Firewood Drying Times By Species

Properly seasoned firewood is important if you want to use the wood with its full potential.

Issue is, there are many types of wood out there – it can be confusing to know exactly how long specific type of it dries for.

In this article i try my best to answer that question, and let you understand just how complex can the topic of firewood drying time by species can be.

The quick drying firewood

  • Cherry, which might take around 3.5 months
  • Rock elm, black locust, apple, pear, and other fruit woods and elms dry for at least 6 months.

The long drying firewood

  • Oak, which takes around 2 years to dry; hickory around the same time.

Wood seasoning time depending on its species is an extremely subjective topic. Every single homeowner has their own take on how long they dry the wood, even if it is of the same kind.

One of the most controversial types of firewood to season is oak. For some people it dries in two years, others swear they won’t even touch it until it sits down after being split and stacked for at least three years.

It all really depends on your location, as this is what usually dictates the drying times of your firewood.

Let’s say you live in the midwestern part of the United States, somewhere in Michigan. The oak in that area might take about two years to season.

Now if you was to live in Arizona, that same type of firewood might take only a year to season, and even then it purely depends on the consistency of the weather. (There might not be many folks who heat their houses, let alone with firewood in Arizona, but you get the gist).

There’s really no resource online, no calculator that can tell you exactly how long does a specific type of wood takes to season, because there are just too many variables at play.

What you can do no matter where you live or the type of firewood you have is properly season it.

If you want your firewood to dry as quick as possible, make sure to at least buck the logs before leaving them outside even for a slight period of time.

Firewood dries from the ends, not from the bark, so more exposed ends equal to a quicker drying time. Even if your wood stove, fireplace or a furnace supports firewood larger than 16 inches (41 cm) in length, i would still highly suggest sticking to that size, as it means you can make more pieces of firewood, which in turn make it dry quicker.

Once you are ready to stack the firewood, make sure to do so in the most sunny side of your property, as constant sunlight directed towards your wood stack will make it dry even better.

Take into consideration proper ventilation – as you stack the firewood, make sure to leave openings in between to let the airflow pass through so that everything inside dries quicker.

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  1. theres a guy selling madrona here in washington, who says the wood is ready to burn. I asked him how long ago was the wood split. he said he split the madrona 2 weeks ago, and that it was a dead tree. he is lieing Im sure. but would love an answer from someone who knows more about this.

    1. Oh, he is most certainly lying.

      There is no way in world firewood will get ready for burning after being split just for 2 weeks, even if it had been dead for a long time.

      And considering it is a hardwood, it will most likely need to dry for another half a year in stacks, if not longer.

      1. White Ash is an exception to this observation. The borer beetle killed it all off here in the East TN and much has fallen. Great fire wood even if punky. Shuns water. I’ve cut dead standing Ash in the fall that I call “porch wood”…cut, put it on the porch and burn it…and it burns good. If damp let it set for a couple weeks…and burns good. If water logged (on the ground) the water seems to inhibit the fungus (often the health food Turkey Tail) and preserve the wood which remains hard but is wet so if you stack that it will be ready in around 6 months which is what I have found with other dead and down trees.

      2. Not true. We have lots of dead ash trees in Michigan from the borer.

        Some I cut and tested with a moisture meter were already under 20%. I have found that to be the case for multiple trees.

    2. dead tree cut up takes 1 year or longer to season and dry
      to be ready to burn in fireplace or wood stove

      their is water in live and deads trees

  2. When we lived in Coupe ille Washington I had a chance to cut split and stack Madeona wood for burning. Incredibly hot burning wood. We had it drying for nearly two years. It is very dense and heavy when cut, easy to split when fresh cut – hard as nails when dried and much lighter. Think of it like willow or apple – in terms of wet weight. If it is lightweight and brown it is ready to burn

  3. I live in Washington. We have a ton of Alders come down every winter. What is your opinion of Alder wood for the wood stove. And, how long should split alder be seasoned before use? Thank you….Bob

    1. Hey there Bob,

      Alder is certainly not the best firewood out there, but it still does the job.

      You can use it all season long if you want to, but many folks who burn wood like to utilize it in particular during the “shoulder season” – when you don’t want too hot of a fire; when, for example, Douglas Fir would bring too much heat.

