Burning wood as a source of heat and fuel during the winter months can not only save you money by decreasing your utility bill (or oil expenses), but it will also give you a steadier source of heat for those bitterly cold nights.
Seasoned, dried wood is your best bet when it comes to burning wood for heat and fuel during the winter, but did you know that more people are turning to kiln-dried firewood to meet their needs? So, what is kiln dried firewood, and is it worth it? Does it have many advantages that outweigh the disadvantages, or it is the opposite way around? Let’s find out together!
What Kiln-Dried Firewood Is
One of the drawbacks of using fireplaces or wood furnaces is to be the supply of wood that is needed. You can’t really burn wet wood as it tends to smoke and smolder instead of burning cleanly. Wet wood can also cause clogging in your chimney due to creosote, which is one of the leading causes of chimney fires – and nobody wants to deal with that during the warm months of the year, let alone the cold ones.
A kiln is a large oven that has a controlled air circulation atmosphere, controlled temperatures, and controlled humidity. Some smaller kilns are used in the drying of craft projects, such as ceramics, to remove all the moisture from the material. Firewood that is kiln-dried has been processed in a kiln to remove moisture.
How It’s Made
Wood kilns work by using air circulation, high temperatures, and low to moderate humidity to remove all the moisture from the wood in a shorter period of time. Wood that is kiln-dried has a lower chance of warping, splitting, or cracking before it makes it into the furnace, which allows for a cleaner burn.
How Kiln-Dried Firewood Differs from Seasoned and Dried Wood
Seasoned and semi-seasoned wood is generally stacked in tiers and left outside to cure in the natural sunlight and wind. Many homeowners who use wood heat cut and split this wood themselves, though not often with an ax as is often shown in movies. Commonly used tools are chainsaws and, for large quantities or industrial applications, a log-splitter. The warm temperatures and sun will remove all the moisture from the wood, so it is dry by the time the winter months come around. Drying wood in this manner has been done for generations but it is very important to get it stacked in time for the drying season or you will run the risk of burning wet wood. The wood should also be covered with a tarp to prevent the wood you are drying from absorbing rainwater. A tarp or covering will also protect the bark of the wood, as this is what catches fire first when starting a fire in the fireplace.
Kiln-dried wood only takes approximately three to six days to fully dry; making it available for usage at a faster pace than the traditional method. Kiln-dried wood can be ready to use even during the winter months, as long as you have a kiln big enough to dry larger amounts of wood. If you are planning to use wood as your main source of fuel and heat; then perhaps investing in a kiln to dry the wood will be a good idea unless you plan on purchasing your wood already kiln dried!
What are the Prices?
The cost always differs depending on your location. In my area, if you want a load or a cord of regular firewood delivered to your home, it’s about $300. But if you want to upgrade to kiln-dried, it’s about double that cost.
The Advantages of Kiln-Dried Firewood
- Will burn for longer periods of time when compared to traditionally dried logs.
- Will burn slower than outdoor-dried wood, allowing for a larger buildup of heat.
- You are able to close the vents of your wood furnace or fireplace to a closed position, which allows for longer burning time. This also reduces the amount of smoke in the air from burning wood.
- Hardwood logs can be kiln-dried which also burn longer (and hotter) than softwood species.
- The high temperatures used in the drying of the wood can kill bacteria, fungus and mold, insects, and larvae that otherwise can set up home within the logs. These insects are then transported into the home once the wood is stored inside for the winter.
- The lack of moisture makes the wood lighter to carry, allowing for easy moving of the logs.
The Drawbacks of Kiln-Dried Firewood
- Whether you purchase a kiln or the kiln dried firewood, you have to be prepared to spend a larger amount of money than you would spend for traditional air-dried wood.
- Unless you have a wood furnace that features a temperature control gauge, you might find that your home is building up too much heat which can dry out the interior, reduce the humidity to dangerously low levels, and even create fire hazards due to the longer burning time of kiln-dried wood.
- Will start to absorb moisture again once the wood has been exposed to the air due to the relative humidity of the storage space (indoors or outdoors).
As we’ve now discovered, kiln-dried firewood definitely has its advantages and disadvantages, but those pros outweigh the cons. It is important to determine how much wood you will need for the fall, winter, and spring months to narrow down what type of wood is the most beneficial for you to burn. If you have an overstock of seasoned, dried wood that has cured naturally in the sunlight, then you don’t need to turn to kiln-dried wood unless you choose to. But if you are needing your winter wood and fast, then kiln-dried wood is there to help!
Make the decision based on your needs for your fireplace or wood furnace and you can even have wood that is dried by both methods to ensure a steady supply of heat during those cold nights. After all, what is nicer than curling up in front of a roaring fireplace, mug of hot cocoa in your hand, while the winter rages outside? Not much!