What To Look For When Buying Kiln Dried Hardwood Logs

Kiln Dried Hardwood Logs

  • Kiln Dried Firewood - The Natural Energy Resource
  • Hardwood or Softwood?
  • Kiln Dried VS Seasoned Logs
  • 22% Moisture in Kiln Dried Firewood
  • How to check if your firewood is dry
  • Wood Burning Stoves and Multi Fuel Stoves
  • Environmentally Friendly
  • What is the ‘Ready to Burn’ scheme?
  • Why purchase briquettes?
  • Spot the difference in crate sizes and quantity
  • Watching out for pollutants
  • Tips on how to store your firewood
  • The different uses of Kiln Dried Logs

Kiln Dried Firewood - The Natural Energy Resource
Kiln dried firewood is becoming the popular choice for many consumers, as we all are becoming more environmentally aware of renewable energies. Its many benefits include: higher heat output, more fuel, and therefore economical, efficiency, along with minimising problems with your stove and flue.

Hardwood or Softwood?
Both hardwood and softwood are kiln dried, hardwood is a deciduous slow-growing broadleaf of high-density wood producing a slower steady heat output. Softwood is fast-growing evergreen conifers with low-density wood and will give high heat output with a quicker burn. In many regions of the world, softwoods are used extensively as the preferred fuel of choice simply because they are abundantly available. However, because softwoods are generally less dense, they will occupy a far bigger volume than hardwoods so you will need more storage space.

Kiln Dried VS Seasoned Logs
When a tree is felled it will contain between 65 – 90% of water depending on the species. Felled trees will be stored in the forest for up to two years in their complete form and this is known as seasoning the wood. However, there is actually very little drying of the wood as bark has evolved to keep moisture in! For effective seasoning, the trees have to be cut into logs and split, stored in a dry area with plenty of airflow. Kiln dried wood goes through a different process, it will be felled and then cut into logs and split and then put into a kiln (a thermally insulated chamber) to bring the moisture to less than 22%. Consequently, when you put fresh or seasoned wood onto a fire, it uses heat from the fire to dry it before it can actually burn, whereas kiln dried wood burns straight away at a constant higher temperature working out to be 33% more efficient than seasoned wood.

22% Moisture in Kiln Dried Firewood
Common woods used for kiln dried firewood are Ash and Birch this is because they have a low starting moisture content making them easier to dry. Denser woods are obviously also dried but it is a longer process.  Freshly cut wood has a very high moisture content. As much as 60% of the weight of a tree is water. At least some of this water must be removed before trying to use it as firewood. There are many pitfalls that can occur from burning wood that is not dried to below 25% moisture content. This is often referred to as "green" wood and the effective available heat is much less, not just because there are fewer wood fibres in each pound of wood put in the wood burner, but that a good percentage of that heat must be used to evaporate all that water before those wood fibres can burn. Another very important consequence of burning green wood is that the presence of all that moisture tends to keep "putting out" the fire, it’s never a good sign when your fire is hissing, and therefore making it burn very poorly, which tends to produce a lot of creosote and pollution.  Generally, one way the drying is accomplished is by seasoning it. Firewood is cut to length and then seasoned (dried) in a stack, with air being able to get to it, for at least 9 months before burning. The natural 60%-70% moisture content must be reduced to about 20% to burn well. The wood doesn't lose much moisture through the bark, the moisture is most effectively removed through the cut cells at the ends of each piece.  That's why logs which have lain in the woods for years may still have a lot of moisture and may not burn well until they have been cut and split and then stacked and covered with good airflow but even that will not bring the moisture content down to 22%. Generally, it is sold that wood that has been seasoned for 2-years will be drier than 1-year seasoned wood but it is proved that there can’t be further drying occurring beyond 9 months. The only effective way to bring the wood moisture level down to 22% is through Kiln drying it. This process can be monitored and controlled to reach the correct level which produces the optimum fuel for the fire.

How to check if your firewood is dry
There are different methods for checking whether your firewood is dry enough to light a fire with.
Soap test – blow on the firewood
It is easy to test your firewood to see if it is dry – you can use regular washing-up soap
How to do it:

  • Add a little soap on one end of the log
  • Put your mouth near the other end and blow through the log

Your firewood is dry if bubbles appear. This happens because there are some channels inside the log which transport water. When the wood has been cut and dried, the water disappears, and air can pass through when you blow.

