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Can wood be "over" seasoned?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Steve M, Oct 17, 2010.

  1. Steve M

    Steve M New Member

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    With a trend here toward seasoned wood that seems to border on obsessive and lots of recent posts about overfired stoves, I wonder if wood can be "over" seasoned?

    Granted, some of the over-fires are within normal burning temps. but still well over what the user wanted to see.

    Yes, I can here the cursing as I type from those who have busted there ass to get two or three years ahead, but I wonder if this is nescassary or even beneficial

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  2. rdust

    rdust Minister of Fire

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    I don't think so for my area. I don't see wood getting much below 15% m/c in this area under natural drying conditions.

    The three years ahead doesn't always have to do with seasoning time. Oak is the only one you really hear people banging the three year drum on. It has to do with having wood on hand should something come up and you can't cut or put up wood for a year or more. This way you can still keep your family warm and winter heating costs down even if your health/life hit a tough spot.
  3. North of 60

    North of 60 Minister of Fire

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    Have you tried both types yet? When you do, you will know the answer and join the obsessive trend here.
    In the mean time put some semi refined crap fuel in your car and tell us how she goes. Power = heat and mileage = burn time. ;-)
    Cheers
  4. weatherguy

    weatherguy Minister of Fire

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    It will only get so dry unless you put it in a kiln, it can, however rot. I bought a cord from a guy last year and half the stuff was punked. I burned it but I didnt get too long of a burn from it. Never called him again for wood.
  5. branchburner

    branchburner Minister of Fire

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    Welcome to the great debate. My short answer: no. That is assuming normal size (=medium/large) splits of cordwood stored outside, under cover, in a moderate (not arid) climate. That should bring the wood under 20% MC, but generally not under 15%.

    Wood that is split very small is a different story, because there is a greater exposure of surface area that leads to greater (=excessive) outgassing in the firebox. I think wood over 20% can be split smaller, but wood under 15% (such as lumber and certain softwoods) should be in very large hunks (except when used as kindling), and perhaps not used in certain stoves or under certain conditions.

    I think rather than wood being over-seasoned, perhaps certain stoves are being over-designed; some stoves are designed with a great emphasis on clean combustion. Yes, you want that, but not at the expense of overfiring. I would like to be able to adjust the secondary air on my stove rather than burn wood with more moisture as a way to control the fire, or rely on a pipe damper that I'm not supposed to need (and therefore don't have).

    But when you look back at the posts, most are about ALMOST overfired stoves. With 500-650 as cruising temps, I think 700-750F is a very normal high end for most stoves, even though it makes me nervous. I've seen 800F when I forgot to close the bypass - a bummer, but no harm done. 900F - that's a problem, and I can't see that occurring because my wood is 17 months dry instead of only 11 months dry. It's either me, or it's the stove - it's not the wood. But if you are getting too much smoke and not getting enough heat, chances are good it's the wood.
  6. Steve M

    Steve M New Member

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    Yelp. Burning for 30+ years now. Have used wood so green that I had to stop burning after a few days to clean the creoso buildup in the stove and pipe and wood so dry it seemed to suck air through the metal of the stove. Me thinks that stoves are built to burn the in-between, AKA semi refined crap fuel.
  7. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    This year I had cherry dry to about 12% in 9 months because of the hot, dry, windy weather. That's too dry, close to kiln-dried. Thankfully, Mother Nature will pump some moisture back into it with the shorter days and higher humidity. Then I'll bring it back into the house and it will probably get too dry again, but I can deal with that.

    Folks in the desert (and not just the Mohave, we have lots of high desert in this country) can see wood go down to less than 6% MC. Drier than kiln-dried. Is this wood causing stoves to overfire? No. Dry wood doesn't overfire stoves, people do. There are ways to control most fires well before they get out of control, but even the best and most experienced burners screw up at times. Given the choice, I would rather my wood be too dry than too wet. I can easily regulate my burn by adding some less seasoned wood to the over-dry stuff. The other way around is much harder, is a major PITA, and may be impossible if the wood is wet enough. The driest wood you'll normally see is only a few percentage points below the ideal, but the wettest wood can be several times the ideal moisture content. Think about that when you decide on which side you want to err.

