How to Check the Dryness of Firewood

How to Check the Dryness of Firewood
Always check your local rules and regulations before collecting firewood. Some parks prohibit open campfires entirely while others may provide firewood for you at campgrounds. If you're gathering firewood for use on a later car camping trip, be aware that some regions--for example, the state of New York--prohibit importing firewood from other areas unless it's been treated to kill pests. Once you've made sure you're not violating any local laws or regulations, you can look for dry or "seasoned" deadwood. The drier a piece of wood is, the easier it will be to light and the hotter and cleaner it will burn. Green or wet wood is difficult to start, smokes a lot, and provides very little heat.


Difficulty: Moderately Easy

Step 1
Choose only dead wood for your fire. Anything still living is not only illegal to cut in many regions but also far too green--and therefore, full of moisture--to burn.
Step 2
Look at the ends of the wood. If the ends are light colored, indicating that the wood has recently been cut or fallen, it is probably still green. Darkened ends, especially with splits or cracks in them (or elsewhere in the wood), are indications that the wood should be dry.
Step 3
Pick the wood up. Since fresh wood can be nearly half water, it's much heavier than the sort of dry wood that will burn well. Dried firewood may weigh almost half the weight of green wood.
Step 4
Knock two pieces of wood together or rap on the wood with your knuckles. If you hear a clunking sound the wood is dry. If the result is more of a sodden "thud", the wood is still too green to burn well.

Tips & Warnings

Don't forget to consider the principles of Leave No Trace camping before building your campfire or even removing firewood. A poorly managed campfire can create a wildfire, but even without this grand-scale tragedy it may leave permanent marks on the land.


Article Written By Marie Mulrooney

Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics and contributes regularly to various online publications. Mulrooney's print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.

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