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Burning White Pine, Hemlock and Spruce

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by FireDog_VT, Jul 31, 2008.

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  1. FireDog_VT

    FireDog_VT New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2008
    Messages:
    3
    Loc:
    Central VT
    I'm a new Tarm Solo Plus 40 owner and this is my first post but I've been reading posts on the site for well over a year so thank you to all for the valuable information.

    The question I have is whether or not i should burn Hemlock, White Pine and some Spruce. In the 6 years we've been in our home I have cleared a considerable amount of trees from the lot. Unfortunately, it's mostly softwood but I've been told by a number of friends that I should be fine using this wood in combination with the maple, cherry and birch firewood i have purchased. My plan is to use the softwood in the spring and fall (primarily) and then mix it with the hardwood in the winter. Do I need to worry about the pitch (primarily from the Pine) building up in the firebox, heat exchange tubes or chimney? ( I have an Excel 6" chimney system). I have about 5 cord of hardwood that is well seasoned (bought it from a friend who had it stored in a garage for 2 + years) so i'm hoping the combination of that with the softwood will provide an acceptable moisture content. (this may be a bad assumption)

    I also own an antique Glenwood Model 590 cookstove that's in our kitchen and i used that a lot last year. I wouldn't burn any of the softwood in that but from what i've read (and been told) the gasification of the wood eliminates the concerns usually associated with burning these softwoods. I do understand that i'll be pulling a lot less btu's from the softwood but it's free btu's so if i can use i will.

    Thanks for the help.

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  2. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2007
    Messages:
    3,422
    Loc:
    Addison County, Vermont
    In my experience softwood burns just fine. You'll need to refill more often and you don't want to split it as small as you would with hardwood. I split my hardwood to 3" - 4" range, and softwood more like 5" - 6".
  3. pybyr

    pybyr Minister of Fire

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    Jun 3, 2008
    Messages:
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    Loc:
    Adamant, VT 05640
    Hi- welcome, and wonder where in Central Vt you are- we may be nearly neighbors

    I'm putting in an Econoburn, which is a design cousin to the Tarm, and asked around about the same thing (using softwood).

    All signs are that as long as you run it in the "real gasifier" mode most of the time (don't let it idle) the pitch and associated creosote should not be an issue. Some people say, although I've not seen any "hard data," that in the gasification mode, the pitch in conifers may actually generate more BTUs than are generally believed to be had from softwood-compared to when softwood is burned in the old non-gasification mode

    here's a handy reference that shows both BTU content per cord, and relative moisture level (how much drying it'll need to season)
    http://www.mountainfirewoodkilns.com/firewood_ratings.pdf
  4. FireDog_VT

    FireDog_VT New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2008
    Messages:
    3
    Loc:
    Central VT
    Thanks for the information.... it would appear that i'm on the right track... living in Vermont (Waterbury) one can't wish the short summers we have away but i must admit i'm anxious to fire her up and see how well she does.... i've got a pretty sweet setup (i think) and i'm positioned so that i can add storage at a later date in the same room... we put an addition on the house a year ago (20 x24) and i'm using the basement of that area for the boiler, a workshop and a section to store about 7 cord of wood... part of that wood area would be converted for heat storage when i get around to it....
  5. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 1, 2008
    Messages:
    4,509
    Loc:
    Northern MN
    I burn almost exclusively jack pine, red pine and white pine; and mostly slabs. Well dried. The only issue was these burn pretty hot, and it took me awhile to get my forced draft adjusted to keep the temp low enough. Also added the homemade chain turbulators, which dropped stack temp by about 100. Now just about a perfect setup.
  6. sweetheat

    sweetheat Member

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    Mar 7, 2008
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    firedog I understand you have been given 2+ year dry hardwood that you will store in the new basement area. When that is gone you will most likely purchase more green hardwood. I do not recommend storage of green wood in a basement. My son in law stored a large amount in his basement. It would not dry properly and mildewed. He had to take it back outside to dry. My timber framing business produces a 15 yard dumpster of sawdust, chips, and short cutoffs each frame cut. Its mostly green hemlock, mixed with other species, cypress, maple, pine, oak. I sell this to the new pellet mill up the road. If I could dry it I could burn it in the tarm 40. For now I will use dry hardwood splits until I figure out how I can dry my waste. sweetheat
  7. FireDog_VT

    FireDog_VT New Member

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2008
    Messages:
    3
    Loc:
    Central VT
    Thanks for the information and the advice.... my plans for storing wood in the basement is really for convenience and i have no plans to bring in any green wood... this being my first year with the Tarm i'm really guessing/estimating the amount of wood i'll need for the winter... My wife really enjoys using the wood cookstove we have in the kitchen for cooking on the weekends (she makes a mean pizza that we cook on stoneware!) and last year using that to supplement the propane boiler (baseboards) we burned about 2 1/2 cord just in that alone... i'm guessing that we'll use around 7 cord in the Tarm and 1-2 cord in the cookstove.... i've got 3 cord of softwood split and drying, i hope to get 3 cord more split by the middle of the month (it's currently in log length and has been down for 2-3 years).... that 6 cord of softwood and the 5 cord of hardwood i have in the basement is what i'm hoping to get by with this year for both stoves (using only the hardwood in the cookstove)..... in addition i have 10 cord of hardwood (green) that should be delivered this month that i will stack (outside) and use in the future.... probably more than you wanted to know but if you see any glaring wholes in my logic i'd like to know... this is my first exposure to a gasification system (i grew up with a conventional wood boiler that included the DHW coil so although i'm pretty comfortable with wood i'm still a newbie on gasification and appreciate the feedback and advice)
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