A firewood crib is a structure designed to shelter your firewood from the weather while still allowing wind and airflow to reach the firewood to help dry it out and reduce the woods overall moisture content.
As the cost of fuel prices continue to rise, many people are looking for alternative ways to heat their homes.
Firewood is often a popular and practical choice.
To successfully heat your home and reap the benefits of this natural resource remember one thing.........your firewood must be dry before you burn it.
Attempting to burn wet, damp or green firewood is discouraging and dangerous.
Wood that is exposed to rain and snow or stored on the ground will be wet or damp when you're ready to use it.
This wet wood will sizzle and smoke creating a poor flame that gives off very little heat.
Also, it's extremely hard to start a fire with wet wood.
The wet wood hinders the combustion process causing unburnt gasses to adhere to the inside of your chimney resulting in a buildup of creosote, a dangerous substance responsible for deadly chimney fires.
Properly storing your firewood in a structure, often referred to as a firewood crib, will benefit you in several ways.
Before you begin construction on your firewood storage crib you should carefully determine its location.
Choose a level spot that's close to your home but don't attach the shelter directly to your house.
Firewood will draw in bugs and pests looking for a place to make a home.
Red squirrels, mice, ants and spiders all love to live inside of your stack of firewood.
The problem only gets worse if you don't stack your wood and just leave it thrown into a pile.
This unstacked wood not only attracts animals looking for a place to nest, it also takes a lot longer to season because the wood in the middle of the pile is never exposed to the sun and wind.
Keeping your firewood stacked, sheltered and about 30-50 yards away from your home is always a good idea.
This picture shows a good example of a wood crib that's designed to shelter the firewood while still allowing air circulation around the wood.
It's detached from the house but still close enough for the homeowner to easily access the firewood when needed.
You don't necessarily need to build the crib out of brand new materials.
If you're looking to save money, repurposed lumber, old barn siding and old fence posts or trees can be a great alternative.
The structure has a slanted metal roof designed to shed rain and snow away from the firewood.
The slatted wooden sides allow wind to circulate around the firewood while adding additional protection from the rain and snow.
The floor is raised approximately 6 to 8 inches off the ground which allows air to circulate under the wood.
The raised floor also separates the firewood from ground moisture which over time, could soak into the firewood causing mold and decay.
If you don't want to build an elevated floor in your firewood crib, you can always use pallets.
Stacking your wood on pallets creates a simple way to elevate your wood, and a lot of times you can get free pallets from a nearby store.
Initially, building a firewood crib is one of the most expensive ways to store firewood.
However, since it's a one time investment which will last for many years, it's my favorite way to season firewood.
If you're not interested in a permanent structure you can also use several firewood racks.
Firewood racks work great for storing wood, but since they don't have a built in cover you'll need to use a tarp, rubber sheeting or even scraps of plywood to cover the top of the stack.
When using a tarp, just cover the top 1/3 portion of the stack.
This allows the tarp to repel rain and snow while also allowing the sun and wind to season the wood.
One popular way of storing firewood involves finding two trees that are growing close to each other and using those trees as a natural firewood rack.
The trees serve as solid uprights allowing you to stack the firewood between them.
You can also gather up a couple of longer pieces of wood which can be used as runners along the bottom to stack the wood on and elevate it.
Stacking firewood between trees is only a temporary solution though and I don't recommend it as an alternative for a firewood crib.
When stacking wood between two trees, there's a really good chance your stack will tip over.
Even though the trees may be large, the wind will cause them to sway and eventually the stacked wood will be laying on the ground.
Also the stacked wood can damage the bark on the trees, causing injury to them.
The amount of time firewood takes too season depends on the species of tree, the time of year it was cut and how you process and store the wood.
Generally, firewood will take between 1-2 years to fully season and only contain 20 percent or less moisture.
Wood that has been split into small pieces will dry faster than large unspilt rounds.
Also, wood that is elevated, properly covered and exposed to the summer sun and wind will dry out much faster than wood thrown into a pile in the shade.
If constructed properly, a firewood crib can be a great investment and last a long time.
When building your structure, keep these tips and recommendations in mind and you will be enjoying dry, seasoned firewood for many years to come.