How long for firewood to dry?

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A week? A year? Two years? Six months per inch?
Any advice would be appreciated.
Background:
My city, in its infinite wisdom, cut down, so far, about twenty-five 75-year old live oak trees growing in the median of a busy street near my home*. They then sawed up the remains into two-foot sections suitable for putting in a fireplace. I THINK the city plans to install a sewer down the median; but maybe they just hate trees.
My son and I scored a pick-up load of these logs, much to the amazement and head-shaking of the nearby traffic. The material we foraged range from two inches to over six. I threw together a firewood rack out of some left-over 2" PVC and stacked the wood. My stack is about 4' wide and 3' tall (and 2' deep), ample for a city dweller just looking for ambiance, not heat.
I'm here to tell you, raw live oak is some HEAVY stuff!
-------------- * Houston: Bellaire Blvd east of Sam Houston Parkway if any local people want to gather some, ah, "windfall".
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On 9/16/2012 9:28 AM, HeyBub wrote:

...
The larger, split at least once, plan on not using until next year...also be ok for the smaller stuff...
--
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That's a big fireplace-- I'd prefer 2 1' logs-- and they'll split with a felling axe on a good block. Hope he grabbed a fork piece to use as a chopping block.
-snip-

Split those 6 inchers up immediately- some of that stuff turns to iron once seasoned.
If you've got some 2x4s to 'season in place' - burn it tomorrow. it won't be the hottest fire, but it will be pretty, and it will smell and sound nice as the sap burns off.
Jim
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split 6" for fireplace use? I wouldn't split it even for stove use.
Harry K
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[...]

The normal rule is air-dry for at least one year; IME, for most species, what's cut and split in early spring can be burned that winter (but it will burn better the next winter).
However... you have an exceptionally dense wood here, and you live in an exceptionally humid area, too. There's no way that wood is going to be dry enough to burn cleanly this winter, and I have my doubts about next.
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HeyBub wrote:

I wouldn't be surprised if they cut them down for insurance liability reasons.
Many US cities are financially stressed and looking for ways to cut costs.

Are they worth more as lumber vs firewood?
Dimensional oak is pretty expensive.
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If you are just going to burn it to look at and not heat, it may be ready in about 3 or 4 months, but really more like 6 months.
Wood dries out mainly from the ends. The longer it is,the longer it takes to dry out. You may try cutting the wood into pieces about a foot long and they may be ready for Christmas.
Also cutting wood this time of year, there is usually a lot more sap in it that takes longer to dry. It is usually beter to wait for the leaves to fall off. I just cut up a oak tree that was about 3 to 4 feet across the stump in May. Sort of the same deal as you. The power company cut one down not too far from where I live and a fellow at work told me to get it if I wanted to. Sometimes you just have to get the wood when you can. It was cut by them to a short length, but I had to split it 4 ways just so I could pick it up and put it in my truck. I waited about 2 weeks for some cracks to start froming in in it as all I have is a wedge, slege hammer and splitting maul.
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For live oak, one season for normal splits. Your stuff is on hte small side (depending on what you mean by "over 6") Andying 6' down will be ready for use in a few months of dry weather. The "over 6"" may take longer unless you split first. I wouildn't splet anything under 8" or so. I have heated my house almost solely with wood for um..1976 to 2012...some years.
Harry K
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wrote:

A year is good. Some smaller pieces can be burned well in less time. You can tell by the sound if it is dry. Bank two pieces together and green wood will give a dull "thunk" while dry wood will give a clear ring.
The best time to split wood is in the dead of winter when the logs and internal moisture is frozen. Those green logs will grab the maul and barely move while that same piece in the cold will just pop apart.
Stack the wood off the ground. Pallets are OK to use, or a couple of 2 x 4 as runners works too. I use a chimney stack (criss crossed pieces) on the ends and fill in the center.
If you have 6" pieces, they are from branches and really won't need splitting. The larger trunk pieces are what need splitting.
Keep the wood and bugs outside until needed or bring it in a day before you are going to burn it. As for covering, it really makes no difference, especially if there is bark on the logs.
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I agree about the winter frozen splitting, but the OP said Live Oak, and AFAIK that doesn't grow in the north where it is cold enuf to freeze the wood.
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On 9/16/2012 1:56 PM, hr(bob) snipped-for-privacy@att.net wrote:

