It’s Time for a Crash-Course on Kiln-Dried Firewood!

Greetings, fellow firewood enthusiast! So, you’re looking for better fires, and you’re wondering if kiln-dried firewood is worth it. You’ve come to the right place!

In this guide, we will take you on a journey through the wonderful world of kiln-dried firewood. We’ll show you how it’s made, why it’s awesome and where you can get some for yourself.

Not only that, but we will also give you some tips for choosing the best wood for your situation. So, whether you’re going to cook with it, camp with it or both, we’ve got you covered.

Plus, we’ll also teach you how to store it properly to take full advantage of your kiln-dried goodness!

Sound good? Great! Then it’s time to begin the class!

If you need a course guide, check out our full syllabus of topics below:

  1. How Kiln-Dried Firewood is Made
  2. The Benefits of Kiln-Dried Firewood
  3. The Ideal Moisture Content of Kiln-Dried Firewood
  4. Kiln-Dried Firewood vs. Seasoned Firewood
  5. How to Identify Different Types of Firewood
  6. Determining the Best Firewood to Burn
  7. Choosing the Best Wood for Your Situation
  8. How to Measure a Cord of Firewood
  9. How to Stack Kiln-Dried Firewood
  10. Where to Store Kiln-Dried Firewood
  11. Where to Buy Firewood Near Me

Chapter 1: How Kiln-Dried Firewood is Made

Where does kiln-dried firewood come from? Unfortunately, no magical forest produces logs that are perfect for burning. We wish!

The truth is kiln-dried firewood starts the same as all other firewood: as a tree chopped down in the forest. But the magic begins when workers split those logs and cut them to length, removing all substandard pieces. They then take the good pieces and place them into a state-of-the-art dry kiln.

The dry kiln creates the perfect hot, low-humidity environment to remove moisture from the wood. This process brings the moisture content of the wood down to an ideal level for burning.

Many firewood companies use the kiln-drying process because it is much quicker than drying it without a kiln. The kiln also creates a controlled environment for perfect wood production. It’s how the best firewood companies produce a consistently high-quality product all year long.

Chapter 2: The Benefits of Kiln-Dried Firewood

What’s so great about this special wood anyway? We’re glad you asked.

To put it simply, kiln-dried firewood is a luxury brand of firewood. The difference between purchasing it and regular firewood is akin to purchasing a Lexus instead of a Chevy. Sure, the latter car will get you from point A to point B, but the former will make the ride a lot more fun!

And we don’t know about you, but when we purchase firewood, we’re usually looking to have a good time!

What makes kiln-dried firewood so much more enjoyable? Let us count the ways:

  1. Its low moisture content makes it easier to ignite than standard wood.
  2. It burns more efficiently to create hotter fires using less wood.
  3. The kiln-drying process creates wood that is completely free of insects, mildew and pesticides.
  4. Burning kiln-dried wood also produces less creosote and harmful emissions.
  5. Did we mention that it generates less smoke when burning?
  6. Oh yes, and it’s also lighter to lift because of its low moisture content.
  7. And it’s cleaner to store because it doesn’t shed much bark or debris.

We could go on, but we think you get the point. It’s hard to beat the luxury of wood that’s ready to burn right when you purchase it!

Image of bags of kiln-dried firewood in the back of a pickup truck.

Chapter 3: The Ideal Moisture Content of Kiln-Dried Firewood

Of course, you won’t get all of the benefits listed in the previous chapter if the wood isn’t dry enough. Which begs the question: how dry should kiln-dried firewood be?

The ideal moisture level for kiln-dried firewood is under 20%. To give you some perspective, freshly cut firewood typically has a moisture level of above 60%. That’s way too moist to burn!

Kiln-dried firewood sellers measure the moisture content of their wood with a moisture meter. If you want one for yourself, most hardware stores sell these nifty tools for public consumption.

But what if you don’t own a moisture meter? How can you tell if your wood is dry enough? Here are a few telltale signs:

  • The wood will weigh less than a freshly cut piece.
  • The pieces will make a hollow sound when hit together. (In contrast, moist wood will make a dull thud.)
  • There may also be drying cracks on the ends of the wood.

If your wood fails the above tests, then it’s not worth the time you’ll spend trying to light it. Never settle for anything less than kiln-dried wood with a moisture level below 20%. Your friends and family will thank you on a cold winter’s night!

