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Bio Brick Review

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by sparke, Sep 24, 2006.

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  1. sparke

    sparke Minister of Fire

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    Cold and Damp here in Central Maine. I've been itching to try the Bio Bricks and finally got my chance today. As with all new fuels it will take a bit of experimenting to get optimal performance but here are initial thoughts:

    Pros:

    1. Burn hot once they get going.
    2. Burn time seems longer then hardwood. (when dampered down)
    3. No mess I.E. barks, bugs, etc...
    4. Storage space smaller.
    5. Fine ash and less then wood.

    Cons:

    1. Take a while to get going. (longer then hardwood) But as I said I am experimenting.
    2. If you burn them at full speed they seem to burn faster then hard wood. (for max heat output)
    3. Price - They are over priced right now. I paid 300 for a ton. This is supposed to = 1.5 cords but I have my doubts.

    Summary: I think these bricks will perform much better when you fill the stove. I was burning 3 to 6 at a time. Also, it is rainy and 50* so the draft sucks...
    If the price comes down I will definitely switch from wood but not at these prices...

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  2. babalu87

    babalu87 New Member

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    $210 a ton in Eastern Connecticut

    I wouldnt mind having a ton (pallet) and I know my dad wanted one
    4 more tons locally (SE Mass) and we can all split delivery.

    I burned a few bags last year and would like to have them in the basement for those BLIZZARD nights, its not as if they go bad either
  3. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    1 cord of typical eastern hardwood = 3200 lbs seasoned.
    Weight of one ton of biobricks = 2000 lbs

    Heat value per pound of both fuels is similar.

    A small adjustment for moisture could be taken - assuming Bios are less than 20%.

    Any way you look at it, it would take a ton and 1/2 of Bios to make ONE CORD of average hard wood in heat value. Oak, at 4,000 pounds per cord, is equal to about 2 tons of Bios per cord.
  4. sparke

    sparke Minister of Fire

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    Thats probably why I will stick with hardwood... I like the convenience of the bio brick but I dont think the $$value is there.
  5. Mike Wilson

    Mike Wilson New Member

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    Where in Eastern CT did you get them? I'll be up in Stonington in 2 weeks, maybe I'll pick up some to try out.

    -- Mike
  6. DonCT

    DonCT Minister of Fire

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    I burned a bag as well. I like them for starting, but haven't tried an overnight. They seem to burn just fine, producing a nice bed of coals.

    I've also thought about picking up a few more bags as a easy backup. I get the majority of my wood free, so I can't justify the price of a ton. But if I HAD to, I would definitely pick them over cord wood. There's no guessing as to "Is that a cord or not?", and they stack soooo easily in the garage.
  7. michaelthomas

    michaelthomas New Member

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    I got a free sample from one of the local dealers and he was talking about all the people who had bought the product in the past week. I asked how much he charged for delivery and he said they didn't offer it on this product. He said he helped load a pallet (1 ton) into a subaru outback. He said he always checks inside the vehicle door to make sure that the vehicle is not over its GVW. a Ford f-150 has a payload capacity of 1100# and a 3/4 ton truck has near a 2000# capacity. How would he think that a subaru would not be overloaded with 1 ton (2000#) loaded in it? Anyway I haven't tried the product yet but it wouyld be great for the older woodburner with a bad back or limited storage space.
  8. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    The Barus have a 2,000 lb tow rating, so you can always buy a cheapo Harbour Freight trailer and use that to haul pellets, firewood, corn or biobricks.
    (My wife is pushing for me to buy a pickup truck, but I know that means more hauling for me).
  9. recppd

    recppd New Member

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    Wow, this is really interesting. I burned Home Prest Firelogs last season and loved them, however they are now up to $418 a pallet so I was forced to go back to cordwood at $225/cord. In fact I just got through stacking 4 cords yesterday! It wasn't fun...

    Anyways, can someone give me an idea on the approx. size and weight of each brick? Are they made from 100% hardwood? I notice they expand and break apart during burning, something the compressed logs don't do. I also notice the website claims you can stuff your stove full of the bricks for extended burns, which is definately a no-no with the compressed logs as you will definately overfire your stove. So I guess I'm trying to compare the two to get an idea of the actual heat output.

    Thanks...

