How to stack and store logs for the winter
Wood burners have really taken off in recent years and there’s nothing quite like having a toasty warm house that’s heated with a real fire. The only problem with them is their insatiable appetite for wood – and that means you’ll need something to store all those logs.
This becomes particularly important during the winter months – not just because it’s colder but because of the rain, and in Britain there’s plenty of it to go round. Wet wood burns badly so you need to know the best ways to keep your wood dry and rot-free. The last thing you need when the frost is nipping at your toes is to be trying light a sodden log. Fortunately, we have some tips and tricks for stacking and storing your logs in the winter.
First, take one log...
The first thing to do of course is to find your wood. Some people buy it but others like to collect scraps of fallen wood from their local parks or woodlands. Wherever you source your wood – and please make sure it’s sustainably harvested – it’s vital to make sure it’s as dry as possible.
As much as 60 per cent of freshly cut ‘green’ wood is moisture, and if you try to burn it then a lot of the energy stored in the wood will be used up in evaporating the moisture rather than heating your house.
According to The Ecologist magazine, you gain about one per cent more heat from every percentage point of moisture you lose. So by reducing the moisture by 20 per cent means you effectively have 20 per cent more wood, without buying or gathering any more.
Dry your log thoroughly
The best way of drying out wood is to season it – this means splitting it and leaving it in the sun to dry. It’s possible to buy logs that are already split, but keep-fit enthusiasts may enjoy the process of using an axe to split their logs into quarters or sixths. Chopping wood will certainly raise a sweat – they say that firewood warms you twice over – but think of the muscles on the average lumberjack.
Stack it and store it right
Having put in all that effort, you’ll want to make sure the wood stays dry during the inevitable winter rainstorms. The most crucial thing here is to ensure that air can circulate around each log – don’t pack them too tightly. Try putting one layer in a different direction to another, and don’t put them too close to a wall.
An ideal storage solution is to use a log store – an open-fronted shelter that keeps rain off your log stack but still allows air to circulate around the wood.
There are many types of log stores available, to suit your taste and available space. All of them ensure the wood is kept off the ground which is vitally important to prevent rot. They also keep most of the rain out without compromising air circulation.
The classic log store design is similar to a garden shed – a wooden or metal structure with a sloping roof that allows rainwater to drain off to the front. These come in a variety of sizes and styles, including freestanding structures, elongated triangles and others designed to be propped against a wall.
Enjoy your home-made fire
The key to being able to relax in front of your own, home-made fire is to get your wood, season it and to keep it dry over the winter. Make sure you leave plenty of space around your logs to let the air get to it, and invest in a proper log store – you won’t be worrying about holes in the tarpaulin or whether it will survive in strong winds.