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Author Topic: 8 ft logs vs vs split logs for seasoning firewood  (Read 4920 times)

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Offline Christopher7789

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8 ft logs vs vs split logs for seasoning firewood
« on: March 26, 2017, 08:17:55 PM »
I'm new to owning acres of land, and I've taken down quite a number of spruce tree's that needed to come down and have been cut into 8 foot lengths. I'm curious about drying it over the year to use as firewood and if there's a difference in what state it's in, for the drying process. Is it better to split it right away and then let it dry, or is it fine to leave it drying as 8 foot lengths and split before burning next winter.
Curious because I'm finding it much more difficult to split the fresh spruce than the dried spruce pile I have.

Offline Ianab

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Re: 8 ft logs vs vs split logs for seasoning firewood
« Reply #1 on: March 26, 2017, 09:24:22 PM »
It will dry fastest if it's cut to length and split.

But if it's hard to split green, then just cutting to length alone will allow it to dry much faster than being left in log form.

So you could cut it into rounds, leave them to dry, and come back a few months later and split it. Some woods seem to split easier green, and others when dry, not sure why that is.

Reason for the faster drying is that end grain looses moisture much faster then edge grain, especially if there is bark left on the log. This end grain drying affects about 6" into the wood. So if you have an 18" 'log', most of it is able to dry out quickly. An 8ft log, you have 7ft of it that's slow drying. 

Splitting the wood creates even more surface area, and so helps the drying a bit too.
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Offline thecfarm

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Re: 8 ft logs vs vs split logs for seasoning firewood
« Reply #2 on: March 26, 2017, 09:36:33 PM »
Christopher7789,welcome to the forum.
No idea where you are,but not in this area. Mention burning softwood here,and No Way is all you hear. That is one reason why I bought a OWB. I can burn all that softwood and have a control fire. With white pine,a hyd splitter does a mighty fine job. Without it,it splits hard,well hard as in,hit a knot and it splits off sideways. Don't get many even sticks.
Yes,on the above post too. Please do not wrap the pile with a tarp either. All that does is just traps the mositure in. Old tin works good to cover the top. Leave the sides open to allow the air to go through it.
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Offline Christopher7789

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Re: 8 ft logs vs vs split logs for seasoning firewood
« Reply #3 on: March 26, 2017, 09:37:40 PM »
Thank you very much. With the dry spruce it was splitting like nothing, the green spruce was taking 6-7 good swings. I will do exactly what you said and cut them into rounds, leave them to dry and split them a few months later, great advice.

I've seen lots of ads for firewood being sold in 8 foot lengths for cheaper, so I assume they've had to dry them a lot longer. Thanks again!

It will dry fastest if it's cut to length and split.

But if it's hard to split green, then just cutting to length alone will allow it to dry much faster than being left in log form.

So you could cut it into rounds, leave them to dry, and come back a few months later and split it. Some woods seem to split easier green, and others when dry, not sure why that is.

Reason for the faster drying is that end grain looses moisture much faster then edge grain, especially if there is bark left on the log. This end grain drying affects about 6" into the wood. So if you have an 18" 'log', most of it is able to dry out quickly. An 8ft log, you have 7ft of it that's slow drying. 

Splitting the wood creates even more surface area, and so helps the drying a bit too.

Offline Christopher7789

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Re: 8 ft logs vs vs split logs for seasoning firewood
« Reply #4 on: March 26, 2017, 09:44:07 PM »
Thanks for the welcome. I'm in eastern Canada. I've heard a lot of bad things about burning purely just softwood like spruce, but a mixture of hardwood and softwood seems to be a favorite for a lot of people. The land I own sadly only has softwood like spruce and pine. So I plan to purchase a few cords of hardwood to mix in with it each year.

I enjoy splitting wood by hand and would have it no other way. I even fell the tree's with a very nice bahco bow saw. It takes longer but is more satisfying to me.

Christopher7789,welcome to the forum.
No idea where you are,but not in this area. Mention burning softwood here,and No Way is all you hear. That is one reason why I bought a OWB. I can burn all that softwood and have a control fire. With white pine,a hyd splitter does a mighty fine job. Without it,it splits hard,well hard as in,hit a knot and it splits off sideways. Don't get many even sticks.

Offline Ianab

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Re: 8 ft logs vs vs split logs for seasoning firewood
« Reply #5 on: March 26, 2017, 10:42:33 PM »
Burning softwood is OK, as long as it's dry, your fire is designed for it, and you have plenty of it. Here in NZ pine off cuts from the local sawmill is the most common firewood. It's seldom much below freezing in most of NZ, so the biggest hottest fire isn't needed.