Chapter 4: Kiln-Dried Firewood vs. Seasoned Firewood

There is a debate raging on the internet about which is better: kiln-drying firewood or seasoning it. And we wouldn’t be doing our due diligence if we didn’t address it. So here, for your enjoyment, is an overview of why kiln-dried firewood is superior to seasoning.

First, let’s define what seasoned firewood is. Seasoned firewood is firewood dried in the natural way (i.e., without a dry kiln).

There are two problems with seasoning wood that kiln-drying wood solves. First, as you would expect, it takes a long time to dry out wood the natural way. A dry kiln speeds up that process significantly and works year-round no matter the level of moisture in the air.

Second, rarely does seasoning wood get the wood below the 20% moisture threshold. On a good day, seasoned wood still contains a moisture level above that threshold. Kiln-dried wood, on the other hand, is consistently below 20% because of the controlled drying process.

We think we’ve proved our point. Kiln-dried wood clearly wins this round by a landslide!

Chapter 5: How to Identify Different Types of Firewood

Yeah, all of that kiln-dried stuff is great, but what about all of the different types of wood? Ash, birch, oak, spruce—what do I need to know about them? Once again, we’re glad you asked!

It’s important to distinguish between the different types of wood because, as you’ll see below, certain woods work better for certain situations.

The best way to distinguish between woods is by looking at their color, texture and grain. Some woods also have a distinct smell.

Here’s a list of some popular woods and their distinguishing features:

  • Apple – Light reddish or brownish color with a straight grain and faint sweet odor
  • Ash – Light color with a coarse texture and excellent core strength
  • Birch – White to light reddish-brown color with a uniform texture and wavy pattern
  • Cherry – Rich reddish-color with a uniform, smooth texture
  • Hickory – Light to medium brown color with a grain that varies between straight and wavy
  • Oak – Very durable with a variety of colors and clearly visible annual rings
  • Pecan – Light to medium brown color with a usually straight grain
  • Walnut – Heavy wood with irregular grain and a slight odor
Graphic featuring images of the different types of firewood.

Chapter 6: Detetermining the Best Firewood to Burn

Of course, knowing what type of wood you’re dealing with is only half the battle. It’s also crucial to identify which kinds of wood burn the best.

The most important characteristic that determines how well a log will burn is if it’s a hardwood or a softwood.

Hardwoods typically come from trees that lose their leaves annually. These include woods like oak, ash and maple. Softwoods, on the other hand, come from evergreen trees. Examples of these are pine, cedar and spruce.

So, which type burns better? Drumroll, please… Hardwoods! The reason hardwoods burn better is because the wood grows more slowly than softwood. As a result, the wood is often denser (thus, the name hardwood).

But which of the hardwoods burn the best? Typically, the types with the highest heat value are apple, ash, oak and birch. However, as we will see below, the type of wood you should choose will depend on what you’re going to use it for.

Chapter 7: Choosing the Best Wood for Your Situation

It’s time to choose your firewood adventure! Are you going to burn it in your fireplace for a cozy night in? Or will you venture out into the wilderness for a campfire under the stars? Of course, you also can’t go wrong with staying in the kitchen to cook a delicious dish.

Here are some tips for picking the right kiln-dried firewood for each situation:

Best Wood for Fireplace

For an excellent indoor fire experience, you should stick with a hardwood like oak or ash. These woods have a long burn time, perfect for a lazy afternoon in. They also produce less smoke and creosote than other options. The last thing you want is to set off that smoke alarm when you’re trying to get cozy by the fire!

Best Wood for Campfire or Bonfire

Oak and ash are also excellent choices for an outdoor campfire because of the qualities listed above. However, hickory might be a better choice because of how hot it burns! It creates some of the hottest fires, making it essential for a cool night around the campfire.

Best Wood for Cooking

Many hardwoods are excellent for cooking. The wood you should choose will depend on what type of flavor you want to produce. Hickory, for example, adds a hearty taste when smoking all types of meat. On the other hand, apple and pecan add fruity and nutty tastes, respectively, to the meat they’re cooking. And if you’re looking for more of a smoky flavor, then oak is the wood for you.

No matter which wood you choose, make sure it’s kiln-dried to get the best possible burning experience!

Chapter 8: How to Measure a Cord of Firewood

One of the trickiest parts of purchasing firewood is understanding the language firewood sellers use. Specifically, we are referring to the term “cord of firewood.” Maybe you’ve heard that term and you’re not sure what it means. Read on to find out!

