Winter is here, and with it comes the chilly nights and cozy fires. But what happens when you need to store your firewood outside? In this article, we will explore the best practices for How To Store Firewood Outside In Winter, ensuring you have dry, seasoned logs ready to go whenever you need them.
From choosing the right location to stacking techniques, we will cover everything you need to know to keep your firewood in top condition throughout the winter season. So grab a cup of hot cocoa and let’s get started!
Preparing the Storage Area
Clearing the Area
Before you start stacking your firewood, it’s important to clear the storage area. Remove any debris, leaves, and other organic matter that may be on the ground. This will prevent moisture from accumulating and potentially causing mold or rot in your woodpile.
Creating a Raised Platform
One of the best ways to protect your firewood from ground moisture is by creating a raised platform. This can be as simple as placing wooden pallets or concrete blocks on the ground to elevate your stack.
By keeping your firewood off the ground, you’ll allow for better air circulation and minimize the chances of moisture seeping into your wood.
Covering the Ground
To further protect your firewood from moisture, consider covering the ground with a layer of gravel or plastic sheeting. This barrier will help prevent ground moisture from seeping up into the bottom layers of your woodpile. It’s a simple step that can go a long way in preserving the quality of your firewood.
Choosing the Right Firewood
Types of Firewood
Not all firewood is created equal, and it’s important to choose the right type for your needs. Hardwoods such as oak and maple are excellent choices as they burn longer and produce more heat.
Softwoods like pine and fir, on the other hand, may burn quickly but are great for starting fires due to their easy ignitability. Consider your specific needs and choose the firewood that best suits your requirements.
Seasoning the Firewood
It’s crucial to properly season your firewood before storing it. Seasoning refers to the process of drying the wood to reduce its moisture content. Freshly cut firewood has a high moisture content, which makes it difficult to burn efficiently and can lead to excessive smoke and creosote buildup in your chimney.
To season your firewood, stack it in a dry, well-ventilated area and allow it to dry for at least six months or preferably a year. The lower the moisture content, the better the firewood will burn.
Splitting the Firewood
To accelerate the drying process and improve the burnability of your firewood, consider splitting it into smaller pieces. Split wood dries faster and burns more efficiently than unsplit logs.
Additionally, splitting the firewood creates more surface area, allowing for better airflow and faster drying. Invest in a good quality axe or wood splitter to make the splitting process easier and more efficient.
Stacking and Storing
Choosing the Right Stack Location
When deciding where to stack your firewood, it’s important to choose a location that balances convenience and functionality.
Ideally, the stack should be located close to your house or fire pit for easy access, but not too close to avoid potential safety hazards. Ensure the area is well-drained and away from vegetation or combustible materials that could potentially catch fire.
Building a Firewood Rack
Investing in a firewood rack can greatly enhance the storage and organization of your firewood. A firewood rack keeps your wood off the ground, allowing for better air circulation and reducing the chances of rot or mold growth.
It also helps in keeping your woodpile neat and organized, making it easier to retrieve firewood when needed. Choose a rack that is sturdy, weather-resistant, and of the appropriate size to accommodate your firewood.
Stacking the Firewood
When stacking your firewood, it’s best to create a solid and stable structure. Start by laying a foundation of larger, heavier logs on the bottom, creating a sturdy base.
Then, stack the smaller logs on top, making sure to interlock them in a crisscross pattern. This method creates stability and prevents the stack from collapsing.
Leave small gaps between the logs to allow for better air circulation and faster drying. Aim for a stack that is no higher than your shoulders, as taller stacks can become unstable and pose a safety hazard.
Protecting from Weather Elements
Using Tarps or Covers
To protect your firewood from rain, snow, and other weather elements, consider using tarps or covers. Place the tarp or cover over the top of your woodpile, ensuring that it extends over the sides to shield the firewood from precipitation.
Use bungee cords or ropes to secure the tarp tightly, preventing it from blowing off in strong winds. It’s important to note that while covers provide protection from moisture, they should not completely enclose the woodpile as it can hinder proper airflow and may lead to mold growth.
Moisture is the enemy of firewood, as it can lead to rot, mold, and make it difficult to ignite. Besides covering the top of your woodpile, make sure to keep the sides and bottom of the stack open for airflow.
Avoid stacking your firewood directly against a wall or other structures that may trap moisture. Additionally, keep the bark side of the logs facing upwards, as the bark acts as a natural barrier against water absorption.
Allowing for Air Circulation
Proper air circulation is essential in maintaining the quality of your firewood. When stacking your firewood, leave small gaps between the logs to allow air to flow freely. This helps in the drying process and prevents mold growth. If possible, elevate your stack slightly off the ground using a rack or pallets to further enhance air circulation.
Preventing Infestations and Mold Growth
Inspecting the Firewood
Before storing your firewood, inspect it for signs of infestations or mold. Look for holes, tunnels, or exit holes, which may indicate the presence of insects or wood-boring pests. If you spot any signs of infestation, it’s best to dispose of the affected wood or treat it accordingly. S
imilarly, check for visible mold growth on the logs. Mold not only affects the quality of the firewood but can also be a health hazard. Remove any moldy pieces and avoid stacking them with the rest of the firewood.
