1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

Can wood be too dry?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by bryan, Sep 27, 2012.

  1. bryan

    bryan Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2012
    Messages:
    99
    Loc:
    Wilmington, DE
    Is it possible to have wood too dry for burning? I've seen random comments on this site saying pallet wood is too dry to burn. I understand that concept from an over firing the stove standpoint, but from a creosote standpoint I don't. In addition to the few comments I seen here there's a comment on the energy.gov site that states:

    "It should have a moisture content of 20% to 25% by weight. Some well-seasoned wood can in fact be too dry for today's airtight modern stoves. If you place wood that is too dry on a bed of coals, it will instantly give up its gases as smoke, wasting unburned smoke and producing creosote buildup."

    If an EPA stove is at proper operating temp that smoke will be burned and less energy wasted boiling off the water, less smoldering etc etc. My owners manual makes no reference to wood being too dry...

    The site in reference:http://energy.gov/energysaver/articles/wood-and-pellet-heating

    99% of the comments here say drier is better so I'm a bit perplexed how wood could be over dry.

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    7,607
    Loc:
    Doylestown, PA
    Is it possible to have wood too dry? Yes. Is it probable? No.

    Nothing to be perplexed about. Would should be cut, split, and stacked for at least 12 months. Longer the better. Too dry would really take some doing.
  3. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    9,226
    Loc:
    Lake Wissota
    I think it's pretty hard to find regular splits that are too dry to burn but pallet wood can be very dry and since it's basically thin boards it will tend to burn hotter and faster than a thicker split fire. Best to mix in pallet wood with regular cord wood than burn a full load of it.
  4. Huntindog1

    Huntindog1 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2011
    Messages:
    1,471
    Loc:
    South Central Indiana
    Pallet wood are thin pieces of very dry wood compared to regular firewood then pallet wood usually takes many of these pieces to fill the stove.

    Its more like your loading your stove with kindling.

    Its the thin pieces and all the extra air space between the pieces due to having to load so many pieces that will make it want to burn hot and fast and maybe over fire.

    But you should be able to keep the stove in a good operating temp, if you get the stove air intake shut down quicker with this type of wood before you let the stove temps get too high.

    You always should be aware of what type of wood your putting into the stove and how much of a coal bed you have in the stove. As if you have a huge amount of very hot coals and you put in a very thin cut very dry wood like this then expect for the stove to heat up very quickly and will be hard to get cooled back down, so be aware.

    But first locate the secondary air inlets on your stove that feed the secondary air tubes up in the top of the stove. For just in case have something you can plug those holes if needed.

    The secondary inlet holes do not have a secondary air control on most stoves, it is preset. Primary air has controls usually in the front of the stove.

    Now another issue some have is if they have an extra tall chimney that has extra draft thats sucking extra air into the stove above what the stove was designed for.

    Then some have had issues with the stove not being able to lower the air intake enough as those secondary air wholes are always open.

    I use metal aluminum tape for duct work as a temporary cover for my secondary inlet wholes in the back of my stove underneath.

    If you have too much draft then a manual flue damper can be install as an option to use.

    Hope this helps.
    DianeB likes this.
  5. firecracker_77

    firecracker_77 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 16, 2010
    Messages:
    1,438
    Loc:
    NWI office - 2 Heritages; Chicago home - Woodstock
    I wish my guy would sell me too dry wood. It's always too wet
    raybonz and Backwoods Savage like this.
  6. logger

    logger Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 28, 2009
    Messages:
    687
    Loc:
    Pine Barrens, NJ
    25% moisture seems a bit. Our Oslo is content around 20% or lower. Our wood usually sits 1-2 years after being split and stacked. No problems whatsoever.
    Kevin Dolan and Backwoods Savage like this.
  7. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    46,909
    Loc:
    South Puget Sound, WA
    If you sliced up your splits into 3/4" thick board like pieces then dried them in your oven it might be an issue, but not with normal thickness splits. I've burned old fir 6x6 timber chunks that were indoors for many decades. In other words, bone dry. They burned just fine and without issue.
  8. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    Like the others said here, boards and splits are different beasts. Any pallet wood is going to most likely be bone dry because of its relative thinness. Splits, on the other hand, will hold moisture alot better because of the thickness. So when it comes to your cordwood, the drier the better. Pallet wood should never be packed into a stove or you will have overfire isssues in most cases. You mix the pallet wood up with splits and you'll never have a problem. Most cordwood, when stacked.outside, will only dry out so much due to the relative humidity in your area.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  9. bryan

