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Can a tree be too dead to burn?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Jambx, Oct 15, 2013.

  1. Jambx

    Jambx Member

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    OK kind of a silly question but can a tree be too dead and too old to burn effectively?....

    I know it will burn and will give some level of BTUs but is there a point to where a tree loses some of its ability to give off heat?

    Reason why I am asking - I have a monster on my property, She is at least 40 inches in diameter, I am guessing it has been dead at least 10~15 years, there is no bark anywhere, huge limbs going everywhere…she’s a beast.

    Do I take the time to drop it, buck and split it or should I go for something more fresher and just make a burn pile out of her?

    Trying to justify my time on something that may not give me much of a return...

    Thx,

    Jim

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  2. Paulywalnut

    Paulywalnut Minister of Fire

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    Yes it might be a mulberry. They last forever laying down. Do you know what kind it is for sure?
    Cut a branch to find out.
  3. paul bunion

    paul bunion Minister of Fire

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    If it is still standing after 15yrs dead the trunk is probably solid and will be good wood. Have you stuck a nice pick or screwdriver into it? That will give you a better idea. It sounds like it might be a big old white oak. But at the same time I'd be careful of those limbs as you describe it. Never know if they are about to let go. It sounds like it might be a potential widow maker.
  4. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    10-4 on the widow maker. As to old, I have a large oak on my place that has been dead and bark free for probably 15 years. The dang thing is hard as brick and dulled two chains just trying to do a front felling notch in the thing. Sparks coming off of the chain. I walked away and just glare at the thing when I walk past it now.
  5. Jambx

    Jambx Member

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    Bart, you’re a riot - I envisioned you doing just that and the tree chuckling!! - I have a feeling that’s what’s going to happen to me. The tree is freaking solid, I already tried the screw driver technique and couldn’t get it to scratch. I have a feeling its White Oak - there is a house on the property built in 1750 and every beam is white oak. I also agree on the widow maker - there are huge limbs that have broken off and are just hanging. One of the reasons I am looking to harvest this thing is that I have a tree company coming out to the property to remove the canopy of a Sugar Maple that has grown over the house. I have asked them to drop the beast while they were there however they haven’t seen it yet and for all I know they too may just walk past it and nod respectfully. I will take a picture and post it late this week.
    BrotherBart likes this.
  6. Applesister

    Applesister Minister of Fire

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    I imagine petrified white oak burns with a blue flame.
    MrWhoopee likes this.
  7. Ram 1500 with an axe...

    Ram 1500 with an axe... Minister of Fire

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    Pics please....
    TreePointer likes this.
  8. TreePointer

    TreePointer Minister of Fire

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    +1

    We loooove pics.
  9. albert1029

    albert1029 Feeling the Heat

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    don't know if it depends on the type of tree but I've come across Black Locust I know have been down on the ground for at least10 years + and it is just so good...BL may be the exception???
  10. TreePointer

    TreePointer Minister of Fire

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    Black locust is an interesting example. If cut while healthy, it seems to last for decades. This is especially true if the bark is removed. However, if it becomes diseased or infested with bugs before it dies and is harvested, it doesn't last as long.
  11. Jambx

    Jambx Member

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    Ha - that is funny and at 51 I am still learning. There seems to be a abundance of Black Locust in this one area of the property. I came across one very tall one yesterday - it had to be on the ground for years (~15 inches across). I threw a chain around it thinking it will just crack in two (as it was wedged between another tree) - my 30 hp 4WD almost stalled. I was blown away - this thing was like steel.
  12. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Jim, that tree is still standing so it will probably be good. I just hate cutting those things for fear a limb falling. Just the vibration from the saw can sometimes make a limb fall.

    To give you another example on how long wood can last, we cut up about a cord of white oak with a few reds mixed in last winter. This stuff was laying on the ground and had been there for 10-12 years. (I thought 10 but 2 neighbors disagreed and said 12.) Yes, some was punky but very little of it. For sure it won't take 3 years to dry that stuff and I may burn some of it this winter. Haven't yet decided on that one.
    BrotherBart likes this.
  13. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    I had a huge red oak like that that I keep avoiding for a few years because of the huge widow makers. The ones on one side finally fell off and I went down there with the big saw. After all of that time worrying about a limb falling on me, when it started the fall I turned to walk away and immediately tripped and fell on top of a running 65cc saw. :mad:Barely dogged the chain.

    Old trees are evil.
  14. xman23

    xman23 Minister of Fire

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    I had a dead something standing. Not very big, maybe 6 inch. Went to take it down, killed the chain, sparks coming off it. Got it down and tried another spot. It was petrified, I guess. Gave up and dragged it out in the wood. I don't think I got a round off it. I wonder if it would have burned.
  15. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    My take on it is that not only is the wood hard when sun dried a long time but that as it gets drier and drier more and more dirt/sand is drawn up into the lower portion of the tree by moisture being pulled up the tree. That is where I think the chain wrecking and sparks come from.
  16. MrWhoopee

    MrWhoopee Minister of Fire

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    rotflmao.gif
  17. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    I knew that was coming.

    ETA: Dig into an old pine tree stump sometime and you will be amazed at the grit in it. Two feet up and more.
  18. MrWhoopee

    MrWhoopee Minister of Fire

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    I've encountered the grit in old stumps, I just don't think it wicked up with the water.:p
  19. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    It damn sure wasn't gravity. >>
    CenterTree and Backwoods Savage like this.
  20. paul bunion

    paul bunion Minister of Fire

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    This one is definitely too dead and too old to burn

    [​IMG]
  21. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Roger that! !!!
  22. BobUrban

    BobUrban Minister of Fire

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    No - you just need a MUCH hotter fire. Everything burns if you get it hot enough!
  23. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    No
  24. CJRages

    CJRages Member

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    LoL... Think lava in your stove could be a problem? That petrified wood is why we need diamond edged saw chains.
  25. CenterTree

    CenterTree Minister of Fire

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    To those of you who mentioned seeing sparks while cutting a standing dead tree.... do you think it is just possible that you hit a nail or old piece of fence wire that was embedded in the "petrified" tree??

    I can't imagine wood causing sparks from a chain.
    :confused:

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