Will Firewood Dry In a Pile?

As if all that cutting, bucking and splitting wasn’t time consuming enough, now you also have to stack all that wood.

For those who time is more important (or they are just tired of doing so), the thought of not stacking the pieces at all comes to mind often, and why not?

We all have seen those piles used by, perhaps, our close neighbors or other people. If the firewood wasn’t properly dried, there’s no way people would be leaving them in piles like that, right?

Slower, but possible

Yes, firewood can indeed dry, season or in short, get ready for burning even if you throw it all randomly in a pile.

BUT… there are some issues and things you have to keep in mind when going for this solution.

To start with, it is going to take a lot longer for the wood to season this way. This is because the firewood isn’t actually stacked.

There’s no way for the sun, wind and all of the actual drying elements to reach the wood nicely. Sure, the pieces that are actually exposed will dry the soonest, but forget about the same for the ones that are buried deep.

That buried firewood can even start to rot, develop fungus or dry very little at all. With this in mind, you should always try placing some kind of platform underneath, like pallets, to prevent the wood from going in contact with the ground.

At the end of the day, how well can a pile of wood dry in your instance has most to do with where you live. That’s why it is such a controversial topic – you can ask the same question two different folks living in separate locations, and they’re definitely going to give you a different answer.

If it’s one of them drier and hotter climates, leaving the wood to season in a pile shouldn’t be an issue, but if you live in, for example, the Northeastern parts of the U.S., i suggest sticking to the classic stacks (even if your neighbor says the opposite).

*If you will indeed go for the piling technique, try to make a longer row instead of a big fat one. This will help speed up the seasoning process.

What is my personal take on this

I always stack, and probably will the firewood i prepare for as long as i can. Seriously, it just breaks my heart to see a pile of unorganized, ugly looking pile of wood; i can’t leave it like that.

I try to stick to the common two row stack, if possible, for the best drying properties. The holzhausen may also come up, but i don’t find it working as well, when it comes to seasoning, that is.

I can see how someone would simply get tired, or find little to no benefit in neatly stacking all the wood they process, especially so if they have a business to run. But if we’re talking about what is more important for the common homeowner, i don’t see how not stacking can be any better.

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  1. Hi I have my hands on some big pine logs that have been sitting outside all summer. (has been a very dry summer here in NZ)
    Can I cut and split them to be burned straight away? Or will they also need to sit and dry as cut pieces.

    1. Wood rounds (logs) don’t season much as they are, even if they had been sitting for that many months.

      You have to split and stack them for at least half a year (for pine) to get dry. Granted, it might take some less time, considering the rounds had been out in the open already.

      Best thing is to always have a moisture meter at hand, so there wouldn’t be any guessing.

    2. Any wood in log lengths will not be thoroughly seasoned until it’s cut and split and left to dry in that condition for at no least 60 days. Pine should be blended with a seasoned hardwood if burned in a typical wood appliance or fireplace and never choked back to smolder slowly though the night.

  2. Hi, We’ve just split a load of pine last weekend. It’s the start of Autumn here and I don’t want to leave it out over the winter. I have a bone dry wood shed with some vacant bays in it and I was planning on putting the wood in there. My question is should I stack it tightly in there as I normally do ( each bay is about 4 ft wide by 8 ft deep and 8ft high ) or should I throw it in randomly thereby allowing for more space between the logs, or should I stack it outside and move it next spring. The woodshed has a dry concrete floor, excellent ventilation and I can put it in a bay with a barred sunny window in it. Will it dry if I stack it in the shed? I was hoping that it would be ready for burning by about October. I’m in NZ. Thanks.

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