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)

Compressed Log Review (Part II)

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Mo Heat, Mar 26, 2006.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    848
    Loc:
    St. Louis, Missouri
    Intermediate Impressions

    I've had 3 fires on 3 cold nights using the North Idaho compressed logs from Thomas at N.W. Fuels. I tried something different on each night to put them through their paces.

    Night 1 (see: Initial Impressions thread: http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/1745/ -- you'll need to scroll down into the thread to the review post)

    Night 2

    Burned 5 compressed logs total.

    Started up with 2 compressed logs. One in front and one leaned on top of it at a 90* angle. I placed one Super Cedar Starter in the gap below the one compressed log lean-to structure and set fire to it. After an hour there was a small and unimpressive glow. These things are slow to light. I added a piece of kindling leaned parallel on each side of the top log to get things going. About 30 minutes later I had a good two-log fire going. One hour later and we had two logs in full blaze glory. A half hour to 45 minutes later and I engage the cat. Lots of flames, lots of cat heat, everything is copasetic.

    On the previous (and first) test, I started with 3 logs and put another log on at two-hour intervals. That was a nice gentle heat, plenty to keep me warm in my T-shirt sitting in front of it, but I wanted to see if I could heat the room up with these dogs.

    For the next 3 hours I placed an additional log on each hour for an eventual total of 5 logs. I positioned them at varying angles to see how their orientation affected their ignition. Placing them alternately with an end touching one side within the stove (24" max log length of stove swallows these 12 to 13 inch compressed log lengths) tended to slow the burn a bit and allowed me to keep the primary air full open just like I always do without any overheating. I felt like there were essentially two logs burning at all times, rather than just one like the night before. There was heat-o-plenty! I loved it. The room got toasty warm and it's a big room with big windows and it was in the high 20's (a bit lower than recent nights around here).

    The coals kept accumulating with each new log I placed in there until I had 3 full log sized coals with two logs still burning strong 4 or 5 hours later. Each log flames nicely for easily two hours, then coals for a LONG time afterwards. After the last log flamed out, and the box had 5 of these big coals in there, we were experiencing plenty of continued heat. I went to bed about 6 or 7 hours after getting things started and the room was very warm, warmer than usual at around 72*F - 74*F depending on room location.

    When I got up the next morning, the room was warmer than it's ever been upon arising. I was surprised and delighted. The last of those coals was still present in a mini-log looking coal about 2 inches by 6 inches. Likely enough to rekindle using my regular kindling techniques, but not enough to start another one of these reluctant starting compressed logs. Since I don't rekindle in the morning anyway, this was simply an interesting observation. Still, it was quite a surprise to see ANY coals at all in there considering I'd thrown the last log on at around 11pm!

    As I noticed on the first test, there was hardly ANY ash left in the box. Much less than when I wake up to a burned out cordwood fire. I'd estimate between 5 and 10 times less ash. And the ash had a different quality to it as well. It was much finer, lighter in weight, and lighter in color. More like fly ash than the ash I usually see sitting on the grate.

    I just love these logs. And now that I discovered that throwing a couple little pieces of kindling in there when starting gets them going in short order, my next test is going to start out with some strategically placed kindling from the outset. I feel pinched that I only have 7 of these logs left. The fun is almost over.

    Night 3

    Burned 3 compressed logs total. Mandatory compressed log rationing in place...

    I started with two compressed logs in the previously described 90* configuration. But this time I included two pieces of kindling, one on either side of the top log. Then I added two small (3 inch) pieces of intermediate sized wood angling backwards to each corner of the firebox. Then on top of all that I placed one more 3-inch piece of wood. My aim was to get the fire going quickly and supplement the heat of the compressed logs' slow startup with some faster burning splits to get the cat preheated quickly so as not to waste heat from the precious compressed logs. I only had 7 left, after all. Earlier, I had placed one Super Cedar Fire Starter in the air space below the lean-to structure I had created from the compressed logs and kindling and now set fire to it.

    WOW! In 15 minutes I had a serious blaze going where it had taken a full hour (plus) on the second test, and around two hours on the first. At the 30 minute mark there was a roaring conflagration! In less than an hour the cat was engaged and blazing away. It lit off quickly and easily. THIS is the way to get these bad boys started. Utilizing the reflected heat from the kindling and smallish splits the compressed logs presented zero hesitation prior to igniting. Where I had watched my first test take two hours to get these logs to a full blaze, I had now mastered a technique that had them blazing away after only 15 minutes. The learning curve for startup had gone from a mountain to molehill. That was the one thing that had bugged me, but only a little bit, with these compressed logs. Getting them started seemed difficult, and now that issue was conquered. Nothing could stop me now.

    If only I could find some compressed logs to buy here in St. Louis. I only have 4 logs remaining. Gollum (aka: Smeagol, aka: Mo) must have his Precious...

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    What about Bio mass logs?
  3. NWfuel

    NWfuel Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    561
    Loc:
    Mukilteo,Washington
    Mo,
    Have you tried starting 3 logs from the start with the Super Cedar as the diagram I sent you? This always works,at least for the past 20 years. I don't know what kindling is. This method will start these logs full force in 30-45 minutes. I'm sorry you are running out of logs. I know you can buy them direct from North Idaho at 125.00 per pallet (240 logs). Order 32 pallets at about 125.00 for shipping and I believe they are well worth the 250.00 total per pallet. You could find shipping for less if you shop it.