A cord is a unit of measurement for firewood. A full cord is the amount of firewood that can fill a space that is 4’ high, 8’ wide and 4’ deep. However, most companies don’t sell their firewood in full cords. Instead, they use a measurement called a face cord.

The difference between a full cord and a face cord is the depth measurement. Whereas a full cord will include multiple firewood stacks to fill out the four-foot depth requirement, the face cord only includes one stack of firewood. So, the depth of a face cord will depend on how long the individual pieces of firewood are. This length often varies from company to company.

Because of this variation, you should be careful when shopping for firewood. One company’s face cord may not equal another’s. After all, one company may chop its wood shorter than the other. Plus, there is no officially recognized measurement for a face cord, making it very easy for shady companies to rip you off.

For this reason, you should only trust firewood companies that clearly state how they measure a face cord directly on their website. For example, at Lumberjacks, we explicitly define our face cord as measuring exactly 4’ high x 8’ wide x 16” deep. We do this so that our customers know exactly how much wood they’ll be getting and won’t be shortchanged.

Chapter 9: How to Stack Kiln-Dried Firewood

You may be surprised to learn that there is a correct way to stack kiln-dried firewood. After all, what difference could the way you stack it make? The answer is a HUGE difference! If you stack the wood willy-nilly, or worse, leave it in a heap on the ground, you run the risk of exposing the wood to too much moisture.

After all, kiln-dried wood already comes as dry as it needs to be. Keeping it that way is the name of the game.

Here are some best practices to follow when stacking your wood:

  • Keep the Stack Off the Ground – Stacking it on a pallet or wood beams will keep it from getting wet.
  • Avoid Placing Your Stack Against a Wall or Fence – Keep a few feet of space between the stack and wall to allow for airflow.
  • Stack the Wood Loosely – Keeping space between the pieces will also allow for airflow.

Of course, if you worry about improperly stacking your wood, you can also let the professionals handle it for you. Many firewood companies offer to stack the wood themselves. Just make sure they are not offering to stack it for you so that they can give you less wood than you ordered! The best companies won’t insist on stacking their wood because they have nothing to hide.

Image of stacked kiln-dried firewood

Chapter 10: Where to Store Kiln-Dried Firewood

Now that you know how to stack it, it’s time to find where to store your wood! The nice thing about kiln-dried firewood is it comes completely free of mold and insects. Because of this, it’s perfectly fine to store the wood inside the home. However, as we will see, storing indoors only makes sense under the right conditions.

You should only store your wood inside if you have a spacious spot with enough airflow and low enough humidity for the wood to thrive. Usually, a garage, basement or storage shed will meet these requirements.

If you don’t have the indoor space, it’s also okay to stack the wood outside. Just keep in mind the stacking principles we discussed above.

You should also consider a way to protect the logs from the rain. A standard wooden log store is great for this. You could also use a tarp. Just be sure that you don’t cover the wood too tightly lest you restrict the airflow.

Chapter 11: Where to Buy Firewood Near Me

You’ve almost made it through our crash course! The final piece of the puzzle is figuring out where to get your kiln-dried wood.

So, how do you know if a company is worth your business? There are a few key questions to ask to avoiding purchasing wood you’ll regret:

  • Are they selling their wood for a suspiciously low price?
  • Is the wood unsplit, moldy or muddy?
  • Does the company you’re buying from insist on stacking the wood for you?
  • Do they use crisscross stacking methods when they stack their wood?

If you answer yes to any of these questions, then the company is probably not worth buying from. All these practices are red flags that indicate the seller is likely trying to rip you off.

Don’t buy from shady dealers. Instead, look for a company that offers quality wood at a fair price. The business should be transparent about how they produce their wood. They should also have no problem with you asking to inspect the wood to make sure you got the right amount.

Above all, you should always go with a company you can trust!

Congratulations, You Passed the Course!

Now that you’re an expert on kiln-dried firewood, it’s time to celebrate by burning some of your own! We’d be happy to supply it for you.

At Lumberjacks, we produce premium kiln-dried firewood for cooking, camping or relaxing by the fireplace. We also offer local firewood delivery throughout the Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin regions.

You can give us a call at 815-337-1451 to place your order or stop by one of our locations in Woodstock, IL, and Lake in the Hills, IL, to peruse our inventory.
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