Firewood Size and Storage

29 March 2011 In The Woods

What is the best firewood for a wood stove?
Burning high quality firewood in the wood stove keeps the family warm and extends the life of the chimney stack.

Best Types Of Firewood

Wood choices are limited to the location of the cottage. Hardwoods, which are the best types of wood for the wood stove, are ideal but most of the top species are found south of cottage country.

Top Firewood Choices for the Wood Stove
Oak, maple, elm, beech, and cherry are your top choices. They all have a high density when dried out and produce long lasting coals.

Aspen (poplar), cottonwood, ash, and birch are the next best choices and are found in more northern climates.

Avoid using any of the conifer trees for your wood stove firewood.
The pine sap will collect on the inside of the chimney stack and may cause a chimney fire if it gets too hot.

Firewood Preparation

Burning the best type of wood is important but you also need to burn wood that is properly seasoned and the right length.

How Long Should Firewood Be Seasoned or Aged?
Firewood that is too new or too old is not desirable.  Fresh-cut wood is too green and must be allowed to sit for 12 to 18 months. The amount of time required depends on the thickness of the wood and the weather conditions that the wood is exposed to. The wood must have sufficient time to dry out and become properly seasoned.

Why is it bad to burn green wood?
Burning green wood is inefficient because all of the energy of the fire gets used up to boil off the moisture that is in the wood instead of producing heat for the cottage. Green wood is also very difficult to light.

Burning wood that has been sitting for more that 2 or 3 years is also inefficient.  Much of the wood will be rotten or eaten by insects and will produce very little heat.

What is the Best Firewood Cutting Length?
The best length for a firewood log depends on the size of the wood stove or the fireplace. The ideal length for most wood stoves is about 18 inches.

The thickness of the log is also important. Any log that is thicker than 10 inches should be split in half or quarters.

Firewood Storage

Proper storage is essential for ensuring a supply of good quality firewood. You spend a lot of time and energy to cut the wood, so it makes sense to try to keep it in good condition for as long as possible.

How to Store and Protect Firewood

  • Keep the wood pile at least 30 feet away from the cabin and any outbuilding. Wood piles attract spiders, ants, termites, beetles, mice and snakes.
  • Use a firewood rack to store the wood in an organized way.
  • Wood should not be in contact with the ground. Elevate the wood at least 3 inches to provide adequate air flow, reduce rotting, and minimize critter nests and insect infestations.
  • Stack the wood in a way that exposes the ends of the logs to the air.  Most of the moisture evaporates out of the ends during the drying out period.
  • Stack the wood in a manner that allows for some airflow through the pile.
  • Do not cover the firewood in the 12 – 18 months that it is being left to dry out.  The cover will trap the moisture inside the wood.
  • Once the wood is adequately dried out, place a loose tarp over the top layer of the wood stack to keep it dry.
  • Remove the bark before taking the wood into the cabin.  It has little burn value and contains most of the critters.

Firewood Rack
A sturdy firewood rack keeps the firewood organized and off the ground. Avoiding ground moisture will help slow the rotting process and keep your wood in good condition for a longer time. The rack is also useful for keeping the bugs and snakes from turning the wood pile into a condo. Use a firewood tote bag to easily carry the logs to the wood stove.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to products. Cottage Tips may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.


Wood splitters are useful when you prefer to spend your time and energy catching fish instead of chopping logs. Depending on your situation, you may be able to get away with a small electric one. If you are spending the winter at the cabin it is worth the investment to get one that is gas powered and will go through a lot more wood in a short period of time.

Splitting Axes, Hatchets, and Axe Sharpeners
A heavy splitting axe is necessary for chopping the large logs into manageable sizes. A hatchet is essential for splitting kindling. Don’t forget to get yourself a good sharpener.

This little kindling splitter makes the job much easier.

Bow Saws, Brush Axes, and Machetes
A bow saw, brush axe, and a machete are all helpful when trimming the branches off the trees. They are also a great way to get some exercise.

Safety Glasses, Work Gloves, and Steel Toe Boots
Safety gear should always be used anytime you are trimming trees, chopping logs or splitting firewood. Take the time to put on the proper safety gear. A small accident will ruin your time at the lake.

Video Tutorial – How to Split Wood

Firewood Books
Here are two good books which will be useful for both beginners and seasoned wood cutters.

Go to the Wood Stove Maintenance page.
Go to the Chainsaw Maintenance page.
Go to the Bonfire and Campfire page.