    Thank you for all your time and posts on this subject.
    Thomas
  4. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    848
    Loc:
    St. Louis, Missouri
    Elk, What do you mean? Are you suggesting I try the BioLog bricks mentioned earlier? If so, bring 'em on!

    You got 'em, I'll burn and review 'em. ;)
  5. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    848
    Loc:
    St. Louis, Missouri
    Yes. I detailed that in the first thread ( http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/1745/ -- scroll down to review post, it's a few posts down), but that part was contained in the blow-by-blow and a little lost in the minutia of my time line format.

    To sum up those time lines in short, using the method you described worked well. It worked exactly as you described. In an hour I had boo-koo flames. In an hour and 45 minutes the cat was engaged and cookin'. I probably could have engaged it even earlier, but I wanted to make sure the cat was good and hot the first time I engaged it with these logs since I was in unfamiliar territory.

    I was reluctant to use three logs each time I kindled a new fire just to get things started. In my mind, getting the logs going represented only one test, but seeing how much heat they put out, how long they lasted, how many I should burn at once, how they affected the cat, etc. represented a lot more testing, and there were just 16 logs to do it. I was reluctant to see three logs of my precious 16 go up in smoke just to get the cat up to heat each time I lit up. If I had a pallet or three of these things waiting in the wings, I'd likely start three at a time just as you suggested. They should heat the cat up in likely less than an hour and the coals would linger on well into the burn, so I could see myself just throwing another compressed log on about ever hour or two in a normal scenario, depending on how much heat I needed that night.

    Understandable if you've been using these logs for 20 years using those impressive Super Cedar Fire Starters! But to refresh your memory, kindling is those little tiny sticks that are such a hassle to obtain, store and use, but are typically required to get a cordwood fire going. ;)

    Yikes! Not sure if there's room even in Mo's big basement for 32 pallets! I'd need to install a mezzanine, and I'm pretty sure what Mrs. Mo Heat would say about that. ;)

    I guess this might be feasible if I could find a store to carry them or enough neighbors to split them up. I wonder if one of us would need to buy and keep a fork truck in his garage? My snow blower takes up too much room as it is for the little action it actually sees around here, and it probably gets more use than a fork truck would. ;) [/quote]

    And I thank you for sending the North Idaho compressed logs and Super Cedar Fire Starters at your expense. I thoroughly enjoyed testing them. I've still got four more logs I'm saving for the right occasion. I'm doing an all day burn today, but Mrs. Mo Heat will be unavailable for a few evenings, so it might be a few days. I always hate when something so cool 'is all gone' so I guess I'm trying to drag it out a bit.

    I'm not sure I'm up to organizing a 32 pallet delivery, but I wouldn't hesitate to buy them, or the Super Cedar Fire Starters if they become locally available at reasonable prices. They both worked great and if I had a pallet or two of those North Idaho compressed logs to burn as I pleased, I'm sure I'd get even better at burning them and enjoy them even more.

    I intend to write one additional post summing up my final impressions.
  6. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 19, 2005
    Messages:
    9,226
    Loc:
    Lake Wissota
    Hey Mo,
    have you read the thread on burning mill ends? Don't forget, there could be some of those extra oxidizing chemicals in those logs, since they use to be saw dust from saw mills! It could clog your cat and rust out your pipe and liner prematurely.

    Sure they say they are safe, but the guy doesn't even know what kindling is! I'll wait til they are thoroughly tested to be safe for a cat stove before I risk using them.
  7. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2005
    Messages:
    848
    Loc:
    St. Louis, Missouri
    Todd, He was JOKING! And so was I!

    I gave a lot of thought to burning these compressed logs. This is my second time, in fact. After talking to Jonas at WOW (Pellets and Firelog mfg) several times and asking many and varied questions along the line you mention, I've come away with a pretty good feeling that they are safe. And I suspect I'm likely more paranoid than a lot of folks around here having had a career that focused a lot on finding problems and trying to prevent them. I always look for the bad in things and usually find it. Sometimes it's real, sometimes a potential, sometimes only imagined. Then I must mitigate the risks in my mind through investigation, etc. I feel like I've done that with the compressed fire logs and cats. Not exhaustive, but enough to eliminate my typical level of paranoia.

    For all I know I may be poisoned drinking tap water, but I still drink it. And I haven't died from drinking tap water yet. I've saved a bunch on bottled water, too. Well, maybe that's not a great example as I have a massive, whole house, 3 stage (mechanical, biological, chemical) water filter just in case I'm wrong about my local water quality. I told you I was paranoid. :)

    I think it is good to know about all the dangers you can be aware of, but like Steve is fond of saying, and I generally agree, "everything has some risk". You pays your money, and you takes your chances. Manage the risk, make reasonable decisions, take some precautions when you can, be more careful when you can't, etc., and you will likely be ok MOST of the time. Lots of things, like driving, etc. are REALLY more dangerous than many think, other things IMO have a much lesser risk to our health and well being (like burning compressed logs in our cat stoves). But we do lots of such things, and nothing really bad USUALLY comes of them. Seems like that's about as good as one can hope for and about as good as it can get.

    I like the compressed logs. I'd burn them WITHOUT HESITATION if I could find them around St. Louis. I don't BELIEVE they will harm my cat based on everything I've heard, read, and seen. That's the best I can do. The Universe will have to take care of the rest.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page