How Long Can You Store Firewood Outside?

by Carole
(Ottawa, Canada)


How many years can I keep white ash once it's cut and split? I have the chance to get a lot of it free, but I don't use that much wood each winter.

If I store it outside stacked, will it rot or go moldy or otherwise go bad? I live in Ottawa, Canada with long cold winters and hot summers.

I have no room for a woodshed so the wood would have to be out in the open. Would it be better to cover it with a tarp?


Carole in Ottawa



Great question! With the conditions you have described you should be able to store the firewood outside for approximately 3 or 4 years before you have any issues with mold or decay.

I normally keep my firewood on a three year rotation which works really well but there are A LOT of variables that determine how long the wood will last.

Moisture is firewoods worst enemy. Since you don't have room for a woodshed I would do a few things.

First...choose a storage location that receives a lot of sunlight and airflow. This will help keep the firewood dry and prevent issues with mold.

Second...elevate the wood off the ground by using a few 2x4's. Wood that has contact with the ground will soak up moisture and decay within a year or two.

Third...cover the top of the stack with a tarp. Let the tarp hang over the sides a little bit but don't cover the whole stack of wood. Wrapping the entire wood stack in the tarp will prevent air from reaching your firewood which only promotes mold and decay.

If you follow these basic steps I feel confident you will get 3 or 4 years out of your firewood before you have any issues. Even at year 5 you will probably be able to use most of the firewood, but some of it might be showing signs of decay.

I hope this helps,


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