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Biobrick vs. real wood...whats the deal

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by blackdog1, Jan 22, 2012.

  1. blackdog1

    blackdog1 New Member

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    Lots of good info on here concerning cost of using biobricks vs. real wood and it seems that a lot (maybe most?)of stove manufactucurers dont "warranty" their stoves for the use of biobricks and this sounds like to me it is mostly due to testing and/or the cost of testing stoves to use the biobricks. I also understand that biobricks (or whatever brand) burn hotter and you need to be careful not to overheat the stove. It has been suggested to me that if I want to use them then you want to start with two and see how hot they get the stove...I guess bottom line is they work fine in stoves, cost more then real wood but offer some conveinence (less mess and work) but what are your feelings/thoughts about how the bio's actually burn in your woodstove and do you get the same Feel/Look from the fire as real wood??

    Trying to decide between pellet stove vs. woodstove or maybe one of them up stairs and the other downstairs (split-level home) but then we have a smaller house and not sure i want to get into storing pellets and real wood but I do like the mechanical simlicity of wood stove over pellet stove and right now I am leaning towards the wood stove. With that in mind I am quite interested in some sort of bio brick.

    Thanks for the thoughts from much more experience people than I...

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  2. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    Yup, they burn hot. They stack and store easier inside, but you can't store them outside. Visually, I think they aren't bad, this is a few Ecobricks in our stove:

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  3. wkpoor

    wkpoor Minister of Fire

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    I'm only a couple days into using them. Tried a few last yr but don't remember what I thought about them. This yr I've decided I really like how they burn. Give off loads of heat and seem to burn nice and long for me. No whether they are cost effective for 24/7 burning, in my case I doubt it. I would need 3 packs a day xs 4.00 = 12.00/day x 30days=360.00 per month. Cheaper to heat with gas or electric. But to add them in to each load sparingly I can see them working out.
  4. blackdog1

    blackdog1 New Member

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    Thanks for the photo!

    If anyone else has a photo readily available, would love to see it as well.

    We have and are still going round and round on which type of wood heat is "best for us" to help offset cost of oil heat.
  5. argus66

    argus66 Feeling the Heat

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    no creosote to worry about at all....
  6. fredarm

    fredarm Minister of Fire

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    I did the pellet vs. wood analysis in 2008 and came down on the side of wood. I found pellet stoves to be too much of an appliance, with multiple motors and circuit boards. Having an acre of woods behind my house with lots of standing dead trees (thanks winter moths) was also a factor. The first year I harvested a cord of wood and bought a cord of wood. The bought wood was not very dry and I had trouble burning it. I bought a few Bio Bricks to try to burn with the not so great wood and liked the results. The next year, I harvested another cord from my land and bought a ton of Bio Bricks instead of buying a cord of wood. Last year I bought a ton of Geo Bricks (similar to Bio bricks) and this year I bought a ton of Eco Bricks from Tractor Supply. Of all of them I like the Eco Bricks the best. They are bigger and work nicely loaded north-south (front to back) in my little stove. Coupled with Supercedars, the bricks make wood stove use extremely easy. Just be careful, there are a few stove brands, Jotul is one, where using compressed wood bricks will void the warranty.
  7. blackdog1

    blackdog1 New Member

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    yeah, thats my current thinking on pellet stoves...there is so much that can go wrong with one and the more I read the Pellet Stove forum it seems like there are a lot of little issues popping up all the time on these regardless of brand/model of pellet stove...plus the obvious No Power problem. And, the biobrick option does sound appealing to along with regular firewood.
  8. agartner

    agartner Feeling the Heat

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    I'm in my 2nd year of biobrick burning. Take a look at my profile picture to see what they look like in my stove. I like 'em. They heat well and are easy to manage. You just have to have the room indoors to store them.
  9. Huntindog1

    Huntindog1 Minister of Fire

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    A major aspect of those bio bricks is they are very low moisture.

    I have noticed from posts that alot of the guys getting real good results in their stoves have super dry wood, Like around 15% not the 20%, that is suggested most time.

    I did a load recently and hand selected and tested my pieces to be 13-15% and my results were better secondaries and longer burn time as I basically got the wood to look like charcoal and the only thing that was burning was the smoke up top. So that got me a longer burn time.
  10. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    For me personally the choice to go with wood came down to three facts:

    Fact A: I have access to a woodlot where I can get "free" fuel or I could scrounge if need be. I do not have access to a wood pellet mill where I can get free wood pellets.

    Fact B: When, not if, we lose power here, it is far easier to just keep the woodstove going than it is to bother with hooking up an extension cord and snaking it through the window and house to a pelletstove to keep it going.

