Should You Let Wood Dry Before Splitting It?

Have you been waiting for the rain to stop before splitting your firewood? If it has been raining a lot lately, you're probably considering just chopping your wood while it's still wet. This leads to the question, "Can I split wood before it dries?" We have researched the topic and provided the best answer below.

Although you can split wood while it's still wet, it is best to let it dry first. The lower the moisture content of the wood, the easier it will be to split because it gives less resistance when it is dry. However, split wood will dry faster than whole logs. 

There is more to learn about splitting and storing firewood. Keep reading to discover the best time of year to split wood, how to store it, and much more.

A log splitting in pine forest, Should You Let Wood Dry Before Splitting It?

Should You Let Wood Dry Before Splitting?

According to Cutting Edge Firewood, there are both pros and cons to splitting wood while it's wet. If you need the process to be as quick and easy as possible, you should opt for splitting dry wood. It is much easier to split than wet wood. Too much moisture buildup causes resistance, making wet wood more difficult to chop. However, this also depends on the type.

A man chops a piece of firewood

Green Wood Vs. Wet Wood

Freshly chopped tree trunks

Green wood and wet wood are not the same. Green wood refers to newly logged trees. It has higher moisture content than wood that has been cut down for a while. Some people find it easier to chop green wood. However, it will depend on the type of wood you are using.

Conifer Vs. Deciduous Trees

Conifer trees, such as pines, are easier to split when they are dry. They tend to be too sappy and soft when they are fresh. Deciduous trees, on the other hand, such as oak and maple trees, are more difficult to chop when they are dry. This is because they become extremely dense and solid once they've dried out.

Seasoning Split Wood

Splitting wood while it's wet or green will accelerate the seasoning process. Seasoned wood is simply wood that has had time to dry. Whole logs take longer to dry because the bark holds in the moisture. When you split the wood into sections, the moisture can escape and evaporate more easily.

In general, whole logs take anywhere between nine and 12 months to season, while split wood only takes about six months. This time, of course, will depend on the conditions to which the wood is exposed.

What is the Best Time (Season) to Split Firewood?

Machine grabbing tree trunk

When choosing the best time to split firewood, you should take into consideration the seasoning process. If you have plenty of wood already seasoned and ready for the winter, feel free to chop your firewood any time you are ready. However, if you need the wood for winter, it is best to chop it in early spring, giving it time to dry.

When splitting wood in April, keep in mind that it generally brings more rain than other months. Therefore, you will need to properly store your firewood.

How Do You Store Split Firewood?

Close up of wooden slated storage box containing cut logs

Properly storing split firewood will help accelerate the drying process. You should find a place with the lowest moisture content, preferably in the sun. Do not leave the wood just lying in a pile. Instead, raise it on a stand or crate, stacking neatly. Once stacked, cover the wood with a tarp, making sure to tuck the edges to keep out rainwater.

If you have a shed, this could be an ideal space for your wood. However, make sure the shed is not damp or humid. Moisture will attract mold, wood rot, and bugs.

You can find a firewood rack with a cover on Amazon.

Frequently Asked Questions

Searching question mark magnifying glass concept

How Long Does Split Wood Take to Dry?

In most cases, split wood takes about six months to dry. Times will vary, depending on the following factors:

  • Moisture Content
  • Weather Conditions
  • Type of Wood
  • Wood Size
  • Storage

If wood is exposed to rain or snow, it will take longer to dry. If it gets a lot of sun and wind, it will dry faster. Some wood is prone to longer drying times. Smaller pieces of wood will dry faster than large chunks. Likewise, wood with little to no bark will dry faster than pieces with excess bark.

Does Splitting Wood Make it Dry Faster?

Axe in Wood log

While splitting wet wood can be more difficult than splitting dry wood, it makes it dry faster. The bark acts as a barrier, holding in moisture. Once the wood is split, the moisture is able to evaporate from the wood. The less bark the wood has, the quicker it will dry.

How to Tell if Wood is Seasoned

There are a few basic ways to tell if your firewood is seasoned:

  • Smell
  • Color
  • Sound
  • Moisture

Wet wood will smell slightly different than dry wood. Breathe it in deeply; if it has a fresh smell, it needs to season longer. Seasoned wood will look darker and have a yellowish tint to it. The ends of the wood will also begin to separate once it has seasoned.

Take note of the sound when you knock two pieces of wood together. If it gives off a solid thud, it is probably not dry enough. However, if it sounds hollow, the wood is well-seasoned. If you want to be completely sure that your firewood is seasoned, you can use a moisture meter to make sure the wood has a moisture content of 20 percent or below.

You can purchase a moisture meter on Amazon.

Can You Split Green Firewood?

You can definitely split green firewood. However, depending on the type of wood, it may be more difficult to split. Splitting green wood will help it dry faster. Keep in mind that the moisture content of green wood is much higher than dry wood or even wet wood.

If you are concerned about the difficulty of splitting wet or green wood but want it to season faster, you can use a wood splitting machine to make chopping your firewood a breeze. Whether it's wet, dry, or green, the wood splitter can chop it with ease.

You can purchase a wood splitter on Amazon.


Splitting firewood can be both difficult and time-consuming, and it takes a long time for it to dry. If you need your wood within the next six months, go ahead and split it while it's wet. Otherwise, waiting until it's dry can make the process easier and less time-consuming.

Our blog has more to offer regarding firewood and much more! We have all the information to help you get ready for winter:

3 Slowest Burning Types of Wood for your Fireplace

Can Firewood Be Too Old To Burn?

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