There’s something primal about using a fireplace or wood stove to heat up your home. It’s extremely practical and can save a lot of money, but you have to know how to cut, split, stack, store and handle firewood. Storing your firewood in the summer is easy, but keeping your wood dry in the winter is another story. How do you protect firewood from snow?
Protecting your wood from snow is all about keeping it dry. Firewood should be covered to reduce moisture, speed up the seasoning process, and make it easier to burn. I recommend getting your wood up off the ground and building a small wood shed to protect it from moisture.
It doesn’t matter how much firewood you have on hand. Your firewood will be useless without proper storage. Poorly stored wood will be wet, hard to burn, and quick to rot. Continue reading to find out a few easy ways to protect your firewood from the winter snow.
Protecting Firewood From Snow In The Winter
Nothing is cozier than a warm crackling fire in the winter. There’s something comforting about the way a warm fireplace or wood stove heats up your house, but you’ll need to know how to handle and store your firewood so it’s ready for winter use.
Bad firewood storage leads to horrible fires. Poorly stored firewood leads to damp, wet and rotten wood. Wood that’s left exposed to the elements won’t last longer than 2-3 years before it rots away. You can burn wet rotten wood, but it will lead to a smoky smoldering fire that doesn’t give off much heat.
Buy a Commercial Firewood Rack and Cover
I highly recommend raising the wood off the ground by stacking it on pallets or purchasing/building a firewood rack and cover. Getting a cheap set of rack brackets on Amazon (my favorites), a few 2×4’s and a cheap firewood cover, will keep your wood protected all winter long. It takes less than 5 minutes to build an 8ft rack using the brackets in the picture below.
You don’t have to spend a lot of money on a firewood cover. The REDCAMP Firewood Cover is surprisingly cheap and comes highly recommended. Plus it fits any 8ft or 4ft commercial firewood rack. It’s the perfect size for the typical household that doesn’t go through a ton of wood.
Building a Firewood Rack
You’ll probably have to build your own rack if you go through a ton of wood. The rack pictured above would cost about 200-300 with current lumber prices. Your price will depend on which wood you choose to use for the side boards.
My wood sheds frame is built out of a selection of 4x4s, 2×6 boards, and cheap pressure-treated fence pickets($1.50 each) along the sides and bottom. I saved a ton of money by using fence pickets instead of traditional pressure treated lumber. Remember that you’re not building the Taj Mahal here.
I actually have 6 of these little sheds setup now that I started going through 5-6 cords of wood per winter. Cut, split, stack your wood in the winter/spring and it will be ready to burn come winter. I buy cheap slab wood at $5 per truckload in the summer, but it burns way too fast to use in my wood stove.
Can Firewood Get Snowed On?
Yes your firewood can get snowed on, but it will slow down the seasoning process and make the wood harder to burn. You don’t want to waste months of seasoning by leaving your wood exposed to the weather. The wood should still burn, but it’s gonna smoke and be a pain in the butt.
I started using a propane burner to light all my fires. It’s much safer than using gasoline and can light any wood in a matter of minutes. I use a cheap $30 burner that I bought at Harbor Freight, but I’ve been eyeing the Flame King Propane Torch that comes with an ignitor(don’t need a lighter). Mine gets used on the basement wood stove, but you might want a smaller Benzomatic Style Torch for the living room.
With that being said, it’s well worth taking your time to build a firewood rack or buy a rack/cover. Don’t waste all your hard work cutting, splitting and stacking wood, by letting it rot.
Should You Cover Firewood In The Winter?
You should definitely cover your firewood in the winter. It doesn’t have to be a fancy firewood enclosure. Just get your wood up off the ground and put something on top. All you need is an old piece of aluminum or scrap plywood to keep the leaves/snow off.
Snow will soak your wood, but wet leaves are the real enemy. Remember that snow melts so it will dry eventually, but leaves will sit on your wood and cause it to rot from the inside out. At the very least you need to knock the leaves off your stack after fall.
Can I Use A Tarp?
You can use a tarp to cover your wood, but leave at least one of the sides open. Air flow will speed up the seasoning process and it’s crucial to preventing mold, fungus and rot. It doesn’t matter if the ends of your logs get wet since there’s not that much wood exposed. You’re trying to keep buildup on the top row that slowly eats away at the pile.
Look at how the wood is covered in the picture above. They only covered up the tops leaving both sides open to thoroughly vent the wood pile. The only downside is those tarps are really expensive. I would purchase a cheap 6×8 tarp and toss it up over the top leaving most of the sides exposed. It won’t be perfect, but you won’t have to spend a small fortune.
Can You Burn Wood Covered in Snow?
Burning wood that’s covered in snow will be a serious pain. You will need lots of kindling and a few dry pieces from lower in the pile. I usually use a propane torch(buy this one), but most people don’t have one of those. It’s basically a mini flamethrower so it will light up anything.
You will need a solid bed of kindling, paper and a few fire-starters to light up wet wood and that might not even work. You’re trying to build a solid base using kindling to slowly heat up the wet wood enough for it to light. It will smoke, smolder, crackle/pop, but it should eventually light if you’re patient.
Does Firewood Dry In The Winter?
You’re firewood probably won’t dry much in the winter. It might dry a little on sunny days with the sides exposed, but you need the hot summer sun to finish the seasoning process. At the most you’ll melt the snow layer on top and that might dry up after a week or 2 of nice weather. Cover up your wood so you don’t have to rely on the sun.
Choosing The Right Rack Location
Firewood is usually stored outside, but the wrong location can leave it susceptible to moisture from snow melt. Lots of water will eventually lead to rotten wood. I’ve seen an entire firewood pile rot away in less than a year when it wasn’t covered. That’s an extreme case, but you should definitely cover the wood.
Elevate your wood up off the ground and stack it a short walk away from your house. You don’t want to haul wood all over the yard, but stacking wood next to the house can bring in bugs, mice and snakes. Most people recommend stacking wood at least 30ft away from your house, but that might be overkill. As long as the woods up off the ground on a rack you shouldn’t have to worry about most pests.
Give The Wood Time To Dry and Season
You need to give your wood at least 4-6 months of summer sun for it to dry out and season. If you cut, split and stack your wood in the spring it should be ready to burn by winter time. Ideally you’d want to give wood a year to season, but that’s easier said than done.
Covering up the wood and getting it out of the elements will significantly speed up the seasoning process. The wood needs to sit in a sunny area and have exposed sides to allow proper ventilation. It will be ready once it starts to transition to yellow, gray or dark brown.