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Burning Salt Water Driftwood

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by thechimneysweep, Jul 15, 2013.

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  1. thechimneysweep

    thechimneysweep Minister of Fire

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    Some of the more seasoned Forum regulars might remember Sue from Alaska, who posted back in 2008 that she was looking for a stove with replaceable innards due to the fact that the majority of the wood she had to burn on her remote island was driftwood, and she wanted to avoid the ongoing expense and hassle of replaceing her corroded-out wood stoves every couple of years.

    The recommendation on the Forum was a Pacific Energy stove, the consensus being that PE's stainless steel internal parts would hold up better under the salt barrage in the first place, and would be easier and more economical to replace when they finally bit the dust.

    Well, she bought an Alderlea T5 from us, and the stainless baffle and side rails lasted five years. She saved hundreds of dollars buying the replacement parts instead of a new stove, and is back up and running, just like new.

    I've attached a photo of the original stainless parts after five years' exposure to salt water driftwood. t5driftwooddamage.jpg

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  2. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Wow, that picture tells quite a story Tom. Thanks for the update. I'm glad that Sue could rebuild and keep the stove running. That damage looks worse than 30 years of hard running in a normal stove. I take it that the side rails warping was due to uncontrolled secondary burning from the compromised baffle? Or is she just running that stove hard?
  3. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    I remember Sue. That's quite a photo, Tom. Thanks for updating us. 5 years, dang. Excellent call to point her in the direction of a stove with replaceable innards. Happy to hear you're continuing to provide her with your signature superb service, and that she's back in business. Rick
  4. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    I remember that thread. Looks like that saltwater drift wood can really do some damage. Do the fire bricks somewhat protect the rest of the fire box metal parts? What about the door?
  5. thechimneysweep

    thechimneysweep Minister of Fire

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    Salt corrosion multiplies exponentially as the temperature increases. The worst cases of driftwood damage we've seen have been in today's EPA non-cat secondary burners, which can achieve over 1100 deg. F in the baffle area, where the damage usually occurs. Other parts of the stove are cooler, and/or not exposed to direct contact with the salt exhaust, so they're less subject to such severe damage.
  6. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    I also remember Sue. I don't recall what was used for the flue. Hopefully she has been keeping an eye on that as well.
    Thanks for the update, Tom. I think it is pretty safe to say that burning salt water driftwood accelerates the failure of parts.;lol
  7. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    I take it those parts were not covered by warranty. ;)
  8. DanCorcoran

    DanCorcoran Minister of Fire

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    What a relief to read your post. I thought it was going to be someone claiming to burn saltwater driftwood with no problems and saying the warnings from manufacturers were just lawyers covering their assets.
  9. mellow

    mellow Resident Stove Connoisseur

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    Thanks for following up on this Tom, I guess I stand Corrected.
  10. thechimneysweep

    thechimneysweep Minister of Fire

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    By mutual agreement at the time of the sale, Sue didn't even ask, and I didn't even try. We all knew the salt was going to win this battle, it was just a question of time. Sue is more than happy to spend infrequent baffle money instead of frequent new stove money, so all is good at her end.

    Plus, baffle failure is such a rare occurrence that PE will typically ask to see the old baffle to check for signs of abuse. Am reasonably certain one of the more sharp-eyed execs at PE might have been able to detect at least a trace of a clue pointing to salt corrosion in this case.
  11. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Ya think? ;lol

    It's good to hear she is doing well. Tell her to drop by once in a while.
  12. bag of hammers

    bag of hammers Minister of Fire

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    Somewhere between near-100% salty loads (as in Tom's customer), vs. complete abstinence from burning any kind of milled stuff at all - isn't there a sweet spot? I burn a fair amount of ends from a local place - not dimensional 2x lumber, but the rough cuts off of hardwood stock (e.g. 6"x6") which I mix in with my other splits sometimes. Do the same warnings apply? I believe it's all from the Great Lakes area, I've seen it come into their yard on trucks, they cut to length, stack the ends on pallets and sell it curbside. It's not softwood, definitely not dry (at that point anyway), etc. - I stack it for a couple years. I would never guess there's a salt issue this way, but Tom's post is very interesting in that regard, and it would be nice if there was some magical way to test for the presence of all the other kinds of junk too, as mentioned in the article at his site: http://www.chimneysweeponline.com/homillends.htm.

