Lochbroom Woodfuels

sustainable woodfuels ~ creating opportunities

Lochbroom Woodfuels Ltd is a community-owned social enterprise based in Ullapool, in the Highlands of Scotland. We're committed to creating a reliable and sustainable firewood supply chain in our area and providing supported training and work placements for young people.

Storing Firewood

With the weather being so wet and horrible lately it seems like a good time to talk about wood storage. Leaving wood in a higgledy-piggledy pile (while fun to say) is pretty wasteful and not very safe. Well stacked wood stays dry, making it burn more efficiently and release less carbon into the atmosphere. Here we are going to lay out the most straightforward ways to lay out your wood and explain the most important things you should consider when stacking your wood.

When stacking you need to consider the air flow around the wood, how well sheltered it is from rain and how stable the stack is. Air flow helps dry out the wood, keeping the rain out also keeps it dry, and a stack that’s stable will be safe for anyone around it.

Firstly, make sure you stack the wood on a platform, so the logs are off the ground. Keeping the wood off the ground keeps the wood clean and dry while allowing more air flow. Using a recycled pallet is a good option and some people use concrete blocks or bricks with some timber planks laid across or just two long, straight uncut logs side by side.

Lay out the wood in a neat, straight row on your platform side by side, with the ends of the logs are facing out. As you build your stack up fit together the wood as neatly as possible. The more neatly the pieces fit together the more stable the stack will be.  If you are stacking them up against a wall, you should leave a few inches or several centimetres between the wall and the stack to let air flow between them. To make sure your stack is stable the ends need to be sturdy.  If you have a wood shed or another storage structure, this will keep the wood contained safely. See our earlier blog about a store we made from recycled pallets. 

 

Our very own recycled pallet wood store. 

Our very own recycled pallet wood store. 

If your wood stack is free-standing a simple way to keep it stable is to build a column of logs at either end of your stack using any semi-circular logs that are flat on the bottom you have in your bag. Stack them up 2x2 alternating the direction the logs point (like Jenga!). Build up the columns along with the rest of the stack. Your stack shouldn’t be any higher than around four feet for safety. The video link demonstrates free-standing wood stacking well. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FU_ipcbZUPI

 

Firewood getting stacked at the Alt Inn. 

Firewood getting stacked at the Alt Inn. 

If you have a lot of wood you might need to build more rows in front of the one you just stacked. Make sure to leave a few inches or several centimetres between rows of stacks to let air flow between them. Also, you may come across some oddly shaped or gnarly bits of wood. Stack these last, on the top, as they can be hard to arrange neatly with the rest of your wood.

The best way to keep rain off the wood stack in the wet Highland climate is to stack them in a wood store, shed or covered car port. An open sided structure is best for (you’ve probably guessed it) air flow. If you have a free-standing stack putting a tarpaulin over the top of the pile will do the trick, but make sure it is well secured and that the sides of the stack are open to the air. If your wood is completely enclosed the moisture will be trapped and your logs can go mouldy.

Stacking is straightforward and mainly just takes practice. Just remember:

1.       Let as much air flow through the stack as you can;

2.       Cover it from the rain;

3.       Make sure it’s not going to unexpectedly topple on top of anyone!

By Cameron Clow, Workin' Wood Intern