      The wood should be split and stacked during the first months of spring, as it should be ready for burning once the cold rolls around.

  4. I just got done racking a grapple load of red oak that I bucked and split last year. I usually cover my stacks with canvas tarps but I’ll see if I have enough for it all. I’m building a pole shed in the back yard and I want to put a lean on it for my stacks. That’ll be nice when it’s done. I won’t need any of the oak for two more years so it should be good by then I hope and some of it will season for 5 or more years. I’m splitting some scrounge elm now (with a 37 ton splitter) but some of it’s a bit punky but I’ll burn it anyways. I’ll see if it burns ok this fall. I live in NW Wisconsin and I love wood heat. I use a Drolet wood stove. The dogs like it too lol. They park themselves in front of it all winter long.

    1. Steve with gas and oil so cheap it is a little lower this year. I sell oak,ash and maple a 6ft bed $90 8ft bed $100 a cord $250 you need to make sure the beds are not deep if they are you need to raise the price another thing is make sure the wood your selling is dry,moisture content under 20% if it is higher hard to burn and also creates creosote all the wood I sell sits at least 1 year oak longer.

  5. I understand that the goal for proper seasoning is to get the moisture below 20%. And of course there are moisture meters to help do that ….Could you talk about moisture meters ,their design and proper use . Thank you Julius

  6. A friend of mine is & has been cutting up lengths of all types of OAK & some locust at around 14 to 18 inches long. chainsaw length. When he gets it all done in 2 to 4 weeks, WILL ALL OF IT be ready to burn in a wood stove come NOVEMBER 2021 ? He is not splitting any of it as they are ALL ROUNDS & now more than 8 inches wide in diameter ? Some of it are very small rounds 3 inches to 2.

    1. Oak, split and stacked in good conditions, generally takes up to 2 years to dry.

      There is just no way the oak (or locust for that matter) your buddy is dealing with will be dry by the upcoming November, especially so considering that all of the firewood is in rounds.

      And yes, the rounds don’t seem too large, but if I was dealing with stuff of that diameter, I would still halve them, especially so considering it’s mainly oak.

  7. I am in Hawaii and strawberry guava is a popular firewood here. I haven’t been able to find out a curing time. It is invasive and a nuisance to the native habitat etc etc, so have been clearing it all from my property. Any idea on a cure time? I was guessing it to be like a fruit tree, but it reminds me of madrone. I know humidity is a factor here. I’m cutting it into 12” logs and stacking in a dry place off the ground (rains a lot). Any guess would be helpful so I know how much firewood I still have to buy (yes it gets cold where I live. Hawaii has 9 of the 12 worlds climates from snow to desert and rainforest).

    1. Will it season? Yes.

      Is it going to be quicker than outside? I don’t think so.

      For wood to dry as quick as it can, it has to be stacked outside properly. That is, away from buildings, in long rows that are spaced with a bit of breathing room, in a sunniest spot on your property.

      But it’s really not the speed of drying that’s the problem with keeping wood in the garage, it’s the pests.

      I really wouldn’t want to keep any kind of firewood inside of any of my buildings, especially if it’s wood that’s not seasoned to begin with.

  8. An older guy I knew and respected would buy his oak wood green and season it in his garage. He felt like he had control over the whole process, and also it definitely kept the wood from getting, in his words, “buggy”.

  9. Can I use conifer wood for burning on my stove? I’m told the resin will coat up my chimney and be a future fire hazard. If so, can it be seasoned for longer and then burned? for how long?

    1. It is just an old wives’ tale. You have to season it properly and it won’t do any harm, just like any other kind of firewood.

      The people who run into problems burning pine are those who burn wood that is not dry enough, simple as that.

      It normally takes softwood 1 year to dry. Though it can do so quicker if you stack it the right way. I suggest reading this blog post that goes into detail.

  10. Here in KY one runs into a lot of locust and it is heavier and denser than oak. It is also frequently used for fence posts without treatment and lasts practicallly forever, while oak rots in 2-3 years with exposure. Are you saying that locust cures faster than oak? I’m not sure I believe it.

  11. I have A lot of small Live Oak trees. Mostly 16″ long and 2 to 3″ diameter. My question is is this small enough just to stack and not worrying about splitting. The larger ones from bottom of tree I can split, I think. 4 to 8″ Diameter? North West Flordia?

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