Table of Contents
Kiln-Dried vs Seasoned Firewood – Which Firewood is Best?
This is the age-old question, “Is seasoned firewood better than kiln dried firewood? Does seasoned wood burn better than kiln dried wood? Wood is an organic material is hygroscopic i.e. it absorbs moisture from its surroundings and retains it. For efficient heat production, cooking, or power production firewood needs to be sufficiently dry. Here’s what you need to know about kiln-dried vs seasoned firewood.
Seasoned firewood results from a natural drying process (so, essentially, it is air-dried) that can take up to 18 months. The idea is to remove as much moisture as possible to make the wood chop burn better. After all,
the excessive water in green firewood (the freshly chopped down piece of wood) makes it difficult to light. Additionally, burning that kind of wood produces a lot of smoke. Wood is also home to many living organisms as well. Firewood can contain bugs, fungus, moss, or mold. Burning it might result in damaging emissions or burn terribly due to rot.
So, air-drying a piece of wood before throwing it on the fire is an essential step to smooth the process. With seasoned firewood, characteristics such as the type of the wood (pine, oak, or others) will make a difference in the final “taste” of the fire. The key is finding the ideal seasoning time to avoid causing your piece of wood to decompose.
- Firewood that has been subjected to air-drying for prolonged periods is referred to as seasoned firewood. Freshly cut lumber or green firewood contains excessive content of moisture that prevents it from burning well. When you try to burn the wood that has not been sufficiently dried, it produces a lot of smoke, and the flames often fizzle quickly.
The process of air drying decreases the moisture content to a level that causes the wood to burn more easily. Because of this air drying or seasoning of wood is crucial before use.
While seasoned firewood results from a natural aire drying process, kiln-dried firewood is artificially dried by placing it in a lumber kiln. These are similar to big ovens built to remove the moisture inside of them. The firewood logs stay in to dry for about 3 to 5 days in our specialty firewood kilns to remove excessive moisture. Typical firewood kilns will dry chopped lumber in 4 to 6 days.
The kiln drying process is very effective and much faster to complete. After all, it usually takes less than a week for the wood to dry using this method. Plus, because of the possibility to exert control over the amount of water that gets removed, kiln-dried wood contains only the ideal moisture content (which is below 20%). For this reason, kiln-dried firewood weighs less and is generally less soft than air-dried logs.
- Kiln-drying is the process of drying green firewood in a kiln. Unlike seasoned wood which undergoes air drying, in kiln drying the process of drying is artificially replicated in a large kiln. The kilns used for drying firewood look like big ovens into which the chopped-up and stacked wood is loaded.
Inside the kiln, large fans are present that remove excess moisture from the wood by heating and drying the logs at the same time. It becomes easier to bring the moisture content of the firewood to an optimal level in a controlled environment of the kiln.
Kiln-Dried vs Seasoned Firewood
Now that you are familiar with the differences between these two types of wood, you might wonder: which one is better? As you may expect, the answer is: it depends. However, if we needed to be objective, it would be fair to state that kiln-dried is the better option. While the debate about kiln-dried firewood vs seasoned firewood has been going on for a long time (and it still is), keep reading this essential guide to make your mind up and decide for yourself which one is better.
- To find the best firewood to fuel your stove, it is important to have a good working knowledge of the different types of wood available and your preferences. Here are a few differences between seasoned wood and kiln-dried wood that will help you choose the best firewood.
Time Taken For Drying
To begin with, Kiln drying takes an exponentially less amount of time to dry. After all, while seasoned wood might take up to one-and-a-half to three years to air-dry, placing the logs in a kiln means getting ideal moisture content in less than a week. And while the time it takes the wood to dry might not sound like a crucial factor, you should know that the more it takes, the worse the potential quality.
Allowing the wood to air-dry increases the risks of having to solve problems from air drying. For instance, your wood might get infested with insects or mold, which can cause issues, especially if you plan to use the log inside for your home’s fireplace. Alternatively, it might get wet again, meaning more waiting time and cracks, making the fire less clean and the material a longer shelf life. if you’re in the firewood business, you hate long-shelf lives.
- Although both the processes do an admirable work at reducing the moisture content of the wood. But kiln drying works a lot faster than seasoned drying.
Seasoned woods takes over a year and a half to reduce the moisture content down to an ideal level. The artificial process of kiln drying on the other hand gets the wood ready for burning within just a few days. The winner in dry time is clear, kiln-dried firewood.
Why Does The Time Matter?
- A lot of factors can compromise the quality of the wood in the time it takes for seasoned wood to dry. For instance, if you have stored the wood outside for air drying, rain or storm could make it wet all over again. Moreover, there are increased chances of infestation with insects and mold.
Since kiln-dried wood becomes ready for use much more quickly it eliminates all these risks that come along with the waiting period. You can light an efficient and clean fire right away when the wood comes out of the kiln. This is a big reason people choose kiln-dried vs seasoned firewood.
