Will firewood dry in a pile?
To answer this, let’s start with the very basics of why things dry. Nature thankfully wants to be in balance that’s why warm things cool and sadly our drinks get warm. So, the individual pieces of wood will seek to balance with the ambient humidity.
Logs from freshly sawn trees have higher humidity levels than the surrounding atmosphere so the moisture content in the log will slowly diminish until it reaches a similar content to the atmosphere.
Drying timber is simply a way of getting the moisture content down as quickly as possible using natural processes. For the wood to become efficient firewood the moisture content needs to be below twenty percent.
So, a pile of firewood will dry out eventually, that is some of the pieces will dry, some will rot, and some will be a source for fungus to grow on. The moisture content will vary widely from piece to piece depending on its location in the pile.
The pieces of firewood lying on the ground at the bottom of the pile will have the least chance of drying out. Chances are they will maintain high moisture content and be prone to rotting.
The pieces on the outside of the pile may dry as will the top pieces and those exposed to direct sunshine and wind, but it really is a hit and miss situation. Ideally, you do want the pieces of firewood to have a similar moisture content, and sadly a pile of firewood will not produce that.
Piling VS stacking firewood
The great attraction of piling wood is that after cutting and splitting the logs the last thing you want to do is to spend time packing the pieces into a neat stack. So, tossing the pieces into a rough and tough pile is the quickest way to get the job done.
Sadly, this speedy ending will come back to haunt you as the pile gives up its moisture in mind numbing infinitesimal amounts.
A stack provides some very welcome consistency to the moisture content of the firewood. The individual pieces have an almost equal opportunity to be warmed by the sun and dried by the wind and the exposure to this combination does have an influence on the speed of the timber drying.
Stacking firewood has been a skill, or perhaps an art since man discovered fire, so it is only to be expected that there are a plethora of methods to efficiently stack timber.
Stacking firewood bestows an element of elegance on what is a pile neatly organized. But it does do more. Stacking does speed up the drying process because it offers more wood surfaces to the drying properties of the wind and the logs can be arranged to take advantage of prevailing winds.
Another advantage of stacking is that it allows the packing of logs with the bark side up which creates a significant advantage in keeping condensation off the wood.
Remember in nineteenth-century Maine young ladies were advised to inspect the wood stacks of potential suitors so keep your stack neat and orderly.
How do I quickly convert my pile into a stack?
There are a few issues to keep in mind about stacking. When cutting the logs remember that the shorter the log the more stable the stack will be.
Also, keep in mind that logs split in half will provide a more stable shape for stacking and have the added advantage of allowing the bark side to be stored on the upper side.
There is truly little difference in the speed of stacking in various shapes however if your pile of logs varies in length you may well consider a round stack as this shape will accommodate a variance in individual length of the pieces and still produce a very neat and attractive stack.
You never know who will be coming to inspect.
Yes, firewood will dry in a pile but it will be very inconsistent. Some of the wood will be dry, some of it will be wet, and some of it may rot. It’s best to have your firewood in a neat stack so it will dry quicker and the wood will be consistent in its moisture.
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