Drying wood in freezing temperatures?

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Forum topic by mpo414 posted 11-17-2015 08:21 PM 778 views 0 times favorited 18 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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19 posts in 346 days

11-17-2015 08:21 PM

I am having a local sawmill cut me some 4/4 pine boards for a project I am working on. When I get the wood it typically has a higher than desirable moisture content and requires some drying time. I live in Wyoming where we are quite cold already and (11 F out this morning). If I were to stack the wood in my unheated shop would it still dry or would the moisture freeze in the wood and prevent it from drying. I also have the option to stack it in my heated garage (I keep it about 55 F), would that be a better option for drying out the wood at these temperatures? Any advice? Thank you.

-- Matt, Wyoming

18 replies so far

View conifur's profile


955 posts in 576 days

#1 posted 11-17-2015 09:04 PM

I for got what it is called, but ice can go right to a vapor without melting. Put an ice cube in the freezer and over a few months it is gone.

-- Knowledge and experience equals Wisdom, Michael Frankowski

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955 posts in 576 days

#2 posted 11-17-2015 09:06 PM

It is called sublimation

-- Knowledge and experience equals Wisdom, Michael Frankowski

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986 posts in 2067 days

#3 posted 11-17-2015 09:11 PM

That’s called freeze drying. Sorry couldn’t resist.

-- Respectfully, Paul

View Yonak's profile


979 posts in 945 days

#4 posted 11-18-2015 02:25 AM

I would say it’s called evaporation.

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2620 posts in 2533 days

#5 posted 11-18-2015 03:24 AM

You can (well, my grandma did) hang wet clothes outside to dry in freezing weather (Minnesota), as long as it doesn’t rain on them, and get them dry. It may take a little longer than here in sunny SoCal where we don’t see much rain and is a lot hotter, but the physics is still the same. Especially in cold weather, the air supports little moisture. If you are looking for air dried, you should be OK.

It is entirely possible that drying could take longer in your shop, depending on what you are using for heat. What do you use? A propane heater will yield a lot of water as a combustion byproduct, and could actually delay the process.

-- Random Orbital Nailer

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955 posts in 576 days

#6 posted 11-18-2015 07:53 AM

Well DL Natural gas and Propane give off a gallon of water for every 100K BTU used, but if vented to the exterior it makes no difference in the interior. Only if not vented to the exterior, exp a portable tube heater or radiant one, if like a gas furnace with a heat exchanger that H2O goes out the exhaust to the exterior/chimney.
To all it is not evaporation it is sublimation, a solid going directly to a gaseous vapor, evaporation is a liquid going to a gaseous vapor. There are only a very few elements that can/will do that. And no it is not the same as oxidation/rust.

-- Knowledge and experience equals Wisdom, Michael Frankowski

View Tennessee's profile


2410 posts in 1938 days

#7 posted 11-18-2015 12:32 PM

It depends more on the humidity levels of the air in your shop.
Temperature plays a part, but only in that the higher the temps, the closer it takes the water to its gaseous state so it will dry a little faster. But the wood will dry, even in zero temps if the humidity is low, which it generally is since water tends to fall out of colder air.

-- Paul, Tennessee,

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179 posts in 376 days

#8 posted 11-18-2015 01:21 PM

Chart shows what Tennessee stated. Temp not the biggest factor.

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179 posts in 376 days

#9 posted 11-18-2015 01:26 PM

I am new at this drying. Just got 20 slabs late summer. Put them in my shop figuring it was better than outside. Started monitoring humidity. Humidity in the shop overnight will rise above what it is outside. Would the moisture in the wood raise the humidity in my shop? Heat has not been on much.
Gas vented when it is on.

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3972 posts in 1775 days

#10 posted 11-18-2015 01:29 PM

Yes, it will dry in freezing temperatures but at a slower rate. Slow is good when it comes to air drying lumber. I should mention that proper stacking and sticking is crucial for getting good results.

-- Bondo Gaposis

View lndfilwiz's profile


88 posts in 1025 days

#11 posted 11-18-2015 02:50 PM

Years ago, Mother Earth News had an article on drying lumber in Canada using a green house addition on the side of a work shop. The sun heated up the lumber during the day and heat care over kept the wood drying at night. The article stated that the lumber was sticked and turn every 2 weeks to keep from warping. In Wyoming you should have enough sun for this to work.

-- Smile, it makes people wander what you are up to.

View mpo414's profile


19 posts in 346 days

#12 posted 11-18-2015 03:19 PM

Thanks for all the advice, it sounds like I should be able to dry the wood in my cold shop but it may take a little longer than if I were to stack it in my heated garage. The garage is heated with propane but it is a sealed combustion heater that is directly vented to the outside so it should not be adding a lot of moisture to the area. Our relative humidity levels here in Wyoming at 7,000’ have been around 30% this week and temperatures during the day around 40F and at night 10F. I like the idea of a green house addition to the shop, that may just work out here. Can anyone point me to a link or another post or even just lend some advice about how you prefer to stack and sticker your lumber for air drying? I have been doing this to my current stacks but am not sure I am doing it correctly. Thanks again.

-- Matt, Wyoming

View mahdee's profile


3468 posts in 1192 days

#13 posted 11-18-2015 04:49 PM

Main thing to consider is even air flow. So, make the row spaces equal to height spaces for air to evenly flow all around. If you are stacking it outside, make the stack to look like a “V” with either the point or the legs facing north in winter and south during summer months.


View Tim's profile (online now)


3032 posts in 1385 days

#14 posted 11-18-2015 07:20 PM

Matt, you’ll get good advice here, but it you want the details too, this is very thorough:

View mpo414's profile


19 posts in 346 days

#15 posted 11-18-2015 07:50 PM

Tim, thank you for the link. I gave it a quick review and it seems like a great document. As a scientist by trade I can appreciate the detail and science to back everything up! I can’t wait to read it in length. Thank you.

-- Matt, Wyoming

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