    BTW, I called around to the dealers listed on their website and found the price to be around $275 a pallet, plus delivery, in northern MA.
  10. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Please keep us updated on these. I would like to see how long 1 ton will last compared to cordwood. If someone could get away with burning 2 tons at $600, 24/7 all winter, that wouldn't be too bad?
  11. recppd

    recppd New Member

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    That's definately not going to happen. I heated my ENTIRE house with compressed logs last year (approx. 2200 sq. ft. living space) and I burned 4 1/2 pallets of the compressed logs. They were 1.4 cords per pallet vs. 1 cord per pallet of the BioBrick. Regardless, I would much prefer to burn BioBricks/Compressed Logs over cordwood anyday! The fact that you can store them inside without worry about bugs, dirt, etc., adds a lot of value. Not to mention that you get much longer overnight burns! I've filled my stove at 10:00 P.M. and woken up in the morning with logs still glowing red and the blower still going because the stove was hot enough for the snap stat to be on. They are definately a convenience product! Not only that, they produce MUCH, MUCH, MUCH less ash!!!!
  12. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Thanks for the report recppd. That's impressive. How about adding your local and stove type to your signature? That will help others judge how well they might work in their region/stove.
  13. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Agreed that is not a good idea. I've loaded our Odyssey with 1200 lbs. and wouldn't push it much further. The last time I bought pellets, I had them drop the palette into my Ford Ranger, very slowly. As the truck took the weight, I could see the front wheels rising until they were barely touching the ground. Common sense told me to split the load and drive safely, which I did.
  14. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Bios and compressed logs are 7 - 10% water, cordwood is typically burned at 14 - 20% (even 25 - 30% in some cases), so I'd say there is at least twice the water in cordwood as compared to bios and compressed logs. This results in not only more wood per lb, but more BTU's per lb by a larger factor since the water not only displaces wood weight, but also consumes some of the remaining BTU's to evaporate. A double loss I shall not attempt to calculate. ;) Burning these things makes it obvious there is less water. They burn distictively different than cordwood.

    There is a difference in brands of compressed logs, bricks, bios, etc., too. And I expect the bios to fall somewhere along the compressed wood spectrum I've noticed with compressed logs. I've tried 2 different compressed logs and loved them both, but they looked and acted differently from one another. I'd use either again if I could get them. They are great to supplement your cordwood, burn exclusively, or for a change of pace when you want something different to peer at in the stove.

    NWFuels' compressed logs are outstanding. They use a screw type extruder which gives incredible density (the greatest I'm aware of), which results in less expansion during burning, incredibly predictable combustion and heat, total integrity of form through the coaling stage, but somewhat more difficulty when starting the fire (no problem with their SuperCedars though). These logs are around 5 - 5.5 lbs per log.

    Jonas' (long time poster currently MIA) company (WOW - West Oregon Wood Products) makes their logs using a ram compressor. Results in great logs, but they expand a bit more, wafer themselves, and thus burn a bit faster. They are around 3 - 3.5 lbs per log.

    Since you buy them by weight the logs sizes only create differences in the burning characteristics, not the economics. You feed them both to get the heat or blaze you desire.

    I tried to get some Lignetics Prest-to-Logs (made in WV) last year from ACE Hardware, but was unsuccessful after about 5 tries from September to December. Not sure what happened there or who dropped the ball.

    I also tried to get some BioLog samples last year from a hearthnet poster, but that didn't pan out for unknown reasons. We were near the end of the burning season and neither I nor the Bio guy followed up on things.

    I think there is a bit of a premium paid for the convenience of compressed wood products (just like pellets), but the quality and quantity are dead reliable. Storage and cleanliness are other conveniences, as is moving them easily in their boxes (you can also order by the pallet if you can deal with that) with a two wheeler instead of handling and stacking splits. All this comes at a price as does most everything else in this world. If they seem right for you, I wouldn't hesitate to try them. All have their place. All I've tried worked great for me.
  15. sparke

    sparke Minister of Fire

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    UPDATE:

    Been burning these for a month now on cold days. Absolutely love them! Long and Hot burn. I have burned about 8 bags = 80 bricks. Mostly at night. When I get home at 5:00 pm I start the fire. I use one piece of pine kindling and a 2"x2"chunk of firestarter (cut up compressed log w/wax). I put in 10 or 12 bricks and thats it! In about 30 to 45 minutes, damper the fire down and I get good heat until 11:00 or so... I could probably fit about 30 bricks in the box so I know these babies are going to get an easy overnight burn...

