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burning unseasoned wood ??????

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by dkf5, Feb 27, 2011.

  1. dkf5

    dkf5 New Member

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    We went through more wood this year than expected to. We are now into what we split in August thru October. Over the past couple of years we have tried to build up so we didn't end up with this. We've only been burning for three years. How to get the most heat I guess is my question. There is also the creosote to watch out for now that it isn't dried properly. Any suggestions from all of you knowledgeable wood burners? Thanks so much.

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  2. drewmo

    drewmo Feeling the Heat

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    Is burning unseasoned wood your only option? If not, I'd consider biting the bullet and buying a cord of seasoned wood to get you through the winter, even if you have to pay a premium. You might only get 50 percent out of the value of the unseasoned wood in terms of heat if you were to burn it now compared to next year. Plus, less worry and headache.
  3. WES999

    WES999 Minister of Fire

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    You could get some of the bio-brick compressed sawdust logs. Or if you must burn green wood, mix it with some dry pallet wood.
  4. realstihl

    realstihl Feeling the Heat

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    Seems like a waste of good wood plus the chance of creosote buildup. Go buy some if possible or find some dead stuff.
  5. Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle

    Doing The Dixie Eyed Hustle Minister of Fire

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    What Wes said. Pallets broken up, anything to offset the wet wood. I'm doing the same thing now, adding the second stove seriously put a crimp in my wood style. Thje cold temps from November to February were a major factor.

    I filled up the back of the truck today with dead & down. That's another option.
  6. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    If none of the above good suggestions are possible, bring loads of it inside and let it dry for a week or two. If you can, point a fan at it.
  7. dkf5

    dkf5 New Member

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    thanks to all. Nice to know we are winding down but still have plenty more burning days ahead but hopefully not like temps in the teens or below. This winter has been so cold where we live. This has been what i call a" classic winter ". I can't imagine what the cost would have been if we didn't use the stove 24/7 and had the propane furnace running. That is a scary thought.
  8. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    Split the wet stuff small so there is a larger surface area. It will speed drying and also allow it to light off faster. Burn the stove hot so the flue gasses are leaving the chimney as warm as possible. If it doesn't condense on the flue it can't form creosote.

    Matt
  9. dkf5

    dkf5 New Member

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    thats what we were thinking too. splitting it smaller. we always do burn hot so far this season no problem with any buildup but now we have different wood and have to apply things different than before. Next year we will be ahead of the game hopefully. You never know with the weather either, but better to be ahead than behind.
  10. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    Lots of good advice abv...I'll add make all splits smaller and burn hot to help lock down the creosote.
  11. iceisasolid

    iceisasolid New Member

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    If you bring it inside, don't be surprised to find beetles and flies in your home. I have found... bark beetles, some sort of biting fly, and odd looking spiders, and some larvae I couldn't identify. Wet wood is irritating, and all of mine is wet.
  12. Hogwildz

    Hogwildz Minister of Fire

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    It will dry fast in the house.
    I use very large tote tubs I got at walmart. There they catch alot of the crap, you will get a fly here & there. I haven't seen anything else but a few grubs, and they don't leave the wood as other insects wont either, it is their home and food.
  13. sesmith

    sesmith Member

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    If any of it's ash, pick the ash out and burn it first. Ash dries pretty quickly.
  14. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    + 1

    I've had no problems with bugs, and I've been bringing in about a week's supply at a time and stacking it near the stove to drysome more. The OP is in upstate NY, so shouldn't have any problem with live bugs.

    I got some inexpensive long plastic boot trays, I think from Gardeners Supply, and stack the wood on those. They're unobtrusive, catch the debris, and let the air circulate through the stacked wood.
  15. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    I have been stacking wood near the stove to dry, and even though I think my firewood is very well seasoned to start, a few days by the stove makes it even better. One thing to avoid is a stack where you remove wood from the top, then when the stack is half empty you replace wood on top, so you end up always burning the least seasoned wood. It is a pain, but rotate the stock to make the most of your drying space.
  16. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    +1 or whatever we're up to . . . best solution is seasoned wood or buying the bio bricks . . . next best solution is to use pallets mixed in with the wood to bring things up to temp and "drive out" the moisture in the unseasoned wood . . . and in the meantime keep a good check on your chimney and hope and pray for an early Spring.
  17. dkf5

