Splitting Wood Green or Dry – Which is Better?

Splitting wood green or dry, which is better?

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 this!

The difference between splitting wood green or dry

After a hard day cutting logs for firewood, the last thing tired eyes and muscles want to deal with is the pile of logs ready to be split. And while you search for a compelling reason to pack the chainsaw away and reach for a cold one you may want to ponder over whether it is better to split the wood when it is green or dry. 

There is always going to be one item that has the annoying ability to destroy a bulletproof argument and so when people tell you that splitting dry wood is easier there will always be that one voice that will offer up the suggestion of, ‘Oh no you should try splitting green oak, much easier than dry.’ 

It’s annoying and even more so because there is some validity in the argument. Splitting deciduous trees when wet seems to have some advantages while conifer trees split easier when dry. That’s the general rule but it’s also only part of it.

What would be the benefits of splitting wood when wet?

Splitting wood when wet has the big positive advantage of exposing the wood that would normally be protected by the bark. 

However, those who use pine or similar conifer trees, they will find that splitting the logs when green is far more problematic than letting them dry.

Does wood split when green really dry quicker? 

Let’s briefly go over the drying process and what causes wood to dry. Nature strives continuously for balance. Wood dries because the air around it has less moisture than wood. So, wood will dry to the level of the ambient humidity level.

There is a further factor to consider and that is the relative surface area. Compare the surface area of a log that has not been split to a log that has been split into quarters.

It becomes obvious that the split log has a far greater surface area and under similar conditions will dry considerably faster than the unsplit log. 

So, the argument that splitting green logs is beneficial in that it reduces the drying time of the wood does have some merit. 

But I can just see a weathered old timer in the corner saying how poor planning doesn’t merit the additional energy required to split green logs.

The opposing views.

People who deal primarily with deciduous trees like oak or maple will tell you that green is the way to go. It is easier to split the green logs and benefit from a faster drying time. 

So, it really is dependent upon the trees you would normally source for firewood that’s going to determine your better timing.

Use the correct tool when splitting green logs.

Green logs offer up more resistance to splitting than lovely dry logs with clues of cracked ends about where to aim the axe. The typical axe is not meant to split logs and you will find it a lot easier to split green logs if you use a maul.

The maul has a bit more weight than an axe, but it is the shape of the maul with a wider angled head that increases the efficiency of the tool and makes things a little easier.

What about using a Mechanical Splitter?

If you are going to be using a fair bit of firewood there will come a time when the attraction of a mechanical splitter will grow. 

Normally this would be in proportion to the tiredness of your muscles. With a mechanical splitter, electric or gas powered, there is little difference between splitting green or dry wood. This would make splitting the greenwood more attractive as it would speed up the drying process. 

What makes split firewood so much better?

So, with all the toing and froing about green or dry and when to split has been resolved the real question to ask is why split the log, green or dry, at all. 

After all logs will burn as well.

Split logs are far more efficient sources of heat and because they dry a whole lot faster than logs, they will be ready for the stove or heater in a much shorter time.

By virtue of the fact that they have seasoned better than the logs, they will produce less smoke and other items that may clog up the exhaust of your heating system. So, it makes sense to split your firewood.

Split timber stores more efficiently than logs. It takes up less space and allows for quicker seasoning so I’m afraid no matter how you look at it green or dry you are going to have to do the invigorating thing and get the timber split.