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As anyone with a fire knows, firewood can rot quickly. However, there are several ways to prevent it, and with a few changes to your storage situation, you’ll have rot-free wood in no time.
You can keep firewood from rotting by storing it off the ground, seasoning your firewood, cutting it to size for your burner, keeping it dry, and cutting it in the summer months. The best method is seasoning, which means thoroughly drying out firewood over a long period.
The following article will look further at these practical steps. I will also include details on how to tell if your firewood is seasoned. Wet wood and fungal spores are responsible for wood rot, but the following tips will show you how to deal with them.
Store Your Firewood off the Ground
One of the most important things you can do to protect your firewood from water is to store it off the ground. Firewood stored on the soil will absorb moisture from the ground, and keeping it elevated also allows for better wind flow to keep it dry.
If you have no choice but to keep firewood on the floor, consider using tarpaulin or a patch of concrete to help protect your firewood. It is best not to use anything prone to collecting water, such as a plastic tray, as your firewood will soak up the excess water.
For easy off-ground firewood storage, I recommend the Amagabeli Firewood Bracket Rack. Not only does it keep your wood off the ground, but it also keeps logs organized, tidy, and safe. It’s fully adjustable, so you can adapt it to suit you. Nevertheless, a pallet will also work well.
Check out this DIY Firewood Rack by Firewood For Life on YouTube.
Season Your Firewood
A longer-term method of preventing firewood from rotting is seasoning. Seasoning involves storing chopped wood for anything from six months to a year to dry it out thoroughly. This usually consists of a shed or other waterproof storage. You will also need to keep your wood out of any cold, damp winds. Since all of these things help prevent rot, there’s no better method for keeping your firewood in good condition.
How To Tell If Firewood Is Seasoned
There are several ways to determine whether firewood is seasoned correctly. This includes:
- Appearance: seasoned wood is paler, lighter in weight, and harder than unseasoned wood. It will have looser bark and more cracks.
- Sound: dry wood makes a hollow noise when banged against another log. If the wood is still wet, it will sound more like a dull thud.
- Scent: wet firewood smells much more potent than dry wood.
- Flammability: Fresh, green wood containing lots of moisture will be difficult to light and create lots of smoke.
- The Split Test: an easy way to assess your firewood’s dampness is to split a log and see if the center feels wet or dry.
You can also test firewood wetness using a moisture meter, like the Tavool Wood Moisture Meter, from Amazon.com. It works on several types of wood, and it has rubber handgrips making it easy to hold.
Cut Your Firewood to Size Before Storing
To give your wood the best chance to stay dry, consider cutting your firewood to the size you will use before storing it. The purpose of this is to create smaller blocks of wood, with a larger surface area exposed to the wind or sun. These pieces of wood will dry much more quickly.
Chopping your firewood into usable pieces also makes it easier and tidier to store. An organized pile of wood is going to dry out quickly too.
For drier firewood, choose shorter logs to split and ensure your firewood ends are flat. Leave plenty of gaps between logs in your rack to allow for better airflow.
Keep It Dry
Keeping your firewood dry is essential in preventing rotting, so you might want to consider a storage shed. However, there are cheaper alternatives to the problem, such as:
- Sealed containers
- Tarpaulin or waterproof canvas covers
- Tents or gazebos
- Storing wood under a roof canopy or other existing shelter
Never use preservatives on firewood as these chemicals are dangerous when burned.
Another technique to keep your firewood drier for longer is to turn logs on the top of the pile, bark side up. Bark is an excellent rain barrier and will help repel water. However, ensure that logs on the bottom of your pile are bark side down to protect the firewood from puddles and groundwater.
Cut Firewood in Summer
Cutting your firewood in the spring and summer months is ideal because then the wood will have plenty of time to dry before the winter. You can then store this securely, which will provide you with a stash of dry, rot-free firewood.
Summer is best for drying firewood due to high temperatures, sunny weather, and warm, dry winds.
Another good reason to cut your firewood in summer is that it gives you plenty of time to chop and relocate it without getting cold and wet. Plus, if you’re limited on shed space, you don’t have to leave a wheelbarrow of dry firewood out in the rain while you stack it.
Check Your Shed for Leaks
One of the main ways firewood gets wet is through soaking in water from somewhere else. That could be the ground or even the wall of your shed. An easy way to test for leaks in your shed walls or roof is to line the walls and floor with paper. Leave this in place during a wet night, and then come back to check your paper in the morning.
You could do the same thing with a cellar or basement. After all, it would be a shame to fill your basement or outbuildings with carefully split firewood just to have it soak up water from a leak.
Damp is another significant cause of rot, so it’s best not to store your firewood in a damp or musty building. Tackle any leaks, damp, or mold that may be present in your shed before storing wood there.
Banish Termites, Fungi, and Other Pests
Termites and ants are hugely destructive towards wood, and your firewood stack is a five-star hotel to them. Some good ways of preventing these little wood chompers, and other wildlife, include:
- Keep wood dry
- Store wood off the ground
- Don’t use mulch near your firewood
- Keep your wood away from your home.
Another big problem is fungi. Fungi are the culprits behind dry rot, which is a type of fungal decay. However, for dry rot to set in, the spores need damp wood. Seasoning and chopping your wood in the summer are excellent ways to avoid dry rot.
You’ll also want to keep your own furry pests away from your firewood. Make sure your dog or cat can’t get into the firewood and urinate on it. You don’t want any water sources coming into contact with your wood stores, including animal pee. If your cat can get into it, so can the local skunks, foxes, and whatever else might be wandering around looking for somewhere to relieve itself.
This article covered several helpful tips on how to prevent firewood from rotting. I looked at storing wood off the ground, seasoning your firewood, cutting your firewood to size before storage, keeping your wood dry, cutting firewood in the drier months, checking your shed or basement for leaks and damp, and banishing insect, animal, and fungal pests. I also included a handy guide on how to tell if your firewood is seasoned or not, such as using a moisture meter or doing the split test.