over the sides of the stack much at all. Bungee cords can be used effectively and hooked to the pallets.

Save chunks of bark (especially birch), small pieces from splitting, home wood project leftovers and white newspaper in a couple cardboard boxes to get fires going. Get a pair or two of welding gloves (heavy leather with long gauntlet cuffs) and keep them on your inside wood box. Get a good metal can with a lid, one of those fireplace shovels, and something to stir coals with if some of that isn't with the stove. Keep everything movable 36" away from the stove - no matter whether your stove is a reduced clearance model or not.

Country
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Joined: 05/31/2005 - 12:01am
What is the best/fastest way to dry firewood this summer?

[quote]Sterilization of most wood going for export is now required virtually worldwide.[/quote]

That reminds me that Bob Spear, when he was Commissioner of Agriculture, told me that Aroostook potatoes had to be irradiated for export. Where in the f**k are we headed?!!!

Country
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Joined: 05/31/2005 - 12:01am
What is the best/fastest way to dry firewood this summer?

Knuck - You can tell if wood is dry by knocking two pieces together. When it's dry, you can hear it. It's got a sort of "ring" to it.

Editor
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Joined: 04/18/2009 - 3:43pm
What is the best/fastest way to dry firewood this summer?

Country -

Thank a radical environmentalist.

skf

Butch Moore
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Joined: 11/20/1999 - 1:01am
What is the best/fastest way to dry firewood this summer?

Scott, isn't "radical environmentalist" almost a redundancy in terminology? ;)

Country
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Joined: 05/31/2005 - 12:01am
What is the best/fastest way to dry firewood this summer?

skf - I think the "radical environmentalists", if that's the case, must be in the countries that are importing our goods. Whatever the case might be, it seems to me that we should first use what we produce here in Maine for local consumption, and any surplus be sent to whoever wants it. We here in Maine don't need our firewood, or lumber, kiln dried. Neither do we need our potatoes irradiated. The mania over exporting may have reached its limits. One might begin to feel that we're like some third world country who has gone along with IMF and World Bank "restructuring" requirements.

Melvin Udall
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Joined: 05/01/2002 - 12:01am
What is the best/fastest way to dry firewood this summer?

Does anyone know if you can simply throw a scoop of "pellets" in an ordinary wood stove? Or is there something more complex involved?

Same thing as to coal.....

Dan Billings
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Joined: 10/02/2005 - 12:01am
What is the best/fastest way to dry firewood this summer?

[quote="Country"]it seems to me that we should first use what we produce here in Maine for local consumption[/quote]

So are you willing to take less for your products if sold to someone locally even if you can get a higher price by exporting the same product?

Country
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Joined: 05/31/2005 - 12:01am
What is the best/fastest way to dry firewood this summer?

Dan, I would be willing to take less for my products if they were sold locally. I don't export from the US, but I do export from Maine. Probably 98% of what I make goes to other parts of the country.

When I started working steel, it was with a forge, a hammer, and an anvil. Sometimes I'd rather go back to that, providing what was necessary for "primitive" agriculture.

Dan Billings
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Joined: 10/02/2005 - 12:01am
What is the best/fastest way to dry firewood this summer?

So if that is not possible, why not take all of the "extra" that you don't need and give it to the local food bank?

Or better yet, why not use your skills for something that can benefit people locally?

Are you seriously suggesting that Maine farms who currently sell for export should take in less money, and have less for their families, to sell locally?

We should remember that when most people were subsistence farmers, there was more poverty and hunger.

Country
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Joined: 05/31/2005 - 12:01am
What is the best/fastest way to dry firewood this summer?

It would be better if people started growing their own food.

Bob MacGregor
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Joined: 12/13/2003 - 1:01am
What is the best/fastest way to dry firewood this summer?

Pellets won't burn well just tossed in a wood stove, I THINK you can buy some sort of basket to hold them, but it isn't the best use of pellets.

As for Country, we DO need our lumber kiln dried if we expect it to stay straight, or flat, or painted, or the same size. Anything you build with green or air dried lumber is still susceptible to shrinkage if it's used indoors, and green wood used in window sills (for example) can "bleed" a lot of pitch if they are not properly dried. Build a home or indoor furniture entirely of green wood and you are inviting all sorts of problems.

Dan Billings
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Joined: 10/02/2005 - 12:01am
What is the best/fastest way to dry firewood this summer?

