If you have a fireplace, wood stove, or outdoor fire pit, then you know that you need to season your firewood before burning it to be sure you have dry wood.
If you don’t go through the seasoning process you will have green wood. As a result, it will not burn well and can even cause a chimney fire from too much creosote buildup.
In this blog post, we will teach you how to stack firewood for seasoning so that your wood is ready to burn when winter arrives!
TOP 10 Best Practices for Seasoning Firewood – Fast!
- Location: choose an area with lots of open areas with as much wind as possible
- Face the wood stack facing west to maximize the evening sun
- Stack the wood off the ground on pallets, woodsheds, or similar
- Stack the wood pieces with the bark facing UP to allow moisture to escape
- Keep the top layer of your stacked firewood protected from the weather using a tarp or even bark. Let the wood below the top layer breathe unprotected.
- Spring and fall are the best times to season firewood due to lower humidity
- Let the firewood moisture level reach 20% or less so wood burns efficiently
- Stack wood following a proven method such as the “end pillar wood stack” method that promotes air circulation.
- Cut wood one season ahead of when it’s needed. Proper seasoning takes up to one year.
- Safety first; wear protective work boots and gloves when stacking wood
Seasoning your firewood to a moisture content level below 20% will make a huge difference in how easy it is to start your fire, how much creosote is emitted from the wood (and clogs up your chimney), how much heat you get from the wood, and how long (efficiently) it burns.
But the good news is achieving the best results only takes a few best practices, as fully explained in this article below, and a bit of patience!
Let’s get into it!
The Ideal Moisture Content for Seasoned Firewood
Let’s start by tackling the most important goal of achieving the right (<20%) moisture content level to consider your firewood to be seasoned, and ready to burn.
The obvious question is; how to know what the moisture content of your wood is? To answer this question, the easiest and most convenient way is to purchase an inexpensive moisture meter that instantly tells you everything you need to know.
Moisture meters are available at many hardware stores, or through the Amazon photo link below.
A digital moisture tester such as the one shown here has two pins that can sense the moisture content of the wood. You simply push the pins into the wood and see the results. It’s that easy.
However, to get a true reading of how well the firewood is seasoned (dry) throughout the wood, you need to get a moisture reading of the inside (center) of the wood.
To do this, simply cut the wood sample in half. That will expose the inside core of the wood, so you can take a second reading. (see the video below for a complete demonstration)
You may be surprised to see the significant difference in moisture levels between the inside center of the wood, and the outside areas that have been exposed to sunlight. It is common to see 2X higher moisture readings on the inside.
For example, the exposed outer surface of wood could show a moisture content of 15 percent, while the inside could be as high as 30 percent.
That’s why these little meters are a must-have for dedicated wood burners! And the good news is that these digital meters are also handy for measuring humidity in your home, mold issues, and water leak detection.
To see one of these moisture meters in action you can check out the video below.
Option #2: The no-cost solution to Season Firewood
The 2nd option is a no-cost solution and only requires a bit of planning, and patience. It is said that properly stacked firewood takes about 6 to 12 months to season, so with a little planning ahead, you can rest assured that you are good to go.
If you follow the Top 10 guidelines above and you can feel confident about having seasoned firewood, and be ready for those chilly nights when nothing beats the charm and aroma of a real wood-burning fire.
Now that we’ve covered how to season firewood, let’s talk about popular methods for stacking firewood.
4 Easy Firewood Stacking Techniques
The most popular technique for stacking unseasoned wood is the “end pillar wood stack” where, as the name suggests, you create two pillars of wood as your retaining sections, and stack the bulk of wood between the pillars. This is a great way to stack several cords of wood while giving you easy access to the entire stack.
Here are some pillar stacking tips to get you started:
- Take two similarly shaped logs and turn them parallel to each other to make the columns.
- Place two more parallel logs perpendicular to the first set and add a couple of inches between them.
- Continue adding levels until you have about a dozen, or as high as you can without it being unmanageable.
- The second tower should be even with, but a few feet distant from, the first. Locate the logs so that their cut ends face in the direction of the prevailing wind.
- Continue layering until the mound reaches the same height as the towers.
- Place the bark-side pieces face up in the pile to prevent them from holding moisture.
- Finally, use long sticks to help support the pillars by positioning them against the pillars and driving them into the dirt.
The next technique is a European twist on stacking firewood in a circle. This German method is called the Holz Hausen method. In North America, it is referred to as the Beehive technique.
The circumference of the circle measures about 10-feet. An easy way to layout a circle on the ground is to put a stake in the ground where the middle of the circle will be located.
Then, tie a 5-foot string to the stake and pull it taught while walking around the stake. This should give you a ten-foot circle.
You can adjust the diameter of the circle by shortening, or lengthening, the string.
The easiest way to learn how to build a Holz Hausen/Beehive woodpile is to watch the video below:
Technique #3 | Wood Rack
Perhaps the easiest method for stacking firewood is using a simple outdoor firewood rack.
Our choice for an outdoor wood rack is a firewood bracket system that uses everyday 2’x4’s for the vertical and horizontal pieces. This allows you to create custom-sized wood racks capable of holding a good size stack of wood.
However, if your stack of firewood is larger than a face cord, you may need to create a tandem rack or use multiple racks.
Our testing team here at Today’s Cottage Living found the Tidyboss 2 Pack Firewood Bracket Rack to be the best solution and value.
It even comes with work gloves and screws to put it together.
Technique #4 | Between Two Trees
If your property happens to have a couple of trees to stack wood between, this is perhaps the easiest solution of them all.