    Yes, rot is an ever present problem, but if you get your wood below 25% and then get it under cover so it doesn't get wet, it will never rot and will keep literally forever. Ash, maple, poplar and others are extremely rot-prone. I've replaced ash gunwales on canoes where they had gotten like balsa wood. Sapwood in general is never very rot-resistant. Red oak and cherry sapwood will rot so bad they turn to powder when dry. If you are keeping these woods for more than a year, you really need to keep the rain off them. Locust, hedge and mulberry will last nearly forever in the same conditions and never need to be covered.
  8. North of 60

    North of 60 Minister of Fire

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    I think new EPA stoves require a person paying attention to detail. Crap fuel is a waste of btus.
  9. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    Steve, me thinks I'm gonna have to side with you on this one. A stove ain't a race car. They are designed to burn the in-between stuff, they are tested using the in-between stuff, and I personally like to use the in-between stuff with every load. 20-25% is the Goldilocks wood. Not too wet, not too dry.... just right. If I ain't got that, I'll mix what I got to get it close as I can and then live with the results.

    Intuitively, though. I'm not about to stick a fork in every friggin' split to see if it's done. If I slam a hand cart full of hardwood against my basement wall and it sounds like a strike at the bowling alley, it's gonna go in the stove tonight. To tell the truth, I spend way more time thinking about managing my draft than I do thinking about getting my wood down to some magical level.
  10. soupy1957

    soupy1957 Minister of Fire

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    I just LOVE to sit there and watch my SUPER dry wood go pssssssst, right up the chimney in seconds!! (not)

    -Soupy1957
  11. allhandsworking

    allhandsworking Feeling the Heat

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    I find that useing some small splits with some medium splits you get The perfect combo without paying to much attention to mc! Although it's fun loving,and caring for stacks like it's a vineyard or a cigar!
  12. Jay G

    Jay G New Member

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    That may be and be that as it may, but it is also something I pick up from the road side for nothing and I lack the ability to cut and prep select wood. So by burning "crap wood" I don't wind up depleting my fixed income by .01cent and not a dollar burnt up the chimney while saving $$ off my electric bill. I can spare the lost btu. Bring on the 'road kill wood!' IIIII- lllllike it! :coolsmirk:
  13. Pine Knot

    Pine Knot Member

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    I too have been burning wood for more than thirty years, and I agree with Steve M. A few sticks of "less than fully seasoned" wood mixed in with dry on those nights when the draft is high and as someone said here "sucking air through steel" Might let you sleep a little better.
  14. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    My answer is NO, you have to know what you are doing when you burn wood and some of the posts lately lead me to believe that some people are on a learning curve, I too have been burning wood for 30 years and I never burn green wood, I do not understand why you would do that if you have choices. As Jake posted the other day become one with your stove and become a Jedi Woodburner.
  15. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Along with some talk about wood in this post there is still a bit of baloney mixed in. (I say that tongue in cheek.)

    Here is some wood that perhaps some say is over-seasoned.

    [​IMG]

    This wood was cut, split and stacked in the winter of 2003-2004. We still have about a cord of it left. It is a mixture of ash, cherry, elm and soft maple. Should I throw it out (because it is too seasoned) or should I burn it? Or, as some have stated, maybe I should cut some green wood and mix that in?


    Question: If this wood is too dry, why do I burn less of it (50% less) than I used to in the old stove? After all, some say these new stoves are meant to burn the in-between stuff (which I do not believe). Do I burn this wood and whoosh, right up the chimney it goes? Answer = no.

    Maybe I'm doing this all wrong because we have night temperatures around 30-35 and all we put in are 3 small splits. We get up in the morning and the house is till warm. If it is too chilly outside we will throw on a couple more splits.....and we do not have to relight the stove either.

    So you folks can burn less than ideal fuel if you want as that is your choice. You can also buy less than ideal fuel for your car, chainsaws, atvs, boats, trucks, etc., etc. I simply prefer to burn the better fuel and stay away from the problems associated with burning poor fuel.