You have to burn more volume of the less dense wood, which is one reason it's not as popular in really cold climates. If you have the choice to collect oak or maple, or a softwood, then you would naturally choose the denser,  longer burning hardwoods.

And mixing the spruce etc with some hardwood makes a good mix.

BTW, I bet the 8ft "firewood" isn't really dry. But if someone buys it, splits and stacks in the Summer, it's ready to burn by Winter, so they get away with it. Being softwood it dries faster than the denser woods.
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Offline TKehl

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Re: 8 ft logs vs vs split logs for seasoning firewood
« Reply #6 on: March 27, 2017, 07:41:40 AM »
Probably depends a lot on how fast your cut wood dries normally. 

I cut a fair amount of wood for firewood at 6-8' when clearing fence rows or doing TSI.  I lay down a couple sacrifice logs perpendicular then stack on top of them with the pile leaning against a tree.  Gets airflow and no ground contact, but not covered either.  Doing it that way, I want a full year to let it dry, then cut/split it before October so it has some chance to season a bit further. 

The advantage is I can run out to these piles and get a truckload QUICK.  My work schedule is unpredictable, so this helps level out firewood supply.  If the ground gets soft on the way to the pile, we move these piles with a skid steer when the ground is dry in July and August.  Still sweaty, but not like doing real work.  Also, I've had wood piled this way up to 4 years with minimal degrade. 

Keep in mind, I'm in Missouri and this is almost all hardwood.  Only softwood we run into is ERC.  YMMV
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Offline Christopher7789

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Re: 8 ft logs vs vs split logs for seasoning firewood
« Reply #7 on: March 27, 2017, 09:32:45 AM »
Thanks for the advice from both of you. So much to learn when it comes to tree's and processing.

You have to burn more volume of the less dense wood, which is one reason it's not as popular in really cold climates. If you have the choice to collect oak or maple, or a softwood, then you would naturally choose the denser,  longer burning hardwoods.

And mixing the spruce etc with some hardwood makes a good mix.
That makes sense, and it can definitely get cold up here. I assume there's also a lot more ash/clean up with softwood too because of the frequent burning. I've heard the softwood gives off It's lower BTU's a lot quicker though, sometimes that sounds like a good thing if you're trying to warm the place up quickly. That's why I think a mixture of soft/hard will be best.

BTW, I bet the 8ft "firewood" isn't really dry. But if someone buys it, splits and stacks in the Summer, it's ready to burn by Winter, so they get away with it. Being softwood it dries faster than the denser woods.
I think you're probably right, if it's quite a bit cheaper I may buy the hardwood like that, or blocked not split hardwood. They mostly have maple hardwood here which is great.

Probably depends a lot on how fast your cut wood dries normally. 

I cut a fair amount of wood for firewood at 6-8' when clearing fence rows or doing TSI.  I lay down a couple sacrifice logs perpendicular then stack on top of them with the pile leaning against a tree.  Gets airflow and no ground contact, but not covered either.  Doing it that way, I want a full year to let it dry, then cut/split it before October so it has some chance to season a bit further. 
Very interesting method, I've never heard of it. I wonder if that's better than laying them all down perpendicular. Specifically for 6-8' logs. If that works for you then great! I'll consider it too! Thanks!

Offline TKehl

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Re: 8 ft logs vs vs split logs for seasoning firewood
« Reply #8 on: March 27, 2017, 10:15:01 AM »
I'll see if I can get a picture.  Basically treating the sacrifice logs like pallet stringers and the rest oriented like the boards on top, just several rows high.  This way you sacrifice two small logs instead of the entire bottom row from ground contact.  Logs will wick water if laid right on the ground and are better at growing mushrooms than providing heat.  Anything to keep them from direct contact with the dirt.  Concrete or gravel would work fine to.

I stack against a tree or tall stump as I can make the pile higher and so I don't have to chase them when getting them with the skid steer.  The tree gives something to push against if the pile gets wiley. 
In the long run, you make your own luck good, bad, or indifferent. Loretta Lynn

Offline Christopher7789

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Re: 8 ft logs vs vs split logs for seasoning firewood
« Reply #9 on: March 27, 2017, 11:39:03 AM »
I'll see if I can get a picture.  Basically treating the sacrifice logs like pallet stringers and the rest oriented like the boards on top, just several rows high.  This way you sacrifice two small logs instead of the entire bottom row from ground contact.  Logs will wick water if laid right on the ground and are better at growing mushrooms than providing heat.  Anything to keep them from direct contact with the dirt.  Concrete or gravel would work fine to.

I stack against a tree or tall stump as I can make the pile higher and so I don't have to chase them when getting them with the skid steer.  The tree gives something to push against if the pile gets wiley.

