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UNUSUAL TIPS FOR STACKING FIREWOOD – Plus one awesome benefit!

firewood neatly stacked

If you burn wood for heat or food, you need to respect your wood supply.

Whether firewood is delivered to your homestead, or if you’ve taken on the task of cutting and splitting yourself, the wood needs to be stored properly for it to burn efficiently. It’s not just wood. It’s a fuel, an energy resource, a precious commodity.

I have 2 simple goals when stacking my firewood

First, the wood needs to dry as quick as possible

Second, the wood stack has to be sturdy and never fall apart

I also follow these simple rules

1. Provide adequate ventilation to the wood

2. Keep it free from moisture and off the ground.

3. Stack where it receives sunlight.

4. Allow for easy access to the pile.

But there’s much more to consider…Below are a few guidelines that will help you get the best from your supply. I’ve included a few unusual tips that I use consistently with excellent results.

1. Stack the wood in narrow rows, one stick wide. This allows more wood surface to be exposed.

               a. Have the row stacked east-west, so that one of the long sides is facing south. Sunlight greatly helps in the seasoning process.

               b. Wooden pallets are a good choice for holding your wood supply. I cut my pallets in half with a hand saw. This allows me to line them up end to end allowing for long, narrow firewood stacks.

long pile of stacked firewood on pallets along treeline
Single row of firewood stacked on wooden pallets

2. Make separate piles for lopsided, chunky odds and ends. Be selective when stacking the logs.

stored pile of odds and ends of split wood on wooden pallets
Stored pile of odds and ends of split wood

3. Know what wood species you are dealing with. Some hardwoods take much longer to season than others.

               a. Make notes of when the wood was cut, of what species and when it was stored.

               b. Don’t mix green wood with seasoned wood. Keep track.

4. Stack in a place where prevailing winds can pass through the widest part of the wood pile.

5. Be careful if stacking between trees. If you do, make sure to provide a good base for the firewood.           

a. Remember that trees move and that will definitely affect the stability of your pile.

Firewood stacked between two trees on a wooden pallet
Pallet providing a good base for storage between trees.

6. Protect the wood from the elements. Rain and snow will not only soak your supply, but wreak havoc on its stability too.

               a. At the least, always cover the top of the woodpile and keep the sides open for ventilation.        

               b. I cover my rows with a piece of plastic that folds down each side, covering one or two layers of wood. With this method, I’m always sure to have sticks that are completely dry and read to burn. Plus, with the plastic down over the sides, it’s easier to secure the plastic to the ends of the logs. I use small tacks.

               c. If you haven’t anything to cover the wood, at least make sure the top few layers of the stack have the firewood’s bark side facing up. The bark will help deflect rain and snow.

Plastic cover keeping top layers of wood dry.

7. Keep all firewood stored off the ground. Moisture and mildew are more likely to attack from the ground up.

8. Don’t stack it, build it! There’s nothing worse than having to re-stack a pile that toppled over! Try this: Get yourself a 2×4 and a 2’ level. After every few layers of wood, step back and give your pile a visual and use the 2×4 to knock in sticks that are way out of place. Then use the level, at various locations, to make sure the stack is straight and plumb.  Check your stacks often.

MORE TIPS BELOW…keep reading

9. Support both ends of each row of wood. Two vertical supports, spaced approximately 10” apart will stabilize the logs more effectively. I’ve used one support in the past and it just doesn’t cut it. One support allows the wood to move…because it will.

2 rows of firewood supported by 2x4's on the ends
Two supports for more stability

10. Use the ‘cribbing’ method for stacking. It may take longer to build, but the benefits are more than worth it. Here’s how: Lay the first row of sticks side by side to each other (I usually use 4 pcs.). Then add another layer of sticks but perpendicular to the first. Keep adding layers this way, while being selective as to keep each layer as flat and even as possible.

Stacking this way offers 2 benefits:

               a. The wood will season quicker, as there is more surface area exposed to ventilation.

               b. The columns, when built properly, become self-supporting. Even better, the columns can be used as ‘bookends’ for long rows of wood, eliminating the need for end supports.

Piles of  firewood stacked on wooden pallets using the cribbing method
A sturdy method for stacking

11. Woodsheds and open structures offer the best storage locations. This is my ultimate location for storing firewood. It meets all the criteria for seasoning wood effectively. It offers a reliable cover, open sides for ventilation and you have better options for re-stocking. Plus, the firewood is all in one location.

HERE’S THE AWESOME BENEFIT…

Fun and good times with family and friends!

That’s right. Use the stacking task as a means for bringing family and friends together. It’s possible an entire family can take part in storing the wood supply. After all, most of them will eventually enjoy the comforts of the wood heat or at least the inspiring flames from the fire!

Look at it this way, a large pile of wood sitting recklessly on the ground is an invitation for… fun. Plan a wood-stacking party and enjoy the camaraderie. When the party is over, the memories of good times will live on as you admire, with pride, each time you walk by your stacked work of art.

Each and every split log of firewood holds much more than energy for burning…it’s a library of enjoyable memories.

Happy stacking!

