You may know;
“A stitch in time saves nine”
This proverb is also reasonable for wood splitting.
Why splitting is necessary? If splitting is necessary then when to split the wood? Is it better to split green wood or seasoned and what should be the width of the chunk?
If all those questions spin in your head when you think about the wood splitting, good news! You are not alone. In this article, I have answered all those questions and lastly, I have also added 5 mistakes people make when splitting wood and a list of softwood to split.
Stop sharpening the axe and read the article first.
What is the Purpose of Splitting Firewood?
Is splitting firewood necessary? The quick answer is yes! You should split your firewood. There are a couple of reasons why you should split-
- Bark (the outermost protective layer of woody plants) keeps moisture and protects the insides and most of the hardwood bark is fire retardant. If you don’t split firewood, it will take time to catch the fire and don’t burn inside completely. So, not splitting wood means a waste of energy.
- Greenwood contains a lot of moisture content (more than 45%). The seasoned wood should have less than 20% moisture. The splitting log can expose more surface area of wood that helps to dry and reduce the moisture content quickly.
- Splitting wood accelerates the burning process and produces maximum heat.
So, Splitting firewood is important for creating perfect sized wood, reducing the seasoning period, get maximum heat, and burns cleaner without smoke or smolder.
Is It Better To Split Wood Green or Seasoned?
It depends on the species of the trees because of their different organic components. Many prefer to split dry wood, many do not. Both have a few advantages and disadvantages.
Advantages of Split Green Wood
- Splitting green wood allows the wood drying quickly and also helps the wood to dry evenly.
- Some species are easy to split when green(oak and maple)
- Splitting green wood is a healthy task because no dust generates.
- Easy to stack and store.
Disadvantages of Split Green Wood
- Some species are really hard to split in green.
- Green wood is too heavy to handling.
- Need to swing the axe forcefully.
Advantages of Split Dry Wood
- Some species are easy to split when it seasoned and brittle (pine).
- Have a crack that helps to place a splitting wedge.
- Drying can decrease the cohesion force. So, the wood split with a single strike of axe.
- The bark of the dry wood is looser and comes off easily.
Disadvantages of Split Dry Wood
- For splitting dry wood, you have to give a longer period of time to dry it.
- Dust generates.
- The insect can damage the wood while drying.
- Wood may dry unevenly.
Confused? Don’t worry!
If you have a log splitter then you don’t need to think that the wood is green or dry. The log splitter (Our pick: Southland SELS60 Electric Log Splitter) can love to split wood, no matter it is dry or not. But if you don’t like log splitter, pick the top-rated splitting axe & splitting wedge(our pick: Estwing Sure Split Wedge) to go for splitting seasoned wood(Learn more: How to split wood with a wedge).
Tips: Few varieties rot inside if don’t split timely such as hickory, maple, beech, and yellow birch. So you should split them as soon as possible.
How Long Do You Wait Before Splitting Wood?
This is important to know for them those are want to split dry wood. Before splitting the wood, you have to know whether the wood is dry completely or not. Generally, the firewood needs 6 months to dry.
When to Split Wood after Cutting? If this question spin in your head. Then the quick tips for you. For split and use wood in the winter, you should cut and stack them for drying in early spring. Though the drying period varies depending on the species, log size, and amount of sunlight on them.
You just consider that the moisture content has less than below 20%. For knowing that uses a moisture meter for wood(our pick: General Tools MMD4E Digital Moisture Meter)
Moreover, there are also a few tests that can tell you that if the wood is dry or not. For your help I have already written an article-How can you tell if the wood is seasoned? Here I have discussed five methods to know that tell your firewood is ready to burn.
When to Split Wood?
As I already told you, it needs to at least 6 months to dry the wood. So if you plan to burn wood, you need to split wood at least 6 months ago.
The temperate and calm weather is suitable for splitting firewood. That’s why fall and early winter are the best time to split firewood. Because at that time, you will be able to split more wood with less energy and sweat.
How Small To Split Firewood?
Split the wood in the proper size is important for your wood stove and fireplace.3-6 inches width is the perfect size for the most efficient wood stove. Though you increase the size depending on the dimension of your stove door.
Follow the rules if the dimension of the woodstove door is 6 inches-
- If the log is less than 3 inches in diameter, no need to split.
- If the log is more than 3 inches and less than 6 inches in diameter, split in half.
- Split into four pieces, if the wood 6 to12 inches in diameter.
- If the wood more than 12 inches in diameter, split into 6 pieces.
Remember: all the pieces must almost equal in size.
What Kind of AXE Do You Use To Split Wood?
There are different types of axe available in the market. All are not suitable for splitting wood. Only a good quality splitting axe or a splitting maul can be used for split wood perfectly. Splitting axe and maul are specially designed for splitting wood.
Here are my favorite wood splitting tools that you can try-
Round Logs vs. Split Logs
All the wood provides the same amount of BTUs per pound. No matter it is round logs or split.
The round log has excess bark that is a bad sign for quality firewood. The round log is perfect for outdoor because it burns slowly.
On the other hand, the split log hasn’t excess bark and it dries faster and burns better in the woodstove.
Best Type of wood For Firewood
The Hardwood Wood
Oak, Elm, Hornbeam, Chestnut, Sweetgum, Cotton Ash, and Beech.
Fruit Trees (Apple, Pear, Cherry), Chestnut, False Acacia.
The Soft Wood
Poplar, Maple, Birch, Linden, Alder, Willow. Maritime Pine, Spruce, Scots Pine, Fir, Larch.
Wood to Avoid
- Exploding woods: chestnut and locust (and plane tree) tend to burst and throw embers. This is also the case for certain conifers.
- The wood that clogs: some wood generates a lot of smoke, but also resins that clog the fireplace such as conifers, which it is preferable to use only at the start of the outbreak.
- Italian poplar, plane tree, and lime tree burn quite badly.
Please note: avoid burning all treated wood and industrial wood: pallets, painted wood, etc. These woods can give off toxic vapors and foul heating appliances.
The best wood species for heating are:
- First: oak, hornbeam, beech, ash, maple, elm.
- Then: birch, fruit trees (domestic or wild).
Note: in all cases, prefer locally produced wood. This contributes to better respect for the environment and local activity.
5 Mistakes People Make When Splitting Wood
- Hit the axe on the middle of the wood. You need to hit the outer edge of the wood to split quickly.
- Let not the bark off.
- Split the small-diameter wood vertically. Have enough chance to miss swing the axe and fall down the log from the splitting block that causes a serious accident.
- Don’t use the right splitting tools. Remember; only log splitter, splitting axe, splitting maul, and splitting wedge can help to done your splitting job perfectly.
- Don’t take advantage of the cracking point on the seasoned wood. Splitting wedge(know the different types of the wedge) on the kerf will help you split the wood more efficiently.
When and what is the best time to split?
Green or seasoned which you should split?
Why should you split?
All the questions you have to know before going to split your firewood. Because without knowing those questions your splitting job will more difficult. That’s why I covered all the topics in one article. I hope it helped to make a decision on when to split and which wood you should choose for firewood.
If you have any other questions and opinions that will help our audience, let us know in the comment section below.