Successful stacking of firewood is an essential skill for wood stove and fireplace users during winter. Choosing the right firewood is important, with oak, maple, ash, and birch being great for burning, whereas softwoods such as pine and cedar are better for kindling. Preparing the site for stacking is equally important, ensuring good drainage, and installing a ground cover. Stacking techniques include the classic cord, pyramid, lean-to or round stack. Regardless of the technique, wood should be stacked tightly, kept well-ventilated, and stored at least 30ft from the home, covered on top but left open on the sides.
The Art of Stacking Firewood: Tips to Keep Your Stockpile Safe and Accessible
For those of us who rely on wood stoves or fireplaces to keep our homes warm, the art of stacking firewood is an essential skill to keep the heat flowing all winter long. With the right technique, you can make sure your firewood stays safe, dry, and accessible whenever you need it.
Choosing Your Firewood
Before you start stacking, it’s important to choose the right firewood. You want a type of wood that’s easy to split, burns hot and evenly, and doesn’t create too much smoke or spark.
Some of the best types of wood for burning include oak, maple, ash, and birch, while softwoods like pine and cedar can be great for kindling but don’t burn as long or as hot.
Preparing Your Site
Before you start stacking, you’ll want to prepare your site. Make sure you choose an area that’s flat and dry, with good drainage to prevent the wood from getting damp. You should also clear away any debris or vegetation, and install a ground cover to prevent weeds from growing around your stack.
When it comes to stacking, there are a variety of techniques you can use depending on your needs and preferences. Here are some common techniques and tips:
- The Classic Cord: This is the most common way to stack firewood, and it involves creating a line of wood that’s four feet high and eight feet wide. Start with a row of logs on the ground, and then pile the next layer perpendicular to the first.
- The Pyramid: This technique involves creating a triangular stack that’s wider at the bottom and narrower at the top. It’s a great technique for getting the wood to dry quickly, but it can be less stable than a cord.
- The Lean-To: This technique involves stacking wood against a wall or other support, which can help keep it from toppling over. It’s a great technique for smaller stacks, or for stacking wood in a sheltered area.
- The Round Stack: This technique involves creating a circular stack of wood, which can be a great option if you’re short on space. Start by placing a log in the center and then circle it with logs in a spiral pattern.
Regardless of which technique you choose, there are some basic tips you should follow:
- Make sure to stack the wood tightly, with as little space between as possible.
- Don’t stack the wood too high or it may become unstable and topple over.
- Keep the stack well-ventilated to allow air to circulate and prevent mold or mildew from growing.
- Store your kindling and starter wood separately from your main stack.
Storing Your Firewood
Once you’ve stacked your wood, it’s important to store it properly to prevent damage or decay. Here are some tips:
- Keep your woodpile at least 30 feet away from your home to prevent insects or rodents from entering your house.
- Cover the top of your woodpile with a tarp to protect it from rain and snow.
- Leave the sides of your woodpile open to allow for air circulation.
- Keep your woodpile away from areas with high humidity to prevent mold or mildew from growing.
Q: How long does it take for firewood to dry?
A: It can take anywhere from six months to a year for firewood to dry completely, depending on the type of wood and how it’s stored. Proper stacking and storage can help speed up the drying process.
Q: How do I know if my firewood is ready to burn?
A: Your firewood is ready to burn when it’s dry and has a moisture content of less than 20 percent. To test the moisture content, you can use a moisture meter or tap two pieces of firewood together – if they make a sharp cracking sound, they’re dry enough to burn.
Q: Can I burn any type of wood in my fireplace or wood stove?
A: No – some types of wood can release harmful chemicals when burned, or can create excessive smoke or sparks. Stick to hardwoods like oak, maple, and ash, and avoid softwoods like pine or cedar.
Q: Should I stack my firewood vertically or horizontally?
A: You can stack your firewood either vertically or horizontally, depending on your preference. Some people find that vertical stacking is more space-efficient, while horizontal stacking can be more stable.
Q: How much firewood do I need for a winter?
A: This will depend on the size of your home, your climate, and how often you use your fireplace or wood stove. As a general rule of thumb, you’ll need at least one cord of wood (128 cubic feet) per winter.
Q: Is it safe to stack firewood against a fence or other structure?
A: No – stacking firewood against a fence or other structure can create a fire hazard and can also damage the structure. Always stack your firewood in a standalone location.