BZ

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IS YOUR FIREWOOD DRY ENOUGH TO BURN? 8 Simple Ways to Find Out

stacked woodpile of dry seasoned split firewood

There is no fire that will light and burn reliably if the firewood’s moisture content is high.  Freshly cut wood can contain up to 50% water and therefore NOT suitable for burning.

Heating your home with wood? Do you build campfires for fun, warmth or grilling food?

Entertaining family and friends by a fire pit on your deck, patio or backyard?

YOU NEED DRY WOOD!

HERE ARE A FEW WAY’S TO HELP DETERMINE IF YOUR FIREWOOD IS DRY ENOUGH TO BURN.

1. OBSERVE THE COLOR   As wood ages it becomes discolored. It darkens into shades of gray. This is a good sign of dry wood (See pic below).

Left: 1 year old split wood – dry Right: 1 month old split wood – wet

2. LOOK FOR CHECKS OR CRACKS. If the wood is dry, you will often see checks or cracks on the ends of the logs (See pic below).

3. USE A MOISTURE METER   Simply press one of these tools against your firewood logs and it can determine its moisture content. Remember that 20% moisture is optimal.

4. LOOSE BARK   Inspect the firewood. If the logs have loose bark or no bark at all, this is a good sign that the wood has aged.

5. SOUND   When you strike two like pieces together, dry wood will sound hollow with a sharp “crack”. Wet wood will sound like a dull “thud”.

6. WEIGHT   Dry wood is much lighter than wet wood (same species).

7. SPLIT FIREWOOD is better.  Un-split wood dries very slowly. But when wood has been split, more surface area is exposed which leads to faster drying.

8. Last but not least…. TRY BURNING SOME! If the wood is wet with a high moisture content, it will sizzle and bubble at the ends. This is NOT good.

HERE’S ANOTHER WOODBURNER PRO TIP:

It’s one of the best ways to “season” firewood.

First split the wood. Then stack it outdoors and off the ground for at least 1 year. Cover the top of the wood pile only and place it in a location where it is well-ventilated and exposed to sunlight. Bingo! There you have it…. the most efficient way to season your firewood supply.

But there’s more… stay tuned to The BZ Blog for upcoming articles with our best tips on how to season and store your wood supply.

BZ

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HOW TO GET FREE FIREWOOD

firewood piled in back of red pickup truck

If you burn wood to heat your home, you are saving money. Even with the recent low cost of fossil fuels like natural gas, coal or oil, wood is still the least expensive. There is no doubt that labor is a factor when using wood for heat, but if you could get your firewood for free, the savings add up even more.

AS LONG AS YOU ARE ABLE TO CUT IT, MOVE IT AND STORE IT, I’VE GOT SOME GREAT SUGGESTIONS ON WHERE TO GET FREE WOOD FOR BURNING.

Below are a few of my top picks on how to get free firewood.

WORD OF MOUTH.

Talk to your family, friends and neighbors. Let them know you are interested in obtaining trees or any clean scrap wood they may have lying around. You will be surprised how many of your friends know someone that would like wood or trees cleared from their property. You will be doing them a favor and getting free fuel at the same time.

GO “SOCIAL”

Get in touch with your online friends.

Post a note on your favorite social media network. Give a few details on exactly what you are looking for, and how you plan to get it. Then prepare for the flow of responses to your request!

ADVERTISE IN FREE PUBLICATIONS

In my hometown there are a few local newspapers referred to as “merchandisers”. Most of these papers are published on a weekly basis and offer a “free” section in their classifieds. Often, I would see an ad from a homeowner, contractor, or woodlot owner offering wood or downed trees for free takeaway. But make sure to place your own ad too. Offer to haul away any clean wood scraps or trees. Mentioning “free”, “quick”, and “no hassle” removal will get more responses!

HOME and BUILDING CONSTRUCTION SITES

I still can’t believe the amount of clean lumber that is hauled away and dumped into landfills. Contractors often cut down or bulldoze trees to clear lots where a new home or business is to be built. Often times there are so many trees, they have to “contract” a third party to remove them. Also, when the actual building begins, they bring in large dumpsters to toss away their unwanted wood scraps. Contacting the builder is a good start to see if you could claim the trees and scrap wood…for free, of course.

FARMERS AND WOODLOT OWNERS

This is by far my best tip for getting free firewood. I’ve personally heated my home for years with trees that came from a farmer’s property. It was simple. I introduced myself to the landowner, let them know I could remove all their downed trees and before you knew it, I was cutting and hauling more firewood than I knew what to do with.

Take a drive in the country or any rural area. Trees are everywhere! And where there is standing timber, there are downed trees too. Talk to the landowner, become friends. Let them know you are able to remove any of the trees that have fallen and cluttered their property. Bingo. Now all you have to do is move the wood from their property to yours!

A FEW THINGS TO CONSIDER:

Once you commit to removing trees or wood from a property, it would be wise to remove promptly, without leaving a mess (They may recommend you to friends!).

It helps to know what type of wood or tree species you are dealing with. Soft or hardwood? (Here’s a tip: Get our free “Trees We Need” e-book. It provides information on how to identify trees!)

Don’t be afraid to say NO to situations where trees are in hard-to-get-to locations, near power lines or close to homes.

Safety first!

Trees are plentiful. Why pay for wood?

BZ

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