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Should Firewood Be Stacked With Bark Up or Down?

You can tell a lot about a person by how they stack their firewood. Some people leave it tossed in a pile(waiting to rot), while others pay meticulous attention making sure no piece is out of place. There’s a hot debate going among the OCD outdoorsman like me. They want to know “Should firewood be stacked with bark up or down?”

Most people recommend stacking firewood with the bark up. The bark acts as a natural barrier from rain and snow prolonging the life of the wood. Stacking it with the bark on the bottom allows water to collect in the U-Shaped trough as it soaks through the barks cracks.

There are definite benefits and drawbacks to stacking firewood with the bark up. I’ll go over a few of the reasons why I choose to store my wood bark side up. You may even decide that bark down is better for you.

Should You Store Firewood With the Bark Up Or Down?

There’s a debate brewing among the forestry industry on whether they should store firewood with the bark up or down. The New York Times even did an article title “Bark Up or Down? Firewood Splits Norwegians”. The response to that article drew a lot of debate. A plethora of readers crawled out of the woodwork and shared their own personal experiences.

Does stacking wood with the bark up or down really make a difference or is it just a matter of personal preference? Most people agreed that there are both major benefits and drawbacks to stacking wood with the bark on top.

Bark On Top Protects The Wood From Water

Stacking wood with bark on the top will protect your firewood and prolong its life. You won’t have to worry about water pooling in the bark and rotting the wood from the inside out. This only applies to wood that’s stacked outside and exposed to rain/snow.

Honestly, it won’t make that much of a difference, unless you have lots of wood that will take years to burn. Although it takes rot spores less than a week to form, it will take years for them to actually take over and destroy the firewood. You will probably want to cover your wood anyway if it will take years to burn the wood.

It’s Better to Cover Your Wood

I always recommend covering firewood so that it doesn’t prematurely rot. My house has wood burning fireplace in the basement so we go through a lot of wood. Every year I take the backhoe back into the woods to pull out all the downed trees and get them ready for harvest.

Some years I end up with more wood than I can possibly use so we need to find a proper way to stack and cover the wood. Covering your wood will help extend its usable life and prevent rot and decay.

I store my wood in a small lean-to on the side of my barn. A lot of guys like to build small wooden wood holders, stack their firewood on pallets and lean them against trees. It doesn’t matter how you stack it as long as it’s off the ground and covered up with a roof or tarp.

How Long Will it Take to Burn The Wood? How Much Wood Do You Have?

I go through more wood in a single year than most people can possibly imagine. We have small campfires on the back patio every night and heat the house with wood all winter long. So we can easily go through the amount of wood it would take to fill a 2 car garage in a single year.

People that will use their wood fast probably won’t need to bother covering it. You might have to deal with a little moisture when building fires, but you shouldn’t have to deal with rot.

I use a propane torch to light my fires so it really doesn’t matter how wet the wood gets. I used to build fires the old fashioned way like a good Boy Scout, but you just want to get the job done when you’re lighting fires every day and freezing in the morning.

A propane torch is like a mini flame thrower that attaches to a propane tank. I picked mine up at Harbor Freight for like $30, but there’s a Flame King Torch on Amazon that has an ignitor that I’ve been eyeing. Trust Me! Once you build a fire with a flame thrower you’ll never go back to the old fashioned way. Plus it’s much safer and easier to control than gasoline.

Bark On The Bottom Is Easier to Stack and Carry

Look at the logs in the picture above. Notice how they’re about 6 inches wide with rounded tops. Imagine how you would have to maneuver that piece to pick it up. You’d have to flip over every piece of wood and grab them by the small pointed edge.

Stacking your wood with the bark on the bottom is makes it so much easier to grab. You might have to deal with some additional rot but you don’t have to awkwardly flop the wood around when you already have a handful of logs. Just make sure you cover the wood so you don’t have to worry about water damage.

Don’t Stack Your Wood Directly On The Ground

Have you ever stacked wood directly on the ground? Then you know how annoying it is once the wood starts to sink into the mud. You end up with pieces that are completely rotted out and covered in mud. It just becomes a mess that you don’t want to deal with.

Most people stack their logs on top of pallets or some other type of structure. A pair of 2×4’s spaced about a foot apart is all you really need to get the wood up off the ground.

Go bark side down if you don’t have anything to stack the wood on. You might deal with minor water pooling, but the bark will protect the wood from the wet ground.

Should I Debark My Logs?

Personally, I wouldn’t bother debarking logs before tossing them in a camp fire. It shouldn’t affect the way the wood burns so you shouldn’t bother worrying about it. Life is too short and there’s way too many other things to do than spend time removing bark.

Removing bark will help make the wood dry faster and prevent pooling, but that’s not really necessary. At most, you might save a few months of drying time. Since you can still burn “Green Wood” (wood that was recently cut with lots of moisture) it’s really not necessary.