Keeping your logs in the best possible condition will give you maximum heat through the winter and protect your fireplace from damage. The perfect burn starts with how you store your firewood, to make sure they free from mold and moisture before you use them. Follow our guide for a warm, long lasting burn all season long.
1. location, location, location
Make a plan as to where you are going to store your firewood before you get cutting. For convenience, near your front door is the most obvious choice to avoid long treks through your garden late at night, especially if it is pouring with rain. If you are lacking space near your front door, consider a smaller storage pile inside, which can be topped up with logs from a larger pile kept elsewhere. Just remember to top it up regularly!
Avoid storing your wood up against other wood, such as weatherboards and fences, as this can lead to a nasty termite problem! Free standing or against concrete or bricks is the safest option. Lastly and most importantly, wood should always be stored undercover and as a far away from potential exposure to moisture as possible.
2. size is everything
Bigger is not always better when it comes to firewood. Larger logs hold on to moisture and take twice as long to dry out. Wood harboring moisture will produce a lot of soot and smoke, and can cause damage to your fireplace. As a guide, if it is too big to hold in one hand, then it is too big for burning. 6-8 inches in diameter is a good guide to follow.
When it comes to length, there are two things to consider; the size of your fireplace, and the size of the area you are going to store it. Measure both of these areas before you get cutting to save you doing the same job twice.
3. keep it under wraps
If you are struggling to find a space big enough to house all of your firewood, a waterproof sheet to cover your pile will do the trick. Before you do this, however, make sure the base of your woodpile is suitable. If the logs at the bottom of your stack are sitting on soil, they will never dry out, no matter how little rain you have. A layer of bricks or a wooden base to hoist them up off the ground will solve this problem.
Your logs also need sufficient airflow to facilitate the drying process. They will never be ready for burning if they are packed tightly up against each other or hard up against a wall. The better the airflow, the quicker the drying process and the better the burn. If you are going down the path of using a waterproof sheet or tarp, make sure the sides are left uncovered to allow air to flow through the logs.
4. use your senses
Without physically seeing the inside of your logs of wood, it is almost impossible to be certain that it’s ready for burning. Provided the conditions are right, wood can take anywhere from six to 24 months to dry out completely.
Using dead limbs and fallen branches where possible will reduce dry time significantly, so if you are new to burning wood as a source of heat for your home or are simply unprepared, have a scout around the backyard to see what you can find.
How to tell if your logs are ready for burning:
- Once your wood is ‘dead’, like anything, it will lose its colour. If it is faded, it is most likely ready to go.
- If your wood feels soft, it will still be green inside. Wood becomes very hard once it’s lost all of its moisture.
- When stacking, keep an ear out for the sound your logs make when chucked on top of one another. Dry wood will sound hollow, whereas wet wood will make a heavy thud sound.
- Feel the weight of your wood; if it is heavy, it is harbouring moisture. If it is nice and light, it is dry.
Follow our guide to cut or chop wood like a pro at home with STIHL TIMBERSPORTS World Champion, Brad De Losa.