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Are Older Downed Trees Good to Burn?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Mass. Wine Guy, Dec 30, 2008.

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  1. Mass. Wine Guy

    Mass. Wine Guy Feeling the Heat

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    A friend of mine has several small to medium diameter downed trees on his land that we looked at today. Some has been down for a couple of years or so. All have some degree of rot, but a few have miniaml rot with some good looking core wood.

    Is this type of stuff worthwhile to cut and dry out? Will it burn well, pretty well, awful?

    Thanks.

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  2. PunKid8888

    PunKid8888 New Member

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    I just tried burning some have rotted wood over the weekend. Ended up just barely creating enough BTUs to burn itself. unless its already in your wood pile, I would not go through the hassel of cutting and spliting, stacking and then carting that wood around if it shows any signs of rot.
  3. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    When I had outdoor woodpiles, I scrounged deadfall Poplar to lay on the ground as sacrifice wood so I could keep the good stuff up off the ground. Normally, I won't even go out of my way to harvest sound Poplar. Anyway, after I built my woodshed, I was thinking about what I should do with the Poplar. It was too wet and too much trouble to haul it to my burn pile so I bucked it up and laid it up as the first outside course where driven rain could hit my good stuff. Some of it was so punky that it would break across the grain when I tried splitting it. After a couple of years sitting there, I realized it's just wasting space in my shed and I should burn it so I can stack good stuff there. It all burned with no problem but some of it was like burning tissue paper.

    If it is still sound, by all means take it. At worst, you can use it for sacrifice wood on the ground. At best, it will burn as well as any other.
  4. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    You will know more after cutting it and splitting but you can bet theres some good wood there!
  5. drdoct

    drdoct Feeling the Heat

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    The trick will be getting it dried out. If you've got a moisture meter it'll probably peg it once you get it split. You'll have to keep the rain off it if you want the punky (rot) to dry out along with the wood. Punky will burn as long as it's dry.
  6. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    The good news is that the cell structure is likely broken down some so it should dry quickly.
  7. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    I'm the king of all junk wood burners and drdoct speak the truth...ya gotta dry it out. Hey if that's the only thing ya have going you may as well make the best of it. It'll probably take twice as much to do the same job but it does provide heat. I have plenty of good wood we can cut but if there's tress on the ground we can't drive over 'em ...it gets processed and eventually burned. Also punky wood is good for shoulder season.

    If that's the only thing ya got going you may as well cut it up until something better comes along.
  8. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    Dude- with all the trees that have come down in storms recently- you shouldn't have to use rotted wood. Rotted wood on the ground will need drying out anyway.

    (pH- drinking my favorite cheap Shiraz- Little Penguin)
  9. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    If the core are OK and it's easy to get to I say it's worth it.
  10. whippingwater

    whippingwater New Member

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    Growing up my dad would burn anything he could get his hands on and it would drive me nuts to be catching this junk off the buzz saw on a sunny fall afternoon. Every time i made a comment about some gopher wood we were cutting he would say two things: "It'll burn!" and "Ever see a cold fire?". IT"LL BURN.
  11. bobfeather

    bobfeather Member

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    with me it's as much about stewardship as need with my own bush when i go to cut i try to clean up as well so cutting some " punky " wood does not bother me same reason i spend time choppin up the little stuff as well it's either gonna be burned or sit & rot in the bush
    wood with some rot certainley won't have the BTU kick of dense hard stuff, but it will still dry out & it's good to get a fire going if you have the time to dry it out & it don't cost much, i'd go ahead & burn it
    bob
  12. RedRanger

    RedRanger New Member

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    I dunno, maybe try watching the movie--"40 year old virgin" again.? Can`t see why older trees would be any worse/maybe even better? ;-P
  13. willisl64

    willisl64 New Member

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    I cut up some half punky shagbark last summer that had been attacked hard by borer bettles. I was basically cleaning it up to remove the eyesore, but much to my delight it proved to be a very good burning wood. There was enough good wood left in the splits that it threw plenty of heat and it was the first wood we broke into as it dried faster that the green wood we cut last spring. I also cut several down and dead oaks that had over an inch of dry rot on the out side (20 + inch trees) and it has made excellent wood.
  14. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    shagbark punky or not here i come!
  15. Malatesta

    Malatesta New Member

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    It's worth burnin when you dont have to pay for it. I say get it , let it dry out and burn away ! Nothing like not paying the oil or gas company's.

