A family member asked me if their firewood should be kept inside or outside. While I had an idea, I did some more research to find out exactly what’s the best option. Here’s what I found.
Firewood should be stored outside if possible. This allows the sun and the wind to season (dry) the firewood and deters bugs and rodents from entering your home. Store firewood at least 10 feet from the house and off of the ground. Keep the top of the pile covered to protect it from rain and snow.
So, while firewood should be stored outside, what are some expert storage tips you should know, and what are some alternative storage options? Let’s take a closer look.
Why Firewood Should Be Stored Outside
|Storing Firewood Inside||Storing Firewood Outside|
|Less Dry||More Dry|
|Generally Less Space||More Space|
|More Chance of Pests in Home||Less Chance of Pests in Home|
|More Mess||Less Mess|
The primary reason to store firewood outside is to season it. Seasoning firewood simply means to dry it, with the goal of getting it to 20% moisture content or less. This allows the firewood to burn cleaner and hotter.
Firewood that is just cut from the tree is “green” and has tons of water in it (60% moisture content and higher). For example, a full-size pine log has an estimated 70 gallons of water while an oak log of similar size contains around 1,050 gallons of water.
The problem many people run into is they buy unseasoned firewood (usually unintentionally) and have to wait for it to dry. Most people season their firewood by air-drying it over 6-12 months, but commercial operations use kilns to dry firewood in a matter of 2-3 days.
Exposure to the sun and wind are key in seasoning firewood properly in time for when you need it. More airflow generally means drier air, which naturally balances itself by pulling moisture from objects such as firewood.
While firewood can be seasoned indoors, there’s little to no sun, and reduced airflow, so it takes much longer. However, you can help this indoors by using a fan and/or dehumidifier (more on this later).
Other than being easier to light, seasoned firewood has far less creosote (the harmful tar buildup you see in chimneys). This is a big reason why seasoning firewood is so important.
You can check if your firewood is seasoned by the sight, sound, and moisture content (by using a firewood moisture meter. Here’s the moisture meter I use and recommend from Amazon).
Seasoned firewood is lighter, has cracks, and doesn’t make a dull thud when hit together.
Some other benefits of storing firewood outside include less mess and a reduced chance of pests entering the home. Firewood piles are attractive places for rodents and bugs such as termites to nest, so most people prefer to store them outdoors.
Recommended: What is Seasoned Firewood? (Explained)
Should Firewood Be Covered?
Firewood should be covered to avoid damage from the rain and snow. While firewood can’t become unseasoned, it can hold surface moisture (called free water) which promotes mold and fungi to break down the wood.
Since mold and fungi growth is dramatically reduced from firewood below 30% moisture content, and stopped at 20% and below, keeping your firewood dry helps preserve it.
Seasoned firewood with 20% or less moisture content lasts indefinitely and won’t degrade from biological forces.
The best ways to cover firewood are to keep it in a firewood shed, or on a firewood rack and cover it with a tarp. Some people remove the tarp during sunny weather to speed up the seasoning process, but it’s more important to protect the pile from rain and snow.
However, if your firewood gets wet, don’t worry. Once your firewood has been seasoned, it’s impossible for it to become unseasoned and will dry out in about 1 sunny day. Just try not to get it wet again.
Recommended: Can Firewood Get Wet (& How Fast Can It Dry)?
Also, keep your firewood off of the ground. Firewood not only absorbs the moisture from the ground, but contact with soil introduces mold and fungi. These both pose a threat to the firewood and how long it lasts.
Fortunately, if you have your firewood pile in a shed or rack, it’ll already be off the ground.
To learn more about the benefits of covering firewood, check out my other post: Should Firewood Be Covered? (& The Best Ways)
Can Firewood Be Stored In the Garage?
If you’re unable to store your firewood outside, the garage or a closed shed are the next best options. While keeping firewood in a garage prevents the sun and wind from seasoning your firewood, you can place a fan or dehumidifier directed towards the pile to dry it.
As with storing outside, keep the firewood off of the ground. While there’s less of a chance of moisture and mold, water can pool up and begin to rot the pile from the bottom up. A small firewood rack goes a long way in keeping your firewood dry and organized.
Naturally, if you’re storing your firewood in the garage, you don’t need to cover it.
The Best Way to Store Firewood
The best way to store firewood is to keep it outside under a firewood shed. The shed’s roof protects the firewood from the majority of rain and snow and allows the sun and wind to season it faster. You don’t need to cover the firewood pile if it has a roof.
The next best option is to store firewood on a rack outside. Unlike sheds, firewood racks should be covered with a tarp to prevent rain and snow from seeping into the pile. Only cover the top of the pile to allow the wind to reach and dry the sides of the firewood.
If you’re building your own firewood rack, make sure it keeps the pile off of the ground.
Possibly the most important part of storing firewood is how you stack it.
Firewood should be split into quarters to allow for more surface area to dry and to make stacking easier.
It should also be placed bark-side down to expose the “naked” part of the logs to dry in the sun and wind. However, the top layer of the pile can be placed bark-side up to take advantage of the bark’s natural water resistance.
Keep the firewood pile at least 10-20 feet from the house to reduce the chance of critters entering your home.
Recommended: Can Firewood Get Too Dry? Yes, & Here’s How to Tell
If your firewood is already seasoned, and you don’t mind a small mess, feel free to store it indoors or in the garage. I still recommend using a firewood rack in this case.
However, if your firewood has not been seasoned, keep it outside for the quickest drying time.
If you’re unable to have it outside, consider using a fan and/or dehumidifier to dramatically speed up the rate the firewood dries.
Remember, seasoned firewood is lighter in weight, has cracks, and has a hollow sound when hit together.
But the best way to confirm if your firewood is seasoned is to use a moisture meter. Check your firewood is 20% or less in moisture content and it’ll burn cleaner, hotter, and last much longer.
Need More Help?
You can always ask us here at Fireplace Tips, but you should know the other resources available to you! Here are the resources we recommend.
- Chimney Safety Institute of North America (CSIA): The CSIA is your BEST resource for fireplace and chimney safety at home. They’re a non-profit governed by a volunteer board of directors dedicated to the education, training, and certification of chimney and industry related professionals.
- Self-Sufficiency and Off-Grid: If you’re like me and passionate about off-grid and self-sufficiency, see my number 1 resource—Abundance Plus. Check out their Frugal Homesteading Course on growing 90% of your own food. Get 7-days free and 10% off with the code: TYLER10