    Fact C: At the time demand for wood pellet stoves was so great that I could not get a pellet stove until mid-Winter vs. getting a woodstove right then and there (and this was in mid to late summer.)

    There are pros- and cons- to both options honestly . . . it sounds like for you a lot boils down to the fuel costs. I suspect that in most places here in Maine the cost of firewood -- especially if you have it delivered tree length and you process it yourself -- will be a better deal than either wood pellets or bio-bricks . . . just be sure to get the wood sooner rather than later no matter how you buy it whether in tree length or cut and split already.
  11. Planethill

    Planethill New Member

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    I was on the same fence as you a few years ago when a work buddy with a Jotul said to me: "Think of it this way. Nobody ever calls you up and says "A storm just went through and I have a whole yard full of pellets for you...free!". :lol:

    That made up my mind!
  12. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Often storm damaged wood can't be burned for a year or two. I have a truck load of locust right now that won't see the stove until 2013.

    A good quality compressed fuel makes sense when the cost is reasonable, storage space is limited, dry fuel is hard to get. Many of these factors are common in houses or condos where the person is burning in an urban area.
  13. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    I think they are a great "filler" or first year fuel for a wood burner. This year we have less than ideal wood and these really saved our butts, letting us stack some greener stuff for next year. We will probably buy a pallet of them for next year too, for those days we don't want to deal with the wood, or to mix with splits when it's colder out to keep the burn time longer.

    You definately don't want to fill your stove to the gills with them, especially not at first. The most I think we've had in ours was 5, but they were packed tight so they burned slower (less surface area exposed).

    I didn't really consider a pellet stove because I prefer the flame of a wood stove. Although a pellet with battery backup would be nice for daytime burns when we're not home. We've also been scrounging wood since last summer and have about enough CSS'd for this next season, and already have at least 2-3 cord in a pile to CSS come spring for the following one. That was a big draw for us, it cost the gas to drive to and from to pick it up, then the wear and gas for the saw and splitter. Still less than buying the wood, and way less than propane.
  14. Scott2373

    Scott2373 Member

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    I own a Jotul Rangeley and I didn't read anything about Bio-Bricks voiding the warranty...where did you see this? Thanks
  15. Hearth Mistress

    Hearth Mistress Minister of Fire

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    I haven't tried the Bio Bricks, we bought "Wood Brick Fuel" at a local hardware store. They were $6 for 20 bricks (40lbs)

    The directions say to use 3-5 to start a fire in a tee-pee pattern over newspaper and light.
    There is a special note that says for wood stoves, allow bricks to burn in formation for 20-30 minutes and then rearrange to the back of the stove and add additional stacks, close together but not near the glass. It also warns that they expand and not to over load.

    So, I already had a small bed of coals from my morning start up so I put 3 in the stove 2 NS, on on top EW. Well in 5 minutes, my flue temp went from 450 to almost 900! The bricks did expand but made a mess of lit sawdust, creating fine embers. yes, they did burn hot, but I get better burn time out of pallet wood than this brand of bricks.

    I am going to Tractor Supply this weekend to see if that have the ECO brand as I have read a lot of good reviews here and elsewhere but with my small stove, I need to be cautious of the quick high temps.

    I will post again with my comparison of the ECO ones if I can get them, I am curious to see if they burn just as hot/fast/messy as this brand did
  16. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    They work great but wood is free.
  17. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    You will be way happier with the eco bricks.
    They need to be the smaller ones.
  18. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    +1

    The Ecos we use are an 8 pack.
  19. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    Yep..those are the ones!
  20. SmokeyCity

    SmokeyCity Feeling the Heat

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    I use ECO-BRICKS as a suppliment to my cordwood. They burn so hot and clean that I just add one or two to each load to make it get to the hot zone a lot faster so that its burning cleaner sooner. Like kindling on steroids.

    I would not fill my stove with them unless I was in a sick & twisted mood for an unsafe experiment on how hot I can get my stove.

    Hmm... now I'm curious .. how hot COULD I get my 30 if I pack it full of ECO Bricks?
    jjs777_fzr likes this.
  21. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    You would melt that sucker..you need a cat to handle it! lol
  22. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    They do work good for the long slow burn..great cat food..but pricey.
  23. SmokeyCity

    SmokeyCity Feeling the Heat

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    "Expensive CAT food" ... excellent.. I like that.
  24. eclecticcottage

    eclecticcottage Minister of Fire

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    I can't imagine a full load in my stove. 5 was the most we've had in there at once.
  25. HotCoals

    HotCoals Minister of Fire

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    I put about 40 in once..burnt for days..but that's like 20 bucks a load!

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