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Long term storage of ash for firewood - how best to go about it?

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Krome10

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Hi all

I know it's not really a woodwork question, but there's a lot of people who know a lot about wood around here, so I thought it would be a good place to ask...

We had around 20-30 poor roadside ash taken down this week :( But every cloud and all that = more firewood :)

In fact, I think we'll have enough to last quite a few years. Who knows, maybe even a decade+....

We'll do our best to get it all off the ground and under cover; even if just covered with tarps for now. But aside form that, does anyone have tips as to how best process it for long term storage? Instinct tells me to keep in long lengths and to not split it, but that's just guess work. So any knowledgeable views would be helpful.

I'm also interested in whether people think it's even possible for it to last many years without rotting / decaying. It's very wet where we live!

Cheers
 

Jameshow

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Off the ground on pallets, or raised slats.

Slats to the sides and back, felt roof top.

Sheltered away from the prevailing wind and rain.

If it's a large amount it would be possible to build a wood house like the swedish do. However if it's wet where you are then it might not dry out as much as you might like.

Cheers James
 

mikej460

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Hi, I have a lot experience of logs, having installed and run a log boiler for a few years. assuming you would like to burn some of the wood as soon as possible (which for ash would 2021/2 winter as ash burns ok if it's still a bit green) I would advise immediately cutting some into 10 inch logs and splitting them, then stack them under cover and preferably south/south-east facing in a way that air can circulate. Storing on old pallets helps but I currently store processed logs in metal IBC tank cages under a simple timber roof with no sides which works well. There's a lot of hoo haa on the internet about how to stack logs, some of it is very good but some is a bit odd; the basic rule of thumb is that wood will dry out when air is circulating around it then gradually adjust to the surrounding air moisture level. It will tend to loose moisture in summer and draw it in over winter. You need to get air circulating to avoid rot or at best mould. Once you've got a winter's worth stacked you can store remaining long lengths off the ground but exposed to weather until you have the room and the time to process some more. Once you get to Autumn you should try a move as much as you can indoors or in an outbuilding. I designed a solar thermal log store that would take an IBC cage of logs and using a 12v car cooling fan would circulate warm air throughout summer to super-dry the stored logs. I have yet to build it but may do next year.
 

Sgian Dubh

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I grew up on a farm and we burnt wood in open fireplaces. We had ideal storage which consisted of a shed closed on two sides and at each end, which faced the direction of the prevailing wind, it had vertical boarding spaced roughly 2 - 3" apart, plus a similar gappily boarded door. Floor was damp proofed concrete with set about 10" above that a gappy boarded floor with plenty of joists to carry the load.

Logs were sawn to length to suit the fireplaces and split whilst wet (it was easier) into sizes we could just about encircle within an encircling pair of hands. Smaller sizes dry quicker. The logs were laid end to end on top of each other leaving plenty of gaps between logs with the ends orientated towards the prevailing wind direction. The idea, of course, was to encourage air movement following the length of the logs to take moisture away. Naturally, logs at the upwind end of such a pile in a shed dry quicker than logs at the downwind end of a shed, and the longer the pile the more time it takes for wood to dry. A good pile length is about 6 - 7' or less because longer than this can cause dead air at the centre of a pile which reduces drying efficiency, and can encourage mould. Height is only really restricted by what can be piled up safely. Above 20% MC the critical factor for removing moisture from wood, is air movement, not heat or relative humidity.

Ash gives up its moisture very quickly compared to some other wood species such as European oak for example which dries much slower. I'd expect a pile of ash stacked as described in a shed to dry to about 18 - 20% MC in about six months or so. Those MC numbers I've given are derived from calculating wood MC using oven dried wood as the base line, i.e., wood at 0% MC.

I am aware from other discussions you've been involved in here, and elsewhere, that you've been exploring calculating wood MC on what's often called the 'wet basis'. That method, as I suspect you've worked out, doesn't ever result in an accurate estimate of wood's moisture content, although the 'wet basis' isn't massively out of whack with the benchmark oven dry basis of calculating wood MC when you get into lower values, i.e., anything under roughly 18 - 20% MC. For example, if you calculate wood MC using the 'wet basis' with a result of ~16.5 MC this is actually a wood MC of just about 20% based on the oven drying method. Similarly, if using the 'wet basis' calculating method results in an MC of 15% MC the actual wood MC based on the benchmark oven drying method is 17.65% MC. Slainte.
 