    bryan Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2012
    Messages:
    99
    Loc:
    Wilmington, DE
    I guess my concern was foremost with using pallet wood. This is my first season so of the 1.5+ cords of wood I have only perhaps 1/2 of a cord of it is acceptable to use and the good stuff is mixed in with the bad stuff. That happened due to the wood I scrounged last month had been stacked by the previous owner in the shade and stacked too tightly for any air movement so some of the splits are 20% or less, but some are 30+%. So I split it all <3" and stacked it in the wind. However without having to split everything again and recheck the moisture freshly split on every single piece there's no way of knowing for sure whats good and what's not. Thus I was hoping to supplement with pallets (have about 300 lbs worth so far). The insert I have has a fairly small box so its not like I am going to start a fire with 2.5 cu ft of pallet wood. In any case it sounds like I might be better off blending my dry pallet wood with my splits that are going to be variable.

    As for drafting I've had one small fire to cure the paint (250 F on the stove top) and didn't have an issue with draft once I got the fire going. Though I also had the windows to the room wide open to vent the smell. I ran the first fire with the primary intake wide open since I wanted to make sure the flue temperature was hot enough. I was afraid to pack too much wood in there and not be able the keep the temp below 250 so I used less wood and intake open knowing I going to have to burn more wood that way just to heat the stove up. Was this the proper way to do it or exactly the wrong way to do it? I was afraid if I had a small amount wood burning and I turned the intake down the combustion temp would drop too far. I need to do one more small fire (250 F) and then one a 450F to finish the cure cycle.
  10. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    Bryan, sounds like you did fine. You'll get the hang of it pretty quickly, as far as the firetending is concerned. As for wood, you'll hear it a thousand times on here and it only makes sense.........get as far ahead as you realistically can. The further ahead you are c/s/s, the better. Most woods season in a year or two after being split and stacked......oak can take 3 or more years. Split your wood small to medium (3" to 5") and you'll never have problems so long as you give it lots of time to season. You should be fine this year by mixing your pallet wood with your less-than-ideal wood, so long as you aren't going to be burning any recently split oak.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  11. bryan

    bryan Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2012
    Messages:
    99
    Loc:
    Wilmington, DE
    Was splitting pine yesterday for the future. Yes, I know its pine, but it was free and already bucked and only 10 miles from where I work. Planning on picking up another load of 24" pine rounds today. Apparently pine isn't worth it for others, but at this point I can't pass up free wood if the time/distance justifies it. Hopefully the misses won't mind the stacks at the edge of the property if they are neatly done and makes a nice fence of sorts.

    "that living room had BETTER be done by Thanksgiving....."

    I have a basement like that. Hope to have it tiled by this time next week.
    ScotO likes this.
  12. BrowningBAR

    BrowningBAR Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    7,607
    Loc:
    Doylestown, PA
    Nothing wrong with pine.
    Kevin Dolan and ScotO like this.
  13. Billybonfire

    Billybonfire Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2012
    Messages:
    273
    Loc:
    Lancashire NW England.
    I am currently burning (cold and wet over here) wood from the village pub which was knocked down this year, bone dry as its from about 1850 !
    Some great beams 14" x 6" , made great splits :)
    Burns lovely, and all free.
    Photo0151.jpg
    pic of pub being knocked down :(
    Just checked on MM 14% !, guess it wont go any lower in the damp climate.
  14. Huntindog1

    Huntindog1 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2011
    Messages:
    1,471
    Loc:
    South Central Indiana
    Bryan mixing the wood is what alot of people do to balance having some not so good wood. The smaller stuff will help out alot.

    Learn this Rake Your Coals Forward Technique that alot of people use.
    Notice the small stuff in the front on top of the hot coals will get your stove temps up more rapidly if your wood isn't the best.

