How to Choose the Right Type of Kiln Dried Firewood

What Is Kiln Dried Firewood?

If you have a fireplace or a stove, then you can use firewood as an energy source. There are significant differences between various types of firewood.

One common type of firewood used is kiln dried firewood. Kiln dried firewood refers to wood that has been dried using a kiln to reduce the moisture level in the wood so that it can burn sufficiently.

Fresh firewood is usually too wet for it to be used so it has to be dried for usage. Kiln dried firewood will typically be found as either kiln dried logs or kindlings.

Kindlings are small pieces of firewood whereas logs are the bigger ones. The former is great for starting a fire whereas the logs are what are used to sustain the fire.

You can purchase kiln dried firewood in bulk from a local supplier. You can also purchase a generic bag of kiln dried firewood from the store.

There are many benefits to using kiln dried firewood as opposed to seasoned firewood such as burning more efficiently and a cleaner fuel. Kiln drying of firewood takes much less time than air drying which can take up two years.

Knowing the benefits of kiln dried firewood is not enough. You have to know what to look for in kiln dried firewood,

The following are tips to help you choose kiln dried firewood:

Type of Wood

There are many types of wood that can be kiln dried and used for firewood whether in a fireplace or a stove. However, there are certain types of wood that are more commonly used as kiln dried firewood than others.

There are three main types of wood used to make kiln dried firewood. The wood comes from Ash, Oak or Birch trees. Each has its own advantages and disadvantages.

Dried ash has traditionally been the option that most consumers prefer for several reasons. The main reason is that it was the first tree species that was available for bulk kiln drying. It took some time for other types of wood to become available hence the prevalence of dried ash. It lights very quickly and has a very hot fire. Moreover, the fire burns for a very long time.

Kiln dried oak is denser than ash or birch. It is much coarser to the touch and produces a great aroma when burning. Due to the weight and density of oak, it takes longer to light than birch and ash but when the fire starts, it burns for longer and produces an incredible amount of heat. Because the logs are larger, kiln dried oak lasts longer than other woods.

The final type of wood is kiln dried birch. It has a flaky bark and lights very swiftly. Once it lights, kiln dried birch gets hot very fast because the logs are quite thin. Therefore, you need to reduce the intensity of the fire by closing the air vents of your stove. It is a very economical type of wood and great for use on a wide variety of stove types and sizes.

Size of Your Stove or Fireplace

You will probably use your firewood in a fireplace or a stove. Fireplaces and stoves are built and designed in various types and sizes. When choosing firewood for your stove or fireplace, you will have to consider the size of either.

The different types of wood, as seen above, have different sizes of logs. There are differences in length and thickness which will affect how they function.

If you have a small stove or fireplace, you should choose kiln dried firewood of the size that will adequately fit while also allowing for ventilation. Kiln dried birch is a great example in this regard.

With a bigger stove or fireplace, you can choose larger and thicker firewood. However, you should measure it to ensure that it can still fit in your stove or firewood. Kiln dried oak is the best choice for bigger stoves and fireplaces.

You can chop down the size of your firewood to suit your fireplace or stove. However, if you don’t want to go through the trouble, considering the size of your stove or fireplace beforehand is the best option.

Moisture Content

The main advantage that kiln dried firewood has over seasoned firewood is that the former has lower moisture content than the latter. The less moisture content firewood has, the easier it burns and has less issues when burning. Contrarily, it means that the firewood burns faster than if it had a higher moisture content.

On the other hand, that does not mean that all kiln dried firewood has the same moisture content. Therefore, it is crucial that you carefully evaluate the moisture level of kiln dried firewood of any kind before purchasing it.

The moisture content of firewood determines how much water needs to be turned into steam before the wood can start generating any heat. Moreover, burning wet firewood will eventually damage your stove and make them more inefficient.

The recommended moisture level for kiln dried firewood, or wood of any kind for that matter, is 15% to 20%. It ensures that the wood burns effectively without having a struggling fire. It also means that the wood does not burn too quickly making it inefficient.

Many prepackaged kiln dried firewood will have the moisture content stated on the label. However, if you are buying the wood from a local supplier and in bulk, you should measure the moisture content yourself.

You can measure the water content of the wood using a moisture meter. It is a device that you simply insert into a piece of firewood and it will tell you the moisture content.

Be sure to measure as many logs as possible because they may have varying degrees of moisture content. Therefore, if you want dried kiln firewood that burns brighter, hotter and lasts longer be sure to measure its moisture content.

Packaging

The manner in which the kiln dried firewood is packaged will matter a great deal. As stated above, there are prepackaged kiln dried kindlings and logs. However, when buying firewood from a local supplier, it may be packaged differently.

