Your wood-burning stove deserves the Terry Jacks treatment

Have you been enjoying the very pleasant weather of late?

If you’ve not found much need to use your wood-burning stove in the recent sunny conditions then hopefully you’ve been able to channel your finely honed fire lighting skills to create some tasty barbecues for your nearest and dearest.

While you’re enjoying your burgers and sausages, remember you could be doing a little bit of preliminary work for the winter ahead (yes, we know it seems like a long way off but it will soon come around).

The wise philosopher Terry Jacks once observed that wood with a reduced moisture content makes for a much more contented fuel.

Adopting the persona of log, he (very nearly) sang: “We had joy, we had fun, we had seasoned in the sun.”

Perfect weather

It is the perfect weather to ensure that the wood you use has had plenty of opportunity to season in the sun before you need it.

Summer is a good time of year to start thinking about stockpiling fuel for this winter (or even next winter). As Terry Jacks well knew, wood that has been seasoned in the sun is a far more efficient fuel for your stove than freshly cut wood.

A log you pick up and immediately burn will contain around 45% moisture. That’s a lot of energy your stove has to spend evaporating water before it even starts to heat your room. And that’s without even mentioning the problems with creosote caused by unseasoned wood.

Lower moisture content

Taking the time to cut, chop and stack wood now will mean the moisture content will be much lower when you come to burn it.

You just need to place the chopped wood on pallets – to prevent damp from the ground undoing your good work – and fashion a cover to protect it from the elements. You only need to cover the top because leaving the sides open is good for the airing process.

As long as you’ve taken those basic precautions, moisture will be evaporating from your wood from now until it goes into your stove – the longer you leave it to season, the more efficient burn you’ll get.

Less fuel

Seasoned wood may have as little as 20% moisture, which means your stove will get going more quickly and you will need less fuel to heat your home.

That’s our little tip for the day. Please accept our apologies for any embarrassment caused when you find yourself whistling Seasons In The Sun at various intervals over the coming hours.

10 thoughts on “Your wood-burning stove deserves the Terry Jacks treatment

    • Hi Kathy

      Something like a lean-to is fine to provide a bit of extra protection (or covering with tarpaulin if you’re expecting a particularly heavy downpour), but generally it needs good air circulation to stop the wood from rotting.

    • Hi Tracey

      It’s not advisable because cellars tend to be pretty damp. Also seasoning is most effective when you’ve got some wind and sunlight reaching the wood to help the evaporation process.



  1. Wind blowing through the wood stack is most effective at drying. It’s a process of evaporation, just like hanging your washing in the breeze!

  2. I season my logs in my shed that is south facing with large windows and a clear roof. It seasons logs quickly, leaving them cracked or shaken right through in a matter of weeks with good sun. I also dry the washing in there. Do I win a free moisture content meter?

    • Hi Geoff

      Something like a lean-to would be a bit better, so you’re benefitting from the breeze, too. But it sounds like it’s working well for you.

      Probably worth investing in that moisture meter though, just to double check. The process isn’t normally complete within weeks.



  3. hi lets say ive chopped and split logs from a tree that was cut down on 21 april and i would like to burn them in october is it only the moisture content that would render this unwise if the logs are say 18% moisture would iy be ok to burn thanks for advice you have given over the year

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