    I also find it interesting that many folks have burned wood that had seasoned 20 years and had no problems with it. I've burned wood 10 years old or older with no problems.
  16. tickbitty

    tickbitty Minister of Fire

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    I have about a half cord of over-seasoned wood, we call it "rotten."
    We're still going to burn any of it that has good density, but it makes a mess.
  17. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    Beautiful^ wood there Savage.

    imo here in cny there's no such thing as 'over seasoned wood' and we've been 24/7 burners since the bi-centennial. As far as over firing a stove like the OP has suggested that comes with operator experience. After awhile you'll be able to mentally gauge how splits will burn by how they feel and how easily they catch. Then you'll adjust the controls accordingly.

    I suppose loading a stove up to capacity with seasoned wood and letting it go wide open throttle could over fire a stove. Once it catches you have to be around/awake to throttle it down properly.
  18. weatherguy

    weatherguy Minister of Fire

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    When I buy green I leave it uncovered for a year then I cover the top til Im ready to burn it, I also keep it off the ground, I built some wood racks. Im thinking of installing roofs on the racks maybe using metal roofing you get at home depot, it seems to me thats will alllow for better air flow around the stacked wood.
  19. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    It's not a matter of burning "green" wood, it's a matter of burning what you have as intelligently as possible. No one is advocating burning wet wood. Tossing a few splits of your least seasoned wood in with your driest stuff is not burning wet, it is simply helping to regulate the burn. It's not all black or white, this is not a Yankees vs. Red Sox kind of issue.

    To us, the wood goes in the stove, gets hot, starts to smoke, goes to flame, then disappears after several hours. The stove gets very hot during this process. To the wood, some pretty spectacular organic chemistry is occurring.

    Wood is not a fuel like oil or gas or ethanol. It won't burn at all in its native form. It's made primarily of hemi-celluloses and lignin, and these are solids. Like most fuels, they need to be converted into gaseous form in order to burn. A liquid like alcohol will just evaporate into its most burnable form. Candles will melt into liquid and then evaporate into the gaseous form. Wood needs to be converted into entirely new compounds from what they are originally. There are so many of them being made that nobody knows what all of them are. A list of the known compounds would probably exceed the 6000 character limit for posts. POOK will come in and ask me to name them all. I'll quote a few.

    I'm no organic chemist, I barely passed. But it's pretty obvious that "smoke" is damn complicated stuff. Water enters into the formation of many of these compounds. Some of them, like formic and acetic acids, cresol, creosol and guaiacol make up a lot of that other complex substance we love to hate - creosote. At high enough temperatures, the water in your wood temporarily forms new compounds from these substances and those are burned in the fire. At low temperatures, the water in your wood condenses along with them and gets deposited on your flue walls as creosote.

    Temperature is the key, not a few molecules of water more or less in the wood. Given the correct temperature and enough air, your fire will burn most of these to completion regardless of whether there is 0% water in your wood or if there is 30%. It will burn these in the most controlled fashion when you wood is in the ideal moisture band of 20-25%, give or take a few, and depending on what kind of system you are burning in. If you make a lot of smoke and count on your secondary air to burn it off, you will need a lot of it, and the more air in a given time, the hotter your fire will get. If the wood is too dry and you put it on a hot fire, it will outgas rapidly, and there are only two choices: let it go up the stack unburned or give it more air. One leads to lost fuel and dangerous chimney deposits, the other leads to dangerous overfire situations. Cat or non-cat don't matter. You need to combine all that smoke with oxygen, and that creates a lot of heat. Too much heat in many cases.

    And don't go telling me about that 1/4 teaspoon of soot you got out of your flue after 5 years of burning "clean". With a 16' insulated chimney and sufficient flue temps, all of the exhaust will leave the top of the stack before it gets cool enough to condense on the walls. A clean flue is absolutely not an indication of an efficient burn. Even the absence of smoke is no indication of complete combustion. Smoke that we see is mostly tar droplets. That is what the EPA cares about, and that is what the measure with filters when stoves are tested. There are many invisible fuel gases that will go right through a test filter that make it up and out the top of the stack undetected. That's why they have all those sensors in those lab stove exhaust systems, they are attempting to determine burn efficiency using the "stack-loss" method.

