There is something so special about the smell of woodsmoke. Whether you have a fireplace or a wood stove in your home or a fire pit in your backyard, enjoying a cozy, warm fire is an ancient part of the human experience.
In fact, there are a number of psychological benefits to sitting by a fire. Studies have found that looking at fire can lower blood pressure, increase relaxation, and reduce stress.
Whether you are using firewood as your main source of heat during the winter or for the occasional bonfire, it’s important to learn how to store firewood properly.
Is it time for you to set up your firewood storage location? Let’s take a look at what you need to know so that your method is safe, effective, and convenient.
Select a Storage Location
One of the great things about firewood as a fuel source is that it can be stored safely and indefinitely without degrading so long as it is stored correctly.
Finding the right storage location for your firewood is your first step in the process. The perfect spot will both be conveniently located and the best type of location for safe and efficient storage.
Find a Spot That Is Conveniently Near Your Home
You want to be mindful of convenience when it comes to storing firewood. It can be laborious to carry firewood and it can be unpleasant to carry it far distances in colder months.
However, you also don’t want to store firewood too close to your home. Otherwise, it can lead to pest infestations.
If you aren’t able to find a spot that is close to your house, you might consider investing in a method of transporting firewood that is easier and less laborious. For example, investing in a wheelbarrow can make it easier to bring firewood to your house.
Choose a Location Where Firewood Can Be Stored Off of Soil
Your firewood will be more likely to rot more quickly if you store it directly on soil. This is because both bugs and bacteria can get into your wood. Instead, find a place off soil to store your firewood.
Surfaces like clean gravel, asphalt, and concrete can be good for storing firewood. If you don’t have surfaces made out of these materials, you can elevate firewood off of the ground or you can lay a tarp down before you start stacking.
Consider a Storage Shed
An outdoor storage shed can be a good place for storing firewood. This is a great way to protect your firewood from rain and keep it off of the soil. You will want to be mindful of any issues with carpenter ants or termites that could arise, and you might be better off choosing a storage shed that isn’t made out of wood for this reason.
The garage is also a reasonable place to store firewood.
Don’t Store Firewood in Your Home
It is never recommended to use the inside of your home for firewood storage. Insects and pests can get inside your home this way which could lead to an infestation or property damage.
Store Your Firewood Safely
Safety is a very important consideration when you are storing firewood. You want to make sure that you are keeping your home and your family safe when you are setting up your firewood storage spot.
Elevate the Firewood If Necessary
If you aren’t able to find a spot outside where firewood can be stored off of soil, you can use 2 x 4s to elevate it off of the ground. You can find these at any hardware store.
Avoid Firewood Moisture With a Tarp or Cover
When you are learning how to store firewood outside, one important factor is that you want to protect it from rain. You should therefore always cover outdoor firewood with a tarp. You can find these at a hardware store and many big box stores.
Don’t forget to tie down the tarp so it’s secure. Otherwise, wind and weather can blow it off and let your firewood get wet.
Air circulation is important when it comes to firewood storage. This means that you should keep the sides open to let air flow through your stack.
Effectively Stack Your Firewood
You want to make sure that you are stacking firewood effectively, otherwise, it can cause it to rot much faster. For example, keeping firewood in a pile is not an efficient method of storage, and you should always stack it.
Make sure to never put firewood up against a wall outdoors. Bacteria and moisture can get into your firewood this way. For this reason, keep a distance of at least a few inches between any wall and your firewood.
You don’t ever want to put firewood up against your house or any wooden structure. Otherwise, you can be inviting carpenter ants and termites to cause major issues in your home.
Avoid Common Issues
If you are new to dealing with firewood, you might not realize the types of mistakes that people commonly make. Let’s take a look at some issues you will want to avoid so your firewood storage experience is a success.
Dry Firewood Properly Before Covering
One of the most important things when it comes to how to store firewood outdoors is making sure it is dry first. In order for wet wood to dry out, you will need to leave it properly exposed to open air for a period of time.
Firewood that you’ve just collected shouldn’t have a tarp covering it. However, you can temporarily cover wet firewood with a tarp if you are expecting rain. You will just want to make sure that the sides are left uncovered and that you remove the tarp when the weather clears up.