There are many ways to package kiln-dried firewood. If you visit https://www.buyfirewooddirect.co.uk/, you can see various ways in which kiln dried firewood is packaged. The packaging design will often depend on the supplier.

The packaging of the firewood will also depend on the manner of transportation. Most packaging is done to allow the firewood to be transported wherever it is needed even across vast distances.

The packaging of the firewood will affect the type of firewood you purchase. For example, there may be packages which only include one type of firewood. Others may include two and others maybe a mixture of all three types; dried ash, oak and birch.

Therefore, the type of firewood included in a package will also affect its price. The price of a package of mixed hardwoods for example will be higher than a package of only kiln dried ash.

Frequency of Use

The type of kiln dried firewood you use will also depend on how often you use it. So, you will have to ask yourself how often you use your stove or fireplace depending on which one you use.

Most people don’t use firewood for everyday cooking and heating purposes. Therefore, they may only use the stove to cook meat on the weekends and on holidays.

The same goes for using the fireplace. The majority of households will only use the fireplace during cold days which is typically during winter. If you live in a predominantly cold place, for example near the Arctic, you may need to use firewood more often than say in the tropics.

Thicker and denser kiln dried firewood such as kiln dried oak is a great alternative for frequent use. The reason is that it burns slower and generates a lot of heat hence it can be used for longer periods. Vice versa goes for thin and lighter kiln dried firewood.

It also matters what you are using the firewood for because it will affect the frequency of usage. Cooking is an activity that is often done daily so if you are using firewood to cook, you will need more of it as opposed to other activities such as drying and heating. 

Storage

Where you store your firewood will have a significant impact on the type of firewood you buy. It is especially so with dried kiln firewood which needs to have a certain moisture level for it to burn efficiently.

The recommended place to store dried kiln firewood is in a dry place where you can control the moisture levels. Inside a wood shed, garage or under an overhang are all great places to store your firewood. You can store the firewood outdoors under the proper conditions.

You should ensure that the storage space is well protected from rain, snow and surface water. The platform is the most crucial element in this regard as it can affect the moisture content of the dried kiln firewood. A concrete or ceramic platform that is easy to keep dry is ideal.

You should cover all the pieces of firewood to ensure that they remain dry. However, it is recommended by experts that you should leave at least one side uncovered to ensure that the sun and wind can help dry the firewood.

You should store the firewood in an easily accessible space that is easy to maintain and clean as well.

Wood Calorific Value (W.C.V)

The calorific value of wood refers to the amount of available heat per unit of fuel. There are three main factors affecting the calorific value of wood namely the species of the tree, wood density and moisture content.

The species of the tree from which the firewood is sourced mainly affects the moisture content. As we have seen above, the moisture content can have a significant impact on how the firewood burns. The species of the tree will also affect its resin content. Generally speaking, hardwoods are denser and have less resins than softwoods.

The density of the wood will also substantially affect its wood calorific value. Hardwood trees produce denser firewood than softwood trees. Dense firewood will burn for longer than less dense firewood.

Therefore, you will get more energy (kilowatt hours) from hardwood than from softwood per every cubic meter of firewood. Dense dried kiln firewood will have a higher W.C.V and are more efficient than less dense firewood. On the other hand, hardwood is harder to source and hence more expensive than softwood.

Of all the three variables affecting the calorific value of wood, moisture content is the most potent one. First, firewood with a higher moisture content means less fuel if you are buying it based on weight.

The moisture has to first evaporate before the wood can burn which uses some of the energy produced. Therefore, the net energy released by burning the fuel is reduced when the moisture content is high.

The importance of measuring the moisture content of dried kiln firewood cannot be overstated.

Rules and Regulations

There are rules and regulations governing the purchasing of firewood and other fuel sources in every country. In the UK, that is the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA).

You should ensure that you are apprised of every one that pertains to the firewood you intend to use which is dried kiln firewood in this case. The rules will also affect firewood suppliers hence affecting the type of firewood you can acquire.

You should follow the news for any new regulations that are produced and will affect your burning of firewood. It will help keep you away from paying fines or jail time as well as help make the environment safer from harmful elements.

There are many factors to consider when buying dried kiln firewood. The above list includes only a few but the most important ones.

The moisture content, the type of wood, how you store it, its packaging, the wood calorific value and the rules and regulations governing firewood acquisition and use are all important. If you can evaluate the above factors, you should buy the best firewood for your use.

There is much you can use dried kiln firewood for and you should use it as efficiently as possible. Ensure you increase your knowledge about firewood for the best results.

Cover photo by Taryn Elliott from Pexels

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