Would love to see a picture if you can get one! Going to re-arrange my logs today. It's suggested to have all your wood processed and drying by April if you want to use it by the next winter right? I've read some people dry it for two years to get more BTU's out but I'm hoping to burn this wood for this coming winter.

Offline Hilltop366

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Re: 8 ft logs vs vs split logs for seasoning firewood
« Reply #10 on: March 27, 2017, 11:56:24 AM »
Spruce does not have a lot of water in it and will dry much faster than most hardwoods.

Except for this year I have heated my house (indoor wood boiler) with almost all spruce for 16 years, yes it is more handling but the wood was "free" for the taking.

It is nice to have some hardwood to mix in for those cold nights.

Offline Christopher7789

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Re: 8 ft logs vs vs split logs for seasoning firewood
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2017, 01:01:29 PM »
Spruce does not have a lot of water in it and will dry much faster than most hardwoods.

Except for this year I have heated my house (indoor wood boiler) with almost all spruce for 16 years, yes it is more handling but the wood was "free" for the taking.

It is nice to have some hardwood to mix in for those cold nights.

Great to know about spruce's water content. Is it generally quicker to dry softwood for that reason? I have a lot to learn and this forum seems great for that. Good to hear some people have succeeded with purely softwood like spruce. I have 6 acres of very tightly planted spruce and I think I can get away with 5 cords per winter. I've read somewhere that 1 acre yields 1 cord of deadwood alone. Not sure if that's accurate or not but if 6 acres can give me free wood forever that's great.

Offline TKehl

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Re: 8 ft logs vs vs split logs for seasoning firewood
« Reply #12 on: March 28, 2017, 08:38:43 AM »
Welcome BTW. 

Don't know Spruce, but 6 acres sounds a bit light for perpetual firewood.  May need to supplement a bit.  Where are you located?

We get 95-98% of our heat from our woodstove.  The electric furnace is only used if we travel overnight and in the cool seasons where its not worth lighting a fire every night.

Here is a stack of longwood.  Normally they are bigger, but this was the only one close to the house.  I also would normally skip the bottom runners that are parallel to the firewood "logs" and just lay the two perpendicular.  This pile was going to be bigger and sit longer, but life interfered.  I found doing it this way interferes with the skid steer, so going back to the original plan.



The "secret" to firewood is to reduce handling.  Ours starts from piles like above, dead and down, or standing dead.  It is cut and split where it sits.  From there it is stacked or more often thrown (with a stacked row on the back end) on a trailer like the ones below.  Then it is backed up to the outdoor furnace and most firewood goes straight from trailer to stove with the exception of a stockpile I have stacked under solid cover for wet spells.  The wood in the trailer does need covered from rain and snow.  Tarps rip on corners and branches unless there is a layer of cardboard or plywood between.  I use a lot of tin, but it likes to blow off more than tarps. 




We have a small fleet of these trailers Dad and I have picked up over the years.  We stack them til the wood is falling off.  Probably 3/4 cord or a touch more on a pickup bed.  But, we go 2-5 MPH a half mile through the woods and pasture.  IE no roads and the springs and tires are groaning.  I was going to build a carport so I didn't have to cover the trailers so diligently, but we are getting the old farmhouse and will be diverting funds to that and a barn/workshop.   ;D  The other trailer upgrade would be a stake pocket frame work with a tin roof and billboard tarp flaps on the sides.  Up for airflow, down to keep the rain off.  I may still do that on a couple.
In the long run, you make your own luck good, bad, or indifferent. Loretta Lynn

Offline Christopher7789

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Re: 8 ft logs vs vs split logs for seasoning firewood
« Reply #13 on: March 28, 2017, 08:31:48 PM »
Thanks very much for the pictures. I agree I will need to supplement a bit, especially since it's all spruce. Located in Eastern Canada, PEI. The stack of longwood in that formation looks great. The 2 sacrifice logs, then can pile as high as you'd like. I may try this or try using wood pallets I have lying around, or a mixture of both. The trailers are great to have and I need to get a system similar going!

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Re: 8 ft logs vs vs split logs for seasoning firewood
« Reply #14 on: March 28, 2017, 10:05:02 PM »
Pallets work good.  Anything to keep the wood off the dirt will help with drying.  The system works good for us and cuts down on labor considerably. 

Don't know what equipment you have, but I have also thought a lot about moving wood on pallets.  Cut, split, and stack on the pallets in the woods, then move the whole thing with tractor or skid steer. 

