Firewood, lumber, telephone poles, railway ties--all timber is dried prior to use, a process called seasoning. Allowing the wood to dry minimises structural problems in buildings because, as the wood dries, it shrinks. Wet firewood produces more smoke than flame. A few processes are used to season wood. Dry wood is less likely to warp, mould, is stronger and is easier to paint or varnish. The type of wood, density and level of humidity play a role in the length of seasoning time, especially in regards to air seasoning.
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To air season wood that is cut into desired lengths, stack it in layers and let it sit for 6 to 9 months. Cut the firewood in the desired lengths, and split it into smaller pieces. Stacking in layers allows the air to flow through the wood. Homesafe suggests covering the stack of wood with a tarp to keep it dry during rains.
Kiln seasoning of wood is a commercial process that employs two processes, progressive and compartmentalisation. The compartment process is conducted in a building where the lumber is stacked in a manner that allows the air to circulate. A program is set to season the wood. The progressive process is conducted on a trolley system where the wood is moved through different compartments. Both processes control the humidity and air flow for the proper moisture reduction. Kiln drying allows processing of a greater amount of wood for commercial sales.
A hydroscopic chemical is used to soak the cut green wood. The chemical seasoning process reduces the risk of stressing the wood internally and slows the moisture loss, which keeps the wood in pristine shape to create rifle butts, golf club heads, carvings and other ornamental uses.
Solar seasoning occurs in a specialised kiln; the wood is stacked so the air circulates while the sun heats the kiln. Occasionally wood is air dried prior to solar drying to reduce the moisture. The solar drying of wood is reserved for furniture uses, where the less moisture the better.
A new wood seasoning process growing in Canada is microwave seasoning. The use of microwave energy pulses are used to dry the timber in a way that decreases seasoning degrade. The microwave energy allows for more control over drying speed and moisture content.
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