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aspen or cotton wood, thoughts.

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by akhilljack, Feb 6, 2009.

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  1. akhilljack

    akhilljack New Member

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    i have an idea but was wondering if any one could show me pictures of the difference in aspen and cotton wood from the outside. also which one would be easier/faster to season and which one would burn better. i think i have an abundance of both but was wondering which one i should spend my time to cut and split. i dont care if it burns worse than oak because im sure some one will start that argument but oak doesnt "grow on trees" around here and i have a lot of these (i think)

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  2. CowboyAndy

    CowboyAndy New Member

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    There should be no question between the 2... cottonwood will have a thick bark with grooves in it, while aspen will be alot smoothe, almost like a waxy coating on it.
  3. stockdoct

    stockdoct New Member

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    I scrounged a bunch of cottonwood and had a VERY difficult time splitting it. The maul would just sink into the softwood and get stuck. Hated it. Even if its free I wouldn't get it again.
  4. madrone

    madrone Minister of Fire

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    The charts show aspen as slightly higher btus, but I've never burned it. Cottonwood cuts and splits easy, seasons in about 6-9 months, burns fine in my stove. Not tons of heat, lots of ash, but it's good wood if free and easy to get. Only real drawback in my mind is the smell, both green and when burned. I wouldn't take it over most other things, but if that's what you've got, it's fine.

    Also, I think Western and Eastern cottonwoods are different, so I'm not sure you'll get much useful advice from east of the Rockies.
  5. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Here's a picture of me throwing clay pigeons with unleafed aspen trees in the background on the left. The droopy ones with twisted trunks, these are mature aspen trees from the NW. I haven't burned much large diameter aspen but have burned willow and cottonwood with great results in a modern stove.

    I have burned gobs and gobs of cottonwood and it works great. Splits easy and dries quickly. It is a white wood and has a smell that isn't terribly offensive or urine like but just kind of stinky. Green cottonwood is hard to burn and spews stinky, heavy, white smoke. Green cottonwood is extremely heavy.

    Lets consider all of these low density hardwoods the same since they really are very similar. Cottonwood, aspen, willow are the pacific northwest's least desirable species. They are heavy when green and then very low density when they dry. I like to burn it because it ashes over well and actually provides decent burn times even though there is less energy being released per firewood load. Also the trees can get to be very large and since nobody wants them they are easy pickings.

    There have been some long threads on cottonwood burning that would provide you with good information.

    Basicly, if you see a tree in the woods and you want it then the worst thing it could be is aspen/cottonwood and that is not a bad thing. Everything else is just better.

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  6. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Sorry no pictures, but it is pretty easy to tell the difference. If I had to choose, I'd choose the popple. On the cottonwood, I've always thought it best to split after it has dried some but you really need to split it asap because it is loaded with sap. Worse than the popple.
  7. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Absolutely no question about it....go with the oak. (I HAD to do it, sorry %-P )
  8. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    What the heck is popple. Do you mean poplar? Those fountain looking trees planted by farmers along their fencelines?

    We've actually cut cottonwood trees down and let them fall into the river (per the DFW) and the stump actually runs with water. Amazing amount of water in those large trees.
  9. wendell

    wendell Minister of Fire

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    You are welcome to come and cut down my neighbor's cottonwood. The thing is at least 42" across and hangs mostly over my house and drops 1000's of twigs and crap on my house and yard every year.

    They are really a horrible species, especially in the southwest due to the amount of water they suck up. I think the lady that said she had never seen a thing as lovely as a tree had never seen a cottonwood. :)
  10. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Poplar is popular in your area but around here the popple is more popular!
  11. `RyaN`

    `RyaN` New Member

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    Depending on the part of the country you live in popple could be referring to different things. Some people here in PA refer to popple as aspen. Poplar is a different species.
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