Drying older unsplit oak logs?

by Carol
(Glenn Dale, MD)

We had a large oak tree cut down to 1-1/2 to 2 foot long round logs piled up for the last year and a half. Now we are having it split and want to know how long it needs to dry? Will it be useable firewood this winter? Is there anyway to hasten the drying time?


Answer

Carol,

I can't be certain if your wood is ready to be burned this winter, but I doubt that it is properly seasoned. Even though the wood was cut over a year ago, because it wasn't split, it's probably not ready to burn.

This is my best guess because the wood is oak. Oak usually takes a full year to season even when it is properly split and stored in ideal conditions. That being said, the best way to tell for sure is to split some of the pieces of firewood open and test them with a moisture meter like the one pictured below.




My recommendation to expedite the seasoning process is to split the wood into small pieces, store it properly (elevated, exposed to sun and wind), stack it loosely to allow for more air circulation, and cover it during wet weather. Even then, it's a long shot to have the wood ready for this winter if it's still fairly wet. The other option, of course, would be to kiln dry the wood - but that's too much trouble and expense for most people.

Hope this helps!

-Firewood Matt

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