    dkf5 New Member

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    Everyone is fantastic here. We do stack our wood by the stove. Maybe three feet away enough that it holds us for about three days. For some of the people reading our wood isn't wet wood just unseasoned. There is a difference. We re-split the wood tonight and so far so good. Not like seasoned though. It has been split and stacked since maybe September and on pallets not on the ground. We will definitely pay closer attention to the creosote. Just wondering about the N-S or E-W positioning of the wood. With unseasoned wood does it make a difference with direction? Most of the time we load the wood N-S seems to work good for us but that was before non-seasoned wood. Just wondering. Yea no bugs to worry about right now. Sometimes the critters come in but never to where it becomes a problem. Donna
  18. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    Donna, we do actually know the difference between water-wet and unseasoned wood. What we're trying to tell you is that, as Battenkiller demonstrated with a carefully documented weeks-long experiment here a while ago, unseasoned wood actually *seasons* when stacked in dry, warm indoor air. It's not just a matter of drying out water-wet wood (which only takes a few hours anyway), but actually seasoning it. If I'm remembering right, it took no more than two weeks in the "Battenkiln" for large green splits of in this case black birch to lose enough interior moisture to be down to the 20 to 25 percent MC range of seasoned wood and be readily burnable.

    When I'm dealing with not quite seasoned wood, as I am now, I split it way down to maybe 2 or 3-inch splits, stack it "log cabin style" just outside my stove's combustibles range, and it's dry as toast (as in fully seasoned, 15 to 20 MC) in less than a week, 2 or 3 days for the small stuff.

    If you're going to burn less than fully seasoned wood, N/S or E/W makes no difference in itself. Whatever method works best to make a hot fire in your stove is what you want. For most stoves, that's N/S.
  19. dkf5

    dkf5 New Member

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    thanks didn't mean to sound like you people don't know what you are talking about. Here is where I have learned so much. This is an amazing forum with a terrific bunch of people. Most often we burn N-S. I didn't realize that it would season that quickly. Well we have some split down and will continue to work on this. We have our game plan for the next season in action and so it goes
  20. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    No sweat, Donna. "Dry" and "wet" are a heck of a lot easier to type than "seasoned" and "unseasoned," so sometimes the shorthand causes confusion.

    You can burn less than perfectly seasoned wood reasonably safely, but not by itself. So you need some sort of supply of something that burns really hot-- biobricks, pallet wood, a supply of dry wood begged, borrrowed or bought from a neighbor, something you can use to make a hot fire you can then put small splits of the not so good stuff onto so it'll burn well. I'd guess a third to a half of the wood needs to be dry stuff, sorry to say. Check your chimney every week for creosote build-up to be sure you're not about to get into trouble-- especially if it's an uninsulated and/or outside chimney. Keep the primary air open at least half so the burn and the flue stays hot, and no long overnight slow burns with unseasoned wood.

    If you can afford it, though, quit for the season and rely on whatever your back-up heating system is and save the unready wood for next year. You can burn this way, but it's a pain in the neck, unnecessarily risky, and a waste of good BTUs.

    Here's the thread on Battenkiller's indoor wood-drying experiment. Definitely worth a read to see what he did and how it worked.

    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/67839/
  21. Kenster

    Kenster Minister of Fire

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    Dead and down can still be very wet wood. Even if it has been down for a few years. It's just not going to start really seasoning until it has been split and stacked.

    And when we say 'wet,' we mean green/unseasoned. We do not mean wood that has been out in the rain or snow. That is merely surface moisture and has little effect on burning or creosote.
  22. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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  23. Kenster

    Kenster Minister of Fire

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    I don't mind a little punk. If it rains, punk is like a sponge BUT if it is dry, punk is like a built in fire starter. I prefer no more than an inch thick ring or so. I have found, however, that when the punk is really thick, the core of the log is super hard and burns really hot and slow. Great for overnighters.
  24. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    Ack! Thanks for reminding me... I never got around to finishing up the final (6 week) results. I better go back and finalize it sometime in the next couple days, some of the most interesting observations came from analyzing the data more carefully.

    Yes, 60% MC down to 20% MC in three weeks. But... two of those weeks were needed to go from 30% down to 20%. That means if you're starting with wood that is 30% and you want it to get to 20%, a few days in the stove room just won't do it. After the initial rapid dumping of free water in the wood, every day left the wood with about 97% of the water that it had the day before. That's the nature of exponential decay, it slows down practically to a standstill after a while.

    And if you recall, my stove room temps were in the upper 80s, outside temps were extremely cold (lowering the absolute moisture content of the air that was infiltrating into the house), fans were employed (actually, not on the test split itself, but that one has complete open access to room air). In short, the perfect drying conditions were present in order to get that result.

