How Long Does It Take For Wood to Season?

Wood is actually a collection of tubes or cell cavities which actually run through the length of the tree. Naturally, these cavities are filled with moisture. Moisture actually exists both as water as well as molecular water that is contained inside cell walls.

When you chop a tree, you start the slow process of drying as free water begins to evaporate. When free water evaporates, the moisture content inside wood is at 30 percent. After this, water starts to leave the cell walls and the wood begins to shrink and then it begins to crack.

So how long does it take for wood to season?

The simplest answer is a season. Remember the season for a season.

If you are burning wood for your fireplace or for powering an oven, firewood should be seasoned well until its moisture content is about less than 20 percent. Firewood that has moisture content higher than that may eventually burn however it could become too hard to light and to keep burning.

If you have a wood-burning stove or furnace then this needs well-dried or well-seasoned wood for optimum performance. Take note that a stove does not burn the tars and creosote in the smoke created by the fire and this line up the inside surface of your chimney and flue pipes.

Creosote can also blacken the glass windows wood-burning ovens and fireplaces plus it produces a lot of blue-gray smoke that can cause respiratory illnesses and can cause a bad smell inside your house.

Seasoning wood will prevent the development of mold. Stacking unseasoned firewood into a pile lets mold spread throughout the logs and this can be released inside your home causing dangerous illnesses.

How to check if the wood has been seasoned well

Radial checking

A thorough check of the body of the wood would help you determine if it has been seasoned well. Look for cracks that radiate out from the heartwood to the sapwood. These may also appear before the wood is totally seasoned therefore you should combine radial checking with other techniques.

Check for color

You can tell that the wood has been seasoned well by its color. Wood fades and darkens as it seasons, changing from white to yellow or gray. Although different species have different colors t it’s safe to say a stack of brightly colored wood is far from being completely seasoned.

Check the smell

Usually, the fresh-cut surface has a pleasant, sappy aroma. Seasoned wood usually has no smell or has a very faint smell of tree bark.

Check for loose bark

As wood start to dry up, its bark slowly begins to separate from the body of the wood and eventually becomes too cracked and then separates completely. If the bark is still attached to the wood, peel this with a sharp knife and check the color of the cambium. If the cambium is green then the wood is not yet well-seasoned.

Check for well-seasoned sound

Take two pieces of wood together and bang these together. Dry wood sounds hollow while wood with still more moisture will sound dull.

Check for the weight of wood

Because moisture has been removed from the seasoned wood, it will weigh lesser compared to the same type and size of wood.

Check by burning a sample

If you are still in doubt, you can take a small sample of wood and burn it. Dry firewood will ignite and burn easily. Wet wood may be too hard to light and it will hiss as it is tossed in the fire. Still wet wood is also very hard to maintain compared to well-dried firewood.

Conclusion

Wood can take a very long time to season well. Exactly how long it takes is a matter of an ongoing debate in woodworking and wood burning groups. The easiest way around this question is simply to follow the rule of thumb which is to season firewood for at least six months before burning it. Although a season may be a good long wait, some hardwoods may need at least one to two full years to do so. The answer could depend on the size of wood, the tree species and local climate from where you are located.

  • January 5, 2019
  • DIY
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