    I almost never see smoke coming from my chimney with wood at any MC, but I don't kid myself that my stove can burn as efficiently as a good modern stove can. I know I'm losing some of those invisible gases up the flue, and I do get some creosote way up high in my 25' tall masonry flue, but I haven't yet convinced myself I'm losing the $3000 that a new stove and liner will set me back. Saving two cord a year for ten years and I'm at the break even point. I don't even know if I'll be here in ten years, in this place, or even on the planet. Part of the "old timer" resistance is simple practicality, and this old timer is having a bad day today listening to "the word" as handed down by first and second year burners spouting off the party line instead of doing it themselves for as long as I have.
  20. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    I got knocked a little for this but I'm going to say it again, not watching flue temps is not very bright, if I waited for the stove top to get to 600 to 700 degrees before I reduce the primary air I am going to have a over cooked flue temp and it will be harder to put the brakes on at this point espically with the new epa stoves. BK- these whipper snappers had me wound up a couple of weeks ago. :lol:
  21. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    49,581
    Loc:
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    For frame of reference, here's a list of what can be found in cigarette smoke:
    * Acetanisole,
    * Acetic Acid,
    * Acetoin,
    * Acetophenone,
    * 6-Acetoxydihydrotheaspirane,
    * 2-Acetyl-3- Ethylpyrazine,
    * 2-Acetyl-5-Methylfuran,
    * Acetylpyrazine,
    * 2-Acetylpyridine,
    * 3-Acetylpyridine,
    * 2-Acetylthiazole,
    * Aconitic Acid,
    * dl-Alanine,
    * Oleoresin,
    * And Oil,
    * Allyl Hexanoate,
    * Allyl Ionone,
    * Almond Bitter Oil,
    * Ambergris Tincture,
    * Ammonia,

