Burning logs legally and storing them properly: Log moisture content is important if you are going to be burning it, if you are not intending to burn it then it’s fine, please enjoy all the wet logs you like and make wonderful things with them, but if you are going to be burning it, please read on. Moisture comes from two places when it comes to wood, the sap in the wood while it is growing, and if freshly cut is called ‘Green wood’. The second place a log can get moisture from is the environment, such as rain, damp air etc. and as we have discussed in other news articles, burning green or wet wood can release more particulates into the environment than is safe and healthy to do so, not just for those around the fire but those around the world, as the particles climb into the atmosphere.
So what should we be paying attention to when it comes to our logs that we want to burn, in our lovely wood burning stove. Graham Bowbrick for the SSCG helps us to think about log storage:
Hello, my name is Graham Bowbrick, I am a joiner and chair maker. I have a nine acre wood that I am thinning for a local farmer, as a byproduct of this work I have more than enough Ash and Cherry for my work with the majority left over for logs both for my use and some to sell.
With the recent news about the Government’s intentions to ban the sale of wet logs I thought I would talk a bit about moisture content and log storage. The first thing to say is the SSCG has for some time had a policy to sell our logs at a moisture content of 20% or less, if you are unsure of the moisture content of the logs you are buying you can request a test with a moisture meter, most log providers carry one now. Once the seller has sold you the logs and driven away, the moisture content then becomes the customers responsibility, so if you leave your nice dry logs outside in the elements they will take on the ambient moisture and this could be up 40% or even more.
The best place to store your logs is in a well ventilated shed or a dedicated log store , a good log store should have slatted sides back and floor and a good roof, such as corrugated steel sheeting and should have a fall of at least an inch per foot, preferably to the front, the reason for this is most people will stand their store against a wall, if this happens to be the house you will have dry logs at the expense of a damp house, a generous overhang to the front and sides should keep most of the rain off, you could add the extra precaution of a tarpaulin to cover the front
Another good idea if you have the room is to store as many logs by the fire as you have room for and try to rotate them to make sure you are burning the ones that have been in the dry the longest. Please don’t be tempted to buy kiln dried logs, these have to be dried by burning fuel, often wood, in order to force the moisture down , now we are all working for the planet this makes no sense, not to mention as soon as they leave the kiln they take on the ambient moisture which if stored badly could be higher than a well seasoned air dried log.
Finally a word about species , hardwood is best, a rule of thumb is if it loses its leaves in winter it’s a hardwood, one of the exceptions is Holly which is a fine wood to burn, it’s not a problem to burn softwoods (pine) which keep their leave or needles , just don’t burn too much and mix it in with hardwood. There is a myth that you can burn Ash green, it’s true that Ash has a lower moisture content than most types of wood but it still needs seasoning.
Over the next year or so I’m hoping that our members and readers will send me in some pictures of their log stores and add to the discussion above to help others have an idea what to do, as well as what not to do and continue this article. Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org Thanks.
Featured image with thanks to needpix.com