Can You Season Firewood in a Pile?


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  • #1
Where I live, I've seen lots of wood piles on people's property and I'm wondering if the wood ever dries or seasons, staying in that pile for too long. I think they get the wood delivered by truck. The truck dumps it out on their front yard or on their driveways and the people never stack it or anything. It just stays there and when winter comes, they may begin to stack it under a porch or in their garage. They never quite get around to stacking it outside so it could dry.

My question is, will the firewood ever dry if it stays as a pile? And beyond that, will it ever season? I always thought the wood needed to be stacked in rows so their air can flow through it and dry it up. Also, I've heard that the sun needs to hit it as well. So what gives? Why do I see so many piles of firewood that never gets stacked? Well, at least not until very late fall or just before the snow hits the ground.


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  • #2
I'll tell you this - and this comes from personal experience, not something I read on the internet - wood will partially dry if it's left thrown in a pile. It's better than not being cut but not being split at all. If the log rounds are split and they're left in a pile, the top layer will likely dry just fine. And the interior logs will likely dry out somewhat. I had three cord of firewood delivered once and I decided to get lazy and leave it in a pile on a big cement pad that I have next to my driveway. It was there for an entire year. It was snowed on top of and rained on. When I finally got around to stacking it properly in my wood shed, I found that, while somewhat dry, much of the interior logs began to rot. I was actually very surprised at how quickly this began to take place. I mean, in only a year the wood began to rot? I find that incredible. I also find that to be the case because there was nowhere near the necessary air circulation or sunshine hitting all of it.

I'll admit that I can see the temptation of leaving firewood in a pile and not ever stacking it, especially if you do the cutting and splitting yourself. The last thing you want to do is spend even more backbreaking time making it look pretty. Can't we just toss it all in a heap somewhere and leave it as is? Won't the air be able to flow through it and dry it all up? We're tired, after all. Do we really need to do all this extra work?

The answer to all these questions is yes, you do need to do all this extra work if you want your firewood to dry and season properly. But if you insist on thinking that you'll get away with keeping it in a pile, then at least throw it on some pallets so some air gets underneath to dry it as best as possible. And you'll also need to be patient because the dry time will take much longer than if stacked in a row. Also, be sure to cover the pile with pieces of plywood or something so it doesn't get rained and snowed on. That's what's going to do the rotting. If you have an open wood shed or garage you can toss it into, that would be the best.


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  • #3
To get an accurate answer, you'll also need to take into account where the pile of wood lives. If it's in Georgia in a sunny spot, where much of the year is 90 degrees, it'll dry up just fine. But if it's in Alaska with very short cool summer seasons and then a lot of rain and snow, that ain't gonna dry at all. Sorry, but that's just the way it is. If you absolutely can't stack your rows, then at least make your piles long instead of huge and round. The idea is to get as much of the surface exposed at possible. I honestly don't think keeping firewood in a pile is better than stacking it in a clean row or two rows. It's the air flow that matters and that doesn't occur in piles. After I'm finished with my splitting, sure, I leave everything in a big pile. Then I go out and nibble away at that pile and I stack it into rows. I don't do it all in one day. A wheelbarrow here and there and it's done in no time. If you chip away at it, you won't even notice how much work it really was.


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  • #4
I've got some wood that was cut into rounds, but never split. It's been like this for an entire season. Can I consider this wood seasoned or do I need to split it and then let it dry and season?


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  • #5
I've got some wood that was cut into rounds, but never split. It's been like this for an entire season. Can I consider this wood seasoned or do I need to split it and then let it dry and season?
You'll definitely need to split that wood before it'll dry. If left the way it is, it may actually begin to rot before it ever dries. There's a lot of moisture inside of those logs that needs to get out. In big rounds, I don't think that will ever happen. If the rounds have been in a completely dry area, you'll obviously be in better shape, but still, once split, they'll need at least six months to dry up so you can burn them as firewood.