Do Logs Rot Under Water? What You Need to Know

It makes sense to think that logs would decay and rot under water. But do logs rot underwater? More frequently than not, murky and cold waters reserve the wood. Consequentially, the tight-grained wood gets stronger underwater.

The water first acts by eliminating the air and then discharging the impurities. Logs that remain underwater should never rot. It does not rot if the physical or softening breakdown occurs at some point. You will find logs buried deep in the muck in marshes. 

When reflecting on the logging business, most think of forestry as using chainsaws, being careful while working in the forest and hauling equipment. However, the forest is one of many places logging can be done; it can also be done underwater.

Logging trees from underneath the water in forests is called Aqua logging. Logging traditionally requires workers to depend on safety gear and different tools to complete the job. Aqua logging is different. The workers use distinct underwater machinery to cut the trees and bring them to the surface.

A common fallacy regarding aqua logging is that the wood is in bad condition because it is underwater. Logs in water are actually well preserved as they are protected by the water.

Decay happens naturally to trees when visible to wood-consuming organisms, light and oxygen.

When logs remain in soil or mud for a long period, they engross tannins and minerals within their environment. Their colour may be changed depending on whether they are in a sandy kind of soil, and those qualities could make them more valued. It is also likely for trees to encompass antibacterial oils that help them preserve health.

Prior to man-made reservoirs and lakes being installed, trees under water had already been growing in the soil, and those that ended up not being removed remained growing. Trees can also be underwater from loggers dropping them accidentally.

What happens to logs in water? 

Logs underwater really do them no harm. They will eventually become waterlogged as they fill up with water and then land on the bottom. At some point, microorganisms and worms will damage it. However, water has nothing to do with it, as it cannot melt the lignin that keeps the logs together.

Wood that stays dry can last forever. It might be a surprise to know that wood may also become too wet to deteriorate. Fungi, like all living organisms, have to have oxygen to live. Logs that are underwater cannot grow fungi nor decay as the air is taken out of all the cells.

Wood is an absorbent material. So, in time being exposed to water will pervade the membranes of the wood, which causes it to come apart, rot and soften. Also, water negotiates the wood’s structure, resulting in mold and costly repair efforts.

Wood that has been stored for however long is sprayed with water for many reasons. It will reduce the risk of insect damage, rotting, blue stains and cracks. The risk of having humidity in the center of the log and more humidity in the border is reduced as it is kept humid.

How long does it take for a log to rot?

There might be times you looked at your pile of firewood and thought, I am never going to be able to burn all that wood. Then, what happens is you end up going through more wood than you thought. That is the reason it is better to have too much wood than not enough, but how long does it take for a log to rot?

Firewood can last between three to four years if it is up off the ground and on a rack. Cover the top and leave the sides open to extend the log’s life even longer. This will give you decades more life from your firewood. Wood will only rot when exposed to water. One winter will do it if left on the ground, not covered.

How Long Will Firewood Last Left Outside?

Knowing how long wood will keep depends on how well it is stored and seasoned. There are several groupings that firewood piles fall into.

Remain in log form: smaller pieces of firewood will become dry and rot away faster than logs will. Research shows that a tree of average size takes 56-125 years to decay, depending on the type and diameter. Softwoods do not last as long as hardwoods. The seasoning period begins once the logs are spilt, as it takes a long time for moisture to change.

Piled and Split: After the wood is split and then piled, it will have a much different rotting/seasoning speed contingent on where in a pile it is situated. Logs that are placed on the top can last three to four years. Logs in the middle and bottom might make it through one to two winters. Firewood needs the sun to dry and be properly seasoned.

Logs on the Ground: Logs stacked on the ground do not make sense. All you need is a pallet (which you can get free) and a tarp that may cost a dollar. So, you could have stacked and seasoned your wood correctly for under five dollars and about ten minutes of your time. Wood should never be stacked on the ground.

On a Rack: Logs that are stacked on a rack can last three to four years. It is always possible to place a tarp over the top to stop the decaying process. Be sure to leave the sides open to encourage airflow.

Covered and Stack on a Rack: If you stack your firewood on a rack and cover the top, it can last for decades. Managing moisture and paying attention to insects and bugs can keep it from ever rotting.