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Ask a Master Gardener: Store damp firewood outside

Q: I bought some firewood this fall, and it turns out to be pretty green. Can you suggest any ways to get it to dry faster? Should I bring it into the house and stack it in the basement, or will it dry faster in the cold air outside?

A: We don't recommend storing firewood in the house, because as the wood warms up, any insects it may be harboring may wake up. Insect eggs could hatch inside your house. The critters hiding in firewood are not likely to damage your house, but they could be a nuisance.

So store it outside, but try these steps to get it to dry more quickly:

Split any large logs. Smaller pieces dry faster.

Stack the logs so that air can circulate. Don't leave the wood in a dense pile. It's best to make your stack up off the ground, on a pallet or other structure.

Cover the top of your stack with something to shield it from rain and snow. Wood can re-absorb moisture, so you want to avoid getting it wet. But just cover the top, not the sides. Draping a tarp over the whole stack will prevent wind and sun from drying the wood.

Some vendors sell seasoned wood, but sometimes it's hard to find, so it's a good idea to plan ahead: Buy wood this year that you intend to burn next year, allowing it at least six months to dry.

Burning green wood is inefficient and it makes for a smokier fire. It can also contribute to creosote build-up in your chimney. Creosote can cause fires in your chimney that can spread to the rest of the house, so it's important to try to avoid build-up and to clean your chimney regularly.

There's more information about creosote and chimney fires at uidaho.edu/~/media/UIdaho-Responsive/Files/Extension/forestry/WFS6-The-Creosote-Problem-Chimney-Fires-and-Chimney-Cleaning.ashx.

University of Minnesota Extension Master Gardeners in St. Louis County. Send your questions to features@duluthnews.com.

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