Despite the availability of modern heating options, many UK households — around 2.5 million, to be more exact — still rely on the good old fireplace-and-wood method. After all, this traditional heating system exudes an unmatched cosy vibe, on top of it being available even without using electricity. To produce cleaner and safer heat, a number of homeowners use firewood that is dried using a log drying kiln.
This device, which is designed to dry wood logs and extract moisture from them at controlled temperatures, produces faster output. It also reduces wood shrinkage and enhances dimensional stability. The result of using a wood drying kiln? Wood logs that burn better and are free of insects, eggs, mould, or fungi.
But how do you know if your wood is good enough to burn? In particular, how can you tell if it’s too wet or too dry?
Identifying Ready-to-Burn Firewood
As stated, using a log drying kiln helps you dry top-quality wood. If a piece of wood has an excessive moisture content, it can cause fungi formation that can eventually lead to rotting.
According to experts, wet logs should have a 6% to 8% moisture content reduction for them to be considered a good piece of dry wood. Take note that if they’re too dry, they can produce harmful smoke once burned. Additionally, they will leave soot in your chimney, which can be challenging to clean and can be a source of a fire incident.
There are many factors that can affect how fast moisture can be extracted from wood. These include:
Type of the wood (generally, softwoods have higher moisture content than hardwood, requiring them to have longer drying time)
Size of the wood (the smaller the wood, the faster it will dry)
Humidity (the bigger the difference between the humidity inside the wood and its surrounding environment, the faster it will dry)
The question now is: How do you check if your wood is dry enough to burn? Here are some testing options you can undertake.
Visual inspection. Dark hues in wood generally indicate high moisture content. So first off, check if the wood has lightened in colour. It should also have some dry cracks on its ends and visible growth rings — plus, it should be clean and hard.
Soap test. Add a minute amount of your regular washing-up soap to one end of the wood log. Next, put your mouth near the opposite end, then blow through it. If bubbles appear, it means that your firewood is dry enough (there’s no significant amount of moisture that can hinder the air from passing through the log when you blow).
Sound test. Take two logs and bang them together. If they produce a dull sound, they still have lots of moisture inside. The sound of good firewood is hard and ringing. When doing this test, however, keep in mind the kind of weather that you have. If it’s chilly and frosty, even dried firewood can produce a hard and ringing sound.
Wood moisture metre. To be more precise, measuring the moisture level of logs dried via a wood drying kiln (or any other method) pays to have a reliable moisture metre. This device can be used by simply placing it atop your wood surface (with the proper amount of pressure). Make sure that neither the device nor the surface has water on them, as it can affect the accuracy of the reading.