    Overall rating on my scale of 1-10 = 9.5

    Still dont like the price so it will be back to cordwood next year :(
  16. cogger

    cogger Member

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    They are made in Berlin, CT. Call and see if you can buy direct www.biopellet.net. 860 508 5053. From here they also show a list of dealers. Luckly enough I found one my way in No. NH.
  17. cogger

    cogger Member

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    Almost the same here. I have a small VC Interpid coal going in to a 8in flue so the coal always seems to go out after several hours if unattended even with the air open.

    Wood at 14 in long and very well quarted up is alot of hassle work and time for this cause.

    The BioBrick here is $6 perbag (20bricks) or $275 ton. In my situation where temps are above 30f outside it is cheaper to burn oil in my system2000. But I needed this stove for them extreme cold days and nights. BioBrick has come to the rescue here in my case.

    When lit n' them try putting them down the long way with the word "BIO" facing up. Arrange 3 of them in a triangle and place 1 on top of your triangle. Paper in the middle and lit... I was using a propane tourch as well but did'nt need it using this last method explained here.

    2nd loading -- wait for the bricks to get to the hot and crumble point but not ash point. Knock em over and spread across fire box.
    Re load packing the bricks tightly. (in my vc it's 6 bricks, try 8 when colder). Let new bricks catch. Shut down all air and you are ready to burn for 7 hours in a VC Intrepid...

    I burn less like 3 or 4 a time when outdoor temps are in the 40's.

    On the average. 1brick is good for 70min. 6 bricks = 7hrs

    3rd load wait for coals to die down considerable but still good enough to relight your 3rd load......

    I dump my ash pan every other day instead of daily

    In a.m. do with coffee...... In p.m. do with beer..... Enjoy!
  18. webbie

    webbie Seasoned Moderator Staff Member

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    Hey Hot, do you drive that railway on a regular basis?

    I want to take a ride! Heck, only uses up a ton of coal...Mo Heat will like that.
  19. cogger

    cogger Member

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    I Use to be a regular doing 8 seasons. Now just a part time hobby
  20. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Maybe you should try some BioBricks in that steam engine!? Might get expensive, though. ;)

    Steam anything is scary to me (Ka-boom!), but I know those old steam engines have impressive craftsmanship. Like a working sculpture. I'll bet it's a real labor of love to keep that thing running. Interesting and fun.

    My two grandfathers were railroad men with the Kansas City Southern Line in Kansas. One was a section foreman (1), the other a general flunky. I've always loved trains from the time I received a fairly elaborate 1956 model electric Lionel 'O' scale diesel train set when I was two years old. I guess they wanted to get me started on the right track early. Actually, I think I was probably the perfect excuse for my dad to buy the thing for himself. ;) The fairly extensive track layout with two electric switches is now kaput, but the engine and most of the cars are still with me and working fine.



    (1) Well, he was a section foreman until he attempted to side track his work diesel powered work cart a bit too close to the main line schedule as he loved to do. His little railroad work cart got pushed into the next state. Luckily he and his men jumped to safety before the incident. BTW: did you know that the pocket watches all railroad folks carried back then needed to be opened up and set from the inside. They synchronized them regularly to reduce incidents of on-the-track train assets from bumping into one another. I guess my grand-dad was intent on beating the system. He should have known that most trains are a few minutes early or late. Grand-dad's train was early.
  21. cogger

    cogger Member

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    Pretty much the same here. $275 ton $20 deliverd or $6per bundle. To save hassle by the bundle I choose by the ton.

    Draft same here. They don't like the warmer air but with it being 20f out now they are doing great with air and damper 100% shut.

    1.5 cord? well maybe closer to cord equivelent. I base 1 brick per hour or try for 1:15min. I have gotten a nice long burn time of 6 hours from 6 bricks with coals left to start up again. 1 bundle of 20 can last a day if conservative in my VC.

    I choose to stay with Bio's for my VC IntrepidI coal model. To get cord wood at high prices and get it down to 14in doubled quarted is a hassle unless the wood was for free to make it worth my time and effort. If Bio price goes up then the later would be hardwood scrap wood if I could get it. So could I just burn coal? Yes but the stove is rigged into a 8 in flue. Draft for coal tends to die out and so does the coal fire after a half burn. Solution - Bio Bricks

    They are also wife freindly ;)
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