Storing Wood Throughout Winter

Throughout winter, the average homeowner in the northern states and Canada may burn about four cords of firewood. This is a fairly large portion of wood. One cord is a stack of cut wood measuring 4 ft. x 4 ft. x 8 ft., equaling 128 cubic feet. Considering that most stove and fireplaces will only hold about 3-5 cubic feet at one time, you have to have a place to store the rest of this wood all winter!

Seasoned Firewood

Storing Wood Throughout Winter - Concord NH - IBD Outdoor RoomsYou should only burn properly seasoned firewood in your fireplace, stove, or fire pit. This means that you not only need a place to store it through winter, but also while it seasons. When a tree is cut down, it is filled with water in long tubes that stretch from top to bottom. The water from the wood dries when you cut the length and expose it to sunlight and airflow. Cut and store the best-burning firewood for 3-6 months (depending on the species of tree) so that it has less that 25 % water content.

Storing Your Wood Supply

It can be tricky to find adequate space for all that firewood! The best way to store your wood so that it becomes seasoned properly is to store the stack with at least one side exposed to sunlight and free-flowing air. Storing seasoned firewood inside a shed is also a fine idea. Placing your wood on a bed of gravel prevents your wood from sitting in standing water. This is particularly important in wet climates like the Pacific Northwest. You can also use the bark of the firewood to protect it. For instance, placing the bottom layer of wood bark-down can protect it from standing water. Placing the top later of wood bark-up can help the water to runoff instead of affecting the entire stack. Many homeowners prefer covering wood with tarps to avoid wet firewood, but it’s still important to leave one side of the stack exposed until it is seasoned and ready to burn.

Buying Your Wood Supply

In order to save space, or if trees are not available for cutting, homeowners often buy firewood from a local supplier. If you’re buying wood, it’s important to find a supplier that only sells seasoned wood. Go and see the wood before you make your purchase. Measure and make sure that you’re getting a cord if that is what’s advertised. Don’t pay too much for firewood.

Signs Your Wood is Ready to Burn

Whether you cut and store your wood for the winter, or you purchase and store a cord at a time, you should be sure it’s seasoned before you burn it in your fireplace, stove, or fire pit. When your wood is ready to burn you will see:
-Cracks along the edge of the wood (checks)
-Graying or dulling in color
-Hollow noise when hit together
-Bark pulls away from the wood
-Lighter in weight
-Wood feels dry (inside) when split

Whether you want to store your wood in a shed, a lean-to, or in the open, make sure it’s seasoned, and well away from the house. Placing firewood next to the house is a fire hazard. Most conservation agencies suggest storing your firewood 30 feet from your residence.

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