What is the Best Way to Store Firewood?

Knowing How to Store Firewood Will Ensure Your Supply Lasts

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You’ve put in all the hard work of chopping the tree, splitting the wood, and now you’re ready to stack it for storage. But what is the best way to store firewood? If you use wood for heating or cooking, you understand the importance of knowing the best way to store firewood.

Whether you’re an old pro or a newbie to firewood storage, here are several helpful recommendations on the best way to store firewood for your homestead use.

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Preparation Tips

Cut the ends of the logs as evenly as you possibly can, this will make them easier to stand for the best way to split wood.

The shorter the log, the more easily it’ll split.

Make sure to steer clear of any knots especially when you split wood the old fashioned way, with an ax.

Green Wood vs. Snag Wood

A newly cut live tree is known as green wood. A tree which is dead when you cut it is called a snag. The ideal moisture content of cured wood is below 20 percent in your split firewood.

If you’re purchasing firewood, be sure you ask if it’s green. If you’re told it’s seasoned, ask how long the wood has been aged and how it was stored for aging. The best burning wood is allowed to cure ( the process of drying out green wood) for a year before you use it. Green wood will not burn well, especially in a wood-burning cook stove. The constant opening and closing of the door required for tending a green wood fire will let smoke fill the room.

Green wood requires a great deal of tending and feeding of kindling just to get a little heat out of it. It won’t generate much heat and creates a lot of smoke. It’s definitely not suitable for an indoor hearth. Smoke might be OK for a campfire, but it does cause problems when you breathe it in an enclosed area.

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You can split your rounds and then stack them to dry or you can age your rounds and then split them. It takes six months to a year for the correct moisture content to be reached, depending of course on the type of wood you cut.

Some people use a top-rated chainsaw to cut their wood, others use an ax, and still others use a wood splitter. This handy tool makes getting your wood supply laid in a breeze. My grandfather would have loved one!

Whether you get your exercise splitting by hand or use the time-saving method of a powered splitter it’s now time to stack your split wood. Papa always said, “Chopping wood will warm you twice! Once when you split it and again when you burn it.”

Stacking Your Wood Pile

Don’t pile it right on the earth. This brings the wood into direct contact with moisture. You’ve spent a great deal of time and energy getting your supply, don’t ruin it by improper storage. Take a page from the past and make use of a good old-fashioned woodpile.

No matter which kind of woodpile you decide to use, make sure the ground is dry and level. Pick a location which has proper drainage to ensure water doesn’t pool around the woodpile. Be sure the cover you have chosen will work in the location.

The “Straight Stack” is what we use to stack our firewood. We use scrap parts of lumber and old pallets as the base. We lay down two parallel rows 10 inches apart, if we use lumber, so both ends of the wood rest on the boards and the middle is off the ground.

If we use a pallet, we stack directly on it. We usually don’t pile higher than 5 feet high. I’m only 5’5” so we decided I should be able to see over it!

The thing I hate about firewood is it brings critters. All kinds of creepy crawly things. To reduce the chance of rodents or insects getting into your home, don’t stack the woodpile alongside the house. Just a tip for those of us who don’t enjoy mice running across the floor in the morning or those wood roaches looking for warmth and water!

There are several recognized forms of wood pile construction. The storage space on your homestead will determine which way works best for you. Besides the “straight stack,” there’s the popular “round stack.”

This method is done by lining up vertical rows in a ring shape all pointing toward the middle of the circle in a starburst design. I think this is a pretty design and in some countries, it’s the norm. While it is streamlined, the drying time can be increased because of decreased airflow.

Some people have a shed designated just for wood. You know, the proverbial woodshed. This, of course, is a great way to keep the wood dry. Be sure you have at least two open walls to ensure adequate air flow for proper curing. If you have an outdoor furnace, I would suggest placing the wood shed or some type of woodpile close by for convenience of filling the furnace.

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How to Know Wood is Cured

Seasoned wood will have a lighter color to it. Depending on the type of tree you cut, it may even change color some. However, color isn’t the sole indicator. Look for hairline cracks on the outside surface of the wood. Seasoned wood may also weigh less and make a higher pitched sound when knocked on. Some people use a moisture meter to determine when the right moisture level is reached.

For proper curing, keep the wood exposed to sun and airflow. Tree bark is a natural moisture barrier, stack the wood pieces bark side up if lots of rain is an issue. Even under cover, this will help keep any excess moisture out of the wood. If excess moisture comes from the earth, like with snow or standing water, putting the bark side down will help resist moisture build up. At least, this is what an old-timer once told me.

If you don’t have a roof of some kind over your woodpile, use a tarp to cover it. If the tarp is the proper size and strength, your wood will be protected from snow and rain. I’ve seen many a woodpile totally rot because the tarp was too snug keeping air from circulating while the moisture was trapped inside. Even with snow on the ground, a properly tarped woodpile will remain dry and ready to be used.

Remember, it’s important to keep your wood-burning stoves free of creosote, which can collect in your chimney causing carbon monoxide poisoning and chimney fires. Proper chimney maintenance is a must.

What do you think is the best way to store firewood? Share your tips and experience with us in the comments below.

Safe and Happy Journey,
Rhonda and The Pack

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Comments
  • Excellent article. I burn about 15 to 20 rick a year, depending on the winter and had limited space to store this much. So I would stack it about 6′ tall and put a long branch (15″ to 20″ long) every couple of feet from one row to the next and this seemed to help stabilize the wood from leaning or falling.

    Reply
  • You said nothing about stacking the wood with the bark side up, which helps to keep it from getting wet if you have no shed or other adequate covering. Also, you mentioned nothing about cross stacking, which allows air flow, which also keeps some of the critters from hiding so easily.

    Reply
  • I stack my wood on pallets, 3 rows deep and 5 pallets long, with just the corners criss-crossed for stabilization and the wood stacked bark side up in between. I taper the top to be about 6 feet high at one end and 4 feet or so at the other end and cover with a couple sheet widths of metal roofing held down by rocks. This makes for a slanted roof over the wood. It seasons beautifully and most importantly, sheds rain. Works way better than a tarp and looks a lot neater.

    Reply
  • I have a wood shed with a roof and open on all four sides. I use two four by fours to stack on, side braces to contain the ends, each stack can go about six feet high. The wood is stacked with plenty of gaps to aid in wind flow for drying. Green wood with bark, mainly maple, takes a full year to cure. If split a bit less. Ideally I’d like to have next winters supply cut and stacked for a whole year. Nothing like well dried seasoned wood to burn. Before the shack it was tarps, it was ok but having the shack is much more convenient.

    Reply

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