Does Wood Split Easier When it’s Cold Outside?

Splitting firewood by hand – can it get any more “cool” than this?

In all seriousness though, some kind can become an absolute chore to deal with, essentially ruining the fun aspect of the process…

Particularly so that can be larger rounds, which only seem to be impenetrable to your efforts, no matter how many times you whack the maul at it.

Woodcutters come up with many thoughts and ideas to deal with the dilemmas which are so dear near their heart, and in this instance it revolves around doing the same thing, only in cold.

Yes it does, mostly

More often than not, it is easier to split firewood when it’s cold outside.

That being said, “cold” is a bit of a too general term here – what i mean by that in particular is below freezing temperatures.

The colder the better, really. I find wood splits even easier when it gets down to the teens and lower.

Why is that true

Well, we all heard that water expands when it freezes, right?

So in case of wood, the moisture inside does the exact same thing; this makes the fibers more rigid, hence the ease of splitting.

This theory of mine becomes even more apparent when working on the stringier stuff, like the elm.

It may be an absolute hell to deal with in the middle of the summer, but if you wait long enough until the real winter, you’ll be surprised to find it a ton easier to work with.

Seriously – it’ll feel like entirely different species of wood!

For best results, i really suggest waiting for the coldest weather possible. Don’t blame me that your kind of elm won’t get easy – you may need to wait longer for the wood to freeze up properly to the core.

What about my kind of wood?

Just that elm splits easier during those freezes, doesn’t mean the same will hold true for what you got.

Perhaps the oak you got is as easy as it’ll get in an area you live, regardless if it is spring or winter; waiting for the cold may also make it even harder to pop apart.

Sadly, it is hard for me to tell what exact tree species are better to be left off for the cold, as a lot has to do with the place it had grown in.

Let me tell you this – if you have time to postpone the process, sure, leave what you got for the cold. If you are behind the firewood preparation, try your best to deal with the wood right away.

A good quality hydraulic log splitter can deal with even the knottiest rounds, so there’s that.

Bonus reason why splitting in the cold is better

This is more of a personal opinion than anything, but man, isn’t it so much more comfortable to work up a sweat when it is chilly outside?

No bugs, no blinding sunshine – just you, your tool and the rounds. It can’t get any better!

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  1. Thanks, Julius. I love your article. Useful information. Also, I can relate to the fun you have in the winter—no ticks, no sweat! (Thanks to the Man seated on a throne up above!)

  2. It’s minus 27 today, and I was having a tough time with my seasoned firewood only a week ago. Today it flies apart so easily it’s almost comical. I feel like I’m splitting balsa wood.

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