Having wet firewood during the wintertime has to be one of the most infuriating things, especially if took really good care of your firewood and you have seasoned it long enough to be dry. Only for something as common as rain or snow to get the entire cord of firewood wet. Sometimes things just happen, no matter how well you are prepared you will have to improvise, especially if you are living off the grid.
You can dry wet firewood by bringing it inside your home before you want to use it. On the other hand, if you want to dry the wet firewood as fast as possible then you have to place them next to a heat source and stack the firewood so that it gets plenty of air circulation between the pieces of firewood. In addition to this, you should also shave and even split the firewood as most of the time only the outside layers of the firewood will be wet but the core will be still dry.
Your main goal is to keep your firewood dry, especially during the winter, my personal recommendation is to use a log rack as this elevates the position of the firewood and doesn’t allow it to come in contact with the ground from where it could absorb moisture Click here to check it out on Amazon.com
For the most part, if you store the firewood correctly in a wood shed or by covering it with a tarp the firewood shouldn’t get wet. During my time living off the grid I was treating firewood like a life raft, and trust me during the cold Alaska winters firewood is one of the most important things which you have to have. Even though I took care of my firewood there would be some occasions when the firewood still got wet.
Depending on how wet the actual firewood is you have to try it off before you burn it. A lot of people think that if they put a piece of wet firewood on the fire the heat will dry out the firewood and eventually it will start to burn. The truth is that by placing wet firewood in the fire you are simply sabotaging the entire fire. Although for the most part, this wouldn’t be problematic, but if you are heating your home with firewood during the wintertime using wet wood can be extremely dangerous.
Once the piece of wet firewood is placed in the fire and gets heated up the water inside the wood will start to boil and come out of the firewood. Once this happens water will drop down to the base of the fire, which is the most important part of a well-built fire. If you have a lot of wet firewood then these will simply extinguish the base of the fire and it will be almost impossible to ignite it. If you want to know how to store firewood outside during the winter then check out my recent article How to store firewood outside in winter ( In 6 Easy Steps ).
1. Dry the sides of the firewood
The first step in drying the firewood is to dry the outside of the firewood, no matter if it is wet due to rain or due to snow. With some luck only the outer layers of the firewood are wet and the core of the firewood is dry, although this mostly depends on how long the firewood has been absorbing water. Grab a couple of dry towels and rub the sides of the firewood until they are dry, ideally, you should do this indoors especially during the wintertime.
If you do not have anything to wipe the wet firewood with then you can use snow, just dump the firewood for a couple of minutes into the snow, just make sure that the temperatures are below freezing while you are doing this. The main reason why you can actually dry wet firewood with snow is that snow tends to be excellent at absorbing water. If you want to know where you can get firewood for free then check out my recent article Free Firewood ( Top 14 Places ).
2. Bring the firewood inside your home to dry it
If for some reason a lot of your firewood is wet then you should bring some of it inside your home. This way the firewood will have time to dry off due to the higher temperatures inside your home. Although it will take a couple of days until the wet firewood dries off even if you keep it inside. You have to think ahead when it comes to firewood, if you are at a point that you can no longer heat your home due to the firewood being wet then you have to go and grab some dry firewood to heat your home.
If you have some dry firewood and you have no problems heating your home then you should bring inside some of the firewood, as they will eventually dry off. Just make sure to not place the firewood directly on the floor if you store it in a garage or in a room that is not that well heated. If you want to know how is living off the grid in Canada then check out my recent article Off grid living in Ontario ( The Heartland Province ).
3. Dry the firewood by stacking it so that air can circulate
One of the main reasons why a lot of your firewood has gotten wet is due to poor air circulation. The less air circulates around the firewood the more water will be trapped between the firewood thus making them wet. During the wintertime, this water will freeze and it will make small cracks in the firewood. Once the ice melts the water will be absorbed into these smaller cracks of the firewood and it will be a nightmare to burn them.
Once you bring inside some of the firewood you should still stack them in such a way that air can circulate freely between the split logs. This way the firewood will be able to dry off a lot faster, and you will be able to use the firewood in a matter of hours.
4. Split the firewood into smaller pieces will dry it faster
If your firewood is wet then odds are that the water has not gotten inside the deeper layers of the wood. By splitting the wet firewood you will have firewood which is wet on one of the sides but it is dry on the other side. This is extremely useful if you are having difficulty making a fire and heating your home, once you have split the firewood you can simply take the dry firewood and make a fire with them.
The other pieces of firewood which are still wet should be kept near the fire, this way they will dry off. So if you only have wet firewood and you do not have anything to make fire with then definitely start splitting the firewood until you get a couple of dry pieces of firewood. Once the firewood has been split into smaller chunks it will dry off a lot faster, and in the worst-case scenario, you can even shave some of the dry firewood to use as kindle.
5. You can dry wet firewood by shaving the wet parts off
If you are lucky then only the outside layers of the firewood are wet, this mostly depends on how long the firewood has been wet and what kind of firewood you are actually using. Usually, the water will not be absorbed into the deeper layers of the firewood, which means that the outside of the firewood is wet but the insides of the firewood might still be dry. Grab a good knife and start shaving the firewood until it is dry.
You can even use the wood shavings once they have dried off as kindling, just make sure that the water hasn’t started to rot the firewood. The larger the piece of firewood is the less you will have to shave to get to the dry parts, so you should try with the biggest pieces of firewood first. Smaller pieces of firewood will be wetter as the water will get even to the deeper layers of the firewood.
6. Place the wet firewood next to a heat source to dry off
By far one of the fastest ways of drying wet firewood is by placing it next to a heat source. The bigger the heat source the faster the firewood will dry out, just remember to not actually put the wet firewood in the fire as sooner or later it will extinguish the fire. If you have a fireplace then you can simply place the wet firewood next to the fireplace and in a matter of hours the wet firewood will dry off.
Ideally, you should dry off the wet firewood with a heat source inside your home, you can still do it outside but it will take longer for the firewood to dry and it will mostly depend on the local weather conditions. If you have a wood stove then you should place the wet firewood next to it, usually, wood stoves do generate a lot of heat, and the firewood will dry off in a couple of hours. You can also dry off the firewood in the oven, although this is probably not ideal as the firewood might catch on fire.
If you have a pile of hot coal then you can place the wet firewood next to it and sooner or later the firewood will dry off. Do not place the wet firewood on the hot coal as the water coming outside from the firewood will actually cool off the coal and you will get wet coal and firewood at the same time.
As you can see there are a couple of steps which you can take to dry off wet firewood. Generally speaking, you will need some kind of heat source in order to dry of the wet firewood completely, on the other hand, you can simply shave off the wet parts of the firewood.