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Bm101

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If you can keep it off damp then Ash has superb burning qualities. It's hot and fast. Superb temps and brilliant kindling. Mix it it with other hard woods proper like oak for longevity in a fire for efficiency and temperatures. Also good for spears and shizzle. 😬
 
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sometimewoodworker

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Hi all

I know it's not really a woodwork question, but there's a lot of people who know a lot about wood around here, so I thought it would be a good place to ask...

We had around 20-30 poor roadside ash taken down this week :( But every cloud and all that = more firewood :)

In fact, I think we'll have enough to last quite a few years. Who knows, maybe even a decade+....

We'll do our best to get it all off the ground and under cover; even if just covered with tarps for now. But aside form that, does anyone have tips as to how best process it for long term storage? Instinct tells me to keep in long lengths and to not split it, but that's just guess work. So any knowledgeable views would be helpful.

I'm also interested in whether people think it's even possible for it to last many years without rotting / decaying. It's very wet where we live!

Cheers
The very recent thread Wood moisture meter for firewood logs - any recommendations? has suggestions
 

Krome10

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I can't believe I never returned to say a huge thanks for the excellent replies. I've been getting stuck into the ash trees over the last couple of weeks, and re-read the post only to see I never replied.

So first and foremost - many thanks :) And sorry!

Onto the felled ash... I definitely can't process it fully for the time being. It's being cut into 1 metre lengths, to later be cut into 3s which will give the perfect length logs for our burner. They'll be off the ground, and under cover.

My question... Purely from a long term storage point of view, does it make a difference if I split them now or later? I could rive then now and cut later, or just leave them in one metre rounds. Something I read suggested that not splitting them will encourage rot because the moisture is kind of trapped in the wood. Don't know if that holds true though. And/or if it applies to ash...

It's funny, I think I've been getting things a bit muddled. I originally thought it was all about slowing down the seasoning. But the more I've thought about it, it seems perhaps it's a case of getting the wood seasoned ASAP, but then storing it appropriately so that it remains dry and burnable. Am I on the mark?

Cheers
 

Adam W.

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Store it like this and put a roof on it. It makes beautiful firewood and doesn't take up much space. This one contains 36 cubic meters of wood.

IMG_1837.JPG
 

Terry - Somerset

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A very simplistic view of things from someone who has no experience:
  • dry wood rarely seems to rot or develop mould. Wet wood does
  • a good airflow round the cut and split wood keeps it dry
  • wet wood is probably easier to split and saw to length than dry
So there seems little reason to delay completing the task so that in the future you merely need put it in the stove, unless you have competing priorities on your time.
 

mikej460

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+1 for airflow. Depends of the thickness but it would be better riven then stored, better still would be to completely process it all and store but I guess that challenge is a bit daunting!
 

RobinBHM

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I do a dog walk around a farm with woodland.

They cut everything into around 1 metre lengths, then stack on a line of pallets up to around head height, then they tie on some sheets of box profile roofing with a fair overhang of say 18" all round.
 

gregmcateer

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For firewood, if they split is actually handy, as you say.
Splitting into approx quadrants is much easier when still green. Then stack.
Lengths is purely your choice/ convenience
 

bansobaby

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As long as you can keep the timber reasonably dry and have good air circulation, you don’t really need to split it all to size now.
Ash splits fairly easily anyway, but as with most timber it splits more easily when green. It is worth considering your splitting method, hydraulics are your friend, or younger members of the family and some good splitting mauls😃.
Some firewood will rot quite rapidly if in contact with the ground, Horse Chestnut is one, but ash is usually not a problem,
We’ve stored cords stacked on bearers (notched branches) in piles of 20 or 30 lengths for 10 years or more. No cover, and just some strimming around the piles when we remember. There will be some that goes off a bit, but I’d guess less than 5%…..
Doing it this way also gives you the option of going out and cutting and splitting when you feel like it and when it’s a nice day.
Some days I love using a chainsaw and log splitter, other days I’d rather not…..
 

woodieallen

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Hydraulics are painfully slow and you will lose the will to live. I cut my stuff to the length needed for the fire. After all, I've got the chainsaw out, how much harder is it to make those extra cuts? I also prefer to split when green because it dries quicker as well as being easier. 20-30 trees is a lot but depends on how tall they were. As others have said, on pallets but if you can't then take heart in the fact that I've been burning spruce that's sank into the ground and spalted. Still prefer to use pallets TBH.
 
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