What are the Different Types of Firewood?

June 22, 2022

Whether you are buying or selling firewood, you should know the different kinds of firewood on the market. There are three types of firewood, green, seasoned, and kiln-dried.


Green Firewood

Green firewood is any wood that has a moisture content of above 50%. Moisture content is a relative percentage showing how much moisture there is compared to wood. So a moisture content of 50% means that for every pound of wood, there is a half pound of water.

A healthy tree can have a moisture content anywhere from 60% to over 100%. Some trees go as high as 120% moisture content. When that wood dries, it’ll lose over half its weight!


Seasoned Firewood

Seasoned firewood is air dried firewood that has a maximum of 30% moisture content. Different woods dry at different rates, but most woods will need a minimum of 6-12 months to dry to acceptable levels.

It’s important to note that some places only consider wood with a 20% moisture content as seasoned firewood. Many newer indoor stoves are also recommending that wood needs to be at 20% or more for the stove to maintain maximum efficiency.


Kiln Dried Firewood

Kiln dried firewood is relatively new to the scene and simply put, it’s wood that is dried in a kiln using high temperature. On average, kiln dried wood has a maximum of 20% moisture content but can be dried more, depending on kiln temperature and time dried.

There are a few things to note on how firewood dries. For starters, wood dries from the ends because water travels along the wood grain. As a result, the most effective way to dry firewood is by literally boiling the water out. Smaller pieces of firewood dry faster in a kiln because there is more surface area, which allows the internal temperature of the wood to get hotter faster.

Another thing to note, since wood dries from the ends, once it’s removed from the kiln there will be a higher moisture content in the center of the wood than on the outside. Over time, the water will redistribute throughout the wood until it is a uniform moisture content.

Another benefit of kiln dried firewood is that it is safe to transport across state lines and bring to campgrounds. The kiln kills invasive insects and makes it safe to sell in more markets. Coupled with the fact it speeds the drying time from months to weeks, it’s easy to see why kiln dried firewood is becoming more popular.

Metsa Machines does not sell kilns. If you’re interested in one, you can visit a kiln dealer like Kiln-Direct.


What Firewood Should I Burn?

When it comes to buying and using firewood, each type of wood has its place. You should only use seasoned firewood or kiln dried firewood in an indoor fireplace/stove. Never use green firewood in an indoor furnace because it won’t burn efficiently. An inefficient burn will cause creosote to build up and increase your risk for chimney fires. Creosote is a by-product of inefficiently burned firewood. It’s highly flammable and if it builds up in a chimney it can spontaneously ignite and cause a chimney fire.

With that said, you can burn green firewood outside without any concerns. However, it will be harder to start and won’t burn as well. The best reason to buy green firewood is when you  have time to let it dry out. You can buy more for less, so long as you can afford to wait for it to dry.

Seasoned firewood and kiln dried firewood are both safe to use in stoves and indoor fireplaces.

Seasoned firewood is great for grilling and smoking foods. Their slightly higher moisture content helps create the smoke that gives smoked food it’s unique flavor. Kiln dried firewood is better for pizza ovens or other situations where a hotter and more consistent burn is essential. You can use both in either situation, but there will be some variation in how they perform.

Kiln dried firewood is the only type of firewood that is safe to transport across state lines and used in campgrounds, though. Invasive insect species can do a lot of damage to local ecosystems. Kilns are the only way to kill these pests off during the drying process.


What Moisture Content Should my Firewood be?

If you’re selling firewood, your wood needs to be as dry as your customer’s need it to be. Sadly, there is no magic number that works for everyone. If your customers are okay with a 30% moisture content, then great! But some people require their wood as dry as possible, which means the moisture content will need to be below 20%.  The best way to find out what your customers want is by asking them. Talk to them about their needs and use their feedback to influence what you do.

You won’t be able to please everyone, so it’s important to have a business model in mind when you start making and selling firewood. For example, bundled wood needs to be drier – especially when sold in bulk and plastic wrapped – otherwise it will accumulate mold. This means you will want to split smaller pieces, and you’ll need an effective way to dry it.

On the other hand, if you focus on boiler wood, then your needs are different. You will want bigger splits, and you don’t need to worry about the wood looking as nice. Again, it depends on your market and your buyer.

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