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What Is Kiln Dried Firewood?

Kilns season logs for firewood.
Kiln dried firewood has been seasoned by drying in a kiln.
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  • Last Modified Date: 14 December 2014
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Kiln dried firewood is firewood which has been seasoned by drying in a kiln. It is often available for sale in small packages designed for people who need firewood for a few days, as on a camping trip, although it is also possible to purchase larger loads of kiln dried firewood. There are a number of advantages to using firewood which has been seasoned in a kiln which make it a popular option for some people.

When a tree is first felled, it has a very high moisture content. The wood is known as “green,” a reference to the fact that it is fresh, recently living wood. Green wood does not burn well, because of the moisture. It may spit and sputter, and it commonly generates a great deal of smoke. It also produces a number of byproducts of combustion because it does not burn efficiently, and as a result it can clog chimneys and spark arrestors in addition to contributing to bad air quality.

For all these reasons, firewood must be seasoned before it is used. Seasoning allows the wood to fully dry, which means that it will burn much more cleanly. Classically, seasoning is done by allowing wood to sit out, allowing the moisture to evaporate, and it can take several months. Some people season their firewood in an enclosed or covered space to speed the process up by reducing ambient moisture absorption from the surrounding air.

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With kiln drying, the firewood is placed in kilns and essentially baked to force the moisture out. Kiln dried firewood can be seasoned in a fraction of the time it takes to prepare firewood under normal conditions, which means that the time elapsed between felling a tree and selling burnable wood is very short. It also carries the advantage of being evenly seasoned; a common problem with wood left out to season is that wood in the core of the pile is still green when wood on the outer edges is seasoned.

Kiln dried firewood performs reliably and dependably, burns very efficiently, and is very easy for people to handle when they are not accustomed to building wood fires. Instead of having to guess about whether or not wood is fully seasoned, people can use kiln dried firewood with confidence. This wood product is available through many camping suppliers, some grocery stores, and directly from people who process and sell firewood.

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jmc88
Post 8

@TreeMan - Great point. Not to mention a lot of parks now don't let you bring in your own firewood because of things like the emerald ash borer and other pests.

I know someone who used to own a sawmill where they kiln dried logs before sawing them. Whenever they had scrap wood left over or logs that weren't good enough to cut up for lumber, they split them up and bundled them as firewood to sell.

If you are buying kiln dried firewood from someone, though, it pays to know your wood types. Wood like oak and maple burn hot and for a long time, and birch firewood is fast lighting. Some people will cut up stuff like sycamore and throw it into bundles even though it is a horrible wood for burning. People just don't know better than to not buy it.

TreeMan
Post 7

I think if you had the ability to make your own kiln dried firewood, it would be a great business. This is especially true if you live next to a state park or campsite area. I've even seen people who get permission to sell firewood inside the parks.

If you own forestland, the wood is free. You just have to split it, but you can usually sell the logs in bundles for a couple of dollars each.

I usually try to take my own firewood when we go camping, but we can out one time and had to buy it. Since you need so much wood, it can get pricey.

stl156
Post 6

@JimmyT - If you're wanting to sell to neighbors, your best bet might just be to let the wood dry naturally. Collect the logs during the summer when it's dry outside. Split them then and let them dry until winter. They should be perfect by that time. If you have a shed, you can put the wood in there. If not, there are a lot of different stacking methods that you can find by searching online.

I know that kilns exist for woodworkers to dry their own wood. I've even seen books that show you how to make the kiln yourself. As far as how much it would cost, I'm not really sure about that.

JimmyT
Post 5

Has anyone here actually ever tried kiln drying wood? We have a good sized woodlot on our property, and a lot of people where I live have fireplaces. We have a log splitter and make all of the wood for our fireplace, but we'd kind of like to try selling firewood to neighbors.

How big are the kilns? Are they all industrial size, or can you buy some that are made for small residential loads? How much wood can they handle, and how much do they cost?

Monika
Post 4

@starrynight - Kiln dried firewood is a great choice for a campfire. I went camping with my family when I was younger, and we had a pretty miserable experience with some green firewood.

My parents decided to take us camping, but they didn't have much experience. The ended up bringing some green wood and building a fire with it. As the article said, the wood sputtered and smoked. We weren't making any s'mores on that fire, let me tell you!

starrynight
Post 3

When I went camping with Girl Scouts as a kid, I learned that there is a lot more to building a fire than just setting some pieces of wood on fire!

Usually my troop leaders would bring kiln dried firewood. Since we didn't camp all the time obviously we didn't just have dried logs lying around! Anyway, we would use the kiln dried wood to form the base of the campfire. Then we would use dried twigs we found in the woods for kindling. This usually made us a nice, roaring fire!

myharley
Post 2

It takes a lot of work to have enough wood ready for winter. By the time you gather it, split it and stack it you have put in quite a bit of time and energy.

Once the days and nights get cold though and you have a whole stack of wood that should last through the winter, you are glad you invested the time and work.

Splitting firewood is a big job, but you really need to have the smaller pieces of wood to fit in the fireplace. This also makes the logs much easier to handle.

We love burning firewood in our fireplace and it makes the whole house warm and cozy. It is hard to leave home on those cold days when you have a fire blazing in the fireplace.

Mykol
Post 1

We have a real log burning fireplace that we use a lot in the winter. Fortunately we haven't ever had to buy firewood. We always have fallen trees in our timber or friends who have wood we can gather.

We also have a log splitter, so this comes in handy as well. I always use kindling when I am starting a fire, but have never used kiln dried firewood.

We let out wood sit out and by the time we are ready to use it, the wood is seasoned and dry and burns efficiently. It always helps to have smaller pieces of kindling to get the fires started though.

I can see how using kiln dried firewood would be a big help if you didn't have any other options.

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