Splitting is important for drying and generally green wood is easier to split. I read 9 months is optimum drying time but I suspect most drying takes place in the initial period and if it were me, if needed, I'd burn it this winter.
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On Sun, 16 Sep 2012 10:56:04 -0700 (PDT), "hr(bob) snipped-for-privacy@att.net"

Easy to remedy. He can take it to Vermont for a week ski vacation and split it on the last day.
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> I'm here to tell you, raw live oak is some HEAVY stuff!
Nyle is a company that makes wood drying kilns for the forest products industry. According to this PDF file:
www.nyle.com/downloads/KilnDrying.pdf
Living oak will be typically about 68% water. So, in a 50 pound section of freshly cut white or red oak, about 20 pounds will be water and 30 pounds will be wood. So, living oak is about 2/3 heavier than oven dried oak.
Water soaks up an awful lot of heat as you raise it's temperature and ultimately convert it to steam. So, the dryer your wood, the better a fuel source it will be.
--
nestork


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nestork,
I don't follow this.

How can this be true? Wood floats, so it is less dense than water You say that this oak is 68% water which is the dense stuff. You remove that ( or most of it?) and the dryed wood still weighs 30 lbs? So you start out with 50 lbs of wood and remove more than 68% of it' s weight (the water). If the wood and water are of equal density the dryed wood would weigh 16 lbs. Wood's density is less than water's so you would actually end up with less than 16 lbs. of dry wood. Your PDF claims that dry wood is about 12% water. 68%-12%V% so the dry wood can't weigh more than 44% of the starting weight yet you claim to have 30 lbs of wood which is 60% of the starting weight. What am I missing?
Dave M.
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On 9/17/2012 8:58 AM, Dave M. wrote:

Look what this site has to say:
http://www.engineeringtoolbox.com/wood-combustion-heat-d_372.html
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On 9/16/2012 9:28 AM, HeyBub wrote:

general rule is a year. 6 months minimum. Hedge will actually burn green, but you have to give it a lot of air and it will leave excessive deposits in your chimney.
--
Steve Barker
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Split and cut it up to useful size ASAP It will dry faster that way. Otherwise a year is usually what it takes to season wood for burning.
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HeyBub wrote:
Thanks all for the advice.
Couple of extra points:
* The trees that the woodsman did not spare were Live Oaks. They never drop their leaves... well, I guess they do, but not all the leaves at the same time.
* Heretofore I had been collecting "windfall." That is, wood that had fallen from trees located along road right-of-way. There's plenty there. And the price is right.
* I've got a gas log-lighter in my fireplace. At worst, I could just roast the logs, sorta like giant, woody, marshmallows.
Once again, thanks for the input.
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HeyBub wrote:

That works, it's what I do. The smaller stuff will be dry enough by winter, the larger will spit and sputter a bit but will eventually burn fine. None of it will ever "burn pretty"; i.e., with lots of flames...not enough volatile material in the wood to gas off for very long and it is that which makes the flames.
BTW, I note a lot of people were suggesting that you split it. If this is southern live oak (Quercus virginiana) good luck on doing that unless you have a hydraulic log splitter.
--

dadiOH
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dadiOH wrote:

Study reveals that "Quercus virginiana" is probably what I've got. It seems as if the USS Constitution was constructed of this wood - though obviously not MY wood - earning the ship the nickname of "Old Ironsides."
Interestingly, these trees earn an A+ for resistance to wildfires, hurricanes, and salinity.
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