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How Long Does It Take for Wood to Dry Out?

Invisible to the naked eye, wood is porous and contains thousands upon thousands of small, micro-sized holes that absorb moisture. Whether it’s a hardwood or softwood, all types of wood share this common characteristic. As a result, wood should be dried to lower its moisture content before it can be safely and efficiently burned. So, how long does it take wood to dry exactly?

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Understanding Moisture Content in Wood

Wood obviously comes from trees – you know that! In order for trees to grow, they need water. This water gets absorbed by the tree roots and works its way through the entire tree. When that tree is cut down or falls over, the moisture is still inside the wood. In fact, most “green wood,” or wood from a freshly fallen tree, has a moisture content of about 50%.

The term “moisture content,” when speaking about wood, refers to the weight of water held by a piece of wood, expressed as a percentage to a dry piece of wood of the same type and size. If a piece of wood has 50% moisture content, for example, it means that half of its total weight is attributed to water. If a piece of wood has 10% moisture content, on the other hand, only one-tenth of its weight consists of water.

Wood is considered hygroscopic, meaning that it’s able to absorb or release moisture depending on the surrounding humidity level. When the air is humid, airborne moisture vapor will seep into the wood’s pores, causing its moisture content to increase. When the air is dry (low humidity), the opposite occurs: Moisture is released from the wood’s pores, resulting in a lower moisture content.

The moisture content of wood — assuming it’s air-dried — varies depending on the relative humidity of the surrounding environment. According to an infographic published by This Is Carpentry, wood will dry out to about 14% moisture content when exposed to a relative humidity of 75%. When exposed to a relative humidity of 99%, however, wood will only dry out to about 23% to 30%. This is typically too low for it to burn efficiently, resulting in excess smoke and low heat.

Why is it important to only burn dry wood?

There are several reasons you should only burn dry firewood. Regardless of if you’re inside or outside, using dry wood for your fire will consistently lead to a better experience.

  • Dry firewood is easier to light and will burn hotter: We all know why firefighters use water to fight fires – water quenches the heat and the flame! So if your wood has significant amounts of moisture in it, then it will actively work against your fire. If your fire is hot enough, you might get it to burn, but this will never be a great experience.
  • Dry firewood smokes less: Ever wondered why your fire is creating tons of smoke and little flame? It’s because the wood is too wet!
  • Dry firewood is safer for chimneys: When the moisture in wood evaporates, it rises through the chimney. Some of that moisture, however, will stick to the inside of your chimney and create creosote. This stuff is dangerous! Dry wood, fortunately, helps prevent creosote build-up.
  • Dry firewood smells better: When you burn wet wood, it can often have a musty smell. Not only that, remember how moisture sticks to the inside of chimneys? When you’re outside, that moisture can stick to you. If you’ve ever spent time around the bonfire and smelled bad afterwards, it’s because you were burning wet wood. When you burn dry wood, there won’t be any moisture to stick to you.
  • If you’re cooking with wood, once again there are benefits to dry wood. It lights more easily and will burn with more consistency, ensuring the flavor of the wood gets into whatever you’re cooking. If you use wet wood, however, it will negatively affect the temperature of your flame and could add a musty taste to your food (no thanks!).

How long does it take for wood to dry out?

There are many factors that can affect how long it takes for wood to dry out. The biggest one, of course, is how you choose to dry the wood. The cheapest way is to air-dry the wood (or season it), but the fastest and most effective way is to put the wood through a kiln drying process. We’ll discuss both of these options next.

Seasoning or Air-Drying Wood: The One-Year Rule 

When you choose to season or air-dry wood, there are several steps you must follow. First, wood will season more quickly when it has been chopped. The smaller the piece, the quicker it can dry out. In fact, expect most types of wood to take about one year per inch of thickness to dry out. If it’s a two-inch log, that means you’ll need to let it sit outdoors for two whole years before it’s dry enough to efficiently burn.

There are many other factors that affect the rate at which wood dries. For instance, it will take longer for the wood to dry in a humid area than a place where the air is very dry. It’s also important to stack the firewood off the ground and with some space, so that air can flow between the cut logs and allow moisture to escape. Different types of wood dry faster than others, so that is another consideration.

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If you choose to season wood yourself, then you can control these elements. If you’re buying seasoned firewood, then there is no way to know if the wood was seasoned properly.

Well seasoned wood can typically get down to a moisture content of 20%, but some vendors might deliver you wood that has 30-40% moisture content. This lack of consistency is one of the reasons people who love great fires prefer the kiln drying method.