Hope I gave you some ideas.  Be safe and work smart.   ;)



In the long run, you make your own luck good, bad, or indifferent. Loretta Lynn

Offline quilbilly

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Re: 8 ft logs vs vs split logs for seasoning firewood
« Reply #15 on: March 29, 2017, 08:19:01 PM »
We burn softwood all year in the pnw, Doug fir mostly. Stack it in summer and it will be ready in winter. Whatever you do, try to reduce handling. If I have to stack wood twice, I'm not too happy.
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Offline GeneWengert-WoodDoc

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Re: 8 ft logs vs vs split logs for seasoning firewood
« Reply #16 on: March 30, 2017, 08:48:32 AM »
Some people, especially those selling hardwood firewood, say that softwoods create creosote when burning.  The truth is creosote is formed when there is insufficient oxygen.  Because softwoods burn hotter, often the fire is cooled by limiting oxygen, so creosote forms.  If you need less heat, use less fuel and not less air.  Similarly, moisture content does not affect creosote if the fire is hot enuf and has enuf oxygen.

Bark is a natural water barrier...liquid and vapor.  So, s split log dries much faster as wood is exposed, plus the surface area to volume  is increased.  More surface means faster drying.

Why dry firewood?  You get more heat...about 11% from the same pile.  It is also lighter weight by as much as half, depending on species.  On the other hand, firewood shrinks during drying so a dry cord has 5% to 10% (species affect this) more wood than a green cord.  So, a dry cord has more heat. 11% plus 5%.to 10%.

Bark has about the same BTU per pound as wood.  A pound of oak has the same heat as a pound of balsa wood.  Lighter weight wood does burn faster.  Resin in pine increases the heat a bit.

Wood (logs and lumber) is actually quite weak in splitting strength...thank goodness when splitting firewood.  The only problem splitting is when we have the grain switching directions, called interlocked grain.  Drier wood is indeed stronger than green.
Gene - Author of articles in Sawmill & Woodlot and books: Drying Hardwood Lumber; VA Tech Solar Kiln; Sawing Edging & Trimming Hardwood Lumber. And more

Offline Jemclimber

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Re: 8 ft logs vs vs split logs for seasoning firewood
« Reply #17 on: March 30, 2017, 10:24:33 AM »
In the real world, moisture content does effect creosote buildup. The wetter the wood the more it effects the heat of the fire in a stove, because it takes more oxygen and fuel to burn hot enough to raise the temperature of the water in the wood.  And the longer the run of the flu (compounded with bends in it to slow the flow of gases), the longer that water vapor has a chance to cool, and the more critical it is to constantly monitor flu temperature so this process doesn't occur.  So while in theory, with controlled variables, moisture content doesn't effect creosote build up, but in the real world with variables not so easy to control, wet wood does effect creosote build up.
lt15

Offline GeneWengert-WoodDoc

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Re: 8 ft logs vs vs split logs for seasoning firewood
« Reply #18 on: March 30, 2017, 10:45:58 PM »
Creosote has a different condensation temperature than water...water condenses at temperatures under 212 F, but only when 100% RH is reached.  Creosote condenses at temperatures closer to under 550 F.  Because creosote is not one chemical, but many different chemicals, there is not one single condensation temperature.  As these "under 550 F temperatures" are likely in the chimney or flue, the key for control is to burn the wood gases that make creosote fully where the fire is.  Complete burning requires heat and adequate oxygen. 

Creosote is merely unburned wood.  When a small piece of wood is initially heated, the temperature reaches 212 F at which point all the water is vaporized.  So, soon we have dry wood, if the piece of wood is small enuf.  With large pieces, we can have the moisture leave the outside and begin the next step in combustion while the core still has water and is at 212 F.  This is not too desirable, so almost every serious wood burning operation will use small pieces of wood to avoid this.

Next the temperature rises to perhaps 450 - 550 F, which means the wood is vaporized into combustible gases.  If these gases are not fully burned due to lack of oxygen, then we have creosote gas, and if there is a cool spot in the flue, chimney, roof outside the chimney, etc., then the gas condenses.  It is a combustible material, in any case.  Note that this wood gas can be burned with adequate oxygen to make water vapor and CO2.  Also, note that when making wood gas to run an internal combustion engine, the fire must be close to the engine to avoid condensation in the transfer, and the engine must be run on regular fuel before shutting down and cooling off to avoid creosote within the engine.  Note that the moisture is long gone at this point.

Finally, when the wood is glowing red, then carbon and oxygen combine to make CO or CO2, depending on the amount of oxygen.  If we limit oxygen now, we make charcoal.

A medium or large wood burning operation will often use "under air" that is forced upward through the burning material.  Firewood fires do not have this option, but any system that gets air near the bottom of the fire is beneficial.
Gene - Author of articles in Sawmill & Woodlot and books: Drying Hardwood Lumber; VA Tech Solar Kiln; Sawing Edging & Trimming Hardwood Lumber. And more


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