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Can I burn rotted wood?

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

  1. JoeRJGR

    JoeRJGR New Member

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    Tree down the street fell down with all the snow...I'm thinking free wood!!!!

    But on closer look it seems it fell down because it was rotted...is that OK to burn...looks like birch...

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  2. SteveKG

    SteveKG Minister of Fire

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    I don't know what stove you have, but mine would burn it. No problem. You won't get the BTUs you would from better wood, but it will burn. It may smoke a lot more and/or smell [the smoke, I mean] which might not please the neighbors. I say try a piece or two and decide.

    Note: I do not have a cat stove and have no experience with them, so I am talking about non-cat stoves at my house. I have found that really rotten wood isn't worth the hassle of trying to burn it. If this is only partly rotten, such as in the core, it will likely do ok. It can be more trouble to get rotten wood burning well and keep it burning, so it's best to toss a rotten piece in on an established fire made of good wood. I have done it plenty of times.

    If the stuff you have access to is so rotten it is falling apart in your hands when you pick up a piece, forget it. But if the tree was standing til recently, it can't be that bad.

    Plus, around my area, trees will often fall from rot that is in the lower few feet of trunk near the ground. Which is why they blew over. I can often cut off the bottom few feet and get past the rotted part.
  3. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Depends on your definition of rotten wood . . . punky wood = OK to burn once dry . . . but it often burns fast and you don't want to get it wet since it will soak up water like a sponge. If you're talking rotten and falling apart I would take a pass.
  4. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    If this tree was completely dead then maybe most or all of the wood is rotten, but if it was alive there must be a lot of good wood there. I am not a big fan of rotten or punky (slightly rotten) wood. It absorbs water and deson't burn well in my stove. i wouldn't make a trip to collect nothing but rotten wood, but might take some questionable wood if I am already making the trip.
  5. eujamfh

    eujamfh Member

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    This isn't helpful...but anything will burn given the right temps. But as above have pointed out...whether it burns well or is worth the time, thats a whole other side of the story.
  6. fredarm

    fredarm Minister of Fire

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    A friend of mine had a big old oak tree come down last summer. She had a tree service finish taking it down (it took out the back of the neighbor's car) and cut it into 4 foot lengths. She said I could have it if I came and took it away. When I got there, I was surprised to find the entire trunk of the 3 + foot diameter tree hollowed out with rot. However, the 4 to 5 inches of wood right under the bark was fine so I cut it up and split it (4 to 5 inches wide is the perfect size for a split for my stove), and it dried out over the rest of the summer and fall. I'm burning some now and it burns great. It's a little punky on the edge that was next to the rot, but the rest is fine. Take a closer look at that tree, there might be more good wood there than appears at first glance. Also, the branches on this tree were fine--any where from 3 to 5 inches in diameter. I think I got close to a half cord from that tree.
  7. JoeRJGR

    JoeRJGR New Member

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    On further review, only a couple branches were bad...rest of it looks good.

    Now I have to get to it before the township does....its blocking a road..

    Thanks all!
  8. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Joe, can you put your stove in your signature line?


    Usually when a tree or limbs fall in storms, they are partially rotted but usually not punky so it is probably okay. Go get it!
  9. JoeRJGR

    JoeRJGR New Member

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    OK...so things just keeping getting better.

    We go out to dinner with the in-laws and all I am thinking is, the township is going to come and get that tree...and how can I get home early and get some of that wood.

    We get back, and yep they cut it up all right, but they left everything on the side of the road.....SWEET..I'm off to collect my wood!!!!!!!!
  10. Defiant

    Defiant Vermont Castings Geek

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    Rotten wood means rotten fire
  11. Loco Gringo

    Loco Gringo Feeling the Heat

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    Atta boy Joe. I would have had em drop me off so I could guard it till the wife got back with my truck. haha Im a wood hoarding fool.
  12. JoeRJGR

    JoeRJGR New Member

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    Gets even better...as I am sitting here thinking about it, the lot that tree fell from is private, totally wooded lot, not suitable for building...the guy who owns it has has been trying to sell it for 10 years....so I bet the township is NEVER going to pick up that wood.....they just cut it up and tossed it back on his property.

    He He he
  13. Hankjones

    Hankjones Member

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    Since this was my first year burning I found some really rotting/punky wood in my backyard where the previous owner left it. I split and stacked it a few weeks and they became my prime wood! Kinda nasty on the outside, but after it dried, it looked okay and burned great!
  14. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    You can technically burn anything that is very reasonably dry. However, I don't recommend burning some dry things (such as cardboard).

    pen
  15. maverick06

    maverick06 Minister of Fire

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    burn it,
    You have to dispose of it anyways, might as well get some BTU out of it! But, be cautious, it might have bugs in it, so dont store it inside. Bring it outside straight to the firebox. I have done it before, it kills 2 birds with one stone!

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