However the wood is stacked, expect the wood to dry for at least six months before it is ready for the fireplace. Freshly cut wood can have up to 100% moisture, which means around half of its weight is water. The ideal moisture content for firewood is around 20%. How do you know if the lumber is ready? Seasoned wood will turn gray, but color is not the only indicator. Look for hairline cracks along the edges. Seasoned wood will also weigh less and make a higher-pitched sound when knocked together. Unseasoned wood will make a low “thud” when banged together.
If at all possible, keep the lumber pile sheltered from precipitation, while still exposed to airflow and sunlight. Tree bark is a natural moisture barrier, so arrange the lumber to maximize evaporation. If a lot of rain is expected, arrange the wood pieces bark side up. If there is a lot of ground moisture from snow or standing water, arrange wood pieces bark side down.