December 1, 2014


It's laughable that every fall I try to hold out as long as possible before turning on the furnace and putting the flannel sheets on the bed. Laughable because it is inevitable, no matter when I break down, that as soon as I do, the weather warms up. This year, the flannel went on last week, along with caulking around all our window frames, inserting removable rope caulk in the moving joints of the windows, and installing removable plastic insulation over the windows. And, yes, the weather obliged with highs in the 60s instead of the 20s and 30s. The bedroom is now so snug that I find it too warm. I like a chilly bedroom, flannel pjs, and a mound of blankets to burrow under. Perhaps later in the season, with predictions for another especially cold winter thanks to the polar vortex, I will get my wish. Until then, I am pleased that the caulk and plastic seem to be making a profound difference in our heat loss.

The warm temperatures this past weekend allowed us to move forward with another winterizing project that has been in the works for some time. Inspired by this article by a couple in Vermont who built a solar kiln to season their firewood, we decided to give it a go. (For those of you who do not heat with wood, seasoning refers to drying out the wood before burning it. Newly cut wood has a high water content. This wood will burn, but the resultant fire is inefficient. There's probably a more accurate way to describe it, but the the fire throws less heat because the heat is being consumed to dry out the wet wood. Burning seasoned, or dry, wood results in a "hotter" fire.)

In general, wood is considered adequately seasoned in 9 months to a year. The diseased trees we had taken down this summer are not yet ready to burn nor are the 2 cords of split firewood we purchased. The solar kiln in the article, however, accelerated the seasoning process from 9 months to just one month. Not bad for a completely passive system. Here's a link to a bunch of plans and instructions to build your own solar wood kiln.
The Hubs took the idea of the kiln and ran with it. Instead of a window of clear plastic or glass to harness the heat of the sun, he decided to go with a hot box, to be painted black. (As it took shape, I couldn't help but imagine he was building a double outhouse.) 
The idea was to use two cast-off pallets for the base. Unfortunately, our collection did not contain two of equal size. Instead, the Hubs built a second pallet with the nail-riddled 2x4s we have left over from gutting our basement.
The backside consists of 2 off-the-rack pieces of plywood, each 4ft wide x 8ft tall.
The roof slopes towards the front, to catch the sun's rays. Two hinged doors will completely close the front of the kiln shed. 
The idea is that cold air will circulate up from the open flooring, heat up inside the black box, and escape through the exhaust gap along the roof line. If it works as intended, warm air will circulate around the loosely stacked firewood and dry it out.
As temperatures were in the 50s and 60s this weekend (and back into the 30s today), we finished painting the exterior of the shed with flat black paint and filled the screw holes and joins in the roof with waterproof caulk. Once the paint is dry, the Hubs will drag the kiln shed out of the barn to the south side of the building. The tall back of the shed will be against the south side of the barn, under the eaves which will protect the backside from rain, ice, and snow. The southerly facing doors will be installed and we'll fill the kiln shed with firewood. In this position, the shed will be exposed to sunlight from sunup to sundown.

Just as I typed that last sentence it started to sleet. Here's hoping our kiln works in reality as well as in theory. I'll post updates to the firewood seasoning progress as it happens. Until then, wishing you a warm start to your week, friends.


  1. This looks like it really came together well and, fingers crossed it works because it is a brilliant idea! I can't wait for the updates.

  2. Yay! My comment published - I followed your advice and allowed "third party cookies" :-)

    1. There is a spot that will allow you to accept 3rd party cookies only from websites you indicate. Did you try that? (I added The Conscious Caterpillar to my list, hoping this would allow me to comment. No go. But at least I am able to do so through Windows.)

    2. Thanks Laurie, I haven't tried that but I have seen the spot your referring to. I might try and play around again. I'm completely mystified as to what is going on with the commenting issue on my end...