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Best BC/Pacific Northwest wood for overnight burns

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Cynnergy, Nov 21, 2012.

  1. Cynnergy

    Cynnergy Member

    Joined:
    Oct 15, 2012
    Messages:
    244
    Loc:
    Coast, BC
    Hello all,

    I'm looking at installing a Jotul f100 in a ~800 sq. foot cabin on an island on the BC coast next summer (I want something small, non-cat, and nice looking!). I'm worried about having chilly mornings though because it seems like we won't be able to get an overnight burn on it. We're hoping to add some decent insulation to the cabin, but it was built in the 50's and I'm not sure how much we can do given our budget and transport issues.

    That said, what sort of wood should I be collecting now? We're too far north to get any arbutus, what about big-leaf maple? I think that Doug fir, hemlock and alder all burn really fast, is that right? Is there anything I can buy that would last longer?

    All suggestions appreciated!

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  2. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    8,426
    Loc:
    So Cent ALASKA
    Nothing wrong with Douglas Fir. 17.4 Mil BTUs/cord
    I'd get any local stuff CSS & seasoning. (Top cover or a shed in your area.)
    When on an island, gotta burn with what you got, worked for hundreds of years ;)

    Want long burning & lots of heat.
    & If money is no issue,
    Order 2 cords of WV or PA, 2 year seasoned hickory. ;) LOL :)
    I was going to, but shipping thru Canada was a problem + an extra $2500. LOL :)
  3. Blue2ndaries

    Blue2ndaries Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Oregon
    Agree w/Dave, you gotta burn what you've got. That said, short of shipping hickory in, Doug Fir isn't all that bad for the PacNW. In OR, I've been able to find white oak and ash. Not sure if those are around in BC.
  4. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2008
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    3,644
    Loc:
    Shelton, WA
    Here are some random thoughts and suggestions

    1) for an 800 Sq Ft cabin it's almost impossible to get a stove that's too small

    2) The f100 will do nicely but you could have a PE Vista for less $$$ and no cast-iron associated eccentricities

    3) Buying wood that is already cut sucks giant hobo nuts when you have a small stove because it's probably cut too long

    4) If you're collecting wood now for next year don't worry about the species. Assuming you've kept it off the ground and out of the rain it'll be fine for next year

    5) If you're collecting wood for this year don't worry about species as there's no way it'll be dry enough to burn. Better just put it in next year's pile
    milleo likes this.
  5. Cynnergy

    Cynnergy Member

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    Loc:
    Coast, BC
    Thanks all. I am a details person, and I want to try to get everything right first time (doesn't always work though, ha!) Nice to know that as long as the wood's dry, it should do a good job. Must get that woodshed built! We have all of the species I mentioned on the island, but fir is uncommon and maple really rare. No oak. There is a type of ash, but it's more of a shrub than a tree.

    I wasn't really thinking of buying any wood, but buying something something man-made. Something that's the opposite of a super cedar?
  6. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    Feb 26, 2009
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    Central PA
    I don't think a small stove is going to give long burns regardless of what type of wood you burn. A larger stove would give longer burns, but during the early stages of that long burn it would put off a lot of heat because you'd have loaded it full. This is where a cat stove would be nice - you could choke it down pretty low and get a long burn without too much heat, or at least less heat than a non-cat stove would give in the early stages of the burn. There is no perfect answer here.

    With hardwoods the knotty pieces seem to burn longer, but they are irregular in shape so you can't fit as much wood in the firebox.
  7. blacktail

    blacktail Feeling the Heat

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    Loc:
    Western WA
    I'd burn whatever you can get. Doug Fir and Bigleaf Maple are top shelf for what's available around here. Any Madrone up there? It's supposed to be some of the best.
  8. wardk

    wardk Member

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    Loc:
    B.C. Canada
    Lot's of doug fir processed on the big island , maybe rent a 5ton Uhaul load it with mill scraps, good for a couple years.
    hilbiliarkiboi likes this.
  9. Cynnergy

    Cynnergy Member

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Coast, BC
    Wood duck - yes, I was looking into something like the Woodstock Keystone to try to get longer burns, but even though it's small, it's very heavy (400 lbs!) and I'm worried the floor won't support it (it's a suspended floor - the cabin is on log skids). We're also trying to make the cabin user-friendly for other friends/family in future, and I think that non-cats might be a bit safer and easier to use/learn for those who don't know much about woodstoves. But open to other's thoughts on this.

    Blacktail - Madrone (aka arbutus) is very rare around here. My grandma told me that the northernmost wild-growing arbutus tree is located on the island just south of us, not sure if that's true or not, but I don't want to cut it down, that's for sure!

