Nothing beats the crackle of a real log fire on a chilly autumn day, and with the rising costs of heating, having a store of decent firewood is becoming important.
Whether you’re going down the route of processing logs into your own firewood, or you’re purchasing a load from a local supplier, you’re going to need to store your logs properly.
The worst thing you can do is let your valuable firewood get damp. But why is damp firewood a problem? Burning wet wood is bad for several reasons:
- It creates clouds of thick smoke that stick to the inside of your chimney. If you burn a lot of wet wood, this buildup will eventually block your flue and damage your stove.
- It’s much harder to light wet wood compared with properly seasoned dry logs. You’ll need to use a lot more tinder to light it and stacks more kindling to build the fire up.
- Damp wood is also much harder to stay lit. If your fire is guttering out rather than burning merrily along, there’s too much moisture inside the wood fibres.
So, if burning (or trying to burn) wet wood is a bad idea, then why is it important to make dry, or seasoned, logs? Dry wood is great for several reasons:
- Seasoned firewood ordinarily has around or below a 20% moisture content. Because it’s dry, it’s easy to light using a minimal amount of tinder and kindling. This saves time, effort, and money.
- The drier the wood, the “cleaner” the burn. A clean burn introduces fewer pollutants into the atmosphere and means your chimney flue won’t get clogged up with carbon.
- Dry wood burns at a much hotter temperature compared with the wet stuff. You get more heat from each log, which is efficient as well as a lot cosier on cold days and nights.
In summary, having dry firewood is simply a good idea.
How to Store Logs Outside: 5 Tips
Let’s look at the best ways to keep your firewood dry outside all year round.
1. Log Store
A log store is a structure that allows you to stack your firewood up and keep it out of the rain while allowing the wind to do its work and reduce the moisture content inside the firewood logs.
Typically made from wood, but also from metal, plastic, or masonry, log stores can be free standing structures, but are typically built against an existing wall. It’s a good idea to keep it close to the stove though, as those chilly walks to the bottom of the garden get old quickly.
Ranging from DIY log stores made from discarded pallets to huge custom built outbuildings that can hold years’ worth of fuel, they all do pretty much the same job.
The basic idea is to keep the firewood up and off the ground to stop damp from rising, to leave plenty of gaps all around the logs to allow the air to circulate and cover them somewhat to stay out of the rain.
They can be small and decorative to add a touch of rustic charm to a cottage, or huge and purely functional if you plan to heat your whole house all year round with wood.
READ NEXT: The Best Log Stores
2. Firewood Round, or Holz Hausen
This method is typical in Scandinavian and other northern European countries that use straight grained wood like ash or pine for heating their houses and cabins.
For this impressive but rather time consuming method of stacking firewood, imagine you’re building an igloo out of logs.
Start with a large circle of logs with the end grain facing outwards on the ground and start layering more on top like bricks. You can chuck more firewood inside the “igloo” as you go, while layering up the logs around the edge.
As you get higher, start to form a roof with flat pieces of firewood that act like shingles. When you’ve finished, your holz hausen, or “wood house” will be ready to feed your stove all year round.
It looks great, but takes a lot of firewood to build, uses up a lot of space, and still results in damp firewood at the top and bottom.
3. Tarpaulin and a Pallet
If you’re on a budget and you can’t be bothered to fashion a fairytale wooden house out of your firewood, then the simplest method is probably the best for you.
Grab a pallet or two and throw them down by the side of your house or garden shed. This will keep the firewood up off the ground an allow air to flow underneath.
Pile the firewood up on the pallet. You can stack it neatly or just throw them on, it doesn’t really matter. When they’re piled high enough, throw a tarpaulin over the top but don’t completely cover the wood.
Where the tarp touches the wood will get damp, a bit like touching the inside of a tent on a cool morning, but it’s not going to ruin a whole pile of firewood, so don’t worry too much about it. Tie the corners of the tarp to the pallet and let mother nature do the rest.
4. Pile Them High
You don’t need a log store with a roof, or even a particular method of stacking the wood up, so long as there’s plenty of air flow in between your logs.
Only the top and bottom layers in a pile of logs will get wet, so you don’t even need to make a fancy wood house. Quite literally, throw your firewood in a pile and get on with your life.
Just make sure you build a decent size pile with air between the logs, and they’ll season just fine. Don’t worry about stacking them neatly, just pile them up and let the breeze do the rest.
It’s an OK way to season logs over time, but it’s more than a bit of a mess and an inefficient way to go about preparing your firewood.
Compared with a haphazard log store thrown together from pallets and a tarpaulin, it’s not great. But, if you’re feeling lazy, it’ll do.
5. Checking your Logs
The best way to ensure your logs will become properly seasoned over time is to check on them periodically. Whether you’ve stacked them in a log store or chucked them in a pile, inspect them every so often and discard really wet or rotten logs.
Invest in a moisture meter and look for the magic 20% moisture content or below. Once you’ve got the logs seasoned enough, start using them to warm up your chilly home.