Naturally Air Dried and forced Kiln Dried
So what is naturally seasoning? Essentially it is making wood fit for burning - by reducing the water content - usually by leaving it for a period of time 4-6 months in the right conditions. All wood contains water. Freshly cut wood can be up to 45% water, while fully seasoned Air Dried firewood generally has a 20% moisture content or less.
Fully seasoned Air Dried logs will always look grey and weathered.
Once prepared, the logs then need the proper storage to help them season properly. For most types of woods you should plan on at least six months of Spring & Summer seasoning - some heavier woods like oak will need a year or more, and all will benefit from longer.
The first stage of seasoning involves using the sun and wind to help dry out the logs - so until the end of August the logs can be spread out in the open or stacked in rows. The before the weather turns they can be stacked in your wood store to keep dry for use over the winter. The aim of the wood store is to keep rain and snow off the logs,but to still allow maximum air circulation to aid the continual drying of the wood. So ideally a wood store will have a sloping roof but open sides.
Fully Air Dried Hardwood
Forced Kiln Dried
The process of kiln drying or oven drying consists basically of introducing heat and air over the logs. The fresh firewood is first cut into large metal cages and loaded into the kiln ready for drying. It normally takes 5-7 days of baking the logs at a temperature of 70 - 80c - the kiln can be run on waist wood or solar energy. By kiln drying our logs it gives us much more control of the final moisture content which is always between 10-20% no matter what time of year. In a normal drying cycle we remove about 50% of the water content from inside the logs. Kiln drying also helps to kill off any unwanted insects or fungi which means we end up with a very high quality consistent product.