Another issue with seasoned firewood is that it starts to decay. The moisture in wood attracts bugs that break the wood down. Mold or fungus can cause issues as well. Decomposing wood is less dense, which means it will burn away more quickly.

Because seasoned firewood takes more time and creates a lower quality product, we always recommend using kiln dried firewood. Let’s talk about that next.

Kiln Drying vs Air-Drying

Exposing fresh, green wood to air is just one way to dry it out. In addition to air-drying, there’s also kiln-drying. It’s a newer and more advanced drying method that’s used by lumber and wood companies to remove moisture from their wood.

With kiln-drying, wood is placed inside a negatively pressurized vacuum chamber where it’s exposed to heated air. The chamber’s negative pressure and heat essentially cause the moisture within the wood to quickly evaporate. The moisture particles heat up and eventually escape out of the wood, thereby lowering the wood’s moisture content. Kiln-drying is more effective at removing moisture from wood than air-drying. It’s not uncommon for air-dried wood to have a moisture content of 20% to 30%, whereas kiln-dried wood may have a moisture content of 5% to 15%.

It’s important to recognize, however, that not all kiln drying processes are the same! Many “kiln dried” firewood providers you can find at the grocery store or gas station will place their firewood in a kiln that is 160 degrees for 75 minutes. This is the bare minimum standard from the USDA, and is more about killing bugs than it is about reducing the moisture content. In other words, there could still be 20% moisture (or more) in this wood!

Firewood Rack (4ft x 8ft x 14in)

Cutting Edge Firewood, however, goes through the most rigorous drying process in the industry. All of our firewood goes into a kiln that is 250 degrees and stays there for 48 hours! This means our firewood comes out with no bugs, mold, or fungus. It also means our firewood is ridiculously dry, with moisture contents as low as 5%.

Kiln drying wood is a much faster process than seasoning firewood, and it also creates better results! For this reason, many fire enthusiasts prefer kiln dried firewood from a reputable vendor.

The easiest way to get dry wood

If you’re looking to get some dry firewood that provides an amazing experience, then the easiest way to do so is order from Cutting Edge Firewood. You could season your own firewood, you could build your own kiln, or you could let us take care of the work for you.

We stand by the quality of all our firewood. We hand select it and ensure our customers only receive the best.

Not only that, but we make the delivery process as stress and mess free as possible. Our local delivery companies can enjoy the benefits of our delivery artisan service, where we deliver and stack the wood wherever you wish. We can also deliver or ship boxes of firewood all over the country. Each box contains fire starters, kindling, and logs and contains enough for 2-4 memorable fireside experiences. Boxes are a great way to try Cutting Edge Firewood and experience the difference for yourself!

You can view all of our kiln dried firewood and cooking wood products today by visiting our online store. Cutting Edge Firewood offers a wide selection of premium wood, including oak, hickory, cherry and more. You can view a few of our most popular products below.

  • Cherry Firewood Box

    $99.00

    Very Limited and Exclusive

    There is a reason George Washington cut down his father’s cherry tree: it makes for some incredible firewood! Cherry displays beautifully, burns less hot than hickory or oak, and it offers a subtle sweet aroma that will provide your home with a welcoming atmosphere for your family and guests alike.  Our Cherry Firewood is absolutely amazing.  This is our all around favorite firewood box.  

    This box of cherry firewood includes everything you need for 2-4 amazing fireside experiences, including fire starters, kindling, matches, and firewood. See full details below.

  • Hickory Firewood Box

    $59.00

    Hickory is our best seller, and for good reason. Kiln dried hickory firewood burns hotter and longer than any other firewood we offer. The signature aroma and crackle bring back positive memories from childhood and make it a customer favorite. Enthusiasts and casual burners alike have something to love.

    This box of hickory firewood includes everything you need for 2-4 amazing fireside experiences, including fire starters, kindling, matches, and firewood. See full details below.

  • Hickory Firewood Rack

    $299.00

    Hickory is one of our best sellers, and for good reason. Kiln dried hickory firewood burns hotter and longer than any other firewood we offer. The signature aroma and crackle bring back positive memories from childhood and make it a customer favorite. Enthusiasts and casual burners alike have something to love.

    Our patent metal rack of hickory is 2′ wide and 4′ tall with enough quality firewood for 15-25 amazing fireside experiences. View more details below.

