Kiln Dried Firewood Why Its Best
Today, there are 4 major energy sources that we use in heating our homes and that is with electricity, natural gas, boilers and the furnaces where the use of firewood particularly kiln dried firewood is the best. In most cities, electricity is the most common source in generating heat and the next alternatives are boilers and natural gas. However, in many suburban and rural areas where wood is easy to access, firewood is most preferred due to economic and practical reasons. If you are one of those who use firewood for many years, you have probably compared how air-dried and firewood kiln dried burn and how they fare in comparison when it comes to giving out heat. And you have probably noticed that the kiln dried firewood burns more efficiently and gives out better heat than air-dried. Why is this so? Because kiln-dried woods are adequately dried using the kilning process.
There are two common types of drying firewood. First is “air drying” or what they call “firewood seasoning” in which the cut firewood is stacked and let them dry out outdoors until they are ready for storage. The other method is kiln drying. Kiln drying is the process of drying the wood inside chambers using different ways of heating until it reaches its lowest moisture content and is able to be stored inside storage areas.
Firewood Kiln Dried Vs Air-Dried Firewood
Air-drying is the most economical form of drying firewood. The only problem with this method is it takes time for the wood to reach its dried state that is ideal for furnace burning. So if you are preparing to use your firewood for the cold days, you need to prepare your firewood a few months before the cold weather reaches you. Added to this, the air-drying of firewood have many disadvantages. First, depending on the wood, hardwoods take time to dry. And sometimes when you need it and burn it, it produces a lot of smoke and burns inefficiently. This means that the ideal dry state of the wood has not been reached. Softwoods, on the other hand, can dry faster. The only problem is you got to use a lot of it to keep you well served with its heat throughout the season. Another problem with air-drying is that long-time air drying may also invite wood-eating insects to live within the stacked firewood such as termites and powderpost beetles. These wood-eating insects can be introduced inside your homes or shed when you stack up the firewood for storage. And you know well that termites and the powderpost beetles can destroy any wood on their path. Kilning, however, is the best wood drying process in most people’s opinion. Although you may have to buy kiln dried firewood if you don’t have your own drying chamber, the benefits of using these woods are vast. But what is kiln drying and the advantages it offers?
What Is Kiln Drying?
Kiln Drying is the process of drying wood inside chambers. Inside these chambers, air circulates while the humidity and temperature are being monitored until the desired moisture content of the wood is obtained. Before wood can reach the state of ideal kiln dried firewood the process of drying usually takes about 3 to 6 days based on the type of kiln being used and the type of wood being dried. Kilning firewood is a bit different from kilning logs and lumber. With kilning firewood, large steel baskets made of mesh steel are filled with firewood. These baskets allow airflow to circulate. Forklifts will then lift these baskets and put them inside the kilns. These kilns are much like giant ovens with huge fans to help circulate hot air. When the firewood reaches its optimum drying state, forklifts will again take the baskets out and the firewood are tied in bundles or stacked in cords. A cord is a measurement of dry wood volume and measured 3.62 cubic meters. These firewood kiln dried are now ready for selling. There are 3 different types of kilning methods and these are the boiler system, conventional kilning using steaming and the dehumidification process which uses electricity to power compressors to recycle heat inside the kiln. The boiler system is considered the most economical because you can use scrap firewood to heat the boilers. As the hot air circulates with the help of the fans throughout the wood, this hot air reduces the moisture content of the wood while the humid hot air escapes into the vent.
Kiln Dried Firewood Benefits
Seasoning or air-drying of firewood takes about 6 months to a year or even up to 2 years if your area has short sunny days. That is why kilning firewood is better in drying wood because it only takes 3 to 6 days to complete the drying cycle. And no argument about using kiln-dried firewood can offer more benefits than the air-dried or seasoned firewood when it comes to home heating. Other benefits of using kiln dried firewood are as follows: Kiln dried firewood is very easy to light and doesn’t release smoke smell even when burned indoors.
The dried firewood only has about 15%-20% moisture content which is perfect for burning on furnaces to provide adequate heat to homes. It can give out hotter and brighter flames while it can combust thoroughly.
Pests are not likely to get attracted to kiln dry firewood because these can taste bland to them. The wood structure of the kilned firewood also tends to get harder because of the dryness which also makes the wood more difficult for the insects to burrow through.Safe to store inside your home and you won’t worry it will collect molds and attract insects as long as there’s no humidity near it. It is also ideal for outdoor storage though you have to keep it off the ground and cover it with breathable material.
Firewood kiln dried burns much longer with almost no smoke.
More economical than paying for electricity and gas for heating.
Almost no soot or build-up of tar on the furnace which often occurs due to sap from bark and wood from air-dried firewood.
Are There any Disadvantages Using Kiln Dried Firewood?
The usual question we received is: Are there any disadvantages in using firewood kiln dried? We see only a few. One is that you have to buy it with a good amount of cash. Because kilned dry firewood has undergone several drying processes and the drying companies have spent money on either electricity or wood for the boiler, these costs are put on every piece of firewood you buy. The second issue with kiln dried firewood is that because the wood gets overly dry due to high exposure to heat, this can cause the wood to burn faster and lose its natural flavor even if the wood is from the hardwood type. This is where the air-dried or seasoned firewood has an advantage if you want to use firewood for roasting meat or barbecuing. Essentially, when you barbecue meat or roasting meat in a pit, you still want to have that smoked taste from natural wood to mix onto the meat.
