We want to store, dry and distribute woodfuel

Wood delivery at Sustainable Kirtlington

Wood delivery at Sustainable Kirtlington

After cutting, woodfuel should be dried for at least one year, under cover.  If you burn freshly-cut wood, most of the energy will go into driving off the water in the wood.  Fresh green logs have only about half the energy content of an equivalent well-seasoned log.  This will also cause more smoke than burning dry wood, and more tar residues that can damage your flue lining.   Ideally the wood should have no more than 20% moisture content.

Any water in the wood has to boil away before the wood will burn, and this reduces the net energy released from the wood as useful heat (as opposed to steam).  Logs that aren’t dry will also result in a smouldering fire that creates tar and smoke: tar can corrode the lining of flues and increase the risk of a chimney fire.

The energy available from woodfuel depends on its moisture content: the drier it is, the more usable energy it provides

The energy available from woodfuel depends on its moisture content: the drier it is, the more usable energy it provides

 

Rules of thumb for storing and drying logs are:

  • Split the logs before storing them: the finer they are split, the faster they will dry, but they will also burn faster
  • Raise the log store off the ground by about 6 inches, for instance by using pallets as a base.  Otherwise the moisture from the ground will rise up through the logs.
  • Cover the log store to protect it from rain and snow, but leave the sides open to allow wind to pass through.
  • Leave plenty of space between the logs, to allow them to dry more easily.  Consider storing the logs in a cross-hatch pattern.

“A really good resource for information on firewood is http://www.firewood.co.uk/.  I find that this is a great web site to point people towards when they contact me with questions about buying firewood, storage, seasoning etc. Also, there are lots of good tiops for small-scale firewood producers.” David Blake, Cranborne Chase & West Wilsthire Downs AONB

 

Greg Jenning's wood store

Greg Jenning’s wood store

Greg Jennings has kindly sent instructions for making a very cheap woodshed in a very short time.  And just in case you really want to get inspired in terms of wood stacking have a look at ‘So you think you can stack firewood?

It may be easier to have one large, central community wood storage area than for individuals to each have their own.  The Community Woodfuel Programme is working to set up a ‘biomass trade centre‘: essentially a place where wood can be stored, dried, bought and sold.  Watch this space for further information.

 

A magnificent log pile in Wolvercote.  It doesn't tick the 'good wood storage' boxes, but what a beauty!

A magnificent log pile in Wolvercote. It doesn’t tick the ‘good wood storage’ boxes, but what a beauty!

There are different ways of distributing woodfuel from a community woodland:

  • People who help to cut the wood can take logs home with them.
  • The wood can be collected, dried, and sold to local residents to help the community coffers.
  • The wood can be used in a community facility, for instance the local school’s woodfuel boiler.
  • The wood can be sold to a local person, a log merchant, or (if there is quite a lot of it) to a local woodfuel supplier.

Example of how wood is dried and distributed:

Click here to find out more.

Nick and Elizabeth Wilson show off their prowess with the two person saw, Hogacre Common, 9 June 2013

Nick and Elizabeth Wilson show off their prowess with the two person saw, Hogacre Common, 9 June 2013