Burning Green Unseasoned Firewood

Last Updated on February 22, 2022 by Grow with Bovees

What Is Green Wood?

Green wood, also known as unseasoned wood, is wood that has recently been chopped down and has not had the chance to dry out yet, and contains excess water.

This type of wood has a higher moisture content and is much wetter than seasoned firewood.

We will now discuss what wood burns best and why burning unseasoned firewood is probably not the best option.  

How Do I Identify Unseasoned Wood?

There are several noticeable differences between seasoned wood or dry wood and a piece of wood that is green or unseasoned.

Try these different methods or test to see if you wood pieces are still green:

Wood Color

Unseasoned wood still has a fairly high moisture level, so it will still look quite alive and vibrant. If you remove a small piece of its bark, you will feel damp wood under it, it might even feel slightly cold to touch. Dry wood will lose it’s color fairly quickly and the presence of moisture to touch will have disappeared.  

Weight of The Wood

Unseasoned firewood is usually not as light as seasoned firewood. The water content of the wood contributes to about 75% of its weight. Once seasoned, after most of the water has evaporated, there will be a noticeable difference in weight and a 10 to 20 percent moisture content is the norm.

Harder and Denser

Chopping or splitting unseasoned wood is much less difficult in comparison to unseasoned firewood. The moisture level keeps the wood fibers soft making it optimal to split wood before it dries out. Sappy wood like cedar or pine however, does not fall under this rule, wood species that have a high sap content are generally wetter, even after seasoning.

Loose Bark

Green wood will always still have a strongly attached bark to it, removing it by hand will seem almost impossible. If you use a buck knife or ax to wound the bark and split it off, you will be able to feel moist wood. Seasoned firewood logs will have almost no intact moisture inside of them, making the bark loose and easy to remove by hand.

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Cracks on Seasoned Wood

Unseasoned wood will probably not have any cracks in it, unless damaged. The actual wood fiber is wet and therefore keeps the wood from splitting naturally. Air-dried (“Seasoned”) wood dries out from the center of the wood pieces and evaporates first, cracks will usually extend from the middle, outward to the ends.

Sound When Knocking

Green firewood is very dense and has a high water content, which means that striking it will make a very dull, dampened sound.  Such a sound indicates that the wood is still soft and not seasoned. An unseasoned piece of wood will become bruised and dented when struck with a hard piece of metal or an ax. rather than pieces of wood chipping off.

There are several other methods that adopt a more scientific approach in finding out what percentage of water is contained in wood.

However, any experienced firewood dealer will be able to tell from experience and by using some of the above methods to determine if their pieces of wood will be sufficiently dry.

So, when in doubt, buy firewood from a dealer.

Is Burning Unseasoned Wood Dangerous?

Unseasoned wood is inefficient as a fuel option and can be a waste of money if it isn’t properly dried.

When you burn unseasoned wood, it gives off lower temperatures because of the water vapor oozing out of it. If you burn green wood, you will usually need about double the amount of it for the same result. Green firewood will pop more than seasoned wood.

It will also usually release much larger clouds of smoke. This smoke will cause any chimney wall to become black and could cause a potential chimney fire. Time and mind between chimney sweeps will become more regular if you want to avoid a fire hazard.  

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Besides the effects of burning unseasoned wood in your fire pit or wood stove, the more dangerous angle is probably how it can harm your lung health.

Large amounts of smoke drastically decrease air quality in the surrounding vicinity. This will be to the immediate detriment to people with pre-existing lung conditions and asthma.

Heavy coughing and difficulty breathing, will also become an issue. Burning seasoned wood that was part of a good drying process, produces a lot less smoke.  

Drying your firewood and making sure the percentage of water in your wood is fairly low is definitely advisable.

Burning unseasoned firewood is usually not advisable, based on what is said above. If it is too difficult to naturally forage for firewood or there is a shortage of firewood, contacting the local firewood supplier is the better alternative. Hardware stores also typically stock well – seasoned wood.

An accredited firewood seller will usually have good, kiln-dried firewood.

If you have absolutely no other choice, because you are heating with wood, then you can burn unseasoned wood, as long as you are using an outdoor wood stove.

Burning wood outside will ensure good ventilation and prevent the build up of creosote inside the chimney, which is flammable.  

Seasoning Firewood Efficiently.

  • Use the right wood

Not all wood is equally good or easy to season. Softwoods such as cedar and pine firewood will take about six months to season, whereas hardwoods like oak need as long as 12 months under the right conditions.

Some may take up to two years. So depending on how much space and time you have to season, choose the right wood to get your firewood dry on time.

  • Timely preparation  
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Make sure you prepare your seasoning cycle so that you are ready to burn your wood in winter. The best time of year would be in summer, as temperatures are high, and the wood will dry out faster.

  • Cutting, splitting and sizing

This process is usually easiest when done with a splitting maul or axe, and when your wood is still wet, as the wood is much softer. Make sure that all your logs are about the same size. This makes it much easier to stack the wood. A good size is about 15 to 16 inches long. Your wood will then fit easily into most stoves and will be stackable nicely on firewood carts and log racks that are smaller. Splitting your logs into quarters is the norm.

  •  Storage outside

Outside is the best place to season your wood, as it has more sunlight to dry it out. If you have a lot of rain, a barn will do, if the air flow is adequate.

  • Get the stack right

If you stack your wood properly when stacking your rick of firewood, seasoning will be accelerated.

Protect your stack from ground moisture by putting down a tarp and keeping your firewood on pallets. Make sure your wood stack gets plenty of sunlight and fresh air.

  • Cover up

When it’s raining or snowing, keep your wood covered with a tarp.

Conclusion

You are much better off waiting for your wood to be properly dry and seasoned than burning unseasoned firewood.

Much of the energy from burning unseasoned wood goes to waste in producing steam and smoke due to the high moisture content. So, be patient!