The most popular type of trees for firewood sources that our parents used for cooking like barbecuing, roasting and smoking meat are the alder, oak, hickory, pecan, apple, cherry, peach and pear. These wood types can give out smoke that can provide meat that sweet and strong flavor to the meat and make the food more desirable to eat especially while outdoors. But with kiln dried firewood, most of these flavors on wood tend to diminish or are lost. So as we see, kiln dried firewood is generally best basically for heating and powering up plants with boilers.
Now that you know the advantages and disadvantages of using kiln dried firewood, let us tell you how to keep your firewood dry during storage.
How to Keep Kiln Dried Firewood Always Dry
So you want to store kiln dried firewood but want to keep it dry always? Well, the best thing to do is to look for a storage spot with a very low humidity environment. Remember that these woods are almost completely dry. And any organic material that previously has water in it and gets dried tends to absorb moisture again. So if you want to keep your firewood in your garage or basement and retain its dryness, you should keep it properly ventilated but away from damp to prevent heat buildup which can run the risk of fire. You must also cover your stack with breathable material to protect it from contamination especially from flying wood-eating insects. We don’t recommend plastic covers such as tarpaulin or polyethylene because these tend to form moisture even when covering dry materials. And if you want to store your kiln dried firewood outdoors, you still have to keep it inside walled storage to keep moisture from getting in. The storage room should also have vented sides to allow air circulation and prevent molds from growing. Another precaution is to avoid stacking the wood tightly and do not let it touch the wall because air needs to circulate also on its rear. Stack the firewood kiln dried nicely and never in a heap. If the cement or ground is cold or damp, put a barrier on the ground before building up the heap. You can also DIY your “log store” from the timber you cut with your chainsaw to keep your kiln dried firewood well-stocked and aerated. Install roofing to your storage shed to prevent rain from going in and secure the storage with a door. Nevertheless, avoid building your log store under the trees because trees can decrease the circulation of air while it can also attract many kinds of insects.
Building Log Cabins With Kiln Dried Wood
The use of kiln dried wood today has also made a great leap in the construction of log cabins and many cabin builders are now offering the use of their kiln dried lumber and logs to preserve their creations for a long time. Pines and cedars are the most common types of wood that log cabin builders prefer and these are also the best choice when it comes to furniture-making.
For those who want to build their log cabins, we suggest you prefer the kiln dried wood because you can be assured that these wood or lumber have been properly dried which decreases the possibility of your cabin shrinking and parts of it warping. So here are some of the advantages of using kiln dried logs and lumber.
Generally, wood drying companies are decreasing the moisture content of their lumber and logs to up to 20% to prevent these wood from warping and shrinking once installed.
These companies also increase air temperature inside the heating chambers to up to 133 degrees which not only dries up the wood but also stabilizes it. So the logs that come to you are already preshrunk and far from deforming.
The same with the firewood kiln dried, kiln dried logs and lumber have no insects and organisms making these wood to last longer. However, wood treatment is still necessary to prevent crawling and flying insects to attack the wood once these are built into cabins and furniture.
With kiln drying, the sap of the logs gets crystallized which makes the fiber of the wood become more compact and reduces the chances of moisture retention even if the wood gets wet in the rain.
Types of Wood Kilning Process for Logs and Timber
Other than the use of boilers with kilns for wood drying, here are how the conventional and dehumidification kilns operate and do their drying process.
These kilns have installed pipes inside the chambers and inside these pipes is a hot steam that radiates heat into the wood. The wood then releases its water content which is converted into vapor through evaporation and this vapor is discharged along with the hot air from the pipes. Hot damp air then goes out of the vent. This process is a bit expensive than using the dehumidification process as large amount of energy from gas is required.
Drying happens by the continuous recycling of heat inside the kiln. As the coils inside the chambers are heated up, the moisture that comes out of the wood is condensed and recycled to produce more heat. Electricity is generally used with the dehumidification process and this can be seen as more expensive than using gas which the conventional kilns require. However, the dehumidification process is more environment-friendly.
The benefits of using kiln dried firewood are a lot when it comes to using it for furnace, oven, or any other indoor cooking or heating. Moreover, some outdoor enthusiasts prefer seasoned firewood especially those who want to use the fire for cooking. So the point of choosing between the firewood kiln-dried and seasoned firewood depends on where you want to use it but generally, kiln dried firewood is better preferred for indoor burning.
Drying kilns have also contributed a lot to the log cabin building industry and many people who want to build their homes near or into the woods are beginning to realize the benefits of using kiln-dried lumber and logs as these wood have become superior in quality and ideal as building materials.
For our next blog, we will tackle the use of elm as firewood. Why the elm? Because elm trees are almost endemic in many countries with varying seasons. It gives out a lasting heat and can burn slowly which many homeowners need.