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Best Burning Wood and Why?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by claybe, Jan 13, 2011.

  1. wood-fan-atic

    wood-fan-atic New Member

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    I burn mostly oak(red and white) - I scrounge,and its what I come across most often. But my favorite burning wood is Black Locust. Both oak and locust burn hot and long - but the one year seasoning time puts the locust over the top, IMHO. Ash and cherry are fall and spring favorites,also. I only have room for about 7 cords on my property, so I dont waste space with softwoods anymore.

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  2. basswidow

    basswidow Minister of Fire

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    Oops, not beech, maybe birch? I am not 100% on the ID. It had a silver smooth bark and bleach white inside. Split like a dream and seasoned good - but is light like balsa wood. Not beech.... my bad. Did look alot like the picture posted though.
  3. dannynelson77

    dannynelson77 Feeling the Heat

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    PA
    How does Black Locust not impress you?? Its crazy high on the BTU chart, its splits easy, and it seasons fast. That actually sounds like the PERFECT wood to me! :)
  4. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    American Beech has sort of pebbly blue-gray bark, and the bark on older trunk wood is often sort of pockmarked with small raised round lesions, which are caused, I believe, by some sort of insect or disease that's endemic to beech. The wood itself is a pale kind of salmon-color, and it's often moderately stringy and twisted. Definitely more difficult to split than a straight-grained wood like maple.

    And you need to figure out which kind of maple you're burning there because there's a big difference between the burning qualities of silver maple, red maple and sugar maple (rock maple it's called here). Rock maple has the same BTU as oak, but red and silver are well down below that. And beech is well above even rock maple, one of the best hardwoods there is widely available for burning.

    There are a lot of different kinds of birch, too, and some are better burning than others. The real white "paper birch" dries quickly (also rots quickly) and burns nicely and hot, but very briefly. It's about perfect kindling wood, I think.
  5. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    Not really. Sugar maple (rock maple it's called here in maple country) is about the same as oak, well below beech, black birch, hickory, hophornbeam, etc., as a hot-burning wood.
  6. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    We have 2 options here. Birch & spruce.
    I burn both for various reasons at various times.
    I prefer birch, best btu wood we have but spruce burns well also.

    Best wood??:
    Gotten wood :)
  7. spacecowboyIV

    spacecowboyIV New Member

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    Loc:
    Central VA
    For a good fire show Its been a lot of fun burning some good dry cedar in the evenings, but for the heat I have to say honey locust.
  8. Thistle

    Thistle Minister of Fire

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    Central IA
    There's over a dozen Hawthorns that are native to the Midwest & Eastern US,several more in Western US.I've seen a few scattered specimens in the odd fencerow,prairie or edge of woodland.Not common at all though.They are usually small trees or large shrubs,rarely over 20-25 tall max.Some of the biggest thorns will be 2 or 2 1/2" long,I heard stories growing up that they'd go through a tractor tire sidewall,it wouldnt surprise me none.In the Rose family,related to apple,cherry,pear & other fruitwoods.Quite dense,similar to apple,crabapple & pear,more so than cherry what little I've seen & cut.Takes a high polish,shapes very smoothly also.

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  9. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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  10. woodchip

    woodchip Minister of Fire

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    Our native Hawthorn (Crataegus mongyna) is actually quite a special tree over here.
    It is the tree of fertility, and flowers in May, also known here as the May Tree.

    Strong associations with fairies in many folk tales have helped stop it being cut wantonly as firewood.
    I would never cut a live one, not because of superstition, but big ones are quite rare.

    The flowers and berries are a known cardiac tonic, and the young buds and leaves have a nutty taste.

    The thorns are vicious, and they make great hedging trees.
    The only thing I have ever seen hanging from them at low level is wool, when sheep scratch themselves and bits of fleece come off.

    The Holy Thorn of Glastonbury, which flowers at Christmas as well as May, is a Hawthorn.

    Yes, I like our Hawthorn trees, they really are interesting little trees :)
  11. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    You hardly have shrikes in England anymore. There's the Great Gray shrike which winters there in small numbers, and the once native Red-Backed shrike has virtually disappeared as a breeding species-- one pair, I believe, in Dartmoor.

    http://www.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/conservation/biodiversity/keyspecies/birds/red-backedshrike.aspx
  12. Mrs. Krabappel

    Mrs. Krabappel Minister of Fire

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    Thread derail, but when I lived in Florida I attracted a pair nesting pair of loggerhead shrikes to my feeder. I fed them mealworms to begin with, but when that got too $$, cut up beef heart (and I wasn't eating meat at the time :lol:). When their babies fledged the parents would leave them in my shrubs! It was so cool to watch them hunt lizards.
  13. CountryBoy19

    CountryBoy19 Minister of Fire

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    I've heard that from a lot of people, but I don't buy it.