Use the sound test
You can also test the dryness of your firewood by banging together two pieces of wood. Your firewood is dry when the sound is hard and ringing. Moist firewood has a dull sound.
Be aware of pitfalls when it comes to the sound test. In frosty weather and when the temperature is below 0° Celsius, fresh wood can give off a high and ringing sound even if the wood is not yet dry. Remember that the sound test only provides you with a superficial impression of the condition of the wood. It won’t always disclose whether the wood is dry at the core.

Look at the firewood
Your intuition is also a useful tool when it comes to assessing the moisture content of the firewood. Below is a dry firewood checklist: Firewood must be…

  • Dry
  • Clean
  • Hard
  • Having dry cracks on the ends
  • Without mould and fungi
  • The smell of resin and juice disappears as the wood dries
  • Having clearly visible growth rings
  • Light in colour. Sun exposure makes the wood yellow and old wood turns greyish. Often the bark will separate from the wood.

If your firewood matches the criteria, it’s a sign that your firewood is dry enough for firing in your wood-burning stove.

Use a wood moisture meter
You can also use a wood moisture meter for measuring the moisture content of your firewood. With a wood moisture meter, you’ll get the most precise information on the moisture content in your firewood.

Wood Burning Stoves and Multi Fuel Stoves
Both stoves typically consist of a solid metal-enclosed fire chamber, adjustable air control and pipework connected to a chimney or flue to draw the smoke and gases away. A wood-burning stove, sometimes known as a wood burner, is not suitable for coal and peat fuels, unlike their multi-fuel counterparts. With wood burners, the logs usually burn on a bed of ash. Stoves with a grate and a removable ash pan, which helps with the burning of coal products, are usually considered to be multi-fuel.
Whatever stove you choose, it will be a more economical solution as you will no longer have to deal with the recent rises in the cost of oil, electricity and gas. In addition, the warmth created by a stove can spread to a wider area of your home than an open fire, as not much of the heat escapes straight up the chimney.
All manufacturers recommend that you only burn kiln dried firewood in your stove. Burning wet or seasoned wood can damage your stove or flu which will be costly to repair. To have your stove running to maximum efficiency you need the best performance from what you burn, burning kiln dried firewood produces two thirds more heat output than wet wood and a third more than seasoned wood.

Environmentally Friendly
Burning kiln dried firewood is better for the environment, you don’t need to burn as much for a start cutting down on labour, transport and storage. When wood has a higher water content the gases in the wood can’t ignite and escape up the chimney which is further heat wasted and also causing excess soot and tar. Wood is also part of the carbon/carbon-neutral cycle. The fuels produce CO2; trees absorb CO2 and store it as carbon which makes up half the weight of the tree.  When the wood is burned it releases only the same amount back into the atmosphere, exactly the same as if the tree was left to rot.

What is the ‘Ready to Burn’ scheme?
Woodsure, the UK’s only wood fuel quality assurance scheme, has launched a Ready to Burn initiative to help homeowners look after their stoves and improve air quality.
Air quality and wood fuel have become a hot topic and stove owners are being asked to think about the impact of burning poor quality firewood has on the environment. A stove is only as good as the wood it burns and so the Ready to Burn stamp of approval will reassure those who purchase firewood/briquettes with its logo that they are dry enough and immediately ready to burn. WoodShack and its products are proudly approved by the scheme. The “Ready to Burn” label shows logs are ready for use as wood fuel. These logs burn more efficiently than unseasoned, greenwood and reduce environmental impact. Ready to Burn firewood has a moisture content of 20% or less; using it in place of wet wood fuel is proven to reduce the levels of emissions in the air we breathe. This is better for your appliance and chimney and reduces maintenance and fuel costs.

Why purchase briquettes?
Fuel briquettes can be made of almost any biomass material, including hardwood, softwood, straw, bracken, paper, coffee, canola, etc. We choose to stock wood briquettes made from unadulterated hardwood or softwood. For example, our night briquettes are 24kg of natural 100% pure bark briquettes, compressed under high pressure without any bindings or glues. Some other biomass products such as straw, bracken, and coffee tend to have higher ash content and lower calorific value than clean timber. The right timber is important too. It’s tempting to use old pallets or used timber from building works but  there can be hidden extras you don’t want. Waste wood often contains glues, paints and binders, all of which can give off unpleasant and smelly fumes whilst burning. Because of this, we only stock pure wood briquettes, that we know have no additional nasties in them.

