Keeping logs wet before milling

Should logs be stored in water until they can be milled? June 27, 2000

Someone told me that I should keep my logs wet and that many mills have a "log pond" where they soak their logs to preserve them. It sounded to me like he didn't know what he was talking about. Is he full of it, or is he correct?

A lot of the larger mills around my area don't use ponds, but have water sprinklers going on the wood piles waiting until it is time to mill the logs. The smaller mills in my area usually use end sealer to cut down checking. I am sure a wood pond would work, if you had a large enough area for it.

It is quite a common practice around here, Mississippi, to keep long-term stored logs under sprinklers. Just about all the large commercial operations I know of, pine and hardwood, use sprinklers to preserve the winter stocks that build up during the summer.

Log ponds are a thing of the past -- several reasons include the accumulation of bark on the bottom, the sinking of logs immediately or after a while, the potential pollution of the water, and high bacterial activity in ponds without ample supplies of fresh water.

Use cold water for spraying the logs. Runoff can be a pollution problem, so check with your local water-quality people before you spend any money. The amount of water required is the equivalent of about 3 inches per day! There is a debate on using fine droplets (better coverage) or large droplets (less affected by wind). In any case, it is necessary to cover all the surfaces -- ends as well as faces. Using recycled water can weaken the protection -- the water becomes warm, invites bacterial activity, and contains progressively less oxygen.
Gene Wengert, forum moderator