    * Ammonium Bicarbonate,
    * Ammonium Hydroxide,
    * Ammonium Phosphate Dibasic,
    * Ammonium Sulfide,
    * Amyl Alcohol,
    * Amyl Butyrate,
    * Amyl Formate,
    * Amyl Octanoate,
    * alpha-Amylcinnamaldehyde,
    * Amyris Oil,
    * trans-Anethole,
    * Angelica Root Extract, Oil and Seed Oil,
    * Anise,
    * Anise Star, Extract and Oils,
    * Anisyl Acetate,
    * Anisyl Alcohol,
    * Anisyl Formate,
    * Anisyl Phenylacetate,
    * Apple Juice Concentrate, Extract, and Skins,
    * Apricot Extract and Juice Concentrate,
    * 1-Arginine,
    * Asafetida Fluid Extract And Oil,
    * Ascorbic Acid,
    * 1-Asparagine Monohydrate,
    * 1-Aspartic Acid,
    * Balsam Peru and Oil,
    * Basil Oil,
    * Bay Leaf, Oil and Sweet Oil,
    * Beeswax White,
    * Beet Juice Concentrate,
    * Benzaldehyde,
    * Benzaldehyde Glyceryl Acetal,
    * Benzoic Acid, Benzoin,
    * Benzoin Resin,
    * Benzophenone,
    * Benzyl Alcohol,
    * Benzyl Benzoate,
    * Benzyl Butyrate,
    * Benzyl Cinnamate,
    * Benzyl Propionate,
    * Benzyl Salicylate,
    * Bergamot Oil,
    * Bisabolene,
    * Black Currant Buds Absolute,
    * Borneol,
    * Bornyl Acetate,
    * Buchu Leaf Oil,
    * 1,3-Butanediol,
    * 2,3-Butanedione,
    * 1-Butanol,
    * 2-Butanone,
    * 4(2-Butenylidene)-3,5,5-Trimethyl-2-Cyclohexen-1-One,
    * Butter, Butter Esters, and Butter Oil,
    * Butyl Acetate,
    * Butyl Butyrate,
    * Butyl Butyryl Lactate,
    * Butyl Isovalerate,
    * Butyl Phenylacetate,
    * Butyl Undecylenate,
    * 3-Butylidenephthalide,
    * Butyric Acid,
    * Cadinene,
    * Caffeine,
    * Calcium Carbonate,
    * Camphene,
    * Cananga Oil,
    * Capsicum Oleoresin,
    * Caramel Color,
    * Caraway Oil,
    * Carbon Dioxide,
    * Cardamom Oleoresin, Extract, Seed Oil, and Powder,
    * Carob Bean and Extract,
    * beta-Carotene,
    * Carrot Oil,
    * Carvacrol,
    * 4-Carvomenthenol,
    * 1-Carvone,
    * beta-Caryophyllene,
    * beta-Caryophyllene Oxide,
    * Cascarilla Oil and Bark Extract,
    * Cassia Bark Oil,
    * Cassie Absolute and Oil,
    * Castoreum Extract, Tincture and Absolute,
    * Cedar Leaf Oil,
    * Cedarwood Oil Terpenes and Virginiana,
    * Cedrol,
    * Celery Seed Extract, Solid, Oil, And Oleoresin,
    * Cellulose Fiber,
    * Chamomile Flower Oil And Extract,
    * Chicory Extract,
    * Chocolate,
    * Cinnamaldehyde,
    * Cinnamic Acid,
    * Cinnamon Leaf Oil, Bark Oil, and Extract,
    * Cinnamyl Acetate,
    * Cinnamyl Alcohol,
    * Cinnamyl Cinnamate,
    * Cinnamyl Isovalerate,
    * Cinnamyl Propionate,
    * Citral,
    * Citric Acid,
    * Citronella Oil,
    * dl-Citronellol,
    * Citronellyl Butyrate,
    * Citronellyl Isobutyrate,
    * Civet Absolute,
    * Clary Oil,
    * Clover Tops, Red Solid Extract,
    * Cocoa,
    * Cocoa Shells, Extract, Distillate And Powder,
    * Coconut Oil,
    * Coffee,
    * Cognac White and Green Oil,
    * Copaiba Oil,
    * Coriander Extract and Oil,
    * Corn Oil,
    * Corn Silk,
    * Costus Root Oil,
    * Cubeb Oil,
    * Cuminaldehyde,
    * para-Cymene,
    * 1-Cysteine,
    * Dandelion Root Solid Extract,
    * Davana Oil,
    * 2-trans, 4-trans-Decadienal,
    * delta-Decalactone,
    * gamma-Decalactone,
    * Decanal,
    * Decanoic Acid,
    * 1-Decanol,
    * 2-Decenal,
    * Dehydromenthofurolactone,
    * Diethyl Malonate,
    * Diethyl Sebacate,
    * 2,3-Diethylpyrazine,
    * Dihydro Anethole,
    * 5,7-Dihydro-2-Methylthieno(3,4-D) Pyrimidine,
    * Dill Seed Oil and Extract,
    * meta-Dimethoxybenzene,
    * para-Dimethoxybenzene,
    * 2,6-Dimethoxyphenol,
    * Dimethyl Succinate,
    * 3,4-Dimethyl-1,2-Cyclopentanedione,
    * 3,5- Dimethyl-1,2-Cyclopentanedione,
    * 3,7-Dimethyl-1,3,6-Octatriene,
    * 4,5-Dimethyl-3-Hydroxy-2,5-Dihydrofuran-2-One,
    * 6,10-Dimethyl-5,9-Undecadien-2-One,
    * 3,7-Dimethyl-6-Octenoic Acid,
    * 2,4-Dimethylacetophenone,
    * alpha,para-Dimethylbenzyl Alcohol,
    * alpha,alpha-Dimethylphenethyl Acetate,
    * alpha,alpha Dimethylphenethyl Butyrate,
    * 2,3-Dimethylpyrazine,
    * 2,5-Dimethylpyrazine,
    * 2,6-Dimethylpyrazine,
    * Dimethyltetrahydrobenzofuranone,
    * delta-Dodecalactone,
    * gamma-Dodecalactone,
    * para-Ethoxybenzaldehyde,
    * Ethyl 10-Undecenoate,
    * Ethyl 2-Methylbutyrate,
    * Ethyl Acetate,
    * Ethyl Acetoacetate,
    * Ethyl Alcohol,
    * Ethyl Benzoate,
    * Ethyl Butyrate,
    * Ethyl Cinnamate,
    * Ethyl Decanoate,
    * Ethyl Fenchol,
    * Ethyl Furoate,
    * Ethyl Heptanoate,
    * Ethyl Hexanoate,
    * Ethyl Isovalerate,
    * Ethyl Lactate,
    * Ethyl Laurate,
    * Ethyl Levulinate,
    * Ethyl Maltol,
    * Ethyl Methyl Phenylglycidate,
    * Ethyl Myristate,
    * Ethyl Nonanoate,
    * Ethyl Octadecanoate,
    * Ethyl Octanoate,
    * Ethyl Oleate,
    * Ethyl Palmitate,
    * Ethyl Phenylacetate,
    * Ethyl Propionate,
    * Ethyl Salicylate,
    * Ethyl trans-2-Butenoate,
    * Ethyl Valerate,
    * Ethyl Vanillin,
    * 2-Ethyl (or Methyl)-(3,5 and 6)-Methoxypyrazine,
    * 2-Ethyl-1-Hexanol, 3-Ethyl -2 -Hydroxy-2-Cyclopenten-1-One,
    * 2-Ethyl-3, (5 or 6)-Dimethylpyrazine,
    * 5-Ethyl-3-Hydroxy-4-Methyl-2(5H)-Furanone,
    * 2-Ethyl-3-Methylpyrazine,
    * 4-Ethylbenzaldehyde,
    * 4-Ethylguaiacol,
    * para-Ethylphenol,
    * 3-Ethylpyridine,
    * Eucalyptol,
    * Farnesol,
    * D-Fenchone,
    * Fennel Sweet Oil,
    * Fenugreek, Extract, Resin, and Absolute,
    * Fig Juice Concentrate,
    * Food Starch Modified,
    * Furfuryl Mercaptan,
    * 4-(2-Furyl)-3-Buten-2-One,
    * Galbanum Oil,
    * Genet Absolute,
    * Gentian Root Extract,
    * Geraniol,
    * Geranyl Acetate,
    * Geranyl Butyrate,
    * Geranyl Formate,
    * Geranyl Isovalerate,
    * Geranyl Phenylacetate,
    * 1-Glutamic Acid,
    This is as far as I can get with the word count. There are almost 600 possible chemicals in it.
  22. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    Ha, Ha! I remember that.

