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World of Wood Series Part 2 – A guide to kiln dried wood

A man ignites some kiln dried wood rubbing a stone fire starter to get a spark.

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? This is the question that has been ringing around the Big K HQ recently. Just as we had assembled a crack team to crunch some numbers – using kiln dried wood as the test model – we found out that we had been beaten to it. Researchers at Cornell University determined that a woodchuck could chuck about 700 pounds of wood before total fatigue. So there you have it – one of life’s great mysteries solved.  We are guessing that you’re not going to be throwing around a load of wood any time soon, but there’s a high chance that you might be burning some logs. The icy touch of winter’s hand now a reality. In the second chapter of our World of Wood series, we’ll be chopping up all things kiln dried log-related. Strap yourselves in as we turn on the wood fuel afterburners.

 

What is kiln dried wood?

Apologies if we are speaking to the initiated here. However the Big K fam stretches far and wide, so we’re sure there are some wood fuel newbies out there. In other words some may have heard the terms kiln dried wood or kiln dried wood logs, but have no idea what these words actually mean. We’re here to give everyone the facts so let’s step things up a notch.

Kiln dried wood is essentially wood that has been dried in an oven known as a kiln. A kiln offers a controlled drying environment, meaning one can control elements such as temperature, humidity and steam levels for a certain amount of time.

 

Why do we need to kiln dry wood in the first place?

Glad you asked. Wood is essentially a hygroscopic material. All this means is that it interacts with the moisture in its environment, absorbing or releasing moisture as necessary. The cause lies on a cellular level. Looking a little closer, there are bundles of long cells within wood that transport moisture and nutrients from the roots to the branches and leaves. Therefore when a tree is felled, the moisture within these cells is trapped within the leftover wood – determining its moisture content. Burning wet wood in this state is highly inefficient, leading to excess smoke and impure bi-products such as creosote, which may create a fire hazard and block your chimney. Enter the kiln.

With kiln dried wood, the aim is to produce wood with a moisture content of 20% or below. This large reduction in moisture levels delivers a greater mass of burnable carbon, so each log will burn longer than wood possessing higher moisture levels. What’s more, with kiln dried logs little to no thermal energy is wasted on evaporating excess moisture during burning, which provides a longer burn.

 

An axe lies embedded on a chopping block surrounded by kiln dried wood

 

What is the kiln drying process?

A charge (AKA a load of wood for the kiln) is sorted by species and size. This is done to ensure even moisture content across the pieces. The wood is then placed in the kiln where heated air is circulated rapidly over the wood pieces. After the wood has reached the appropriate moisture level, it is sent through a planer and planed into its final dimensions. Finally the Kin dried logs are sorted to grade and shipped out for sale.

 

Is kiln dried wood better than seasoned? 

The head to head between burning kiln dried wood or seasoned wood is always a hot topic (pun intended) amongst the wood fuel community. It’s not really a question of which one is better as they both have pros and cons. It’s more about finding the right wood to meet your particular needs.  Here’s a quick breakdown for you.

 

Seasoned wood

Seasoned wood  is wood that has been dried in the open air rather than within a controlled environment. The process can take anywhere from several months to several years depending on the species of tree. Seasoned logs tend to have an higher moisture content than their kiln dried counterparts, hovering at about the 30% mark.  Seasoned logs offer a fairly long and hot burn making them ideal for short-term use in fireplaces or another wood burning system.

 

Kiln dried wood

Yes we are covering territory outlined above, but in case it’s still not clear, kiln dried logs have a lower moisture content than seasoned logs, coming in at around 20% or lower. They burn hotter and longer than seasoned logs, meaning you will need fewer logs to heat your home for a set period of time.  So if you are using a fireplace or another heating system on a daily basis, kiln dried wood is more efficient than seasoned logs and consequently more economical.

 

How much is kiln dried wood?

As you now know, the kiln drying process involves machinery and labour, therefore the cost is slightly higher than seasoned logs. However investing in kiln dried logs is more economical in the long-run as you will use fewer logs over a given time due to their superior heat efficiency. In a nutshell seasoned logs are cheaper to buy initially, albeit with a slightly reduced performance, where as kiln dried wood requires a higher investment upfront but with greater long-term value.

 

Kiln dried wood lies burning and glowing red hot in an open fire

 

Where to buy kiln dried logs?

You know the drill by now Big K famalam. You can find all the Kiln dried wood you’ll ever need at bigkproducts.co.uk.  Our Kiln Dried Hardwood Logs FSC® Grown in Britain are all FSC certified and of course Woodsure Ready to Burn accredited. Enjoy a moisture level of below 20%, super high heat and long lasting burn times. They are the perfect partner in crime for stoves, chimineas, fire pits, pizza ovens, cookers and open fires. If you’re more of a convenience seeker – we’ve got you. Our Kin Dry Hardwood Logs in a Box offers a breezy storage solution. These birch logs are all FSC certified and Woodsure Ready to Burn accredited, and yes you’ve guessed it, they offer a consistent moisture level of below 20%.

 

Kiln dried wood savings to bring some value to the winter

Take your purchasing mentality into gargantuan territory. In other words it’s time to bulk up. When you buy in bulk, the individual product unit cost comes down, so you make a saving on a higher volume of Big K heat, We offer a Bulk Bag of Kiln Dried Hardwood logs for just £115. Looking to go bigger?  A quarter, half or full pallet of Kiln Dried Hardwood logs should scratch your itch. Prices start from £108.64 up to £357.76 delivering high temperatures and high savings.

 

Kiln dried wood is just starting to burn in an open fire

 

What about the environment?

This is a very valid question and one that we take seriously.  We are under no illusions. Big K works within a sensitive and challenging industry. So it is our responsibility to put ethics, honesty and sustainability before profit. We have a sustainable philosophy that we have termed ‘Little steps. Lasting change.’ Basically this is a realistic and feasible approach, whereby we implement small achievable environmental goals in all aspects of our business. Over time, all these positive steps come together to form tangible change for the environment. You can find out all the info here. In terms of wood fuel sustainability, we find partnership a potent weapon. That’s why we are aligned with institutions and organisations that share our mission and mission when it comes to the environment.

 

The Forest Stewardship Council® – FSC®

The FSC ensures the responsible management of the world’s forests. They set the standards on forest products, along with certifying and labelling products as ‘eco-friendly’.  In fact, we have been FSC certified since 1999 and we were one of the first charcoal suppliers to register with their Chain of Custody scheme. Our certification number is TT-CoC-001015 and can be verified here.

The Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification – PEFC

Being ahead of industry trends is vital. So we are one of the few PEFC registered wood fuel companies out there right now. This non-profit, non-governmental organisation promotes and delivers sustainable forest management through independent third party certification.

Woodsure

We are delighted and proud to be a member of the Woodsure scheme. Woodsure is the UK’s only wood fuel certification scheme, a not-for-profit organisation striving to raise the quality of the wood fuel industry. The scheme helps companies to offer lower moisture wood, reducing emissions during burning. Currently we have two registered products and we are working towards registering more in the future.

UK forests

We support the UK forestry industry in any way we can. We achieve this by buying UK timber for use in all our log products.

There it is – peace of mind and performance as standard from our kiln dried wood. Now that’s part two of our world of wood series knocked out of the park. Stay tuned for part 3 where we tackle seasoned logs.

You woodn’t want to miss it!