Determining Moisture Content of Wood Logs

pile of logsHow Wood Logs High in Moisture Content Affect Your Wood Burning Stove

You can have the most efficient wood burning stove available but it won't generate enough heat to keep you warm if you burn logs with high moisture content. At the same time, you will probably have to look for more logs in the middle of the season. But the troubles don't end at inefficiency. Logs with high moisture content typically also produce lots of smoke and odour. As a result, they can earn you a fine if you live in a Smoke Control Area even if your stove is DEFRA exempt for Smoke Control Areas. Lastly, high moisture content also produces excessive creosote and soot build-up which poses a risk of flue and chimney fire.

How Dry Should Wood Logs Be

To avoid the above mentioned issues, keep your home warm during the cold winter months and save money on heating at the same time, you are recommended to burn exclusively fully seasoned logs which have at most 20 percent moisture content. Obviously, a question occurs how can you tell whether the logs are really as dry as your local wood fuel supplier claims?

Methods to Recognise Fully Seasoned Logs

Unseasoned logs contain a lot of moisture (up to 80 percent) and as a result, they are significantly heavier than seasoned wood fuel. However, don't rely on the weight alone because it doesn't necessarily mean the logs are adequately seasoned. You are recommended to take a closer look at the bark. If it's loose and easily comes off, you are highly likey to be looking at well seasoned logs. Another good indicator is splitting of the wood on the outside and the 'clack' sound if the logs are knocked together. But while the mentioned methods are very reliable, there is no way to determine their moisture content by using these methods. The only way to make sure that the moisture content is below 20 percent is to use a moisture meter.

Do You Really Need a Moisture Meter

As much as most wood burning stove owners are concerned, you don't need a moisture meter if you follow the above described methods to recognise seasoned logs. But it is also true that most of them are buying wood logs from suppliers whom they either know personally or were recommended to them as trustworthy by their friends. But if you don't know the supplier, you just can't be sure without a moisture meter. Whether you need a moisture meter or not is up to you to decide but it is most certainly good to have it. Besides, it is a small and very inexpensive device (you can find one for less than £40) which might save you a lot of money along the way.

For more tips on the selection of logs for your wood burning stove, please read our article "Choosing the Best Wood Logs".