    Thats how i look at it ! I remember one year all i could get was Free Poplar and some half rotted Maple , i didnt turn it Down. It Burns !
  16. Cluttermagnet

    Cluttermagnet Minister of Fire

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    I have burned plenty of Red Oak that had a thick 1-2 in. layer of punk wood on the outside- but on most of mine I trimmed off the punk because it just never dried OK otherwise. I also trimmed because there were a lot of critters living in that soft layer. Lose the punk, lose the critters (pretty much). We had a huge old dead tree taken down. I'll probably be burning that wood for at least the next two years. Love that Oak firewood!
  17. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    ^Also punky wood seasons in record time.

    Sometimes you can find some gold in that punky/junk wood. My daughter’s a real fire merchant and when she comes down to visit there’s always a campfire burning.

    In the pic below there’s a pile of wood I pulled out of the swamp cut it up and because the wood was so crappy imo I didn’t bother to stack it…the wood didn’t even have bark on it.

    [​IMG]

    But when burned a month or 2 later it had the most unusual and prettiest colors I’ve ever seen. Saved a little to burn inside last year when people come over. Company got fixated by the colors but I would downplay it… ‘it’s just wood’ . They didn't buy it...wish I had taken some pics of it to show you the green, blue and red flames. This thread got me thinking about that so I'll get some more of that swamp wood this year and if I remember I’ll resurrect this post next winter with a pic of some real pretty burning junk wood.

    The stacked pile in the background is our shoulder season/junk wood/campfire wood …the only wood we stack. Our real wood is thrown onto huge long piles.
  18. Cluttermagnet

    Cluttermagnet Minister of Fire

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    Very interesting photo. Thanks for posting it. Viewed from that distance, the wood looks 'normal', looks like something I'd burn.
  19. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    This past Summer when I was scrounging hard to get in wood for this winter I was pretty much taking anything that looked like it would burn . . . as a result I ended up with quite a bit of dead wood. What I have found in general is that standing dead wood (dead for a year or so) has burned pretty well as a rule . . . dead wood on the ground (but propped up off the ground by leaning on a stone wall, another tree, etc.) also has burned pretty well. Dead wood lying directly on the ground for who knows how long has been dependent on the wood species (i.e. cedar has been a bit better for example compared to elm) and ground conditions (i.e. well drained vs. boggy.) Like another poster I did end up with some great cherry . . . to help speed up the drying process I hacked off most of the really punky stuff.
  20. xjnuttier

    xjnuttier New Member

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    i had just purchased a cord of wood 2 weeks ago, and it was seasoned for a year, and yes split under cover. Therre was a mix of hardwoods, apple, maple, white oak, and chery, and probally a few others, and it burns well, the oak was not ready in my own opinion, but not horrible, a lil sizzle, especially if they were larger splits. I had just cut down an oak last week at my moms place, and it has been on the trailer until yeasterday afternoon. Thte tree was a dead stander, with 3 main tunks out of one. The one had broken off a few years back, it was around 20 inches in diameter, and there was bout 10 feet left standing. I dropped that lod first and it was hallow, nothing worth while. I then dropped the 2 other trees attached to the system, the one was a nice 70 footer again dead stander not as bad, no center rot, but shrooms on the bark. and the last was the biggest around 80 feet in whole and the largest trunk around 22 inches, cut from both sides to drop.. I had cut up the 70 footer and loaded it, and I cut the top portion of the larger one. I went out yesterday afternoon, and strarted splitting some fo the wood, some of which was grey with no bark. I looked at it after i split it,a nd I thought I would give it a try in the stove. The wood burned so well, great BTU's and long burn. I actually went to harbor yesterday to buy a meter and they were sold out. I can assure you from that expereince that a dead stander is a good burner, right off the bat. I have some other stuff that was dead rot, from the ground, and was split a few weeks back and stacked. The pile looks real good as of yesterday, and I assume will dry very quickly from the way it looks, maybe even for the end of thsi burn season... I beleive that the type of wood and the moisture it is subject too, determeins the rot cycle and usability of the wood.. just my 3 cents...if it is "junk" and can be burned why not burn it, it is "free"...maybe not this year but it will be cold next December too...
  21. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    Yeah it does look good from a distance doesn't it. They were under water for a long, long time, all the limbs and bark just disappeared off them ...bare as a telephone pole. It was so punky they couldn't be split without falling apart.
  22. Cluttermagnet

    Cluttermagnet Minister of Fire

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    Your experience closely matches my own. Deadwood, standing or horizontal off the ground, has burned very well for me. Split it and use it. But with my ground contact Red Oak deadwood, I found that it didn't dry well until I trimmed away all the punky wood with a hatchet. Even then, I had to allow some additional dry time, but it was greatly shortened since the wood had already seasoned. I've found it to be true indeed that unseasoned, green wood takes way more time than seasoned wood which has gotten wet.
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