Spot the difference in crate sizes and quantity
Are you getting the weight of product you expect? The firewood selling market is really competitive and it is important for customers to know whether the products that are buying are up to standards and a good deal. One of the main ticks is that most suppliers claim to have the same size crates and products as others. However, when you look at their products descriptions and work out the real volume it is different, indeed smaller! Our team has carried out research resulting that no other local firewood log supplier fits as much wood per crate as we do. This means that the product is actually more expensive than it appears per kg. Because we care about our clients, even knowing this competitive advantage we didn’t raise our prices because we want to be the most high-quality, reliable and affordable seller that you know will keep you warm without damaging your finances.

Watching out for pollutants
There is no doubt that burning wood fuel produces particulates. The best way to minimise this is to make sure you’re burning dry firewood on an efficient appliance. Burning wet firewood in an old, inefficient stove produces pollutants on a par with that from coal fires.
Wood burning appliances should be well-maintained and as modern as possible. The efficiency of stoves has increased hugely in the last ten years or so, and that needs to be taken into account. The fuel should be as dry as possible, and certainly under 20% moisture content. The amount of moisture in firewood affects the number of pollutants released into the atmosphere.

Tips on how to store your firewood
Whether you should store firewood indoors or outside is mostly dependent on how much firewood you’re storing. For individual bags or small amounts of firewood, it’s fine to keep this next to the fireplace or elsewhere inside your home. This usually means keeping about as much firewood as you’ll use in the next 24-48 hours. Bear in mind that some kinds of firewood, especially undried logs, can bring woodlice, termites, spiders, or ants into your home. Kiln dried logs won’t have this issue, although if you store them outside you may still be inadvertently transporting a few stray bugs from your garden into your home — this is why we recommend only keeping a small amount inside at any one time.
For large amounts, such as a pallet of firewood, you’ll need a storage place outside of your home. This may be in a garage, cellar, shed, or even a custom-built wood store. What’s important is that the wood is stored undercover, as you don’t want to add any moisture to the carefully dried out wood. For seasoned logs or wood that you’re drying, ensure that there’s airflow around the wood as this encourages further drying and stops the wood from rotting. Ideally, use a covered wood store with slats in the sides to allow natural airflow around the wood. You’ll also want to ensure that the wood is raised off the ground, especially if it’s outside, as contact with soil, dirt, or grass can add moisture and cause the wood to rot. In a pinch, you could stack wood on a pallet outside and place a tarp over the top, but a dedicated area to store wood will keep your firewood in the best shape for better burning.

-Storing Kiln Dried Logs- For other types of winter fuel (such as heat logs, smokeless coal, or instant light logs) the best storage practices are similar to those for firewood, but with a few differences. As with all fuel that you’re going to burn, it’s essential to keep everything nice and dry, as any added moisture will affect the quality of the fuel. Ensure that you keep the fuel stored off the ground, and make sure that it’s covered to prevent moisture from entering the fuel. For fuels like smokeless coal, a covered coal store is ideal, however many people repurpose old wheelie bins to use as coal stores. Heat logs or instant light logs just need to be stacked in an appropriately dry area.
It’s also best to follow the same guidelines for storing accessories like firelighters and kindling. Even if these products are individually wrapped, allowing them to get too damp can affect their ability to light. When you’re starting your fire, there’s nothing more frustrating than damp lighting material, so take care to ensure that your firelighters and kindling stay dry.

The different uses of Kiln Dried Logs
Did you know that you can use Kiln Dried Logs for pizza ovens? Yes, you heard that right! Silver birch is the best logs for pizza ovens because they set on fire quickly and give out very little smoke when they burn. Cooking with wood on a wood-fired Pizza Oven is one of the most enjoyable things to do with friends and family. Our hardwood logs are the most calorific available in the market. This makes them the best option for wood burning stoves, open fires and multi-fuel burners. Logs are also the perfect product to use for not only living room closed fires but also outside heaters! It will give heat, light and a superb atmosphere to evening barbecue parties, family gatherings or social events.

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