[quote="Country"]It would be better if people started growing their own food.[/quote]

There are lots of places in the world where people do just that. One bad season and lots of people starve.

But if it is such a good idea -- do it. You have the tools to make everything you need to farm. Stop contributing to global warming through your use of steel and start growing your own food.

Country
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Joined: 05/31/2005 - 12:01am
What is the best/fastest way to dry firewood this summer?

Dan, You're really trucking right along. By the time I made my last post, you'd already changed yours. My last post was in reference to what is now your first sentence about the "food bank".

To continue - few people these days need my skills locally. They buy junk, which is not easily repaired - and most of them are not prepared to spend the money necessary even if they have something that can be repaired. Because of the latter, I long ago gave up doing repairs for the general public. I still do it for neighbors and friends.

Maine farms growing products for local consumption are doing quite well. If you doubt me, call Bob Spear. Last year he and his family grew 75 acres of sweet corn, and much more. They, along with others in this area, such as the Arnholms and Clark's, are doing well. No exports needed.

Country
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Joined: 05/31/2005 - 12:01am
What is the best/fastest way to dry firewood this summer?

[quote]But if it is such a good idea -- do it. You have the tools to make everything you need to farm. Stop contributing to global warming through your use of steel and start growing your own food.[/quote]

Dan, With that you're reverting to your old a**hole self. I am growing at least part of my own food. How many potatoes have you got in the ground?

Dan Billings
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Joined: 10/02/2005 - 12:01am
What is the best/fastest way to dry firewood this summer?

[quote="Country"]Maine farms growing products for local consumption are doing quite well. If you doubt me, call Bob Spear. Last year he and his family grew 75 acres of sweet corn, and much more. They, along with others in this area, such as the Arnholms and Clark's, are doing well. No exports needed.[/quote]

They do well by serving people who can afford the higher prices. Good for them. The same model would not work for commodity farmers like the potato farmers in the county. They also have very few local people to feed.

Many Maine people would also have a hard time surviving if they had to pay the high prices at the local farmers market to feed their families.

Country
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Joined: 05/31/2005 - 12:01am
What is the best/fastest way to dry firewood this summer?

[quote]As for Country, we DO need our lumber kiln dried if we expect it to stay straight, or flat, or painted, or the same size.[/quote]

Bullsh*t. We got along fine without kiln dried for many years. Forever actually. I have some pine boards (about 1200 feet) stored in my shop that we cut at our old place in NH in 1951. It's lying flat and straight. Same with some 2" oak cut in the same year. Stop by and I'll show it to you. You're sounding like a shill for the kiln manufacturers.

Dan Billings
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Joined: 10/02/2005 - 12:01am
What is the best/fastest way to dry firewood this summer?

[quote="Country"]I am growing at least part of my own food. How many potatoes have you got in the ground?[/quote]

None.

My father had a garden every year. He loved it. He grew up on a farm and would have loved to farm for a living. Having a garden made his life more enjoyable. It was a good thing.

But some years, when the weather was bad or the deer or woodchucks got to the plants, there was not much produced from my dad's garden. The return from the money and time invested was not good.

From a purely economic point of view, we would have been better off if he worked a second job. (Not all decisions are purely economic and I am not suggesting that he should have made a different decision.)

I have the land to garden. But it is not something that I enjoy. I spent lots of time behing a hoe and pulling weeds when I was a kid. It is not something that I miss. From an economic point of view, I am better off spending more time at my law practice.

Country
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Joined: 05/31/2005 - 12:01am
What is the best/fastest way to dry firewood this summer?

Dan, Maine used to feed itself, and everyone got by. Is there some reason we can't go back to that? Or is it that people wouldn't have enough money to pay you lawyers?

Dan Billings
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Joined: 10/02/2005 - 12:01am
What is the best/fastest way to dry firewood this summer?

Study history. The good old days were not so good. Life was harder and shorter. Working from sun up to sun down in the fields was not a lot of fun.

I have a close friend who moved here from the Bronx. He was a late arriver in the back to the land movement. He cut the trees to build his house. He built his house by hand. He and his family grew much of their own food. He made his living cutting wood with a pair of horses. The home did not have electricity.

But in his late 40's, my friend ended up with major heart problems. He had a couple of surgeries, which he had to rely on charity to afford. Fortunately, things worked out and he survived. But he can't do the kind of hard manual labor that was required in his old lifestyle. So he went to law school.

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