    Thinking FAR ahead, I was thinking about planting some maple seeds in my grandma's field and then cutting/coppicing them on say, a five year rotation (if the deer don't eat them). Don't suppose anyone knows how well small maple poles would cut/season/burn? Obviously I wouldn't get much wood that way, but maybe I could plant enough to have a couple of poles to put on last thing at night for the coldest nights of the year.
  10. Oregon Bigfoot

    Oregon Bigfoot Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
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    Loc:
    Northwest Oregon
    There's been many years here in Western Oregon, where I burned only Douglas Fir or a Douglas Fir/Hemlock mix. It's a great firewood when it's fully seasoned! In my opinion, Big Leaf Maple is also a great hard wood, once its seasoned properly. I have a couple cords of Big Leaf Maple cut/split/stacked and seasoning for the 2014-2015 burning season. 35-40% or so of my current burning firewood is Douglas Fir. The other 55-60% or so is Oregon White Oak, with a small amount of odd/small chunks of various fruitwood/maple/birch/arborvitae from the next door neighbor's yard trimmings, and some blue spruce from a friend, for now while we are in shoulder season burning. I like Alder too. It burns very hot, but Alder does have a faster burn rate. I would be happy if I had just Alder to burn! It splits the easiest of any wood I can recall, even easier than Douglas Fir, so its worth it to me. And the smell of the smoke is awesome!

    You probably have some Sitka or maybe some Black Spruce available too, maybe for the shoulder season (the warmer part of the wood burning season). But if its anything like the blue spruce I got this year, I wouldn't bother. This stuff was the hardest to split wood to date for me. I had to use the saw to "split" some. And it does not burn very hot at all.

    Start now, and get 2 to 3 years ahead on your firewood, and you won't be disappointed with any firewood!
  11. Realstone

    Realstone Lord of Fire

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    Jan 20, 2012
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    852
    Loc:
    Southern ON
    Hi Cynnergy, welcome to the forum.

    A little off the wood topic, but have you considered spray foam insulation for your cabin? More effective than batt insulation and you can do it yourself. The only one I know that carries it is Lowe's. Here is the link if you are interested.
  12. Cynnergy

    Cynnergy Member

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    Loc:
    Coast, BC
    Hi Oregon Bigfoot - thanks very much for the info! It's nice to hear from everyone who have 1st hand burning experience. We do have Sitka Spruce here, but I've never thought of it as firewood - it is #%!&$! to split. I had a few chunks to split at a nature centre I was working at and I had to give up on it because it was like trying to split concrete!

    Realstone - thanks for the link, I didn't know that anyone did DIY spray foam. Price is good too! Will look into that a bit further. I've been leaning towards stapling foil-bubble type insulation to the bottom of the floor joists, rigid foam on the roof when we re-roof, and doing something with the walls (still wondering how this might be done best - spray foam could work, although I might be too chicken to do it myself in the walls). We're trying to avoid fiberglass batts because I just spent several weekends clearing out mouse nests in fibreglass ALL over the house (I'm sure there's more but I don't want to open up the walls to see)! Roxul is another possibility though for the walls and maybe under the rigid foam on the roof if we need more r-value.
    Realstone likes this.
  13. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    base of Mt. Rainier on the wet side, WA
    I burned 20 some cords in my last non-cat hearthsone stove using the woods you have have available. Plus whatever else fell down in the forest. There are some old wife's tales out there but the main thing is that any wood will burn and burn well in a modern non-cat when it is dry enough. You might get a hold of a btu per cord table so that you can determine which of the woods is most worth harvesting.

    My favorite wood to burn due to cutting, splitting, curing, burn times, lack of slivers, lack of thick bark, fast growth, and abundance is red alder. It is a great wood that makes just enough ash to cover the coals and extend burn times. Grows like a weed.

    I also have burned lots of doug fir but it lacks the ash which means burn times are shorter though the same heat is produced.

    Another wood that should be common in your area is western red cedar. It scores high on the energy content table and really burns well also. This tree grows in wet areas so it blows down a lot. The trunks are large and smell nice. Easy splitter and lively fire.

    Don't be picky. I have burned lots of cottonwood and willow as well and in a modern stove it burns just fine and lasts quite a while.

    For stoves, this is a cabin. You will likely want to show up and get lots of heat in a hurry. Skip cast iron or soapstone, get a plate steel PE super.
    Realstone likes this.
  14. Realstone

    Realstone Lord of Fire

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    Cynnergy, just had the spray-foam guy come in to insulate my sunroom. It cost me less to have him do it than the kit! And about half the cost of styrofoam SM. Spray foam (whether DIY or Pro) is the best way to go as it will expand into the cracks & crevices and it becomes its own vapour barrier. It will also become a structural component and will tighten up the squeaks.

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