How Long Do You Wait Before Splitting Wood? [Answered]

How long do you wait before splitting wood?

Well, you’ve come to the right place because that’s exactly what I’ll be going over in this post.

So, let’s get straight into it!

How long does it take for firewood to dry after seasoned?

(You season firewood by adding salt on it to dry it to use for burning)

You may like to sprinkle a little salt on a lovely fresh fish fillet before cooking it but taking a salt seller out to your firewood stack is not going to do too much good.

In fact, you are more than likely going to cause a significant amount of damage to your heating equipment and then there are serious health issues to consider.

Salt is often a significant compound used in many fire extinguishers so coating your firewood in it may just be the wrong thing to do. Salt is one of the suggested compounds to use to smother a fire so, while salt may well absorb moisture from firewood it is not going to go too well after that.

Anyone who has tried to burn driftwood on the beach will have a clear memory of the unpleasant noxious fumes that result from trying to burn wood with a salt content. 

Salt will not burn in the temperature ranges experienced in a wood fire. The only visible observation will be a bright yellow flame as a result of the sodium component.

How long does it take for greenwood to dry without seasoning?

Greenwood will start to dry out over time by virtue of the fact that nature insists on balancing relative positions like pressure and humidity. 

Greenwood will have a higher moisture content than the surrounding environment so over time moisture will escape from the green timber into the environment. 

Because there is no alteration to the shape of the log the depletion of the moisture content will be limited to the exposed ends and the position of the log relative to the ground. Greenwood lying on the ground will have a high chance of rotting before it gets dry. 

Wood is hygroscopic, it will absorb moisture from the ground and consequently have a good chance of rotting if left lying on wet ground. Wet green wood lying on the ground is an open invitation for mold to take hold and destroy the wood.

The speed of greenwood seasoning if left as it fell will be considerably longer than similar logs that have been split and stacked. A general rule is that unseasoned green wood will take approximately four times as long to dry out.

A further factor to bear in mind is the timing of when the tree was felled. Greenwood felled in the autumn or winter months will have a lower moisture content to start with and consequently will have a reduced drying period.

Does the type of tree affect the drying?

Different species of trees will season at different rates but that is only part of the answer. For example, willow or pine will dry quickly compared to other species but you will require a lot more of the pine or willow to keep you warm because both species burn quickly. 

The general rule of thumb is that for every inch of thickness one year of seasoning is required so that is a useful standard to keep in mind. The factor that plays a strong role in determining the seasoning time is the moisture content of the unfelled tree. 

Ash is a species with low moisture content and so would tend to season relatively quickly compared to oak or elm which have a high moisture content.

How do you test if the wood’s been properly seasoned?

The easy, simple, and probably the most accurate way to check the seasoning of the wood is to use a moisture meter. By sticking the two little probes into the piece of firewood the reading will provide you with a good indication of how wet the wood is. 

A reading below twenty percent means the wood is ready for the fire. A reading above twenty percent and you must be a little more patient.

But there is a little more to it than that. You need to check a couple of pieces to get an average reading. The position of the test piece in the pile is also important. 

Take from the top of the pile at the side and chances are you will get a below twenty percent reading but a piece pulled out from low down in the middle of the stack may just show a different and sadly higher reading. 

You can also use the moisture meter to identify the area of the stack that has seasoned first and the readings can be your guide on which areas to select.

Not only will the readings differ throughout the stack, but they will also differ on the individual pieces as well.

A reading from the outside of a piece or from the end will tend to exaggerate the amount of seasoning so it is a good idea to split the piece one more time and take a reading from the freshly split section.

If the stack has recently been exposed to rain or snow or even heavy dew, the moisture meter will give a false high reading if the test is taken on the exterior of the piece. 

Splitting the piece and taking a reading from the recently exposed section will provide a truer reading. 

There are some interesting alternative methods to establish the quality of the seasoned wood. 

I would be delighted to hear of anyone who has successfully tried the dishwashing liquid test.

The test involves dipping one end of your firewood piece in dishwashing liquid and then blowing from the other end of the log to see if any bubbles form at the dishwashing liquid end. If they do, well, then your firewood is appropriately seasoned.

Another test is for the more musically inclined and that concerns knocking two pieces of firewood together. A healthy resonating tone denotes a seasoned piece whereas a dull thud is an indication that additional seasoning is required.

For those of us who are tone deaf, there is the possibility of checking the visual aspects of the piece and the odor. 

Dry firewood is just about odorless whereas wood that still has a fair bit of moisture will have a distinct smell to it. 

The weight of the wood is also a guide to the moisture content. As the vast majority of wood species float, wood with limited moisture will feel relatively light.

Lastly, the color of the wood is another indicator of dryness. The lighter the color of the wood the less moisture it will contain.

Is It Easier to Split Wet or Dry Wood?

The comparison of splitting wood wet or dry has a few issues that tend to fudge the answer. Splitting wet wood is easier if the wood is from a deciduous tree and then conifer trees are difficult to split when wet and are best left to the season before splitting.

It is not just the question of when it is easier to split logs because part of the answer relates to the benefit splitting wet wood has on the length of seasoning required. 

So, in short, it depends on the wood but there are significant advantages in getting your firewood split as soon as possible as the split firewood will have a reduced drying time.