How Long Does It Take for Wood To Dry

The drying time of wood is an essential consideration for campers, as it can affect the success and safety of their fires. Wet wood is difficult to ignite, produces less heat and more smoke than dry wood, and can create a dangerous situation if it is used in a confined space such as a cabin. In this article, we will explore the factors that influence wood drying time and provide some tips for finding and storing dry wood for your camping trips.

Wood typically dries out at a rate of one inch per year, depending on the thickness of the wood and local climate conditions. For example, a two-inch thick piece of wood may take two years to dry out completely. However, most wood will become seasoned after six months to a year. 

Withered dry wood in the sand
Dry wood on the sand, Source: Unsplash

Wood Moisture Explained

Moisture in wood is defined as the amount of water contained within its cellular structure. This water primarily comes from water vapor absorbed from the atmosphere after being cut down or collected, but it can also come from sap stored within the tree itself. The amount of moisture present depends on the type of tree, where it was harvested, and when (some woods contain more moisture during certain months than others). 

Factors that Affect Drying Time

There are several factors that can influence how long it takes for wood to dry. Some of the most important ones include the following:


The type of wood you are working with affects its drying time significantly. Different species will have different densities and moisture contents, which impacts how quickly they absorb or release water into the air. For example, hardwoods like oak tend to be much denser than softwoods like pine, requiring more time to dry out completely. As a general rule, hardwoods take longer to dry out than softwoods while also providing more heat per unit volume when burned. 


The size of the wood also plays an important role in determining drying time, as larger logs will require more time due to their higher mass-to-surface area ratio. If possible, split larger logs into smaller pieces or chunks before stacking them; this will increase their surface area and speed up their drying times without having to invest in additional resources or materials like kilns or heaters that may be required for larger pieces of wood.

If you are new to camping, it’s easy to overestimate how much firewood you actually need. The less firewood you have, the easier it will be to dry it.


The temperature and humidity levels in the environment will also affect how quickly wood dries out. Warmer, dryer climates can speed up drying times, while higher humidity levels or colder temperatures can slow them down significantly. Since the weather is unpredictable in many areas of the world, it is essential to be prepared for all eventualities when collecting and storing wood before and during your camping trips. 

How to Dry Wood

If you have collected wet wood and need to dry it out before using it, you can do a few things to speed up the process. Here are some tips:

Split into Smaller Pieces 

The first step in drying wood is to split it into smaller pieces. This will allow more air circulation around the logs so they can dry faster. Splitting logs also makes them easier to fit into the campfire and allows them to burn completely. Be sure to wear protective gloves and safety glasses when splitting logs, as they can be dangerous if mishandled. 

Air Dry 

Once you’ve split your logs into smaller pieces, leave them outside in an area with good airflow so they can air-dry. This process can take several days, depending on the humidity levels and the size of the logs. Cover the logs with a tarp or sheet if there are periods of rain during this time to ensure they don’t get soaked again. 

Use a Drying Rack

If you want to speed up the drying process, you can use a drying rack. This is a simple structure made from poles or a few 4x4s and wires that allow air to circulate freely around the logs. Place it in an area with good airflow and direct sunlight for the best results.

Put Near a Heat Source 

If you don’t have time for air drying, then put your logs near a heat source like a campfire or open flame such as propane tank so they can absorb some of the heat from it. This will help speed up the drying process without waiting several days for it to happen naturally. You should see some vapor coming off the logs when they are near a heat source. 

Store in a Dry Place

Once your wood is dry, store it in a dry place to prevent it from becoming wet again. This could be an indoor space like a shed or garage or an outdoor space covered by tarps or other waterproof materials. Be sure to check on the wood periodically and replace any that has gotten wet or is starting to rot.

Buy It

Or the most straightforward solution of them all, you could save yourself the hassle and buy your wood. Many campgrounds and stores sell dry, pre-cut firewood ready to use immediately. You can also find bundles of kiln-dried wood online or at hardware stores that have already been dried to a specific moisture content.

This will give you peace of mind knowing that your wood is safe to use, and you don’t have to worry about waiting for it to dry or investing in any additional materials. It will also save you time, as you won’t have to gather, split, and store the wood yourself. 

Finding Dry Wood

If, however, you came unprepared and didn’t have access to pre-cut firewood, then you will need to find dry wood on your own.

Look for Dead Standing Trees 

The best place to start looking for dry wood is in dead-standing trees. These trees provide some of the driest woods because they are generally healthy, and low-lying branches don’t collect moisture from the ground or rain showers. When looking for dead-standing trees, look for those that are at least three feet tall and without any foliage on them. You should also check to see if there are any insect infestations in the tree since this will indicate that the wood is not suitable for burning. 

Inspect Fallen Logs 

Another great source of dry wood is fallen logs. The advantage of fallen logs is that they tend to be higher up off the ground, so they don’t get wet from rain or snowfall as quickly as other sources of wood. They also tend to be larger than other wood sources, making them a great option when building bigger campfires. Before collecting any fallen logs, inspect them thoroughly for signs of rot or insect infestation. If you find either one of these things, avoid collecting that particular log since it won’t burn well in your fire pit or camp stove. 

Avoid Green Logs

Avoid collecting green logs at all costs. Green logs are those that have been recently cut and are still full of moisture. These logs will take much longer to dry out, making them unsuitable for burning in campfires or stoves.


The drying time of wood can vary significantly depending on the species, size, thickness, and environmental conditions. To ensure that you have dry wood for your next campfire, it is vital to store it properly. Following the tips outlined in this article can ensure that your campfire will be safe and successful.

About Antonio

I’m Antonio, a passionate traveler, and outdoor lover who’s running this website. I started this site to share my passion for camping, traveling, and bikepacking.