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.
For expediting the drying process of firewood, begin by removing the bark and then stack the wood in a manner that allows air to circulate freely from all sides. When faced with rainy periods, it is recommended to cover the top of the firewood pile. However, it is important to avoid covering the sides of the woodpile, as this hinders water evaporation from the ends of the wood.
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 ).
How To Dry Wet Firewood
Properly drying wet firewood is crucial for efficient and effective burning, as well as preventing excessive smoke and creosote buildup. When faced with damp or wet firewood, it’s essential to employ effective drying techniques. This involves creating an optimal drying environment to facilitate moisture evaporation. From proper stacking and airflow to utilizing natural heat sources and considering timeframes, there are various methods to expedite the drying process.
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
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 where 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. 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
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 that 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. Shave 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
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.
- Splitting wet firewood into smaller pieces increases the surface area and exposes more wood to air and heat, promoting faster drying. Use a maul or axe to split the logs into manageable sizes. Aim for pieces that are approximately 4 to 6 inches in diameter.
- Create a well-ventilated stack to facilitate drying. Place the split firewood in a single row or stack, leaving space between the logs for air circulation. Avoid tightly packing the wood, as it can impede airflow and slow down the drying process. Consider stacking the wood in an area with good air circulation and exposure to sunlight, if possible.
- Drying wet firewood can take time, typically several months or longer, depending on the initial moisture content and environmental conditions. Ensure the woodpile is protected from rain or snow while still allowing air to circulate. Cover the top of the stack with a tarp or firewood cover, leaving the sides open for ventilation. Monitor the moisture content of the wood using a moisture meter and wait until it reaches an optimal level (below 20%) before using it for efficient and clean burning.