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Anyone burn Sumac????

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by keyman512us, Aug 27, 2007.

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  1. keyman512us

    keyman512us Member

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    Hey all...

    Given all the "old wives tales'/urban legends/ popular mis-conceptions, whatever" kind of along the lines that 80% of the people out there think burning pine is "no good/bad"...

    Here's one for discussion: Sumac...

    Was just wondering if anyone out there does burn it???

    The reason I ask is because three years ago while doing a 'fence line job' I was approached by an "old timer" that asked "Whatcha doin' with all that wood(Don't know how many times I've been asked)"??? To which I replied "Stuffin' it through that big chipper to get rid of it"..

    Short and sweet of it is this: The guy Asked if he could have it, I politely told him it was Sumac (which even though it looks like a tree...it grows like a weed...and I do mean GROWS). And he said "Naggh, thats an old wives tale...it burns fine"...

    So what does everyone think..??? Would you burn it in your stove??? IMHO it smells nasty, looks nasty and I can't believe anyone would want it...BUT... There are all sorts of wonderfull, colorfull people in this big world of ours...

    Personally, I got access to plenty of 'decent' wood...but it was nice not to have to send it all through the chipper...

    I've got a 'fence line job' going right now...I'm not gonna go approach the old timer...BUT

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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  3. keyman512us

    keyman512us Member

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    Thanks BG... It's a PIA one way or the other. Stuffing it through the chipper is 'nice and easy' but it makes quite the 'dust cloud' when you do it...

    But then again it's free BTU's...

    The job could yield quite a bit of it. I gotta cut 2' behind the (give or take 800' fence line). The less that goes through the chipper... the better when it comes to maint $.
  4. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    When dry it's a lot like Poplar. It burns a little more evenly than pine, but there's nothing left when it burns. It' rots fast (like as in gone in a year) unless kept dry and off the ground. It split easy, and if free.. it's is btu's. Switch Grass is made into pellets... I view Sumac as giant weed... no different than a grass.
  5. stoveguy2esw

    stoveguy2esw Minister of Fire

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    is the sumac you refer to what we down here call "paradise trees"? i'll see if i can snap a picture to post of one from down here. if it is then it is burnable , but like others have stated its a fsat hot burner, might be good for a "knock the chill off" fire, or building up from a cold start as it readily fires and burns hot , seasons out very quickly as well.
  6. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    I guess I'll find out eventually. I cut down a sumac in our backyard last spring and it wound up in the wood pile. So in two or three years I'll probably get around to burning it.

    One thing that ticked me off is the pitch: stained two pairs of my work jeans with these ugly brown streaks that won't wash out.

    My only comment on the wood is that it looks like black cherry, but bleeds like pine.
  7. n6crv

    n6crv Feeling the Heat

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    This had to happen. What scared you to cause those brown streaks?
  8. JustWood

    JustWood Minister of Fire

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    I don't burn it but I use the berries to make a dye that turns things as black as coal!
  9. jpl1nh

    jpl1nh Minister of Fire

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    If you soak the "berries" in warm water for 8-10 hrs, strain, and sweeten, it makes a delicious, kind of perfumey flavored beverage thats high in vitamin c.
  10. pistonslap

    pistonslap Burning Hunk

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    I've been burning sumac for the last few years to start fires and get a quick bed of coals. It throws decent heat but burns up pretty fast. As for the odor, I've never really noticed it, but I just split some birch today and it has a pretty nasty oily smell.
  11. TheSmith

    TheSmith New Member

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    last year my town cut trees along the road for telephone pole clearence, alot of maple I scooped up from it, and tons of sumac I left behind.wish I had known!
  12. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    I've burned lots of sumac. We usually pile it up along with other brush and touch a match to it. Burns great and provides a nice place to warm your hands and the rest of your body on a cold day.
  13. homebrewz

    homebrewz Minister of Fire

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    I've tried it and its quite good. Tastes like lemonade.

    I use the branches to make taps or spires for tapping maple trees. The center of the wood is pithy, so it hollows out nicely with a drill.
  14. Gibbonboy

    Gibbonboy New Member

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    I think the reluctance to burn it is mainly because of what everyone has described sumac as- a weed whose wood rots almost as soon as it's cut. But the "wives' tale" part is because people are too ignorant to tell the difference between this and the true poison sumac, which grows in wetlands and has whitish berries which are seperated more, not in big fuzzy clusters.

    Staghorn Sumac: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhus_typhina

    Follow the recipe above from jpl1nh, sumac tea is very refreshing, a great source of vit. C, and has a complexity of flavor almost like a good wine. You can add sugar to taste, but I never do.

    As far as firewood? I say burn it all! We just throw it into a big pile for a bonfire, although my friend will occaisionally grab some of the bigger stuff- he burns year-round for cooking and hot water, so it works out for him.
  15. RandyW

    RandyW New Member

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    We have what is believed to be sumac in the yard as well, but the bark is smooth and not as rough as pictured above. Different speceis perhaps. We always use it for open fires in a ring or barrell at our outside bar. Maybe itll come in now.
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