Firewood that’s left seasoning on a covered wood pile can get surprisingly dry. It lights easy, burns ridiculously hot, but the logs burn up fast. Seasoning wood is all about drying it up so it’s easier to burn, but that brings up an important question. Can firewood be too dry?
Yes firewood that has been left for years to season will eventually become too dry. The wood will burn, but the logs burn hot and fast. You’ll have to constantly feed the fire. It’s still worth burning dry wood, but you missed the optimal burning window.
Dry wood is better than wet/green wood, but there are a few issues you’ll have to deal with. Continue reading to find out how long you should season your wood for the best burning fires.
Can Firewood Be Too Dry?
Yes firewood can definitely be too dry, but it’s not something that most people complain about. There’s so much humidity in the air that it’s hard for wood to drop below the optimal 10-15% range. In most places, it will take 4+ years for wood to dry out past the optimal burn range. Faster in hot dry climates like Arizona, Nevada, etc.
I like to burn firewood that’s 2-3 years old in Ohio. That’s the perfect amount of seasoning for an optimal burn. The fire is easy to start, there’s little smoke, and the wood burns for a while. Old dry wood will burn hot and fast making long fires a pain in the butt.
I recently switched over to using a propane torch to light all my fires. Using a torch makes lighting fires so much easier. Plus they’re fun to use since it’s basically a mini flame thrower. I use the a cheap $30 torch that I picked up at harbor freight, but I’ve been eyeing this Flame King Torch with an ignitor(don’t need a lighter).
It doesn’t matter how wet or dry the wood is. Just light up the torch and 20 seconds later you have a campfire.
When to Use Overly Dry Firewood
I recommend saving old dry wood when starting the fires. Since it’s so easy to light it basically turns into long burning kindling. Use it like any other kindling or firestarter.
If you have a lot of dry wood you can always use it to maintain fires, but you probably want to mix regular moisture wood in too. I like to use the dry stuff for a sudden burst of heat while cooking or on especially cold nights. Remember that it burns up fast so you’ll go through a lot of it.
What Happens If Firewood Is Too Dry?
Whether or not firewood can be too dry is a matter of personal opinion. It’s not something that most people complain about, but wood can become dry to the point where it burns way too fast.
Dry wood will almost always be better than green/wet wood, but it burns way too fast. It’s nice to easily light a fire, but without water in the wood the logs burn way too hot. They burn up fast (20-30 minutes) and leave lots of ash.
Most experts recommend seasoning your wood until it reaches the optimal 10-15% moisture content. That’s where you get the biggest bang for your buck out of the wood. It’s easy to light and stays lit for an extended amount of time.
How To Stop Your Wood From Drying Out
There’s no easy way to stop your wood from drying out. Properly stacked/covered wood with ventilation will dry out eventually. It’s part of the natural degradation process.
If you let your firewood get rained on it will take take 2-3 days for it to dry back to normal. Wood dries out fast! There’s really nothing you can do to prevent wood from drying out. Maybe soaking it in water would bring some water back in, but that would probably do more harm than good.
Use your wood before it gets too dry or deal with fast burning fires. Don’t worry about it! Dry wood isn’t that big of a deal.
How Long Should You Season Firewood?
In a perfect world I would only burn firewood that’s been allowed to season for 2 years. That’s assuming the wood is perfectly stacked, covered and has adequate air flow. After 2 years the wood will start to go one of two directions.
It will either slowly dry up and burn way too fast, or the wood will start to rot (you can burn rotten wood). That’s not that big of a deal if you plan on burning the wood up in the first 3-4 years, but it could cause issues in the long run. With that being said, dry stuff makes great kindling, because it burns so fast.
It’s almost impossible to keep your wood at the optimal moisture content. Just burn what you’ve got starting with the oldest wood. For me the bottom line is that it all burns. I burn everything, from Grade-A Prime perfectly seasoned wood to fungus covered rot (don’t burn fungus covered wood if you have allergies/asthma).
If I can pick the wood up without falling apart it goes in the wood stove or campfire. I use the really good stuff for sustained overnight burns. The dry stuff is great when I’m cooking, starting fires or need a sudden burst of heat.