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How to season a chopped tree into firewood - Able Tree Services

How to season a chopped tree into firewood

One of the benefits of cutting down a tree is that you have a potential source of free firewood. While you can’t immediately burn freshly chopped trees, you can leave them to season and, once they’ve dried out, you can use them in a wood burner. Fresh or green wood has a high water content which means it burns poorly, gives off a lot of smoke and can cause soot build-up in your chimney.

How to dry firewood

To prepare your wood, you need to cut it down in size. The smaller the pieces, the quicker it will dry out.

To dry out quickly, wood needs to be exposed to sun and wind, but protected from rain. Stack your wood neatly so that there’s space for air to circulate in between the pieces. Make sure there’s room around the sides and underneath (by stacking on top of a pallet, for example) to allow air to move freely.

Ideally wood piles should be kept outside or in a woodshed. It’s important not to stack the wood inside or too close to your home, as termites or other insects could move into your home, and to prevent it becoming fuel for bushfires.

Keep the wood covered to protect from rain, but leave a gap at the bottom to allow air in and out. Stacking wood in this way, rather than just leaving it in a pile, also means mould is less likely to grow.

Removing bark, or splitting pieces so the inside of the tree is exposed to the air, can also speed up the process.

How to tell when your firewood is ready

Wood can take a few years to completely dry out, but some varieties may be ready within a year if the weather is warm. A few indicators of dry wood include:

  • dry wood makes a ringing, clunking or hollow sound when you knock two pieces together, while wet wood makes more of a dull thud.
  • seasoned wood often has cracks at each end it may have a darker appearance.
  • as wood gets drier, bark will fall off and be easy to peel back. If your logs aren’t at this stage yet you can cut a piece of bark off and, if you see any green, the wood isn’t ready to burn yet.
  • dry wood is a lot lighter than wet wood.
  • test one piece of wood on a fire – if three sides are burning within 15 minutes, and it doesn’t seem to be giving off a lot of smoke, then there’s a good chance the whole stack will be ready.

You can also buy moisture meters from most hardware stores which let you get a more accurate reading, and you should aim to get the water level down to 20% before burning.

If a small tree has fallen, it’s often a straight forward job to cut up, so long as you have the right tools, common sense and a good work ethic. For bigger trees you may need specialised equipment to get the job done efficiently.

Tree lopping services

Cutting down a tree is a different story, and requires a qualified tree lopper to take care of. All too often trees come crashing down on homes and cars, and if you’re not insured then you’ll have to pay for the repairs out of your pocket.

Able Tree Services has more than 20 years of experience cutting down and removing trees, and we’re insured for up to $20m.

To make sure your source of free firewood doesn’t end up costing six figures, give us a call on 0403 221 044.

Image: “Firewood” by Brian Cantoni is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Image: “Firewood” by Thomas Gartz is licensed under CC BY 2.0