The two horizontal support beams are not fastened to the tree, they just wrap around the face of the tree with the floor binding them together.
If you are in a climate with snow, be sure to make the legs tall enough to keep your firewood accessible in deep snow.
The “MacGyver” Method
Here’s a clever idea for making use of a folding ladder when you’re in a pinch and looking for a quick solution. We have a folding ladder that wasn’t being used so I positioned it upside-down on two wood blocks to give it some elevation.
How to build a firewood storage rack on a budget
When the reviewers at Today’s Cottage Living were doing their research they turned to Pinterest to get inspired by the creative ways people have come up with homemade ideas to solve everyday problems such as stacking firewood.
How to build a firewood storage rack with no tools using concrete cinder blocks
To see a great example of stacking wood on pallets, see the FAQ’s below.
How to stack wood in a rack:
- Take equal-sized pieces of wood and position them side by side on the rack, while trying to minimize any voids between each piece.
- Continue stacking until the pile reaches a height of around 4 feet, making sure it’s sturdy and feels secure.
- Fill in large holes with smaller wood pieces, which will help to strengthen the pile.
If your wood-burning consumption requires serious wood storage you’ll likely want to consider a large woodshed such as the one we built for Today’s Cottage Living.
Technique #4 | The Shaker Woodpile
Shaker Woodpile is a way to stack firewood so it can dry out and become seasoned. The firewood is placed in a pyramid shape with the largest pieces of wood on the bottom and the smaller pieces of wood on the top.
This allows for air circulation around each piece of wood which speeds up the drying process.
Follow these steps to make a Shaker woodpile of your own:
- Place a log or branch in the middle of where your pile will be and build a base of split logs in a circle, similar to the spokes on a bike wheel, at least two rows deep.
- Place split logs above the center and lean more firewood against them, stacking layers until you reach shoulder height and form a disc shape.
- When the top is a cone, it’s time to stop adding wood.
Our favorite way to carry firewood indoors
So, now that you’ve successfully seasoned your firewood, it’s time to bring a load of dry wood indoors for the fireplace! The LogOX Sling won 1st place with our product review team here at Today’s Cottage Living.
If you click the Learn More button below the product image and watch the short video demonstration of the LogOX in action, you’ll quickly understand why this is our favorite way to carry firewood.
They call it ‘The World’s Most Ergonomic Firewood, Kindling, and Log Carrier‘ and we agree. This Made in USA (Patented) log carrier, features a unique cross-body strap design that balances the weight across your upper body like a messenger bag, causing far less strain on your back, arm, and shoulder, while also facilitating easier loading, unloading, and movement.
We also love the way your arm hooks into the canvas carrier, allowing you to freely open the carrier with one arm, and load with your free arm. And they even thought of including a flashlight for those dark visits out to the wood pile. Very clever.
Related Article: If you’re trying to decide on the ideal type of fireplace or wood stove, we have a comprehensive guide. Click here
Which kind of wood is best for firewood?
The best wood for firewood is hard, dense wood such as oak, hickory, or ash. These woods have a high BTU (British thermal unit) value, meaning they will create a hot fire. Also, hardwoods are more resistant to splitting than softwoods.
Although softwoods are not as good as hardwoods for firewood, they can still be used. Softwoods such as pine or fir have a lower BTU value than hardwoods, but they will still produce heat. The main difference is that they will not last as long on the fire and will need to be replaced more often.
Can firewood be stacked on the ground?
It’s not a great idea to pile firewood on the ground. The bottom (ground) layer of wood will suffer the consequences.
Termites are attracted to wood, and dampness from the earth can seep into it and keep it from drying out.
Instead of stacking it on the ground for storage, use one of the methods above to elevate it off the ground, or at least stack the wood on a porous material such as asphalt or gravel.
Simply raising your firewood off the ground by only a few inches will keep it dry, help to keep insects away and help to prevent your firewood from soaking too much moisture from the ground.
Wooden pallets are one of the easiest ways to create this gap you’re looking for when it comes to an inexpensive (if not free) surface to stack firewood on.
Pallets are sturdy, they keep the firewood elevated, and you may be able to find them for free at many local businesses or factories.
Other simple, low cost or free solutions include 2x4s, landscaping timbers, or even skinny trees/saplings that can also be used to elevate your wood off the ground.
Once elevated, air will flow under the stack which will speed up the drying process.
How Long Can You Store Firewood Outside?
You may be surprised to know that properly seasoned and stored firewood can last up to four years! However, If the wood is too dry, it burns out too quickly.
That means if you follow these tips above on how to stack firewood for seasoning and proper storage, your wood will be in optimal condition and ready to burn when you are.
How do you cover stacked firewood?
The best way to cover stacked firewood is with a tarp. Cover only the top of the pile (not the sides, as this might impede airflow), and allow 1 or 2 inches of tarp to drape the tarp loosely over the stack. If a tarp is not available, tree bark can be a quick solution.
Seasoning your firewood is the first and most important step in having a successful wood-burning experience. By following these 10 tips, you can ensure that your firewood is dry and ready to burn as quickly as possible.
Not only will this make starting a fire easier, but it will also help to produce more heat and less smoke.
Be sure to stack your wood properly using one of the four methods we’ve outlined so that you can keep your fireplace or wood stove running efficiently all winter long!
Thank you for sharing your time with us at Today’s Cottage Living!
Disclosure: TodaysCottageLiving.com participates in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for publishers to earn fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.
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