    The reason to rake the coals forward is to have more room in the back of the stove to load a bigger log on the bottom of the stove and not load it on hot coals. This gets you a longer burn time. It also gets you more head room to load more wood in the back of the stove were there are no coals to load on. Then the stove kinda burns in a front to back fashion and not all wood burning at once. The small stuff in the front takes off rapidly on the front hot coals up by the air inlet and gets your temps up quickly in the stove so as once the temps are up in the stove up can get the air shut back down and get the stove set for a long nights burn mode. With not so good wood sometimes it takes a while to get temps up before you can get the stove shut down for the night and by then you have just burnt up a bunch of your wood trying to get that temps up but you need all the un burnt wood you cant get so as to get a long over night burn.

    http://www.hearth.com/talk/threads/rake-coals-forward-and-stove-start-up-pictures.80659/
    Billybonfire and Woody Stover like this.
  15. Huntindog1

    Huntindog1 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2011
    Messages:
    1,471
    Loc:
    South Central Indiana
    Bryan, Might as well learn about top down fire starting technique when your starting from a cold start with no coals.

    Billybonfire likes this.
  16. ScotO

    ScotO Guest


    Nothing wrong with pine at all. Just ask around on here. These newer EPA stoves can make some serious heat off of that pine, very little creosote when you have the pine good and seasoned...

    My wife was dead-set AGAINST me putting this stove in the house, for various reasons. Fast forward to now, she'd KILL me if I got rid of it. She loves the heat and the coziness of the woodstove. She also likes the 63' long by 12' thick "fence" out back......;)


    I feel your pain.....putting insulation in this evening, all day Saturday, hopefully done by Sunday.....UUGGGHH..
  17. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    DANG! Betcha there were some nice beams and planks in that old place! As for the wood for your stove, don't get much better than that! I think it's neat to be burning that antique wood, you're releasing the energy that has been cooped up in that wood for over 150 years!
  18. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 21, 2009
    Messages:
    3,257
    Loc:
    Holliston, MA USA
    You lost your village pub! You poor guy I'll hoist a pint in mourning for ya.:(

    Always sad to see a fine old building go...
  19. Billybonfire

    Billybonfire Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2012
    Messages:
    273
    Loc:
    Lancashire NW England.
    Thanx Scotty, mostly softwood, but managed to get quite a bit of oak from the huge old staircase, salvaged an old post and made a garden feature out of it, thought it was to good to burn, someone long gone had spent quite a bit of time making it.
    Saving the best oak splits for when its really cold.
    Backwoods Savage and ScotO like this.
  20. Billybonfire

    Billybonfire Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jul 6, 2012
    Messages:
    273
    Loc:
    Lancashire NW England.
    Yes was very sad to see it go, had some good times in that old place, only place for a beer nearby is now in the local sports centre, not quite the same as an old country pub.
    Sadly no one could make it pay, so they knocked it down to build some new houses.
  21. BrianK

    BrianK Guest

    I use a combination of splits and kiln dried oak ends from a local hardwoods products manufacturer (photo below). The kiln dried wood has a moisture content of 6-8%. It burns great, but extremely hot. It would be easy to over fire the stove using only the kiln dried wood.

    Attached Files:

    ScotO likes this.
  22. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2006
    Messages:
    14,862
    Loc:
    Northern IL
    Okay - I am gonna jump in...

    Will air dried cord wood get too dry? Probably not.
    Can wood be TOO dry for an EPA stove? YES.

    The problem that arises from TOO dry of wood (say kiln dried lumber) is that the wood can actually outgas FASTER than the stoves reburn system can consume them - a dirty burn. Believe it or not - it is possible to get incomplete combustion from wood that is too dry. And we all know about the overfire possibility.
    corey21, tfdchief and ScotO like this.
  23. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 6, 2009
    Messages:
    1,462
    Loc:
    Eastern Ma
    I'm probably gonna jinx myself here, but if my 3 year old thin splits of cottonwood have not caused my stove to overfire, I don't know what wood!
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  24. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    you should be fine, but if you were to pack that stove full of those thin pieces, you may get some high temps, and have a hard time cutting it down....
  25. ScotO

    ScotO Guest

    Been up to Kitko, eh? ;)
    BrianK likes this.

Share This Page