There are always some ideas on firewood and what is best or how one should or should not do something.
I have accumulated a few of these and actually found some solid research and answers for a few.
The first is should pieces of wood be split from the top down or the bottom up?
This is not really as important as most people today do not actually have to split their wood and if they do often have a hydraulic splitter. But if you do have to split the old fashioned way you may be interested and old timers will often swear by one or the other. Sometimes the old timers do not agree but swear theirs is right! Well this is an interesting one as studies and performance of several careful experimental tests have clearly shown that there is no advantage at all in either direction – it does not matter as both have similar results in every single test performed. However, it is best if the wood is split along naturally formed lines or cracks already present during drying as this can significantly reduce the required effort in splitting the wood.
Does wood split easier if frozen?
Another one which people will argue over – some feel it will simply snap apart if brittle from frost. Well again there has proven to be very little difference if frozen or not – unless there are knots present.. in which case it is actually more difficult to split when frozen!
How long should wood be seasoned or dried? Some say one year – some say two years – what do tests and studies say?
Well this is interesting. The studies demonstrated clearly that wood drives quite quickly if it is split and stacked with exposure to wind and sunlight. Natural airflow through the wood pile will dry quite quickly! In fact the pieces cut to 12″ length were dry in as little as two or three months; if extended to two feet (24″) it took longer – actually six to seven months long! And if in four foot lengths then it did take at least a year to dry properly.
Does covering a wood pile help it dry?
Well first of all – the sides should not be covered – the air and wind still needs to get to the wood pile. But if the top is covered there was a very slight improvement but hardly noticeable in most of the tests done (except in tests done in very high humidity climates).
Does wood dry faster if split?
Depends on diameter – some smaller logs actually did not make much difference but larger logs did dry somewhat more quickly. The cuttig of length and stacking was actually more important.
Generally speaking there was little value measured in any firewood drying longer than 9 months except for longer cut lengths (4 foot or longer). If cut to 4 foot lengths and stacked for 9 months – cut just before burning it likely will not burn well as it is still too wet. (remember 4 foot lengths take longer to season properly).