How to Stack & Dry Firewood


A couple of years ago I had to take down a red oak tree that had reached the end of its lifespan.  My sadness was tempered with the realization that it would give me cord after cord to enjoy in the fireplace.  But then I wondered:  what is the right way to stack firewood?

Trees, as you know, carry water and nutrients from the roots to the leaves through tissues just under the bark.  Once you cut and stack wood, these little highways lay parallel to the ground.  This means the ends of the firewood pieces and, collectively, the face of the wood stack is really where the drying is occurring.  Although is a good idea to keep the top of the stack covered to keep the rain off, it is more important to keep the sides exposed to allow those tissues to draw out moisture.

How you stack the wood is also important.  The picture above shows the Lincoln log style stack.  This allows for maximum air circulation and sun penetration and is by far the fastest way to dry wood.  You can see these pieces have already taken on the beautiful, greyish sheen of driftwood.  However, this method takes up a lot of space.  A common alternative, as I am sure you have seen, is to lay all of the pieces together.  You can buy kits with end rails from the home improvement store, or just stack some wood up like Lincoln logs on either end to lend support.  Critically, be sure to really pack the stack together tightly for greater stability and to maximize your storage ability.

The wood is now two years old.  Last year, after one year of drying, we could have started a cross fit class to get it moved up the hill and restacked by the fireplace.  This year it is noticeably lighter and burns faster and hotter, much as you would want.  This lends credibility to my neighbors' insistence on further drying "seasoned" wood for an additional year before burning it.  

Stay cozy!