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Winter comes every year and faster than most of us would like. Each year we face the brutal cold and (most of us) are to be reminded of the blessing of a warm place to live or stay. As this happens, I can’t help be reminded each year of the wisdom of having firewood storage ready to go in case of an emergency. When possible to have one, a well kept wood pile is one of the basics of a homestead, and an important part of emergency preparedness.
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Types of Firewood
Not all firewood is created equal.
Yes, you can burn almost all organic material just fine, however some hardwood like maple, birch, oak and ash will burn for much longer, and burn at a higher temperature as well. These woods also tend to have less sap and are a bit cleaner to handle. If you have an indoor wood burning stove or an indoor wood pile then this may be something to consider.
Softwoods include yew, redwood, spruce, juniper and pine among others. Again, these will burn just fine, just keep in mind if your goal is to have warmth and fuel for as long as possible then you may want to prioritize the type of wood you store.
In addition to all of this, firewood can be seasoned or unseasoned as well.
Very simple- basically freshly cut wood is too wet, unseasoned, will not burn well and will smoke a lot.
Seasoned wood will have had sufficient time to dry out, weigh less and will burn the most efficiently.
Properly Maintaining Your Firewood Storage
This is such a satisfying part of the whole process. Perhaps you’ve had to spend your time gathering wood, cutting down trees, splitting wood- whatever the method of attaining the firewood, now you get to stack it into a beautiful, orderly structure. If you’ve lived your life in any way shape or form, you’ve played a good game of Tetris. Enjoy stacking your firewood in a way that feels right to you and your time outdoors doing something that’s been done for a millennia by our ancestors before us.
Here’s some tips for the transformation from disorderly pile to functional, practical masterpiece:
- Choose a spot away from any fence, structure, or high traffic area. This allows for proper ventilation on all sides and if the spot gets a good deal of sun that is beneficial as well.
- Stack loosely and leave space for airflow as much as you can. This prevents moisture build up, bug infestations and allows them to dry out quickly.
- Elevate your firewood. If you can, do not directly stack the wood on dirt, raise it up by using a rack, pallets etc.
There Are Official Styles of Stacking
- USING A WOOD RACK- These could be made of metal, wood or a variety of materials. Made at home or purchased, it doesn’t matter, the idea is that there’s an external structure holding the wood in place.
- HAMMOCK SPAN- This method utilizes a couple of trees on your property. You would use the two trees as a brace to hold the firewood together into a large, vertical stack. The downside to this method is that it can cause rot on the trunk of the existing trees if left for longer than a couple of years.
- HOLZHAUFEN- This method of German origin involves a marriage of efficiency and beauty in the finished result. Though it looks difficult it’s actually quite simple because of the way it is built. Read a thorough description of this method HERE: Holzhaufen: A Guide to Stacking Wood in a Woodpile.
- END- PILLAR STACK- This stack involves creating a vertical pillar of wood, stacking each layer the same way you’d stack Jenga blocks- vertical, horizontal, vertical, horizontal etc. When using this method it is important that the firewood pieces are similar in size, and that they are stacked tightly to create a stable pillar.
A simple tarp will do. Cover the pile on the side that will be hit with the most rain or snow. Make sure the tarp is slanted away from the base of your firewood pile. Leaving space for airflow is still beneficial, and even in the winter because the wind will continue to help with the drying out of the wood.
How Long Will It Take For My Wood Pile to Dry Out?
Depending on many factors, your wood pile could be ready anytime between six months and two years to dry out. Consider the type of wood, how dry you’ve kept it, how you stacked it and how much sun or wind it has gotten in that time period.
You’re Looking For Other Ideas? 5 Alternative Uses of Firewood
1. Wood Working Projects
I’ve seen everything from benches and chairs from bowls to toys made from logs and branches. Be creative! A part of homesteading and being self reliant means using and reusing everything that you have.
Ash has a surprising variety of uses in the garden and homestead. Read more about that HERE.
3. Producing Food
Are any of you familiar with Hugelkultur? Throw those logs directly into the ground, layer appropriately on top and you have yourself a self sustaining garden bed for years to come. You can learn more about this method HERE.
Rent a wood chipper and go to town. Fill up pathways and garden beds! If you want to, chip all of the logs and then throw them into the compost pile- the rich compost will then follow months later.
Composting can be easy and simple! Read more about that here at HB&B: Composting: The Simple, No Stress Way.
5. Garden or Yard Projects
Whether it’s raised Beds, pathways, sandboxes, decor, birdhouses, animal shelters, etc. There are so many creative ways and ideas to use your wood around the homestead and don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
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Hopefully this post was helpful to you! How will you be using or storing your firewood? I hope your homestead is prepared and able to have the gift of warmth and fuel for every season of life ahead.
Wishing you and your family all the best in your self reliance journey!
Herbs, Birds & the Bees
Less Dependence, More Abundance