Wood Takes Time to Dry LTE
May 4, 2011 by fbxkindling
by Gary Schultz, Fairbanks
To the editor: I applaud the News-Miner for its April 27 editorial regarding firewood
. Fairbanks is at a critical juncture with our air quality. Winter air quality is bad and is not getting better. This past winter the downtown air was unhealthy for sensitive groups for 30 days and unhealthy for everyone for 11 days. The air in neighborhoods closer to smoke sources was worse.If we don’t clean up our act, we may lose the use of our woodstoves during the coldest months when we need them most. The editorial provided helpful information on preparing wood for next winter. It is critical to split wood early to allow it to dry properly. Burning only dry wood is a first step toward cleaning up our air.One item in the editorial should be clarified. The editorial stated “wood cut this spring, if treated properly, can be dry enough to burn well next fall … ” While under ideal conditions this may work, most of us do not have the full sun needed for ideal drying.
My daughter did a science fair project to see if birch cut, split and stacked near our house early in the spring (April 18) would be dry enough to burn properly that winter. It was not. Only half of the firewood was dry enough by the end of January.
When we waited until June 26 to split the wood that was felled in April, only 10 percent of that wood was dry enough to burn by the end of January.
The lesson to be learned is unless we have a hot, sunny place to stack and bake our split firewood, we should dry it for two summers. If you don’t have a two-year supply of firewood, do us all a favor and cut an extra year’s supply this year.
Once you are ahead of the game, it is easy to stay ahead, and we will all have cleaner air to breathe. And buy an easy-to-use moisture meter (about $30) so you can be sure your wood is dry before you burn it.
Note from Clean Air Fairbanks: The Woodway sells a moisture meter by Blaze King for $30.