What is Seasoned Wood?
Have you ever wondered what seasoned wood means? In cooking, food is seasoned to improve taste and aroma. In manufacturing wood, seasoning wood is using techniques to reduce moisture levels.
Seasoning is actually the process of removing the moisture content from wood to reduce structural problems. Seasoning is also used in wood used for firewood to reduce smoke and improve combustion.
Dried wood still contains a small amount of moisture but is stronger, less likely to warp and is easier to finish using varnish or wood paint.
Seasoned wood and how it is done
Seasoned wood is simply wood that has been considerably dried to reduce moisture. There are a number of ways to season wood and most of these take a very long time to do.
But it’s a guarantee that after this method, wood becomes stronger and are less likely to deform due to the effects of natural properties. Here are some of the most common ways wood is seasoned to perfection.
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This is the traditional method for drying wood. This is also the longest with the longest taking from six to nine months. To use this method, stack logs outside on top of pallets. This way, air can circulate vertically and horizontally.
The raised pallets will also raise wood from the ground away from grass, vegetation and from the wet ground. Planks and logs may be wrapped or sealed to prevent excessive moisture loss. You can also place a tarp on top of the pile to protect this from the elements.
Seasoning using a kiln
Another effective commercial way of drying wood is kiln seasoning. This is faster than air drying because it accelerates the process of removing moisture using external energy. Drying using a kiln usually takes about two days to one weekend, depending on the type of wood you want to use.
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Microwave seasoning is a technique that uses pulsed energy that is directed into timbers to remove moisture completely. Compared to other seasoning techniques, microwave seasoning will not degrade seasoning.
This technique seasons wood faster and with the best quality. This is best suited for seasoning wooden blocks, lumber, chips, paper, veneer and other wood-based materials. Microwave seasoning creates a uniform moisture content. This can improve quality and reduce timber warping and checking.
Using a solar kiln
This seasoning technique combines the speed of kiln seasoning with the low energy of air drying. Solar kilns usually have windows on the south side of the structure which traps the sun’s energy. Heat collectors made from black metal are placed near the top of the window sashes.
There are a variety of methods used to take heated air inside the kiln to dry the wood. There are a variety of designs for solar kilns; some have insulation inside the kiln to retain heat at night.
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This seasoning technique can take approximately twice as long as traditional kiln seasoning. It is commonly used as a way to produce wood for furniture fabrication and manufacturing.
Most people who work with wood and seasoning wood say that even when wood has been dried for a year, it may still contain moisture. If you use wood for building and for burning, you must learn how to identify if logs and wood have been properly seasoned.
Here are 7 ways to tell if your logs are dry enough:
- Check the weight of your logs or wood. Seasoned logs are much drier compared to green logs, therefore these weigh less.
- Check the wood bark. The bark of well-seasoned wood is drier than usual and therefore the bar is loose. There may be bare patches on the log and usually, it will chip away without much effort.
- Check for the wood color. Seasoned logs have faded colors.
- Check for dry sound. Take two pieces of wood together. These should make a more hollow ringing sound than a dull one.
- Check for cracks. Look for radial cracks on the log. Cracks are common in unseasoned logs. Cracks mean that the logs are not ready to be burnt.
- Check for the smell. Unseasoned wood usually has a strong ‘sappy’ aroma. This usually fades when the wood is dried.
- Check for internal moisture. Use a moisture probe (available in most large hardware stores) to check for the moisture of wood.
Seasoning wood is done to improve wood strength when wood is used as a building material and to enhance wood burn when wood is used for heating. There are many ways to season wood and the most popular is the traditional air-drying method. It is also important to learn how to identify if a log or piece of wood is properly dried.