The perfect drying location for firewood will leave it exposed to both the sun and the wind. You will want to make sure it isn’t touching any moist ground and that it has a suitable cover (that doesn’t prevent airflow) if your climate is a wet one.
When stacking firewood to dry, you’ll want to stack it in a single row and leave a gap between each log so airflow can be maximized.
To avoid the issues that come along with storing and burning wet wood, one option is to purchase kiln-dried firewood.
Don’t Use Wet Firewood in Your Home
It’s not a good idea to use wet wood when you’re building a fire in your woodstove or fireplace. It’s essential that wood is adequately dry both to have the most efficient fire and for safety reasons.
You can tell if firewood is dry because it’s much lighter than wet wood. You can also see cracks along the edges and a slightly gray color to dry firewood.
There are a number of issues that can come up if you burn wet firewood. For one, a fire that is burning from wet wood will produce more creosote and smoke because too much moisture is leading to incomplete combustion. This creosote can build up in the chimney or flue with each fire you burn.
In the best-case scenario, this means that you have to get your chimney cleaned more often than you would normally. In the worst-case scenario, it can create a reduction in the draft and even lead to chimney fires.
Beyond that, it’s really annoying to try and get a fire going with wet wood. It’s harder to get it started and it’s harder to keep it going. If you do get it going, it will be much smokier.
Burning wet wood is also just a lot less efficient than burning dry wood. This means that you will end up using a lot more wood to heat your house when your wood is wet.
Check Local Regulations Regarding Firewood Storage
Your neighborhood or city might have rules about how firewood is stored. You will want to look into this before you begin setting up your storage method. The last thing you want to do is be storing your firewood illegally without even realizing it.
How to Know If Firewood Is Properly Seasoned
The term ‘seasoned’ is used to describe dry firewood. Typically, preparing firewood in the spring should give it enough time to dry out and be used in the fall.
It is critical to use properly seasoned wood to use this fuel source in the most efficient, safe, and clean manner. When the moisture content is below 20%, it is considered properly seasoned.
It is, unfortunately, not the easiest task to know if firewood is fully seasoned. Simply using the length of time since wood was harvested won’t be a reliable indicator. Some of the ways that you can judge if firewood is properly seasoned include:• Dry firewood is quite a bit lighter than green wood, however, it’s worth noting that there are density differences between different species• A dull thud will be produced when wet wood pieces are hit together, while dry pieces hit together will sound hollow• Sometimes dry firewood will have cracks on the ends or ‘drying checks’• You can use a moisture meter to determine whether or not the firewood has less than 20% moisture
There is also a noticeable difference when you are burning wet wood and dry wood. It is much harder to start a fire with wet wood and more difficult to keep it going. Wet wood will produce quite a bit more smoke than dry wood and you might even see moisture bubbling up out of the wood when it’s on a fire.
It is never a good idea to burn wet wood in your home. If you want to determine how seasoned wood is by burning it, experiment this way in an outside firepit.
Many people get a sense of firewood seasoning over time. Once you get a feel for the situation and have experience with the tree species you are using, you can simply just tell whether something is properly seasoned or not. However, if you’re new to it you might find it’s difficult to know whether or not firewood is properly seasoned.
For this reason, it can be a good idea to buy kiln-dried firewood. While it’s still important to store it correctly, you won’t have to worry about the seasoning process. It’s worth knowing that when you buy ‘seasoned’ firewood from local people that you find on a bulletin board or online, you cannot necessarily trust that the firewood is dry enough to be safely used.
Choosing kiln-dried is a more expensive option but you also can rest easy knowing that your firewood is good to go. You can, of course, also harvest the firewood yourself if you have access to trees. Another option is to buy firewood from a local source in the spring and set it up for seasoning before using it in the fall.
Learning How to Store Firewood Is Essential
How you store your firewood can make a huge difference. Not only can it mean that your wood lasts longer and your fires burn more effectively, but it also means that your home is protected from pests and moisture.
While it can seem like a bit of a project to learn how to stack and store firewood, it’s a system that you really only have to set up once. Many people feel that there is an art to chopping, seasoning, stacking, and storing firewood. You might just find that you find it to be a nearly meditative act that you look forward to every year.
Did you find this article about how to store firewood useful? If so, be sure to check out the rest of our blog for more informative content.