Wood has been used for ages for making firewood, furniture, and creating other useful devices to serve our various needs. However, one problem that manufacturers started to notice in construction sites or while making furniture is the inability to use freshly chopped wood, which is why we now opt to use dried wood. Kiln-dried wood, which is known for its adhesiveness, flexibility, and strength, is among the best types of wood that you can use in our modern world. If you want to know more about kiln-dried wood and its uses, this guide will provide you with everything you need to know about it.
- What is It?
Ever since wood was used in multiple industries, new wood drying practices were adopted, but to understand why kiln drying is the most used method of these practices, you need to know how this drying process is performed. Essentially, to kiln-dry logs, people place them in a special chamber that provides a high degree of control over the moisture levels in the wood. Being able to control the moisture in the wood according to what you’re using it for makes it more energy-efficient than any other dried wood, like seasoned or greenwood. When you're kiln-drying logs, it is preferable that you use hardwood (like ash and oak) in favor of softwood (like cider). The results are usually higher in quality than the results produced by standard seasoning.
- Different Types of Kiln Wood
Because this process isn't really complex, the standard procedure of kiln-drying will be nothing short of speed and efficiency. Now you will find mills and manufacturers investing a lot of time, money, and effort into tweaking this process to upgrade their production of kiln-dried wood to make even better products with higher quality. They do this by using different types of kilns, which we’ve listed below.
- Conventional Kilns
Conventional kiln designs utilize hot water coils as a heat source. It is also the most commonly used type of kilns out there. After the wood is heated, the ventilation system and the fans work on sucking the evaporated water out of the chamber. Of course, you can control how much moisture gets taken out of the logs.
- Solar Kilns
As you may have deduced, solar kilns are typically more environmentally-friendly than other kiln types. You won’t need water or a pump system to produce heat. Instead, you can utilize renewable energy sources, which are then focused by a collector to provide the heat you need. These kilns will give you a high degree of control over how much moisture you take out of the logs. The downside of solar kilns, though, is that it depends on the weather, location, and solar collector power. If you live in an area where it’s sunny all year long, a solar kiln might work out for you.
- Dehumidification Kilns
Evaporating moisture from the wood depends on a heating pump system, which stores and reuses the moisture it collects at the end of every kiln-drying process. This makes it the best energy-efficient type of all the three kilns. It is the ideal economical solution if you struggle with the expenses of running a kiln.
- How is It Made?
Kiln drying might sound complex at a first glance, especially if you’ve never done kiln-dried wood yourself before. Although the process includes several steps, the kiln-drying experts at https://www.buyfirewooddirect.co.uk/ explain that kiln drying is actually a fast-paced process that is more controlled than the standard seasoning process. Plus, it is worth all the effort that you put into it since you’ll be getting one of the finest hardwood logs as a result. There might be a few trial-and-error at first, but once you get the hang of it, kiln drying is going to be as easy as a walk in the park. To simplify this process, here are the steps of kiln drying.
Kiln drying, as we mentioned earlier, should provide better results when using hardwood. Thus, lumberjacks and anyone working in the kiln drying industry will usually opt for cutting hardwood trees, like alder, oak, and ash trees. Cutting down a tree is the easy part, but it might be hard to find some rare types of hardwood, like ash logs, which is why you may find them lacking in the market. Depending on the desired products, lumberjacks will change their method of cutting trees. For example, the way trees are cut to make furniture and flooring will be different from the method of cutting trees for fireplace logs.
After shaping the wood according to the manufacturer’s needs, it is then inserted into a closed drying chamber where you’ll have a variety of options depending, of course, on the type of chamber you’re using. The most common kiln drying chamber uses a water heater or a furnace to operate and the heat sources work on sapping the moisture out of the wood, which will make it vaporize. The vapor is then removed from the chamber by operating the fans. However, dehumidification chambers have pumps that suck and remove the excess water then store it away. Now that you know the different parts of drying chambers, here are more details to understand how they operate.
Kiln drying chambers are usually made of brick or cement (materials that are typically heat-resistant). They also provide housing for wood batches to be heated, so you might find kiln drying chambers with several capacities. Modern kilns nowadays are designed for drying other materials, like aluminum, polyurethane foam, and glass. Kilns can also be customized, so if you have a specific design in mind, there are services that will happily customize a kiln for you.
- Heat Exchanger
In most kiln chambers, heat is passed into the chamber either by steam heat exchangers or through the traditional furnaces that pass gases by using large flue pipes. This is also an integral part of the whole kiln chamber, so if that breaks down, you’ll need to fix it immediately.
The idea of controlling the moisture levels in hardwood sprouted out from the process of dehumidifying and ventilating kiln chambers. Ventilation will help you control humidification levels and remove any water from the wood logs during the drying process. Keep in mind that moisture content in the wood logs will determine the quality of your logs. When your logs are ready, you can use moisture meters to measure the moisture content of your logs. You can easily purchase moisture meters from any online store like Amazon. Keep in mind that anything below 25% moisture content should provide optimal performance.