Using Pest Repellents
To prevent pests from infesting your firewood, consider using natural pest repellents. Cedar chips, lavender, or citrus peels are known to repel insects while adding a pleasant aroma to your woodpile.
Place these items strategically between the logs or sprinkle them on top of the stack. Additionally, avoid storing your firewood next to structures or vegetation that may attract pests and provide easy access to your woodpile.
Properly Drying the Firewood
Properly drying your firewood is crucial in preventing mold growth. Mold thrives in damp and humid conditions, so it’s important to ensure your firewood has a low moisture content.
Always aim to season your firewood properly before storing it. If you notice any mold growth on your firewood during storage, remove the affected logs and allow the remaining wood to dry in a well-ventilated area before returning it to the stack.
Maintaining the Firewood
Regularly Checking Moisture Levels
To ensure the quality and burnability of your firewood, it’s important to regularly check its moisture levels. Invest in a moisture meter, which provides an accurate reading of the moisture content in your logs.
Ideally, firewood should have a moisture content of around 20% or less for optimal burning. If you find that your firewood has higher moisture levels, allow it to dry further before using it for a fire.
Rotating the Firewood
Rotating your firewood stack can help in maintaining its quality and preventing deterioration. Move the older logs from the bottom of the stack to the top, and place the newer logs at the bottom.
This ensures that the oldest wood gets used first, as it can become more susceptible to rot and mold over time. By regularly rotating your firewood, you’ll have a fresh supply at hand, while also preventing any pieces from being forgotten and left unused.
Removing Damaged Pieces
Inspect your firewood stack periodically and remove any damaged or deteriorated logs. These can be signs of infestations, rot, or mold, and should not be used as firewood. Removing damaged pieces will help maintain the overall quality of your woodpile and prevent the spread of pests or mold to the healthy logs.
Keeping a Safe Distance
When storing firewood outside, it’s important to keep a safe distance from structures and other combustible materials. The ideal minimum distance is at least 30 feet. By maintaining a safe distance, you’ll reduce the risk of accidental fires spreading to your house or other nearby structures.
Storing Away from Combustible Materials
When choosing a location for your firewood stack, ensure that it is positioned away from other combustible materials such as propane tanks, fuel cans, or firewood storage sheds.
Storing firewood too close to these items can create a potential fire hazard. Always prioritize safety and maintain proper clearances to avoid any accidents.
Using Protective Gear
When handling firewood, it’s important to prioritize safety and protect yourself. Wear sturdy gloves to protect your hands from splinters and use safety goggles to shield your eyes from flying debris.
Additionally, consider wearing a dust mask if you have allergies or respiratory sensitivities, as handling firewood can release dust and allergens into the air.
Best Practices for Winter Storage
Covering the Top of the Stack
During winter, it’s essential to provide additional protection to your firewood stack. Cover the top of the stack with a tarp or cover that extends over the sides, ensuring it is tightly secured. This will help prevent the accumulation of snow or ice on top of the firewood, ensuring that it remains dry and ready for use.
Removing Snow Accumulation
After a snowfall, make it a habit to remove any accumulated snow from the top and sides of your firewood stack. Snow acts as an insulator, trapping moisture and inhibiting the drying process.
By removing the snow, you’ll prevent excess moisture from seeping into your firewood and maintain its quality throughout the winter months.
Limiting Exposure to Winter Conditions
While it’s important to have easy access to your firewood during winter, try to limit its exposure to extreme winter conditions as much as possible.
If feasible, create a small shelter or cover around the stack using a tarp or temporary structure. This will provide additional protection from snow, sleet, and freezing rain, ensuring that your firewood stays in good condition for use.
Tips for Efficient Use
Storing Firewood Close to the House
One of the best ways to ensure the efficiency of your firewood is to store it close to the house or the area where you’ll be using it.
By having the firewood within easy reach, you’ll minimize the time and effort spent going back and forth to retrieve logs. Storing firewood close to the house also helps in keeping it dry, as the heat from the house can help prevent moisture accumulation.
Bringing Firewood Inside
To ensure a continuous supply of dry firewood, consider bringing a small amount of firewood indoors to be stored in a designated space.
This way, you’ll always have dry firewood readily available, especially during inclement weather. Just make sure to leave enough space around the firewood to allow for proper airflow and minimize the risk of indoor moisture or pests.
Properly storing firewood outside in winter is essential to ensure its quality and burnability. By following these tips and best practices, you’ll be able to protect your firewood from moisture, pests, and mold, while also maintaining its efficiency for a cozy and warm winter fire.
Remember to inspect your firewood regularly, rotate the stack, and follow safety precautions to enjoy a hassle-free firewood storage experience throughout the winter season. Stay warm and enjoy the warmth and ambiance of a crackling fire!