If you’ve ever been trapped in a surprise rainstorm when working with wood – or chopping wood for fuel for your fire – you know just how much of a headache and hassle you are in store for.
Too much moisture in wood makes it really difficult to work with (and almost impossible to burn reliably).
Worse, figuring out exactly how long it takes forward to dry after it has rained involves a bunch of different factors that can stretch your total drying time from anywhere to a couple of days to a couple of weeks (or even a month or more).
In this quick guide we run through just about everything you need to know about how long it takes forward to dry after a rain.
Let’s jump right in!
How Long Does It Take for Wood to Dry After Rain?
How Much Rain?
There’s a world of difference between how long it’s going to take wood that has been rained on for just a couple of minutes (even up to a half an hour or so) and wood that has been rained on for hours and hours – or even days! The best firepits need to use dry wood.
If you’re just talking about a little bit of rain, it’s probably only going to take half a day or so in the sunshine for the wood to dry out.
If you’re talking about a day long or multi-day monsoon, though, you could be looking at two weeks minimum for wood to dry out to the point where it is useful again.
The type of wood that you are working with makes a huge difference as well.
Hardwoods (like oak) have a much less porous grain structure that just isn’t going to soak up water and moisture the way that softwoods (like pine) will.
Softwoods can absorb anywhere between 15% or more moisture in just a little bit of rain. This causes them to swell up, twist, and generally become almost one workable – and softwood that is soaked through definitely won’t burn well, either (even if it’s been properly seasoned before the rain).
Hardwoods, on the other hand, can shed quite a bit more rain before suffering any ill effects. If you were working on and Oak piece, for example, and the skies opened up you usually have enough time to move indoors or to get it covered without any ill effects.
Size of the Wood
The size of the wood that you are working with in the amount of surface area exposed to all that extra moisture will make a big difference.
If only a little bit of wood (edge grain, for example) was exposed to rain you might not have too much to worry about.
If the whole piece of wood sat out in a tropical storm, though, you’re probably going to be drying that for at least two weeks if not even longer.
Ongoing Weather Conditions
Of course, ongoing weather conditions help to dictate how quickly your lumber and your wood dries.
Those that only had to worry about a surprise rain shower with nothing but sunny days ahead are going to see their dry ready quickly.
Folks that have a lot of rain in the forecast, though, probably aren’t going to see their wooden material dry anytime soon – even if they get it covered and out of the weather.
Wind and sunshine can also have a big impact on your drying timeline. Windy weather and a lot of sun – especially direct sunlight – will make sure that the water and excess moisture leaves your wooden material just as quickly as humanly possible.
Still, cold, overcast days are going to prevent a lot of that moisture from escaping.
Another thing you have to factor in is the amount of humidity that your board is going to be subjected to.
High levels of relative humidity outside the wood practically guarantee that the moisture is going to stay locked inside the cellular structure of your wooden materials. High levels of moisture inside the wood and real dry outside humidity is going to suck the moisture from the wood like a sponge.
What Can I Do to Speed Up the Drying Process?
Thankfully, though, there are certainly some things you can do to speed up the drying process.
You don’t have to let Mother Nature handle all the heavy lifting for you!
Get Excess Surface Water off the Wood Itself
The very first thing you want to do is get any excess surface water off of the wood itself ASAP.
Use a rag, use a towel, use a squeegee – whatever you have to do to get the water standing on your wood off of it and away from the wood ASAP.
This is the first big piece of the puzzle. Skip this and everything slows down dramatically.
Use Waterproof Covers on Your Wood
Secondly, you need to get your wood covered with waterproof material right away.
This material is going to prevent any extra rain and water from damaging your wood, from soaking directly into the wooden construction materials.
Stack Wood with “Stickers”
Next, it’s a good idea to start stacking your wood up with “stickers” in between each individual layer.
The stickers can be made out of cut off scrap pieces of wood or other material, but the general idea here is to make sure that you don’t have wood materials sitting on top of other pieces of wood directly.
You want a halfway decent gap (big enough for air to flow through unobstructed but not huge) so that you can promote faster dryer. The more breathability your pile of wood has the faster it’s going to dry.
Get the Wood Warmed Up
Finally, if you have the ability to bring your wood indoors and get it warmed up you’re going to be able to speed the drying process more than maybe anything else.
Space in your shed, space in your garage, or space in your basement can be used to stack wood, get it out of the elements, and get it into a warmer space.