    Now that shoulder season is nearly upon us, it will be impossible to create the extremely low RH inside the home that was in large part responsible for the rapid drying. Warmer outside temps mean higher absolute moisture content. We won't be cranking our stoves as hard either, so the inside RH will be even higher (mine is up in the 40% RH range now), so drying will be substantially slower. That's just the sad facts, there is only a short window of opportunity to pull this off successfully, and that window is closing fast. I brought in the last load of black birch about two weeks ago, and that's it for me for the season. Long experience has shown me that there is a very poor return on my time investment at this point in the season.


    So what's a poor burner to do? Well, about two weeks ago I decided to try to heat this place for an entire day using nothing but freshly cut hardwood. The results were quite impressive. Plenty of heat, zero smoke, the cleanest, whitest interior stove surfaces I've ever seen the following morning. If I can do that with fresh cut wood (around 60% MC), you should be able to get stellar results with wood that was cut and stacked back in the fall. Some simple observations, if they might help:


    - Bring some wood in anyway, and put fans on it. It will certainly help if you can leave it alone for about a week. Split it small and stack it loosely. Even if the inside doesn't have enough time to dry out, the outer surfaces will get quite dry, allowing for much easier ignition... and that's 90% of the battle right there.

    - Build the fire slowly and wait three times as long as usual before you even think about closing down the air. If the fire goes out (no active flame), you will get a slow, smoldering burn and you will get poor heat output from the stove and a concomitant drop in flue temps... and the dreaded creosote will start to accumulate in the flue, possibly at an alarming rate.

    - Reload the stove while there is still a raging coal bed. You won't get uncontrollable secondaries since the wood will be outgassing slower, and you will need all of the heat you can muster to get those secondaries to light. Wait too long and you need to start all over again with small stuff. Reload in stages. A few small splits... wait 5 minutes or so until the new wood is fully involved, then add a few more splits, and keep doing the same until the box is fairly full. Rush it and you won't get it to ignite properly.

    - If you have a small supply of dry wood, don't waste it by mixing it in with the load, you will run out and then you are screwed. Use the dry stuff to get the stove hot in the beginning, then when it is real hot you can feed in the less seasoned wood. It will burn fine as long as you have a very active fire going already. Just don't add too much at once, it will cause internal temps to drop and your flame will go out. I can't emphasize enough the importance of keeping very active flames when burning unseasoned wood.

    - At all times, you will need about 25% more air than you normally do. Give the fire what it needs to maintain high temps and active flame, but don't open the air all the way (except maybe at the beginning). That can actually cool the firebox down and... well, you get the picture.

    If you do everything perfectly you will get near maximum heat output from your stove, but there is no getting around a significant loss in efficiency. You will burn about 10% more wood by volume than you would to get the same heat from fully seasoned wood. Some of the heat loss will be in the unrecoverable heat of evaporation of the excess water, some will be in the increased heat loss up the flue. But you will stay warm, and it will be cheaper than paying the oil man. All in all, a major PITA, but you can burn the stuff cleanly and with good heat output if you pay careful attention to the details.


    BTW Gyrfalcon, the BK test split was placed back outside in a dry place after the six weeks was up. Will it continue to dry out there? Not bloody likely. It has already gained about an ounce and a half in weight as it starts the long, slow process of reaching EMC with the outside air. I will report back some time in the summer, at which time I expect it to be up around 14% MC.... about 3% higher than the 11.06% MC it had when I put it out there.
  25. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for another great treatise, BK, and for once again giving me no small satisfaction (and relief) by prescribing what I've mostly been doing by more or less instinct-- or just guessing. I'm never sure how much the way I find I need to do things with this stove is because it holds such a small amount of wood and soaks up so much of its heat into the soapstone. I've been feeling slightly guilty about adding wood in stages, starting on top of still actively burning coals and leaving the primary air halfway open because it goes against all the rules. I also have great draft, perhaps even a tad too much, and a flue and chimney that don't easily accumulate creosote-- lucky me, given my persistent firewood supply problems.

    Since I'm starting with half-seasoned wood, splitting it down to what other folks would consider kindling size, and stacking it open log-cabin-style just outside my stove's combustible zone, it's still getting from not ready to burn easily to pretty much perfect in 4 or 5 days. (The persistent if occasionally interrupted winter cold helps, too-- and isn't that counterintuitive!) So I'm working with a dwindling supply of actually seasoned wood, some that's half-seasoned and some that's been rushed. It is a PITA and requires a lot more attention and thought than wood-burning should, but as you say, better that than pay the oil man.

    So thanks again. I do envy your very methodical mind.

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