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Anyone burn ELM exclusively?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Constrictor, Jan 29, 2009.

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  1. Constrictor

    Constrictor Member

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    Anyone burn ELM by itself, can you keep warm and start fires ok only using dry elm?

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  2. wendell

    wendell Minister of Fire

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    Absolutely! I am burning 80% elm this year and will be at 100% next year. It burns great and produces a lot of heat. And, when you split the extra twisty pieces, you get these ripped up splits which give you natural kindling that are really easy to start. And if you are going to be using old, dead elm, you are virtually guaranteed it will be dry by next fall.
  3. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    It does burn well but I hope you have a good splitter.
  4. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    I burn a lot of it got close to 5 cords in log length staged up. Not to easy to split though.
  5. wendell

    wendell Minister of Fire

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    Yes, I should've mentioned that. I was using a 37 ton splitter last year and even it had some trouble with the crotched pieces. Of course, that is where you get those auto-kindling pieces. <G>
  6. Constrictor

    Constrictor Member

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    Why does everyone hate ELM around here then? you never see it for sale? Is it just because of the splitting? My uncle burns wod his whole life and had someone come cut and haul off a couple big elm trees that were down in his yard because he absolutely hates elm!
  7. webby3650

    webby3650 Master of Fire

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    I burn a lot of Elm. I find it standing dead almost everywhere I cut wood, I like to cut small dead trees that don't even need split to top off a load.
  8. wendell

    wendell Minister of Fire

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    You'd have to ask your uncle. I will take all of the elm I can get. You can find dead elm everywhere so you can be sure it will be dry for the next season.
  9. Andre B.

    Andre B. New Member

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    One possible reason, at least in my experience is that unlike some other woods were you can get away with a higher than ideal moisture content, elm does not burn very well unless it is well and truly dry.
    Next year looks like I will be burning a good deal of elm, cut a bunch of dead ones.
  10. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    Nope.

    No idea.

    I hope this helps.
  11. intc97

    intc97 New Member

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    I have alot of elm and cull out the standing dead trees for my CB 6048. It burns well and gives off alot of heat. I split it by hand with a maul and two wedges. I wait till the temperature is well below zero before I split. I even burn the slightly punky wood as well. I use the bark for mulch as I don't like wasting anything that can be used. If the logs are under 6" in diameter, I don't split. I still have alot of healthy trees and it seems that the disease spreads more slowly in really wet areas. Now if the emerald ash borer stays away I can let all my ash grow.
  12. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    I'm not burning 100% elm this year . . . but a large percentage of my wood is elm that I cut from standing dead trees (darn Dutch Elm disease). If it wasn't for the standing dead elm on my property I would have either had to pay for wood or I would have ended up with very little wood that would be suitable (i.e. dry enough) for burning this winter. So in answer to your question . . . if seasoned . . . elm starts and burns well enough.
  13. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    We've burned 100% elm in the past but as the years have gone we no longer burn it 100%, especially now with all of our ash trees dying.

    I might add that we have been burning some as of late (it was in the mixed pile). This was a green elm that we needed to take down. That was only 3 years ago that we took it down. That stuff burns excellently and is very easy to start.

    Why do so many hate elm? Two reason. One is the story about pi$$ elm; it gets a bad name to start off with, plus it can smell a little bad when cutting. The other reason is simply that it can be so hard to split. That being said, I will also add that many times we find some elm that splits pretty decently and can be done with a splitting maul. Not a lot, but some.

    Our splitter is only a 20 ton and so far I'd estimate it has split around 15 cords of elm. In that time, we've found only one piece that we could not split. It probably would have split if I'd helped the splitter along with a sledge and wedge or two, but I simply threw it away.
  14. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    It's not that hydraulic splitters need lots of tons to split Elm, it's just that you need to drive the wedge the full stroke and then still have to rip the pieces apart by hand. Diseased Elm tends to shed its bark and can dry enough to be a little tougher to buck and delimb. So, to sum it up, you can have Elm that's tougher to buck, have loose bark to deal with, and stringy splits to rip apart.
  15. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    LLigetfa, with all due respect, I disagree with you on this one. I've split a fair share of elm in my lifetime but have not experienced what you describe. When I split elm, the splitter does the work else I would not do it. In short, I do not rip apart the elm after the wedge goes through it.
  16. wendell

    wendell Minister of Fire

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    You are both right. You definitely need to drive the wedge all the (or almost all of the way) through to get then to split apart and there will still be SOME you need to tear apart but these tend to be the bigger, nastier pieces. For a straight piece from 16" on down, they split with no tearing required.
  17. mike1234

