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Cottonwood worth the hassle?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by rob bennett, Apr 28, 2009.

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  1. rob bennett

    rob bennett New Member

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    So keeping in mind that I live in the PNW, is free cotton wood worth the hassle of hauling and chopping? Most other woods I would jump at, but with the low btu's and the last time I had any it was a knotted up pain. PNW folks, do you go for free cotton wood?

    I have 2 ccords of alder and 1 cord of birch/maple ready to go.

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  2. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    the juice is not worth the squeeze! I have a monster one down less than 1/2 mile from the house and look at it on my way to work ever day,but thats all iam going to do is look
  3. madrone

    madrone Minister of Fire

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    If it's not too much work, cottonwood is fine. It lights easy, burns fast, and not too hot, so it's good in warmer weather or mixed with other wood. It smells, and it takes a while to season because it's so wet, so it's low on my list of preference, but if I had easy access close by, I'd consider adding it to the mix. It's super easy to cut and split. I'd rather have too much cottonwood than not enough better wood.
  4. madrone

    madrone Minister of Fire

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    I get the impression from the posts here that our cottonwood is different than eastern cottonwood. Or maybe we're just not spoiled by lots of good hardwood. :)
  5. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    it may be different seems as much wood as you throw in you will shovel out the same in ash and very rarely even kick the blowers on my furnace
  6. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Cottonwoods are different across the country so ours might not be the same as some others. Also, the relative lack of btus is a bigger deal compared to hardwoods than to our other options meaning comparing alder to cottonwood is not the same as comparing hickory to cottonwood.

    I really like cottonwood and so does my mother and one friend that I turned on to it but I wouldn't likely pay for it since the price would be about the same as our standard fir/maple/alder mix. I've burned about 8 cords of cottonwood over the last couple of years after it was recommended by my mother. I had prepared 5 cords of it for her when there was a free wood opportunity and she wanted to try it.

    The real secret is that you have to dry the splits. I propose that anyone who has burned dry cottonwood will like it as it doesn't stink, smoke, or smolder and only makes slightly more ash than alder. It will burn overnight in a modern stove just like alder and let's face it, people think it is garabage so there should be ample free sources.

    The trees are very heavy when green due to all of the water but when they are dry the wood is light weight. Not like balsa but not as heavy as alder. Coaling properties are very good with good ash coverage for longer burn times and the fire show is very good as well with lots of secondary gasses. Easy to start and doesn't spark. You have to dry it properly or you will have a bad experience and forever be a member of the "cottonwood is junk" crowd. Which is a very close cousin of the "pine is junk" crowd.

    Most cottonwood I have dealt with has been from large trees and any knots were no issue for the hydraulic splitter. The pictured stack is almost all cottonwood, there is a yard tree of pine thrown in there too.

    One more time, you have to dry it.

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  7. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    Its free around here and darn sure not going to sell it at a premium! ( Ill take pine just hate pine tar)
  8. d.n.f.

    d.n.f. New Member

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    Nelson BC
    I burn it and split it. It takes awhile to dry. It soaks you when you split it.
    Produces a lot of ash and not tons of heat. Good shoulder season wood.

    I would not pay for it. I would rather burn pine.

    People out here have a hard time giving it away.
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