    Absolutely no plywood, chipboard, etc. goes in the stove - but - I do have a half a can full of small 2x4 and 2x6 ends - this year it's the remnants of this summer kitchen ceiling renovation - I'll probably use these to coax along a sizzler or 2 over the winter - this little bit will probably last me all season and beyond. Not like burning truckloads I guess. Are there many veterans here who would absolutely never throw even a single scrap 2x in the fire?
  13. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for posting that update Tom and it is great you can supply her with replacement parts. It would also be good to hear from Sue again.
  14. xman23

    xman23 Minister of Fire

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    Guys, what do you think the grade of stainless steel was? That looks like rust. I thought stainless used around saltwater would not corrode. Is that the result of heat, salt and cheep grade of stainless?

    I ask as I have been looking at upgrading our BBQ grill to a full stainless steel one. Any opinion which is good grill or issues?

    Sorry if I'm getting off the subject.
  15. thechimneysweep

    thechimneysweep Minister of Fire

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    Can't put my finger on any documentation just now, but in the dim recesses of my skull, behind the collection of dead brain cells which couldn't withstand daily exposure to single-malt scotch in my younger days, is the fact that PE uses type 304-L stainless. This is the same material used to make 2100 deg. HT chimney.

    Stainless is very resistant to salt corrosion, up to a certain temperature. The parts shown in the photo above were exposed to both salt and 1100 deg. temps for several hours per day, every day, through four Alaska winters. If that describes your cooking habits, maybe you should consider a ceramic grill.
  16. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Ain't a chemist but I recall reading that salt causes degradation of stainless steel due to some interaction with the chromium in the stainless that gives it corrosion resistant properties.

    Use salt sparingly on your burgers.
  17. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    What about the inside of the firebox? It ain't corroded either? Her piping must be toast too?
    That baffle makes me feel like mine is in good shape LOL. Sag, shmag.
    firebroad likes this.
  18. Shadow&Flame

    Shadow&Flame Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for looking after your customers...like me... Keep up the good work.
  19. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    The two most common stainless varieties is 300 and 400 series stainless. 300 is generally known to be corrosion resistant and is used on some of the fancy salt spreaders on State trucks. That said - it isn't seeing high temps in that environment. The stove is. I am sure that this plays into the wear and corrosion in the pics above.

    400 series has more carbon in it. It is actually a "tougher" material because of this, but it can corrode (to a degree).
    300 - non-magnetic
    400 - magnetic.
  20. Leroy3

    Leroy3 New Member

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    400 stainless is not rated for firepots. 400 has good corrosion resistance at non elevated temps.

    What are the characteristics of 310/310S Stainless?
    Oxidation resistance to 2000°F, Moderate strength at high temperature , Resistance to hot corrosion, Strength and toughness at cryogenic temperatures

    Typical Applications for 310/310S Stainless
    Kilns, Heat Exchangers, Radiant Tubes, Muffles, retorts, annealing covers,Tube hangers for petroleum refiing adn steam boilers, Coal gasifier internal components, Saggers, Furnace parts, conveyor belts, rollers, oven linings, fans, Food processing equipment,Cryogenic structures.

    The engineers who build stoves know this. It is called controlled obsolescence. if they used 300 series burn pots they would never buy another pellet stove.
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  21. mstoelton

    mstoelton Feeling the Heat

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    Having spent a considerable amount of time in and around the water in South Florida, I can attest that stainless steel of any grade can and will rust/degrade. Some grades will do so at a slower rate. The rate is actually more temperature dependent. Higher temps mean more corrosion.

    Put stainless steel inside a stove with oxygen, salt and a little moisture (and lots of heat) you get the perfect environment to corrode stainless steel of any kind. Stainless isn't magic it is steel with some chromium and other trace metals included.
  22. blades

    blades Minister of Fire

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    Along time ago I was getting pallet ends ( cut offs) 4x4 for free- they were a mix of deciduous wood and some conifer as well- the short of it was I had an overfire, very exciting particularly in a mobile home when your double wall flue pipe inside is glowing a very low red- didn't notice until I shut the lights off in that room. That over fire warped the the top of the fire box ( not the exterior though) and cracked it- epa style stove circa 2000. Still have the stove just haven't had time to take it apart and repair. Never had a problem that I noticed as far as chemical contamination of atmosphere in home. Ran that stove for 7 years I do not know for sure that the overfire caused the warping and crack, assume that was the primary cause, never noticed it until I needed to replace the high temp baffle board above the reburn tubes.
  23. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    One wood think this thread has drifted off topic. Closing down.
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