    Firewood Rack Service

    Cutting Edge Firewood proudly offers firewood rack services nationwide. 

    • If you live within our “local delivery network” (Atlanta, Nashville, Charlotte, Chattanooga, Greenville and greater metro areas) you will receive a metal rack personally delivered by our Artisans.
    • If you live outside of our “local delivery network” across the United States, our rack products will be shipped via a freight company in a wooden rack to the end of your driveway.  Upgrade to Cutting Edge Firewood Metal Rack is available via phone.

     

  • Oak Firewood Box

    $59.00

    Oak is a timeless classic, and a popular hardwood firewood from one of America’s most iconic trees. Oak has a more subtle aroma than hickory or cherry. It burns hotter and longer than cherry, but cooler and not as long as hickory. For many of our customers, oak is their first experience with our kiln dried firewood.

    This box of oak firewood includes everything you need for 2-4 amazing fireside experiences, including fire starters, kindling, matches, and firewood. See full details below.

  • Oak Firewood Rack

    $275.00

    Limited Oak Supply

    Hickory Is In Stock And Ready To Ship

    Oak is a timeless classic, and a popular hardwood firewood from one of America’s most iconic trees. Oak has a more subtle aroma than hickory or cherry. It burns hotter and longer than cherry, but cooler and not as long as hickory. For many of our customers, oak is their first experience with our kiln dried firewood.

    Our patent metal rack of oak is 2′ wide and 4′ tall with enough quality firewood for 15-25 amazing fireside experiences. It is filled with our 16″ standard cut firewood.

    Firewood Rack Service

    Cutting Edge Firewood proudly offers firewood rack services nationwide. 

    • If you live within our “local delivery network” (Atlanta, Nashville, Charlotte, Chattanooga, Greenville and greater metro areas) you will receive a metal rack personally delivered by our Artisans.
    • If you live outside of our “local delivery network” across the United States, our rack products will be shipped via a freight company in a wooden rack to the end of your driveway.  Upgrade to Cutting Edge Firewood Metal Rack is available via phone.
  • Pecan Cooking Wood Box

    $69.00

    Pecan is the most legendary cooking wood in the South, and Cutting Edge Firewood offers the best Pecan available. Maybe that’s why our Pecan Cooking wood was featured in Garden and Gun magazine.

    These 16″ split pecan logs provide the perfect flavor for any smoking and barbecue enthusiasts. Pecan burns hotter and longer, and it ignites quickly and easily. Because of our rigorous drying process, you know that all of our pecan wood will arrive dry and free from bugs, mold, or fungus. That means your food gets nothing but the best.

    Give your team the competitive edge it needs by selecting Pecan cooking wood from Cutting Edge Firewood.

    Boxes of Pecan ship nationwide and usually include complimentary shipping!

  • Smoking Chunks Variety Pack

    $49.00

    Are you a backyard BBQ Master? Have you given your grill(s) their own special name? Then you need to try our premium smoking wood chunks. Our Variety Pack offers the perfect way to experience a variety of premium flavors and taste the difference for yourself. These boxes also make for the perfect gift for the smoking enthusiast in your life.

    Cutting Edge Firewood produces the best possible smoking chunks because the best food deserves the best flavor. Each variety pack contains 2-3 meals worth of Pecan, Cherry, Hickory, and Oak. The box itself is 8.5” x 8.5” x 8.5” and contains 4 smaller boxes, each with a different species of wood.

    If you’ve been thinking about trying our smoking wood chunks, then this is the best way to do it! You can also go big and try our large variety pack which is  4 times larger and costs $149.

    Complimentary Shipping across the United States.

  • Ultimate 16″ Bulk Firewood Package

    $1,699.00

    Looking for the best firewood available? Our Ultimate 16″ Bulk Firewood Package includes everything you need for a great season of memorable fires. This package includes 5 racks of firewood, and you get to choose which ones!

    Why is our firewood the best? It undergoes a rigorous drying process, spending 48 hours in a kiln at 250 degrees. This is 12 times longer than FDA requirements, and guarantees that our wood is extremely dry, has no bugs, mold, or fungus, is easier to light, and burns brightly with less smoke. You’ll see the difference from the first match.

    The Ultimate package includes more than just 5 racks of wood, however. Each package also includes…

    The Ultimate package contains up to a $2,000 retail value. Add it to your cart to reveal our special pricing for this amazing package. You can mix and match any of the following racks.

    If you’re interested in a smaller order, check out our firewood boxes for shipping.

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