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Cottonwood any good?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Ravenswood, Oct 13, 2008.

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  1. Ravenswood

    Ravenswood New Member

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    I picked up 2 free cords of Cottonwood rounds yesterday for next year. How does this do in a woodstove?

    Thanks.

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  2. Rob From Wisconsin

    Rob From Wisconsin Minister of Fire

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    Burns OK - softer wood.
    Also season fairly quickly - could be ready for use by new year...
  3. d.n.f.

    d.n.f. New Member

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    I burned two cords of it.
    Two things:
    1) You want to split it sooner than later
    2) Produces a lot of ashes. Also it is not the hottest of burners so I would say it is better for the shoulder season.

    Out where I am you have to give it away or pay someone to haul it away. I have no problem burning it but would burn pine or fir over it.
  4. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    I burned several cords of it last year and have 2 more left over to burn this year from the same "score". People have this odd problem with some woods and cottonwood is one of them. I have found that by splitting and stacking it under conver to allow it to dry that it is a fine wood to burn. It burns more quickly than denser woods for sure but not so fast that it is a problem. You've got to get it drying quickly after the tree is cut down. If you leave it wet too long it will rot, sooner than other woods.

    If you try and burn green or wet cottonwood you will run into the stereostypical problems like stinky heavy smoke and low energy. All of the wood's energy is spent on boiling water.
  5. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Oh, and welcome neighbor. With your username I am going to guess you live in Ravensdale? Maybe not. Our cottonwood trees mature to well over 3 feet across and those bottom rounds are easy to split and straight grained. I pulled my 8 cords of cottonwood from a friends backyard in Enumclaw.
  6. d.n.f.

    d.n.f. New Member

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    I burned it when it was aged over two seasons. Maybe it was just subjective but I thought it wasn't as hot as pine. Haven't pulled up the btu chart or anything.
    However I didn't have a moisture meter then. Maybe it was still wetish.
  7. Ravenswood

    Ravenswood New Member

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    Yes! you guessed it, I'm in Ravensdale. Unless you're from around here most Seattle area folks have never heard of it. I work in Enumclaw. I got the cottonwood free, and I just can't resist free BTUs! It's very green now, but hopefully will be worth burning next year. Nearly broke my truck bringing all that waterlogged wood home from Black Diamond!
  8. madrone

    madrone Minister of Fire

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    Free wood is free wood! I like to mix it with harder stuff, or use it for the first fire of the morning. It's fun to split green, makes you feel like Paul Bunyan.
  9. CowboyAndy

    CowboyAndy New Member

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    one of my buddies had several LARGE (3 ft) cottonwoods cut in front of his house. I keep asking for some, but he tells me not to waste my time. I couldnt figure out why he wouldnt let me take it, untill the day he asked me to help move his new boiler downstairs.
  10. jeffman3

    jeffman3 New Member

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    Cottonwood doesn't have the BTU, or burn time, of denser woods. That being said, we use it exclusively in the shoulder seasons, because of those qualities. It works great to get the stove warmed up, and taking the chill off in the morning. Free wood, is good wood, just be sure it is dry! There is allot of water in green cottonwood!
  11. MrGriz

    MrGriz New Member

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    free wood = free heat!

    I burned a ton of box elder last year. Same principal, soft wood, lots of ash, less heat than hardwood...price was right though.
  12. Beanscoot

    Beanscoot Member

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    I'll say it's wet... when splitting freshly felled cottonwood water will often spray out.
  13. donatello

    donatello Member

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    Since it's shoulder season, that's what I'm burning right now as I type this. Perfect to take the chill out of the air in the morning. I picked up one cord of Cottonwood in the early spring. Someone had a tree dropped and wanted the main trunk gone which was upwards of 36" across.... I cut it into rounds and rolled it onto my trailer. EXTREMELY HEAVY! I tried to split right away but was too difficult do to the high water content of the wood. Decided to remove the bark (which is very thick). It comes off fairly easy then lay the rounds on the side so the moisture could wick out. This worked like a charm. Split it about 3-4 weeks later. It's very light weight now, sort of like balsa wood.
    I wouldn't go much out of my way for it even if it's free, but if it is close enough, HELL YA...
  14. Shipper50

    Shipper50 Minister of Fire

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    I had dead standing cottonwood on my old property and burned it for about 14 years. It and the elm was the only wood I had at the time unless I bought wood. I had a Kent tile stove and it would keep my house warm in the winter and run me out of the basement if I had it on full air.

    So as my buddy says, it beats a snowball for heat.

    Shipper
  15. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    Check link in my sig - the only wood with lower btu is white cedar, so cottonwood is pretty much at the bottom of the stack. - pun intended. But, hey, free wood is free wood - just hope you didn't use too much gas / physical energy to get it! :) This is one wood you might be able to get an entire cord in a pick-up, only 2100 lbs/cord.
  16. Beanscoot

    Beanscoot Member

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    But the cottonwood contains so much water that it is extremely heavy when wet, whereas cedar is pretty light even when wet. Being a firewood scrounger I pick up any wood, but a full load of cottonwood could easily overload my truck, and wreck one's back when trying to load the rounds.
  17. kruger

    kruger Member

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    It's only good for getting a base of coals going...right before you throw on a length of ash or locust.
  18. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Right, it is very very heavy unless it is seasoned. When you buck off a 36" diameter round and try and roll it to the splitter you had better make darn sure that the pancake doesn't fall over or you will be in for a hard time trying to get it back up on edge.

    On the firewood charts cottonwood is very low, true, but notice how there are many other species that are very close to it. I think it is only valid to lump it in with all of the other similar low btu woods since there is always going to be variation in each tree.
  19. Ravenswood

    Ravenswood New Member

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    I split up some of these rounds this weekend, and man you are right! My maul just explodes those rounds. I feel like such a stud! I'm looking forward to getting back to it. I split about half a cord on Saturday, and it looks like I have at least two more cords to blast my way through. Never thought chores could be so fun!
  20. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    It's not great but if you already have it. . .

    It's really good for smoking fish, however.
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