It’s Time for the Ultimate Battle: Kiln-Dried vs. Seasoned Firewood!
Yankees vs. Red Sox, Bears vs. Packers, Ali vs. Frazier—everyone loves a good rivalry. In the firewood industry, there’s no more captivating rivalry than kiln-dried vs. seasoned firewood.
The competition has been going on for many years now. Even today, firewood enthusiasts continue to debate which type of wood is better for producing the hottest and brightest flames.
We could go on and on debating which is better. But we think the best way to settle this is in the ring.
So, let’s get ready to rumble! Here, for your entertainment, is the main event: kiln-dried vs. seasoned firewood.
First, let’s meet our fighters.
In This Corner: Seasoned Firewood
Seasoned firewood is wood that has been air-dried for an extended period. Air drying is necessary because freshly chopped-down lumber, also known as green firewood, contains far too much moisture to burn well.
If you have ever tried to burn green firewood, you know what we’re talking about! The excessive moisture makes the wood difficult to light, and the resulting flames often fizzle quickly and produce a ton of smoke. Plus, since green wood comes from a living organism (i.e., a tree), it sometimes comes with moss and mold, which can produce harmful emissions when burned.
Because of this, the long air-drying process seasoned wood goes through is vital. It reduces that moisture content down to a much better level so that the wood can burn more easily.
In This Corner: Kiln-Dried Firewood
Kiln-dried firewood was also once green firewood, but it takes care of the high moisture problem differently. Instead of going through the natural air-drying process, kiln-dried wood artificially replicates that process in a large kiln.
The kilns that make kiln-dried firewood are basically like big ovens. Once workers chop the wood to length, they stack it in a metal cage and load it into the kiln. The kiln then removes the moisture by using a large fan to heat and dry the logs.
The controlled environment of the kiln makes it easy to bring the firewood down to ideal moisture content. And the large size of the kiln makes drying many logs at once possible.
Interested in learning more about this type of wood? Find out everything you need to know in our complete guide to kiln-dried firewood.
Kiln-Dried vs. Seasoned Firewood: Three Rounds to a Finish
Now that we’ve met our fighters, it’s time to see how they fare head-to-head.
Round 1: Which Wood Dries Faster?
As we’ve established, both of these drying methods do an admirable job of decreasing the wood’s moisture content. However, as we will see, one process produces dry firewood in a lot less time!
On the one hand, seasoned wood can take multiple years to get down to an ideal moisture level. But, conversely, the artificial drying process of kiln-drying can get the wood ready for a perfect burn in a matter of days.
So, kiln-dried firewood is quicker, but why does that matter? Fine wine takes a long time to age, and we don’t complain about that.
That’s true, but here’s the thing: In the time it takes for seasoned wood to dry, a lot can happen to compromise the quality of the wood. For example, if you store the wood outside, there’s a chance a storm could come and get it wet again, even if you put it in a covered rack or tarp it. The wood could also get infested with insects or mold, which are never fun to deal with—especially if you’re using the wood inside your home!
Because kiln-dried firewood eliminates this waiting period, it also eliminates the risks that come along with it. The wood comes out of the kiln ready to burn right away for an efficient and clean fire!
Winner: Kiln-Dried Firewood
Round 2: Which Wood Burns Better?
Okay, so kiln-dried won the speed round. But which wood has the advantage when it comes to overall performance?
One would think that since both methods produce wood with a low moisture content that this round would be a tie. But surprisingly, this battle isn’t close either!
The key to winning this fight is to have a moisture content of below 20%. Firewood experts agree that the 20% threshold is the barrier between a quality fire and a lackluster fire. Any amount of moisture above that limit will make the fire less enjoyable.
So, how does seasoned wood do at getting below 20%? Honestly, not great. While you can season firewood down below that threshold, it’s challenging to do so because of all the variables that come with air drying. The seasoned wood moisture content often winds up within the 20-30% range, making for a very smoky burn that fizzles quickly.
The same cannot be said for kiln-dried firewood. The controlled environment within the kiln makes it possible to get the wood below 20% moisture every time. And since the wood is always free of mold and insects, there’s never a risk of extra smoke and harmful emissions. Instead, what you get is a fire that lights easily and burns longer, brighter and with less smoke than a fire using seasoned wood.
This incredibly low moisture content also makes kiln-dried wood great for cooking. Its hotter burns cook food more thoroughly than seasoned firewood. And its cleaner smoke produces better tasting food.
If you’re interested in high-quality kiln-dried cooking wood, we recommend checking out our friends at Hot Box Cooking Wood. They produced perfectly sized hardwood for portable pizza ovens, grills and smokers and deliver it throughout the U.S. with free two-day shipping.
Winner: Kiln-Dried Firewood
Round 3: Which Wood is More Convenient?
Clearly, this fight seems to be going kiln-dried firewood’s way. After all, it’s so much faster to make and performs so much better than seasoned wood.
But there’s still a way seasoned wood could pull a come from behind victory: if it’s more convenient to get than kiln-dried wood. So, let’s see how the fighters fair in this round.
Making Seasoned Wood vs. Buying Kiln-Dried Firewood
The nice thing about seasoned firewood is anyone can make it. All you need to do is chop the wood and stack it properly in a spot with low humidity and protection from the rain.
Of course, then you have to wait 18-24 months and hope the wood will get below the 20% threshold without being infested by mold or pests.
In the meantime, you can check the wood using a moisture meter to see its progress. (Be sure to split a piece of the wood and check the moisture at the center because that tends to dry slower than the outside.)
But after all that effort, you will be able to (hopefully) enjoy a nice fire.
We don’t know about you, but all that effort doesn’t sound all that convenient to us!
You could go to all that trouble if you want. Or you could purchase kiln-dried firewood, which will be ready to burn right away and will likely have a lower moisture content than any wood you could season on your own! Sure, this will cost more money than doing it yourself, but we think it will be well worth it for the convenience.
Buying Seasoned vs. Kiln-Dried Firewood
Of course, you could also purchase seasoned firewood from a store. It is typically cheaper than kiln-dried wood, but it is also riskier. Companies can try to rip you off by selling you wood that hasn’t been seasoned enough. And because it takes so long to dry, finding well-seasoned lumber isn’t always easy throughout the year.
The same cannot be said for kiln-dried wood. Because it’s easy to make year-round, it’s never in short supply. And you can trust that the moisture level will be low enough since the kiln takes all the variables out of the drying process.
Winner: Kiln-Dried Firewood
And the Winner Is… Kiln-Dried Firewood by Knockout!
Poor seasoned firewood! It never had a chance. The fact is it’s tough to achieve an ideal moisture content through seasoning. And so much can go wrong with the wood in the time it takes to dry it.
Kiln-dried firewood avoids all those problems through a simple drying process that produces wood perfect for burning. It is the quickest, easiest and most proven way to get the firewood of your dreams!
If you want some kiln-dried wood of your own, give Lumberjacks a try! We offer high-quality firewood for easy pickup or convenient delivery throughout the Northern Illinois and Southern Wisconsin regions. Please give us a call today at 815-337-1451 or visit our product page to learn more about our luxury firewood!