I talk to guys all the time that say, “I only burn green wood. It burns longer…” This is sort of true… it smolders longer. Because you are basically boiling all of the moisture out of it as it tries to burn. And it sizzles, pops, snaps – makes all the sounds you don’t want coming from your fire. It also makes tons of smoke, and your heat it wafting away in the form of steam. And creosote, Oh so much creosote. So, it may burn a little longer, but it sure doesn’t burn better.
So how long does it take to properly season wood? Well, how long will your car last? Both questions have a bunch of variables that make it difficult to answer with a simple “6 months”. It depends on the type of wood, amount of air flow, weather conditions (even if covered, high humidity affects it), what moisture level you are looking for, etc. The standard answer you hear in the industry is 6 months, which is probably mostly accurate – Colorado high desert, less time while Seattle, more time…
Oh, and is it split? Once you break the bark, it dries a lot faster. Bark is after all, designed to keep moisture in. And the smaller you split it, the faster it dries – seems obvious, but it’s amazing how many guys with boilers want to shove the biggest pieces they can lift into them.
How do you know when it is ready? Best answer, get a moisture meter and know for sure. One thing I know for sure, next winter’s wood should be starting to split in March and April to be sure it is ready for the cold winds of November. Are you ready to get moving forward on your wood supply?