A stack of seasoned firewood on a black firewood rack.

How (and Why) to Season Your Firewood — Ultimate Guide  

Last Updated: June 27, 2024

Did you know that it isn’t safe to burn freshly cut firewood? Fresh or “green” wood doesn’t burn well because it contains too much moisture. It also produces an excessive amount of smoke, which is never ideal for a relaxing evening.   

It’s important to season your wood before you burn it. Properly seasoned wood logs burn hotter and generate less smoke and residues. In this article, we’ll explain everything you need to know about the seasoning process.  

What is Seasoned Firewood? 

Seasoned wood has a low moisture content (usually below 20%). It appears darker in color with a grayish tint and has visible splits and cracks in the end grain. It's also lightweight, since most of the moisture has evaporated.  

Why Season Your Firewood? 

Seasoned logs enhance the efficiency, safety, and environmental impact of using wood as a fuel source. Some of the most notable benefits include:  

Better Burning   

Green wood contains too much water to burn efficiently. Seasoned wood ignites easily and burns steadily, providing a reliable and consistent heat source.  

Less Creosote Buildup   

Seasoned wood creates less smoke and gases than green wood. Built-up gas condenses as creosote, a flammable substance that can cause fires. Creosote also corrodes your fire feature, leading to expense repairs.  

Environmental Benefits  

Green wood emits more pollutants than seasoned wood. The particulate matter and organic compounds released contribute to air pollution and health issues. Seasoned logs burn completely and release minimal carbon monoxide and gases, resulting in a lower carbon footprint.  

Easier Handling & Storage  

Seasoned wood is lightweight and less likely to mold or rot. It’s easy to stack and stays usable for a long time. 

How Long Does Seasoning Take?  

The seasoning process can take anywhere from 6 months to 2 years, depending on the type of wood and conditions.   

Generally, hardwoods (Oak, Maple, Hickory) need a year or more. Softwoods (Pine, Spruce, Fir) require about six months.  

Here are the seasoning times for the most common wood types:  

  • Pine: 3 to 6 months  
  • Fir: 3 to 6 months  
  • Birch: 6 months to 1 year  
  • Juniper: 6 months to 1 year 
  • Maple: 6 months to 1 year 
  • Redwood: 1 year 
  • Oak: 1 to 2 years  
  • Elm: 1 to 2 years  
  • Hickory: 2 years  

Check out this handy chart to determine the ideal seasoning time for your wood type.  

How to Season Your Own Firewood   

Follow these simple steps to properly season your firewood.   

Step 1: Split  

Split your logs into smaller pieces to expose more surface area to the air. This will accelerate the drying process.   

Step 2: Stack  

Stack your firewood logs in a way that allows air to circulate around each piece. Organize them in a crisscross pattern or leave gaps between the logs.   

Find a sunny, breezy location to store your logs for faster drying. You can also store them in a shed or under a shelter.   

Step 3: Elevate 

Keep your firewood stack off the ground using pallets or a firewood rack. This will prevent them from absorbing moisture from the soil.   

Step 4: Wait  

The seasoning process can take up to 2 years, depending on the type of wood you have and the climate you live in. Hardwoods are much denser and will take longer to dry out than softwoods.   

Regularly check your logs by inspecting for cracks on the ends or using a moisture meter. Learn how to use a moisture meter with the United States Environmental Protection Agency's step-by-step instructions

Keep Your Firewood Supply Organized

Stacking your logs on a firewood storage rack is the best way to keep them organized and ready to use.  

A well-designed firewood rack promotes air circulation around your logs, aiding in the seasoning process. By elevating your logs off the ground, you’ll also prevent insects, rodents, and other pests from invading your wood supply.   

Keeping your logs neatly stacked ensures your outdoor pathways are clear and free from tripping hazards. Firewood racks can also enhance the overall style of your outdoor space, creating an upscale, uncluttered look.   

Firewood racks are available in a variety of styles and sizes to match your space. Some models come with matching covers and others can support large tarps, so you can shield your logs from the rain and snow.  

Our Most Popular Firewood Racks  

We’re Here to Help   

Have any more questions? Call and talk with an NFI-certified expert today at 800.919.1904.  

More Resources  

Thinking of building your own wood fire pit? Here’s what you need to know.   

 Make your wood fire pit safer and more efficient with these essential accessories.  

Keep your wood fire pit in great condition with our step-by-step maintenance guide.