In any industry, sport or boardroom, the seasoned vets command respect. These people have been around the block more than a few times, doing what they do and doing it well. They have survived through the seasons, experience fuelling longevity. Moving from the human to the wood-based, seasoned logs echo the same ideas. Part 3 of our World of Wood Series is about to penetrate your thought process, planting the seeds of seasoning in your brain.
What is seasoned wood? What are seasoned logs?
Seasoned logs are basically derived from wood that has been left out to dry in the open air for a long period of time. It is a natural way of reducing a wood’s moisture content, allowing water form the internal cells and sap to evaporate slowly. As we have mentioned in the previous two World of Wood series blogs, moisture and burn characteristics go hand in hand: the more moist the wood, the less efficient and impure the burn. Basic stuff really.
What is the difference between seasoned and kiln dried logs?
This is such a common question that we have had to address it in each one of our World Of Wood blogs. So as we are here to fill common gaps in wood fuel knowledge, let’s jump into this topic once more.
As we have already explained, seasoned wood is wood that has been dried outdoors rather than within a controlled environment. The process is slow and steady, taking anywhere from a few months to several years – it all depends on the species of tree. Seasoned logs usually have an higher moisture level than that of kiln dried logs, clocking in at about 30% or so. Seasoned logs produce a fairly long and hot burn, so they are ideal for short-term use in fireplaces or another kind of wood burning system.
Kiln dried wood
Kiln dried wood is basically wood that has been placed and dried in an oven known as a kiln. A kiln is all about control, offering a consistent and easily manipulated drying environment. This is because one can control elements including temperature, steam and humidity levels. Kiln dried logs have a lower moisture content than seasoned logs, hovering around 20% or lower. These super dry logs burn longer and hotter than their seasoned cousins, so you need less logs to heat your home for a set time period. Basically, if you rely on a fireplace or another heating system every day, kiln dried wood is a more economical option in the long term.
How to season logs for firewood? How to store seasoned logs?
You average William or Wilma F Wood probably doesn’t have a kiln knocking around at the domicile. However we are all surrounded by air (if not you are probably no longer existing making this blog a futile exercise) opening up the world of seasoning to all. In fact many people throughout the UK season their own wood every year. With all that being said here’s a quick guide on how to produce your very own seasoned logs and seasoned wood.
- Obtain your green or wet wood
We know that your first instinct might be to go foraging for firewood. True this is potentially cost effective and it’s not beyond the reaches of possibility. However there are things you should know. Firstly it is a criminal offence to cut down, top, lop, uproot, wilfully damage or wilfully destroy a tree protected by a Tree Preservation Order (TPO) without the authority’s permission. It is also illegal to gather wood from commissioned woodland or private property without permission of the landowner. If you have a landowner on speed dial than make that call and have at it. To be safe we’d recommend buying wet or green wood from your local garden centre or similar outlet.
- Choose your storage location
The aim of seasoning is to reduce the moisture content of wood to somewhere between 20% and 30%. This means that you must pick an ideal location to help stimulate the water evaporation process. In other words you need to find the airiest location possible to obtain your seasoned logs. Exposure to the sun is also important but the air holds the key. Of course you will need a place that is protected from the rain as the goal is to reduce moisture levels not increase them. It is also worth factoring in the distance from your fireplace or wood-burning stove to your wood store. If it’s an epic trek from one to the other then you are simply making life harder when it doesn’t need to be. In summation when it comes to storage and your burning zone, the closer the better
- Get stacking
Now that you have I-spied with your little eye the perfect place for your soon-to-be-seasoned logs and wood, you need to start stacking. The main mental mantra should revolve around air circulation. You need to ensure a constant flow of air throughout your stack at all times. This is done in two main ways. Firstly ensure that your seasoned log stack is off the ground. Use a pallet or some planks as your foundation and then start stacking your wood on top. Creating an elevated platform for your stack delivers continuous air circulation underneath your logs. Secondly, you should be stacking your logs in rows with gaps between each log so air can move freely around each log. Or think of it this way, the more exposed surface area, the quicker the drying process. Finally we know it might be tempting to cover your stack with some kind of protective tarpaulin or cover, but please don’t. Why? Well this will seriously hamper your airflow and in many instances lead to some good old fashioned rotting. And we don’t want a mulchy pile of misery do we peeps?
How long do I need to season my wood?
We wish that we had some clear and simple stats to give you but as per usual many nuances come into play. Here are some of the main elements.
- Log size
- The amount of ventilation around your stack
- The weather conditions
- The type of wood (softwood dries quicker than denser hardwood)
- The date when the original tree was felled (a tree felled in winter will have less moisture than a tree felled in spring when the tree is growing)
Side note here – if you’re expecting to stack your logs, come back in a week and get to burning straightaway you might vey well end up crying into your Kleenex. The reality is that we’re talking about a slow and gradual process. Taking all these mitigating factors into account your seasoning could take anywhere between 6 to 15 months or maybe even longer.
How can you tell when your wood is fully seasoned?
So we may not to be able to give you exact timings. But what we can do is give you some indicators to help you make the decision. For instance, you know have you pretty well seasoned logs when the bark is peeling off easily. If you can see splits or cracks in the log ends, as well as the log ends being a darker colour, then you have a green light. Your seasoned logs should also feel quite light in your hands. You can also conduct a noise test. Simply take two logs and knock them together. If you hear a higher pitched and bright ‘clack’ then your wood is definitely seasoned. If you hear a dull and muffled ‘thud’ then it’s back to some pensive chin stroking and more waiting. These are all great ways of checking that you now have seasoned logs, however nothing beats a moisture meter. Take a log and split it in half. Then take three separate readings; 2 on the inside face that is split and 1 on the external face. Then take an average of the three readings and this will be your definitive moisture content.
Where can I buy seasoned logs?
All this, although enlightening, may require too much time, patience and effort. Have no wood related fear – you can get all the seasoned hardwood logs you could ever need at bigkproducts.co.uk. Our 10kg Seasoned Hardwood Logs FSC® Grown in Britain are a great intro into the seasoning sphere. Each log is 100% grown in the Britain, FSC certified and capable of delivering long lasting heat. With a moisture content of around about 30%, these hardworking loggy friends have warmed houses and hearts for decades. Thinking bigger picture? We’ve got you. Our Seasoned Hardwood Logs FSC® Grown in UK pallet deals start from just £100.64 for a quarter pallet. Buy in bulk and make some super seasoned savings for the festive season.
Feeling like a seasoned vet in the seasoned logs game? You should as you now have the tools at your disposal. Well that’s the end of our World of Wood blog series. We really hope that we have shed some light on this intricate and amazing world. Stay tuned for our winter fuel special offer blog dropping soon.
Take care of yourselves