    mike1234 New Member

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    Good to know this. I've been out cutting wood with a good friend who I now know is a "wood snob." When we get to an elm, he always says, pass on that junk, its worthless. He burns almost exclusively hedge.
    I know where 2 fairly big standing dead elm are just waiting for my chain saw tomorrow after work!!
  18. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    Maybe the Elm grows different around here. It seems like the grain can't make up its mind and some years it tends to twist clockwise and other years it twists the other way. You end up with wood grain that criss-crosses and when you split it, it's like busting up plywood on the diagonal. My 20 ton splitter can bust through it but the wedge is only 6 inches high and Elm wood larger than 6 inches often needs to be turned to finish it off. Even at that, the wedge stops about 3 inches from the end and that last 3 inches sometimes hangs on. I've taken to putting some chunk wood between the base and the round being split just so the wedge can go all the way through.

    Mind you, I've really been spoiled with Black Ash. It almost seems like the round can see the wedge coming and parts company just to get out of the way. I seldom have to drive the wedge any more than a couple of inches into Ash. In fact, I feel guilty using the splitter on Ash since an axe would do it with little effort.
  19. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    LOL

    Ja, that be me too, a wood snob. When I can get my way, I burn Black Ash almost exclusively. When my wood guy let me down one year, I had to buy from someone else and the supposed Ash turned out to be more Elm than Ash. Let me tell you, I was sure glad I have a splitter. I couldn't imagine fighting that Elm with an axe.

    That said, I wouldn't knowingly buy Elm but I do cull diseased Elm off my land so maybe I'm not too snobbish. Most of the diseased Elm on my land is under 6 inches so it's not all that bad.
  20. wendell

    wendell Minister of Fire

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    That's how the elm grows here too but that's what make it fun. You're never quite sure what the split is going to look like :)

    Of course, you don't get the pretty stacks that you see posted here.
  21. waynek

    waynek Member

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    When Dutch Elm disease came into my valley about 12 to 15 years ago it killed the American Elm first... that is one tough wood to split. Fortutately my stove will take a 10" diameter piece of chunk wood so that cut down the splitting process. My brother's 20 ton wood splitter was the only practical way to work it into stove size. There was a few years where I burnt the American Elm exclusively and gave some away to the neighbors. I waited until the bark fell off before I started bucking it up. Nice clean wood. Every last American Elm died on my property. It is re-generating now... I have saplings about 10-12 feet tall.

    A few years ago the Dutch Elm disease attacked the Red elm and I started utilizing it, but not exclusively...only when a tree died. 75% of this species is gone in my valley. I do have some regeneration in the forest floor. This elm is easier to split than American elm and on pieces over 10" I split with a splitting maul...if that don't work I use the grenade wedge...if that don't work I cut it to size with the chainsaw. (my brother moved to South Dakota and took his splitter with him)

    The Dutch Elm disease has not attacked the Rock elm species in my valley yet. That wood splits easier than the other two species and I prefer its burning qualities to the other elm.

    What elm species are you guys splitting and burning?

    I would be content with any of the three species to burn exclusively if it came down to that.

    Jackpine
  22. wendell

    wendell Minister of Fire

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    Howdy neighbor!

    To stop the spread of the disease, it is best to debark it in the winter and ASAP so the cold will kill the larvae to stop the spread of the disease. If the tree was still somewhat alive and you wait until the spring, the larvae will mature and move on to kill more trees.

    My tree knowledge isn't sufficient to tell them apart so not sure which variety I have. I get my long dead stuff from a friend's woods down by Beloit. The dying stuff from here in Madison.
  23. mike1234

    mike1234 New Member

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    Cut one of the dead elm trees down today, brought it home and split the big stuff. I will agree that it is hard to split. I found the ax to work better than the maul, but very seldom did it split with the first hit.
    Is elm considered a hard wood?
    I am not by the way a wood snob. In fact when it comes to the wood I burn, I may be too tolerant.
  24. ihookem

    ihookem Minister of Fire

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    I know a place that sells firewood but tosses the elm. I asked why and he said everyone around here like the looks of a wood pile more than burning it. They don't like the stringy grain. Course their customers are rich, (Whitefish Bay, Wisconsin.) I take it all. If I get an outdoor boiler I will burn elm that is not dead yet and should stop the spread of the bugs.
  25. Duetech

    Duetech Minister of Fire

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    mike1234,
    Elm, red (probably Dutch?) elm any way (http://www.chimneysweeponline.com/howood.htm), has about 21 million btu per cord compared to red oak at 24 million. White and American elm are at 19.5 according to the chart which the link is for. In my gasifier when the wood is good and dry it coals up and lasts quite a while. I'm not real fond of the way the smoke from it smells but I like the way it heats my home so I even look for it when I can. If you are getting red elm I would say you are on the high edge of the medium dense hard woods or the lower edge of the denser hard woods.
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