Seasoned logs or kiln dried?
We all know that the best wood must be under 20% moisture – ideally even under 15% – to burn cleanly and efficiently. But which type of wood is best – kiln dried or seasoned?
Kiln dried wood provides consistency which seasoned wood does not. Such dry wood will light easily, burn cleanly, and provide maximum heat output. Clean-burning wood will not blacken the glass of the fireplace (unless placed too close to the firedoor) and consequently the burn up the chimney will be clean, avoiding excess tar or soot. Many people are astonished at the efficiency of kiln dried wood if they have not used it before.
Seasoning logs, on the other hand, is a great way of using excess wood which you may have, for example, if a tree has called down in your garden. Often, the key issue with seasoned logs is that they do not dry properly if they have not been prepared properly. Firewood must be chopped into short, 20-25cm lengths, and then split lengthways several times. The more the wood is split, the quicker it dries. Typical log diameters range from 5 to 15 centimetres.
The length of the drying process depends upon the type of wood you are seasoning – ash, for example, dries 3-4 times faster than oak. The wood must then be stored in a covered enclosure, ideally off the ground, for 12-18 months, often longer – to achieve a low moisture content. They must also be turned regularly to ensure the moisture can escape.
Some people recommend removing the bark completely from the log, as it can act as a sort of ‘raincoat’, preventing the log from drying fully.
When seasoning wood yourself, it is important to test the logs individually using a moisture meter – this must be done in several places on the log to ensure it is dry throughout.
So, which is best? Kiln dried logs are a much more convenient wood source than seasoned logs, unless you have a large supply and sufficient drying space. However, if you have a large supply of firewood then seasoning your own logs can be a lot of fun and a great way to ensure you are full self-sufficient when it comes to heating.