Is red oak alright to burn after 3 months?

by Randy

I know that red oak needs a full year to season properly. My queston is that I cut and split the tree about 3 months ago. I left in the pasture, in full sun and wind, and with the very cold weather we are having, I was hoping to use in the next 3-4 weeks. If I keep a very hot fire in my wood stove insert, should I have any major problems?

I wish that I could season the wood longer, but right now I really need to save on my electric bill. Any advice is greatly appreciated.

Thank You, Randy


It is unlikely that the wood is ready to burn already. Unfortunately oak is a species that takes a long period of time to fully season.

If you want to get an accurate measurement of the moisture in your firewood, I recommend buying a moisture meter. If your wood is 20% or less moisture, it is ready to burn.

I don't recommend burning wet wood, because it's ineffecient and dangerous because it can lead to chimney fires. But if you are going to do it anyway, there are a couple of precautions and techniques that you can use to be safer and more efficient.

First, split the pieces of oak so that they are small (under 4" diameter in the largest part). Green oak any larger is not likely to burn at all. Splitting it into smaller pieces will at least give you a fighting chance.

Second, buy a chimney fire extinguisher. You'll be prepared in the case of a chimney fire if you purchase one of these.

Lastly, make sure to have your chimney cleaned out after the season. This will eliminate any creosote that may have built up over the winter.

Again, I don't recommend burning wet wood. It's too risky and not worth the effort. These are just tips to make is a little safer if you are going to do it anyways.

Good luck!

-Firewood Matt

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