    I scored about 4 cords of Hedge/Osage here this past fall and it cut just fine for me. Sure it will dull a chain faster than softer woods, but when you consider how dense it is, it doesn't dull the chain much more than any other wood (relatively speaking).

    My favorite woods, I'm not sure yet. This is my first year burning.

    Sugar maple tends to leave a lot of coals behind, but maybe that's because it's not ideally seasoned. MC shows 20-22% when I measured it but my HF cheapo meter may be tricking me.

    Haven't gotten to try oak yet.

    White ash is good stuff

    Hedge is wonderful! I didn't have much seasoned hedge, but I had enough to have a few fires with it.

    On the plate for next year I have locust and more sugar maple.

    The year after that I'll get into my oak. The hedge is my "emergency reserve", being rot resistant should allow me to keep it for a long time.
  14. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    Further derailment-- I think they're really cool birds. They sing sort of like a mockingbird, and even in winter. Apparently, their tactic is to imitate the songs and chirps of other birds in order to lure them within range...
  15. HittinSteel

    HittinSteel Minister of Fire

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    Yes Jay....... I've got red/white oak, norway, poplar, hickory, ash, cherry and some red elm. I take whatever the summer storms, disease or tree services give me.
  16. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    The only tree I have turn down is a big and I mean BIG Cottonwood 1/4 mile away. Just not worth sharpening the chains that much and oh she stinks bad when split,,,,,,
  17. claybe

    claybe Member

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    Colorado
    Thanks for all of the responses....I scored some Aspen at a great price and that's what I have been burning lately. I don't have time to go after free wood right now (something to definitely do this summer!!!) so I am going to be buying more wood to get through the season. Looks like the majority go with oak which I can get around here....
  18. bboulier

    bboulier Feeling the Heat

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  19. Pyromaniac

    Pyromaniac Member

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    slow internet. Let me try again....
  20. Pyromaniac

    Pyromaniac Member

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    Huh. Learned something tonight. Always thought that beech was somewhat of a softwood and not much as a firewood tree. Have quite a few large ones in my woods that I've never thought much of other than being mast for the wildlife. After referencing a few BTU charts after a reading comments here it turns out it is a very nice specimen for burning too! Thanks guys! (I think I was confusing it with birch in terms of BTU's)

    I also have to correct my earlier statement that was pointed out that Osage(Hedge) dulls a chain quickly too. It makes you FEEL like you've got a dull chain when cutting. When I was cutting quite a bit last year in a fencerow I would cut on a cherry log after a bit too make my saw (and myself) feel better about itself! I think being denser that it does dull a chain a bit faster but not as much as it feels like when cutting it. That's why I used the 7900 to compensate!
  21. krex1010

    krex1010 Minister of Fire

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    Best firewood? I tend to go for the stuff that is on the top of the stack.
  22. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    Here in Pennsylvania native hawthorn is a fairly common small tree. There are several species and they are hard to tell apart sometimes. I haven't cut any for firewood, but it seems like it would be tough to work with because of the thorns. There is a big one under the powerline near my yard, and one of these days the power company is going to cut it down, so maybe I will have a chance to see how it burns.
  23. Cascade Failure

    Cascade Failure Member

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    Nope. The top of the stack is just sitting there.

    But, even crappy wood in the stove is doing something for me.
  24. basswidow

    basswidow Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, me too.

    Scrounging trees makes it tough to know all the species. Oak, cherry, and ash are easy for me.

    We have sugar maples in NNJ - I know this because a neighbor goes up to High Point where he has some tree's tapped and makes syrup. So I'd love to burn a good sugar maple tree. The maple I have is not sugar maple. It's a neighborhood type maple tree that got massive and was taken down. It was a son of a gun to split and just seems to burn so-so.

    I know it ruffles feathers for me to say - my Black Locust doesn't impress me. I know there are BTU charts, but I swear the black locust in my avatar is what I am burning now and it's been a disappointment. It does not put out the heat like other wood I have. Maybe I got a bum tree? It was dead standing for quite some time.

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