Almost everyone who sells logs says they're seasoned and ready to burn. Sometimes they are.
Unusual is the log merchant who tells you that you'll need to wait a month or two before his logs are ready, or to season a load over the summer. If you know a log merchant like that, hang on to them. We know one or two of them. Honesty's an undervalued resource that always pays dividends.
Give or take a few points, 20% is roughly considered the benchmark for a dry log. If you're a hoary-handed woodsperson, you'll know if a log is right just by picking it up, even looking at the damn thing. For everyone else, a moisture meter makes one hell of a lie detector.
Put the batteries in the way god intended, press the button and push the prongs into the side of the log. Here we get a reading of 13%.
Flip it over, we get 14%. Sounds good, right? But that's like love at first sight. He looks gorgeous, but is he actually a psychopath? She's got a great sense of humour, but does she actually know how to use a chainsaw? Well, you need to get beyond surface impressions.
Now comes the test, the moment of revealed truth. Ask your suitably-trained nominated axe-wielder to split that log asunder, then plunge the prongs into one of the freshly-cut surfaces. This batch of logs was nominally 'kiln-dried' which means it should have been bone-dry to light up like tar-paper.
We got sold a pup. 35%! That's the moisture content of freshly-felled ash, pretty much the only British wood that will burn from the off, albeit reluctantly. It's simply not dry enough to burn as a fuel.
So if you want to check your wood, pick up one of our moisture meters, split your logs, check 'em.
You may be disappointed.
The good news is, time may not heal all wounds, but it does dry all wood. Make sure your wood store is well-ventilated, and most half-seasoned logs will be ready for next winter.