The answer to the question is a solid yes. Silver birch does need seasoning for firewood. The most common reason for seasoning silver birch is to remove excess moisture to enable efficient burning.
Correct seasoning methods also protect it from weather elements, especially if it will be sitting outside, exposed in storage, and/or in transit.
It is prone to rot, and without seasoning, it can consume up to 80% of its own weight in water and remain soggy and unusable for a long period, so there are definite benefits to seasoning your silver birch before you burn it as firewood.
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The seasoning process will reduce the moisture and sap content of the wood and help reduce shrinkage and cracking.
As with other deciduous firewood trees, silver birch is “seasoned” or dried out before it’s used to help it burn more efficiently. This is done by cutting it into airy pieces and leaving them to season or dry in a wood shed/warehouse for several months.
How to Cut Silver Birch Wood for Seasoning
To cut silver birch firewood into the sizes that are used for domestic fires, you will need to use a chainsaw with a sharp metal-cutting blade or a good quality handsaw (hand saw).
Note: It is important to keep your chainsaw sharp at all times, as this will reduce your energy consumption and make cutting through branches and girth more manageable. Wearing protective clothing, such as ear protection, eye protection, and gloves, is also recommended.
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How to Season Silver Birch Logs
For seasoning, cut the logs into airy pieces (approximately 6-8 inches long) and leave them to dry out in a wood shed or undercover. The length of time required to season your logs depends on a variety of factors such as the diameter of the log, coppicing age, the thickness of bark, and quantity cut and stored.
When cutting your logs into pieces, the most important thing is to make sure you do this in an area with plenty of ventilation, e.g., outside.
How long does it take for silver birch wood to season?
Silver birch will take up to a year to season well. Even a small-diameter, green-cut silver birch log will take at least half a year to season, and very large-diameter logs will take up to one year.
While drying, the wood will shrink by about 3/4″ (2 cm) per month. If you do not season the wood properly, you will be disappointed with what you are burning.
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As a general rule, the heavier the wood is, the longer it will take to dry out. Because silver birch is a hardwood, it will take much longer to dry than softwoods.
It is also very heavy and requires more drying time than softwoods, such as pine or spruce, when seasoned as firewood.
What are the benefits of seasoning silver birch firewood?
Seasoning silver birch firewood will remove the wood’s sap and reduce shrinkage and cracking. In addition to making firewood easier to handle, the seasoning will also make its burning qualities far more consistent.
Seasoning will make sure that your firewood is dry before you burn it, so you won’t have unexplainable flare-ups or smoke from your wood-burning stove.
Factors to consider before seasoning silver birch firewood
You should consider a few things before you begin seasoning your silver birch for firewood. First, remember that not all silver birch trees consist of the same type of wood.
Those with a tight grain will be harder to season and should be seasoned more than those with a less tight grain. The reason for this is simply because the more soft, moist, and swollen the wood is, the harder it is to season and seal it using traditional methods.
Where can I get seasoned silver birch firewood?
Seasoned birch firewood can be purchased either in the form of logs or as splits. The premium value added by splitting the log is that you are then able to dry the wood out safely and easily, reducing weight and saving space while you do it.
Silver birch is a very popular wood used in the States as an alternative source of fuel, but before you pile up silver birch logs, make sure to give it a few months in the woodshed or under cover to dry out. It will save you money, both on fuel and air conditioning.