- Air Fans
Fans are an essential part of kiln chambers, mainly because they’re responsible for transferring heat and evaporated water in the chamber, so you’ll typically find them affixed to the inside of the kiln chambers. No kiln chamber manufacturer would skip on adding these fans to the kilns, as there are no other parts to replace them.
- Benefits and Uses
Now that you know the basics of kiln drying, you should know about its benefits and uses to understand why it is more favored than its seasoning wood. If you ask users of kiln-dried wood, they’d tell you that these logs are far more superior in every way possible. In fact, there is hardly anyone who went back to using seasoned wood after using the kiln-dried one. The following points will shed more light on why kiln-dried wood is widely favored.
- Save Time
We cannot emphasize enough how kiln-drying can save a lot of time. While seasoned firewood can take up to 18 months to be ready for usage, you can easily use kiln-dried wood as soon as it is processed. In addition to that, kiln-drying will remove 20% of logs’ water content (sometimes you can up that percentage to 25%) which makes it the optimal choice for fire pit burning. Moreover, you won’t have to test the water content in order to see whether or not it will catch fire. On the other hand, this step is important when processing seasoned firewood. Thus, if you have plans that require getting firewood as soon as possible, you’ll be able to kiln-dry firewood in a very short amount of time and use it as you see fit.
- It is Clean
If you’ve used firewood before, then you already know that one of its massive drawbacks is that it produces a lot of creosote and soot. Creosote is a substance created by burning firewood, which sticks to the inside of your fireplace even after it cools down. Thus, when you use your fireplace again, the creosote can catch fire, thus making it a safety hazard. In addition to that, it produces an unpleasant smell and is a poisonous substance that also poses danger to anyone near the fireplace. Fortunately, kiln-dried wood won’t produce creosote, which means it is safer, cleaner, and way more pleasant-smelling. Users of kiln-dried wood won’t be susceptible to the dangers of creosote.
- Produces No Smoke
Seasoned wood produces a plentiful amount of smoke in a short time, which isn’t exactly environment-friendly, or healthy for anyone sitting at a campfire. If you use kiln-dried wood, on the other hand, you won’t have to suffer from the issue. Kiln-dried logs are a very clean source of heat; they don’t produce smoke, they won’t leave any poisonous substances after you use them, and they’re also far more efficient than their counterparts. It’s true that seasoned wood won’t create as much smoke as greenwood, but it still isn’t the best option out there. If you’re sick from the poisonous black smoke of seasoned wood and greenwood, that means that you should start using kiln-dried wood.
- Used in Multiple Industries
Due to it being a clean source of energy, a lot of industries are now relying on kilns to produce their wood, which is used for different purposes, like constructional industries, for example. Woodworking and wood-burning also require high-quality kiln wood, mainly to prevent any defects from affecting the manufacturing process (which often happens when manufacturers use seasoned wood). Shrinkage, for example, is a common defect that might occur mainly due to the wood being unevenly dried or rapidly equilibrated. That’s why kiln-dried wood, which doesn’t exhibit any shrinkage defects, is essential for constructional purposes. While shrinkage won’t affect the quality of the wood-burning process, other types of wood, as we mentioned earlier, will still produce large quantities of poisonous substances, which makes them biohazardous.
- Furniture Manufacturing
Furniture manufacturers also won’t tolerate any shrinkage defects, as this will affect the quality of their products. They also require quality wood that has high degrees of longevity and durability. Kiln drying gives you command over the wood properties; thus, you can manipulate the moisture content of the wood to make it more durable against wear and tear This is why wood used to manufacture furniture needs to be kiln-dried, as this will extend the furniture’s lifespan and ensure its high quality. In addition to this, furniture made of kiln-dried wood is more lightweight, so moving pieces of this furniture won’t pose much of a problem. You can also increase how much moisture content you leave in the wood (you might up to more than 90%), which will make this furniture more resistant to fungal decay. The high heat used in kiln chambers can kill all insects, mold, and bugs, which will ultimately increase the lifespan of the wood, making it more durable.
- Dried Kiln Wood vs. Seasoned Wood
With all this information in mind, one can say that dried kiln wood is far better than seasoned wood in almost all aspects. While it ensures a cleaner, more efficient source of heat, the costs of dried-kiln wood can be slightly higher than that of seasoned logs. Additionally, dried-kiln wood doesn’t have any insect, bugs, or mold in it, since high temperatures will eradicate all of this. Conversely, seasoned wood is stored for a long amount of time in order to be completely dry, which can attract a host of insects into your storage area.
This is more or less all you need to know about kiln-dried wood. Keep in mind that this option, while it is better than other alternatives, it can be 10% costlier than commercial seasoned logs. However, because this is an environment-friendly option, the extra costs are certainly worth it.