    Seems to be a three year thing that goes on.


    First year: New EPA stove, green wood, pulled hair, cold stove, smoky burn, clogged flue, desperate plea for help.

    Second year: Same stove (or they got rid of it because they blamed it all on the stove), seasoned wood, more heat, overfire caused by using the same amount of air they needed with the wet wood, desperate plea for help.

    Third year: Obnoxious know-it-all whippersnapper telling me I'm depleting the world's forests and polluting the air with wet (hardly) wood and my smokeless "smoke dragon".


    When I started out in woodworking 35 years ago, I was full of awe of others and full of doubt in my own abilities. A real good friend at the time said, "Stick with it. You got to put in ten years doing it, buddy. After ten years doing something full-time, just about anybody knows what they are doing." I don't think he was far off.

    So, everybody that's been burning ten years or more gets a pass from me today. ;-P
  23. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    Anise Star Extract? Carob Bean? Carrot Oil? Chocolate? Chamomile Flower Oil? Fig Juice Concentrate? In cigarette smoke?

    Sounds like health food to me. What brand? I want some. :lol:

    Seriously, I think inhaling wet oak smoke would be safer. ;-)
  24. North of 60

    North of 60 Minister of Fire

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    I would not consider road side wood crappy fuel at all. I will pick up anything also, a days heat is a days free heat leaving my processed wood alone, BUT it will be dry before it goes in the stove. My manual for the stove targets 12 to 18% MC. So thats what I will feed it. So far so good.
  25. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2009
    Messages:
    3,732
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    Just Outside the Blue Line
    I just downloaded a PDF of the BK manual. On what page would I find that? Just curious and don't really want to read the whole thing.

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