If you’ve been shopping for firewood and seen the typical options for firewood: green, seasoned, and kiln-dried, then you’ve probably noticed that kiln-dried wood generally costs more than seasoned wood. If you’re asking yourself if kiln-dried firewood is worth the extra cost, then we have your definitive answer: it depends on your use case. Many times it is very much worthwhile to use kiln-dried wood to heat, other times seasoned wood makes more sense. We will get into some of the advantages of Kiln-dried firewood further in this blog.
To explore this topic thoroughly requires an understanding of what kiln dried wood is, how it differs from seasoned wood and green wood, and why that added value requires additional cost.
The Traditional Approach: Green To Seasoned
For millennia, people have been burning wood for heat. As you might expect, this has led to many different techniques and ideas about how best to prepare wood for burning. While there are many different traditional approaches to drying wood out so that it burns better, they come down to two main tenants: airflow and time.
With good airflow, your green wood can dry out without getting wet, reducing the risk of pests and mold infesting your firewood. The more time you spend letting the wood dry out, the better dried out it becomes. If you stack your green wood well, in a dry, sunny spot, it can take from 6 to 24 months to dry out enough to be suitable for burning.
This long dry time is necessary, because green wood burns very poorly and can produce a great deal of smoke and creosote. This makes it dangerous to burn indoors. Whether you have a fireplace or wood stove, if you manage to get green wood to burn it will coat your chimney in flammable creosote, increasing your risk of a chimney fire.
Seasoning wood costs very little, just the manual labor needed to move green split logs to a suitable location and stack it for good airflow. This makes seasoned wood relatively affordable to produce and to buy. Unfortunately, as a process, air-drying isn’t perfectly consistent and reliable, because the logs won’t dry evenly. If you have a lot of wood to dry, you’ll find that the logs with the best air exposure dry the fastest and the most. Seasoning is also less suitable for larger logs that can retain more moisture than smaller logs or kindling.
When we produce seasoned wood, we make sure it gets thoroughly dried and is ready for use. However, due to the nature of natural seasoning, it is possible that it will have exposure to insects or mold and will not be quite as dry as kiln-dried firewood. Seasoned wood is, however, perfectly up to the task of heating, and it’s especially good for use cases where you need affordable solid fuel more than you need maximum efficiency.
We also sell green firewood directly for even less than seasoned wood, of course. This is so that people with the space, time, and inclination can dry out the wood themselves. Every good Yankee knows that a dollar saved is a dollar earned, and we respect that frugal spirit by making this product available. It should be clear by this point, though, that green wood is not appropriate for immediate burning.
What Is Kiln-Dried Firewood?
Kiln-dried firewood, intuitively enough, is firewood that has been cut and split then stacked in a kiln where it’s dried. Simple enough, but what are the advantages of Kiln-dried firewood? In modern kilns, green firewood can be heated and blown dry in a matter of days. The heat also sterilizes the wood completely, killing any insects, mold, or vermin that might be in the wood.
You can probably see by now why kiln-dried wood is more expensive than seasoned wood. The Kiln-drying process is somewhat costly compared to seasoned wood. Kiln-dried wood needs to be heated and the air within the kiln circulated by mechanical means for several days. This adds an energy cost. Further, the kiln itself is large and expensive to build and requires maintenance.
This process is also extremely consistent and reliable. All the green wood that goes through kiln drying comes out very dry, typically at or under 20% moisture content. This means that more of the carbon in the wood will burn fully, leading to less ash and minimal creosote. Thanks to this increased burning and less heat lost to evaporating moisture, more total heat will be put out by the same amount of kiln-dried firewood vs. seasoned wood. Kiln-dried firewood also burns hotter than naturally seasoned wood.
In short, these are the main advantages of kiln-dried firewood: increased heat output, easier burning, less smoke and creosote, and no risk of vermin, mold, or insects.
So, is kiln-dried wood worth the extra cost? It depends on your use case. If you have a high temperature wood furnace, the difference between kiln dried and seasoned wood might not be worth the added cost. If you’re burning wood outdoors in a fire pit, you probably don’t need your firewood to be kiln-dried. However, if you’re heating your home or camp with a wood stove or fireplace, the advantages of kiln-dried wood are substantial. When efficiency and ease of burning are priorities, kiln-dried firewood is very much worth the cost. For information on our firewood and to learn how to get some give us a call!