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Opening the Solar Kiln

4/26/2011 7:58:57 AM

Tags: diy projects, building a solar wood drying kiln, Mountain Woman

This winter, I wrote about Mountain Man building a solar kiln to help speed along the firewood drying process.  (You can read it here: "Building a Solar Wood Drying Kiln.")  Despite the lack of sunny days, Mountain Man decided to open the kiln at the end of February because we were in need of wood.

Mountain Man's first step was to roll up the tarp. This photo gives you a good view of the wood inside the solar kiln.


He had designed the solar kiln to allow him to easily get his tractor forks in and under his palletized  wood crates.  Each crate holds 3/8ths of a cord of wood.  Mountain Man can comfortably lift that amount of weight without the tractor flipping over.  He had experimented with different weight loads and this size was optimal for his 75 h.p. tractor.  


Mountain Man examines the wood.


The side of the logs closest to the solar panel shows evidence of drying. You can tell by the cracks in the logs.


Mountain Man examines the other crates and decides he is going to tweak his kiln design and add more depth to it so more air can circulate around the side of the logs closest to the tarp.


But he decides the logs are dry enough for burning and they head off to our wood shed.


At our wood shed, he puts supports under the crate to keep it off the floor of the shed and allow air to circulate.


Into our wood shed it goes.


All done, he heads back to the kiln to close the tarp and allow the other crates to keep on drying.


 We used the logs from the kiln that very same night.  They caught fire quickly and burned with intensity and produced a lot of heat.  We left the other crates drying until March at which time we once again opened the kiln.  Those logs were completely dried.  Mountain Man is happy with the results and will build permanent doors for the kiln and relocate it next to our wood splitting station.   

If you have any questions regarding how to make your own solar drying kiln, please ask.  Mountain Man is happy to help.

Mountain Man and Mountain Woman can also be found at Red Pine Mountain.

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11/25/2013 9:32:00 PM
Wood heat enthusiasts concerned about moisture content in their firewood can put their fears to rest by using a simple moisture meter. There is an optimum moisture range, about 25% as I recall, at which wood burns for heat most efficiently. Too dry and it burns too quickly; too wet and too much energy is wasted boiling off the moisture and glazing your chimney. A competent woodstove seller or certified chimney sweep can get them. Copperfield Chimney Supply is a nationwide wholesale outlet for chimney brushes and other paraphernalia...I'm not affiliated with them, just know of them.

Linda Capps
11/24/2013 10:40:26 PM
the links don't work and the pictures aren't loading

11/24/2013 10:08:16 AM
Seconding Melodae's suggestion/ it possible to repost or update this with the photos...and looks like their website is no more :-( Great article btw...thanks much!

Melodae Farley
11/24/2013 10:04:46 AM
An "unknown server error" has eliminated the photos. The Red Pine Mountain website is up for grabs. Is there any way we could get the photos that were to accompany this article?

Max Merlich
11/4/2012 4:26:07 PM
Hi this is Max fron Sandy Oregon. Nice article on the solar kiln. Do you thing it would work here to dry firewood even though we have many cloudy and rainy days from now to April? Could I build one that would take a few cords of wood as I have a small firewood business and it is such a challenge to dry wood here. Thanks. Max

Mountain Woman
4/27/2011 3:45:50 PM
Cindy, we built this kiln without spending any money because we had the materials on hand. Someone else could do it very cheaply and then depending on the upgrades they wanted (fans, sheeting, etc.) could spend more money but if you wanted a basic drying kiln, it wouldn't cost much. If your friend is buying firewood, she could purchase green firewood at a cheaper rate and then dry it herself. We'd be happy to help her with dimensions, etc. if she decides to try. As to weather, we went from freezing to 80 today in one day and now it's too hot! Gee, always something to complain about :-) Thanks for visiting us.

Cindy Murphy
4/27/2011 11:04:31 AM
I agree with Shannon - it's pretty darned cool! I'll have to mention it to my friend. She heats her house entirely with wood, and living alone on a small farm, she's always looking for ways to do things more efficiently. Have a great day, Mountain Woman, and hope you're staying nice and toasty, sitting by a fire, (if the weather outside warrants it; ours certainly does!).

Mountain Woman
4/27/2011 8:06:22 AM
Shannon, Thanks!! Dave, it's raining here too and we have quite a bit of flooding. I guess though if I had to choose I'd rather have too much water than not enough. Here's to more harvesting of rain water :-) Thank you both for visiting my blog!

Nebraska Dave
4/26/2011 7:18:34 PM
Sara, that husband of yours is a man I can identify with. He always has a plan and a project in some stage of completion. It's been raining here and the good news is that I've harvested my first rain water from the roof of my house. I figured it was about 85 gallons from just a piddilly 1/3 of an inch of rain. I think my issue is not enough volume to store all the caught water. I never thought I'd have a problem with too much water. Have a great kiln dried wood warm fire day.

S.M.R. Saia
4/26/2011 11:01:29 AM
Wow, that is COOL! I have to show that to my husband. Thanks!

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