Hello fellow wood burning friends, chimney sweeps and industry professional’s. Today I will discuss 7 sure fire methods to determine if our seasoned hard wood is ready to burn. these methods should be used holistically, each method is useful but when combined together you will have great results.
It is well established that the moisture content of wood must be under 20% before we burn it, ideally if we are burning our logs in a stove we will aim for around 12-15%.
The basics. hardwood logs should be split and stacked in the open in such a way to enable the wind to pass between each log. The log pile must be off of the floor to stop water seeping from the ground. Most importantly most wood logs split and stored this way require seasoning for at around 2 years!. Yep 2 full years not a season but several seasons. It is best practice to move the logs into a covered wood store in the second year. In the first year this isn’t necessary unless you are in an extremely wet climate.
TIP wood stores must allow unrestricted airflow and ideally be sited in full sun.
Moving on, we have now seasoned our logs but are they ready? how do we check? Watch the video below and read the tips and and I will discuss just this.
1, Look at the end of the log . there should be splits across growth rings. The splits occur as the water evaporates, the cellulose of the wood loses its elasticity and the log shrinks.
2, Hit the wood either with another log or a small hammer. Listen to the sound it makes. When struck, dry wood logs have a high pitched ring akin to hitting two drum sticks together. It should make you wince a little if your hearing is good. Wet wood produces a dull, heavy thump when struck.
3, Check for moss and wildlife. Any moss should be brown and crispy. It should not be green and growing. Most small bugs like moisture so infestations are not a good sign.
4, Smell the wood. Water often promotes the growth of mould. if your wood smells of mushrooms further testing is definitely required.
5, The bark should come away easily. As the woods cellulose has shrunk while losing its water, there should be a gap between the bark and log and in most cases the bark should be able to be removed without too much effort. Under the bark should of course be bone dry.
6, Always use an electronic moisture meter. The method is thus; split the log to test, turn on the moisture meter to obtain a zero (ensure the tree picture or wood setting is selected) push the pins into the centre of the split piece, go with the grain as there should be dried out splits across the grain that will affect reading.
7, When burned only fine ash should remain! logs should not boil out water or expel lots of steam during burning.!
TIP! If you are not seasoning your own logs and purchasing wood which is ready to burn, ensure that you look for the WoodSure logo.
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