There’s nothing worse than trying to coax a fire to life with nothing but wet firewood. You’ve got to dry it out, but time’s ticking and those short winter days are looming. Let’s look at the best ways to dry your wet firewood, fast.
Build a Log Store
This might not be a magical solution for drying your firewood, but it’s a whole lot more effective than leaving your precious firewood out in the rain. A log store is what it sounds like- a place to keep your firewood out of the elements and ready for the fire.
If you’re not feeling up to building one yourself, there are stacks of different log stores available to buy, from small utilitarian enclosures to grand and ornate ones that suit fine country houses. Or if, like me, you don’t want to splash the cash, you can quite easily make one yourself.
Using pressure treated timber that’s designed to spend its life outside, a log store is a simple box with an open front and a roof to keep out the rain. Build one with plenty of gaps between the timber so that air can flow all around the logs and they’ll be ready for the stove much faster.
READ NEXT: The Best Wooden Log Stores
Get It Up Off the Ground
Your firewood isn’t going to dry out if it’s in contact with the damp ground. If you’ve piled up your logs directly on the dirt, moisture from the ground seeps up into the fibres and ruins your plans for a toasty fire.
Even if you don’t bother with a proper log store, you should raise your log pile up off the ground. Purpose built firewood platforms exist, but you can get the same effect with every DIYer’s go-to bit of wood, the humble pallet.
The treated wood used for pallets might not be the best material for fine furniture making, but it does well at keeping the damp out. Chuck a pallet down, then pile up your firewood logs. Make sure there’s plenty of air flow around the pile, and they’ll start to season quickly.
Chop It Up
Probably the simplest way to speed up the drying process for your pile of wet firewood is by chopping it into smaller pieces. By splitting the larger pieces in half, you double the surface area that is exposed to the air. The more surface area exposed to the breeze, the faster each piece of wood will season.
Splitting smaller pieces of firewood might be time consuming, so you could always use a clever device known as a kindling cracker. Designed for, you guessed it, splitting kindling, it’s probably the easiest way to process logs without breaking your back.
READ NEXT: How to Split Logs for Firewood
A Solar Kiln
Letting your firewood season naturally in the open air or in a log store is fine if you’ve got all the time in the world. But if your pile of wood is still registering above 25% on the moisture meter and winter is just around the corner, it’s time to get creative.
A solar kiln is the best shortcut to dry firewood that you can make with your own two hands. Harnessing the power of the sun’s rays, a solar kiln is essentially a box with a transparent roof that can dry out wet wood in a matter of weeks, not months.
Just like log stores, the range of solar kilns you can find plans for online run from the most basic boxes up to huge structures that help woodworkers season hardwood timber for furniture making.
Unless you’re drying out expensive timber, you can simply cobble together a box big enough to hold a pile of firewood, then screw down a transparent plastic roof on the top. The ideal material to use is a polycarbonate roofing sheet. They’re not hugely expensive and are ideal for this job.
It’s best to have a 45° angle on the roof section to capture the most heat, but it’s not essential. Orient the roof to face south if you can, and drill plenty of airholes to allow the moisture to escape. It’s a bit of a project, but the best way to passively dry your firewood with sunlight.
Bring it Indoors
This is probably the nuclear option when it comes to drying out wet firewood. You can build a log store, chop the logs up fine, and even construct your own solar kiln, but nothing beats the warm embrace of a heated home.
So long as you have the space to spare, bringing your firewood inside the house to season shouldn’t be too difficult. If your stove sits inside an existing fireplace, you could stack it up on either side in a classic firewood rack.
Usually made from steel or iron, a firewood rack is a cradle that allows you to stack up firewood within easy reach of the stove. It also doubles up as a clever way to season wet wood quickly. Unless you’re planning on heating your home solely with firewood, your central heating will go a long way in drying out wet logs.
Don’t Have Wet Firewood in the First Place
It’s easy for me to say but try to avoid having wet firewood. Proper preparation and a bit of foresight when it comes to firewood pays back in spades. Start thinking about your winter’s stash of firewood months before it starts to get cold.
If your log pile or firewood store is stocked up in the summer, it has plenty of time to season before it’s needed. You could save yourself some money if you buy your firewood early as well, because lots of suppliers offer summer discounts.
Don’t get caught out with an empty log store when the nights are already drawing in and you’re desperate for a cosy night in. And if you have forgotten to stock up this year, set a reminder to get ahead of yourself in time for next firewood season.
READ NEXT: How to Store Logs Outside & Keep Them Dry