Seasoning and Storing Firewood

If you have taken advantage of our part-seasoned logs, available in the summer months, here is the lowdown on how to store them properly for good seasoning so you can rely on warm bright fires throughout the winter.

Log Store Location

  • Large exterior Log Stores made to order in GloucestershireThink about the location before you start. Where will your logs be dropped on delivery? How will you get them to the log store, and thence to the woodburner when they are fully seasoned? (TIP: Bear in mind the delivery stage is when you have to haul lots of logs in one go, and part-seasoned logs will be heavier as they still have a relatively high moisture content. Of course, when they are seasoned, you will have to make lots of trips from the log store to the house, so consider which is your greater chore)
  • The location should be airy – this is actually more important than having lots of sunshine, although that will also definitely help (TIP: Drying firewood is just like drying washing. Washing dries quickest in a sunny place on a windy day, pegged out so the air gets round every item).

Air Must Circulate!

  • Once you have chosen the right place, make sure your logs will be off the ground – use a palette, or some planks to make sure there is air circulation underneath the logs
  • The log store needs to be protected from rain. However, you will need to ensure air still circulates while seasoning – wood will rot and go mouldy if you keep it completely covered with a plastic tarpaulin, for example.
  • Short split lengths dry quickest – they dry from the ends inwards and the more surface area is exposed, the quicker the drying process.
  • Stack the logs in rows with gaps between – so air can circulate.

Log Stacking

Air circulation is really important for good log storage, so stacking skills will come in handy as well as just having a dry place to put them.

Here is an example from one of customers. Richard from Schimmer Child makes beautiful wooden buildings so it figures that he had a lovely stack.

Craftily stacked logs in Gloucestershire










And here is a video from our YouTube playlist on log storage:

How long do I need to season my logs?

Well that’s tricky to say with any certainty because it depends on…..

  • the weather
  • the size of your logs
  • the type of wood (dense hardwoods take longer to dry than softwood)
  • the location and design of your log store (in a sunny place? lots of ventilation?)
  • when the tree was felled (trees felled in Winter have less moisture than, for example, in Spring when the sap is rising and the tree is growing)

How To Tell When Your Wood is Well Seasoned

These signs can indicate that your wood is ready to burn.

  • The bark, if present, will be peeling off easily
  • Splits or cracks appear in the ends, which have darkened
  • The logs feel relatively light
  • There is a clear bright “clack” when two logs are knocked together, NOT a dull “clunk”.
  • A moisture meter shows a maximum average 20% moisture (find the average by splitting a log in half and taking 3 readings; 2 on the inside split face, one on the external face. Add them up and divide by 3). The lower the better when it comes to burning efficiency – 15-20% is ideal as specified by many stove manufacturers.

By contrast, green wood is very heavy, the ends look fresh, feel wet and the logs makes a duller “thud” when struck together.

Assuming your wood is beautifully dried you can now enjoy the rewards of your hard and patient work! You can move your dry wood indoors to ensure it stays in excellent condition through winter. If this has put you off however, when you order from Elcombe, you can opt to have our delivery driver stack your logs for you.

Ash – “you can burn it green”


Some folk tales have got a lot to answer for. You’ve probably come across the old rhyme saying which firewoods are best which includes the lines:

“But ash dry or ash green, Makes a fire fit for a queen”

Ash, when freshly felled, has a typical moisture content of 35%. This is probably the lowest naturally occurring moisture content of any UK hardwood, many of which are 50% or more. So Ash does take less time to season and, if you try hard enough, you can probably get it to burn when green. But that doesn’t mean you should! Ash is no different from any other firewood; for optimum combustion performance it should have a moisture content between 12% and 20%.

So our best advice is to ignore that old rhyme. The best firewood is simply ANY untreated wood with a low moisture content.

Further Reading

  • Norwegian Wood: Chopping, Stacking and Drying Wood the Scandinavian Way by Lars Mitting
  • The Wood Fire Handbook by Vincent Thurkettle
  • Stacking Wood by Mimi Lipton and Thorsten Düser (this is not an instructional book, but a poetic study of wood stacks made by Austrian farmers)
  • All available from your local bookshops!