When dealing with lumber and wood packaging, it often has to be dry and sterilized to prevent any damage from the goods in it, keeping it safe until it’s delivered. The definition and concept of kiln drying and heat treatment are jumbled together when we talk about treating lumber and wood production.
The confusion is somewhat understandable as both processes would require using a kiln. A kiln is a furnace-like chamber used to heat, burn, harden, and burn different materials. It’s often used for pottery and ceramics, but it has also been used for pallets and crating.
However, despite using the same equipment, kiln drying and heat treatment are actually two different processes. One can’t really be a replacement for the other.
Here are a few ways you can differentiate kiln-drying from heat treatment.
Length of Time
Kiln drying takes a significantly longer time to do compared to heat treatment. Kiln drying can take multiple days, so manufacturers have to heat the lumber in advance. It’s a little quicker than typical air-drying, wherein you leave wood out and let nature do its work. This can take up a couple of months or a whole year, depending on the season.
Meanwhile, heat treatment only needs a few hours. Wood is placed in high heat for a period of time. Manufacturers have to monitor its internal temperature to gauge when they should stop the treatment. Both kiln drying and heat treatment need a lot of involvement and supervision, but heat treatment goes by a lot quicker.
Another key way to tell kiln drying and heat treatment apart is how hot the kiln is. With kiln drying, the heating chamber is kept at a lower heat compared to heat treatment. This is the primary reason why kiln drying can take up a lot of time, but it’s effective in heating the lumber and removing moisture.
Heat treatment is at a considerably higher temperature. Wood is heated to a high degree as manufacturers wait for its core temperature to reach 133°F or 56 °C. When it maintains this heat condition for 30 minutes, that means the wood is good to go, and the entire process could be ended.
The last way people can differentiate between kiln drying and heat treatment is by the purpose of performing that process. Kiln drying’s main goal is to lower the moisture content of the wood. By removing the moisture with a particularly controlled temperature in the kiln, the lumber is dried out without looking all warped. This also makes the lumber less prone to mold and pest infestation.
While kiln drying is for moisture removal and improving the condition of the lumber, heat treatment is solely for wood sterilization. As lumber is transported from place to place, it’s likely that pests are living inside the material. The high temperature in heat treatment is needed to kill any existing insects and dirt on the wood in an instant.
To sum it up, kiln drying takes longer and is a little more detail-oriented, while heat treatment is quicker and has a higher temperature. They are both vital processes when producing and preparing lumber, creating the perfect wood for packaging, and more.