Kiln-Dried vs Seasoned Firewood – Which One Burns Better?
Ideally, the perfect piece of wood for a fireplace should have less than 20% water content. Moisture levels above that limit the quality of the flames. And because seasoned wood doesn’t come from a controlled environment, knowing the amount of moisture a piece of wood contains when using that process isn’t a straightforward task. As we mentioned, several barriers (and things that might go wrong) come with this natural method. One of them is exposing the logs to more moisture.
Because of the control that characterized kiln-dried wood’s production, you can rest assured your logs contain less than 20% water. Plus, they are free of insects and mold. The result is a fire that lasts longer and lights easily (with less smoke). If you need to use wood for cooking, there is no better option than kiln-dried logs. Because of the hotter flames they make, you’ll be able to cook your food evenly. Plus, the absence of harmful smoke results in better-tasting food.
Kiln-Dried vs Seasoned Firewood – Which Produces More Smoke?
We already said this, but it might be worth repeating it. The truth is that, usually, the drier the piece of wood, the less smoke. And this means that kiln-dried logs produce cleaner flames and release less harmful particles in the atmosphere, which might save your lungs from irritation and inflammation. And because dried wood burns faster (and more effectively), you’ll likely use less. Also, if you like the smoky flavor that characterizes this food-making method, you’ll love using kiln-dried firewood: it will leave just enough smoke without feeling too much.
Kiln-Dried vs Seasoned Firewood – Convenience factor?
But what if you are on a budget and don’t want to spend a fortune on wood? There are two options you may like. Because of the simplicity of making seasoned wood, you could potentially do it at home. If you have green wood, you could save yourself purchasing it from the store. However, it might not be the most convenient option since you’ll have to wait for it to dry before being able to use it. And purchasing seasoned wood should be out of the question because you don’t really know how long someone has left it out to season or the quality of it.
While it might be cheaper than kiln-dried wood, it is a riskier option. After all, because the logs take so long to air-dry, some companies sell wood that hasn’t seasoned enough and only sell in the winter so they can charge premium prices. It could be a lose-lose situation. Sometimes, investing slightly more in quality is worth it. And when it comes to purchasing wood logs, you must know that kiln-dried wood is much better than seasoned.
- With seasoned wood, you have to chop the wood, stack it in a proper place, and wait for several months for it to dry. It requires a lot of effort and usually becomes inconvenient. But when it comes to kiln-dried wood all you need to do is purchase kiln-dried wood and you get to burn it right away.
After all, kiln-dried wood might be slightly more costly in general, but it is a safer option. You can trust that the company selling you their logs has controlled the amount of moisture removed. Also, if you need a steady supply of firewood at any time of the year (maybe because you are running a business that uses it), you will be much better off purchasing our Bol Design specialty firewood kiln. On the other hand, the long drying time makes seasoned wood often challenging to find.
Kiln-Dried vs Seasoned Firewood – Who’s the Winner?
You might have realized the benefits of using kiln-dried wood vs seasoned firewood. That’s because the first results from a controlled environment, where risks and variables won’t affect the quality of the final product. Because drying wood in the air takes time, it makes the logs more susceptible to issues. Insects might attack them, mold might start growing, and rain might ruin them. Heating the pieces of wood in a kiln eliminates all those problems and gives you a solution you can rely on.
Yes, it might be more costly. However, if you value quality, it won’t be an issue. Plus, using kiln-dried pieces of wood will save some time in the fire preparation and give you longer-lasting flames. Additionally, you’ll be able to enjoy a cleaner fire with less smoke. And if you want to cook with wood, the flavor will also be better.
Overall Performance Kiln-Dried vs Seasoned Firewood
- The wood with a moisture level below 20% would burn much better. But it is far more challenging to achieve a moisture level of 20% in seasoned wood because of all the variables that come along with air drying.
Therefore, the moisture content of seasoned wood usually remains between 20 to 30%. This leads to a smoky and less enjoyable burn. We see a clear winner for the moisture content when evaluating kiln-dried vs seasoned firewood.
Moisture Content Of Kiln-Dried Wood
- The controlled environment within the kiln makes it possible to achieve moisture levels below 20% in each lot. The risk of extra smoke and toxic emissions is also eliminated since the wood is free of mold and insect growth.
With kiln-dried wood, you get a fire that is easy to light and burns longer, brighter, and gives off less smoke as compared to seasoned wood. Also as I mentioned before, cooking with cleaner wood makes for a better flavor as well. The low moisture content is the real game changer.
Kiln-dried wood makes it more convenient to enjoy a quick and nice fire without requiring any long-suffering effort on your part. Hopefully, you’ll never have to ask about kiln-dried vs seasoned firewood ever again.
Bol Design Inc. produces high-quality firewood kilns that efficiently remove the moisture from the firewood and make it drier. Our kiln designs have proven to be more effective in drying lumber than the competition. To get more information about our lumber kilns and other equipment, call us at 828-754-7001. Our office is located in Hudson, NC.