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Drying wood in the oven???

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by barrettdp, Jan 18, 2011.

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  1. barrettdp

    barrettdp Member

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    Obviously dangerous but just curious has anyone else tried it? I place metal pans on the lowest rack to prevent any contact with the element.

    I don't have access to true seasoned wood (maybe next year) so I have been putting several splits into a 300* oven for several hours.

    We run space heaters in the kids rooms, so I turned them off to offset the electric bill for running the oven and left their doors open instead. Been warmer here the last few days as well.

    The first time I did it I felt the wood was noticeably lighter. I re-split it and got a puff of steam out as it was not completely dried. So the next load I left in for several hours.

    Every 30 mins or so I open the door just to get a chuckle out of how much steam come bellowing out.

    By the way I would never attempt this if I wasn't in constant attention of the oven.

    Seems to me to be a better option than trying to burn wet wood.

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  2. North of 60

    North of 60 Minister of Fire

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    I dont know, seems not worth the effort or energy. Kinda takes the point out of burning wood to save. Was the wood free at least? I know what your getting at about the heat not leaving the house from the stove, even humidifying and everything, but its the Cart before the horse kinda thing. Turn your thermostat up, and burn it next year is my feeling. Not trying to rain on your parade. Just not getting it.
  3. barrettdp

    barrettdp Member

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    The thought to just save it for next year and run the central has crossed my mind. However our house has "builder grade" heat pumps and will stay on darn near non-stop to keep the house at 66* even in mild temps. We use a couple of space heaters and electric blankets as well. When it gets colder we just freeze AND pay a ridiculous electric bill. Since we installed the new stove a couple weeks ago it is easy to get the temp up to 75*. My wife doesn't seem to care about reloading the stove when I am at work so I am regularly starting fires from a cold stove with wet wood this year.
  4. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    As a guy who does some things that are considered pretty wacky to some folks here, I have to say that is something that never even crossed my mind. You are using a lot more energy than you can possibly gain from doing that, and you run the risk of creating a product that is dangerously dry (although you might have to bake it for several days to get to that point).

    Try some of those compressed BioBricks that seem to be the current fad this year on Hearth. They burn great and put out lots of clean heat, and they will cost a lot less than the extra electric would cost. Mix in some of the unseasoned wood, tweak the air a bit, and you might even get a decent burn between the two.
  5. granpajohn

    granpajohn Minister of Fire

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    This idea, on the face of it, appears ridiculous from the standpoint of energy/economics.

    But, I'm not so sure...let's look at a few simple items.

    1. Heat from the electric oven stays in the building envelope...none wasted.
    2. It is probably no more of a fire hazard to bake oak than it is to bake a turkey. All a question of moisture content. Let either one get too dry and it could flame up. But not likely at typical oven temps. In fact, I recall a cooking fad years ago that involved baking a pie in a paper grocery sack. My aunt baked quite a few pies this way, and nothing burned. (I was always waiting for the bag to light up. Eh, I young.)
    3. We place steamer kettles on our stoves to add moisture to the air. The cooked wood adds moisture. This all stays within the building envelope.

    I've known several stories of old timers who placed splits atop the stove to dry them before burning. Of course, I've heard of at least one of these causing a fire. But if you intend to cook wood, I think that would be the most efficient way to do it. The heat and moisture both stay in the building.

    I would be very interested in some data from your actions that might indicate how much moisture you get out of those splits.
    The problem is, of course, the cooking split can't be left unattended. Too risky.

    Well, I see my post is long enough that no one will read it.
    RockyMtnHigh likes this.
  6. Hanko

    Hanko Minister of Fire

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    Put it on broil, it will dry faster. try doing a steak along side of it and you will be considered a multi tasker. While your waiting for it to dry, you can ponder more stupid ideas.
    D8Chumley and Tenn Dave like this.
  7. ControlFreak

    ControlFreak Feeling the Heat

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    I have dried wood in our cooking oven, but only a couple times when I wanted to check the reading my moisture meter was giving me.

    I have done all kinds of crazy things to accelerate the drying of wood in those instances when I was desperate. I only did these things when I was home, never at night while sleeping.
    1. Put wood on top of the stove. I actually had a split sprout flames - never did that again.
    2. Stand the wood on end in front of the stove glass. This works OK, but is a hassle as you have to turn the splits.
    3. Pack the wet wood into a hot firebox with a good coal bed. Fully close the damper and let it cook for an hour. Then come back, blow on the coals to get a flame and open the draft. It burns very nicely then. I did this for nearly a full winter when I first started heating with wood, before I started getting my wood a season in advance.

    This was the best solution for getting through poorly seasoned wood.
  8. DanCorcoran

    DanCorcoran Minister of Fire

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    An electric oven is really no different from an electric baseboard heater...an electric heating element. If you turn off other heat sources and use the oven to heat the house, you're just paying for the difference in efficiency between the oven and the heat pumps. Drying the wood is a free byproduct of the oven heat, which you don't get with the heat pumps. So, if not a wash, certainly not a "stupid idea". Except for the fire hazard, which could be minimized by ensuring you have a smoke detector and fire extinguisher in the kitchen. Probably smells kind of funny, too.
  9. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Some people would lead you to believe you should be putting it in the freezer to dry.
  10. CarbonNeutral

    CarbonNeutral Minister of Fire

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    I would be out searching for pallets - especially oak ones from stone masons.....
  11. mywaynow

    mywaynow Minister of Fire

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    Hmmmm, did you just say that out loud? or was I just thinking it? :roll:
  12. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    something in my gut just doesn't like this process. however, the electric oven is 100% efficient whereas the heat pump is not. I am just wondering what the cost is for the electric versus just buying wood from some other source that is well seasoned. Anyone local to you on this site that is willing to do a trade who has lots of wood on hand to help you out?

    pen
  13. CarbonNeutral

    CarbonNeutral Minister of Fire

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    A heat pump has an efficiency greater than 100% - that's the point of them - you're not generating heat, you're moving it from one place (underground) to another (your house). If it was less than 100% efficient there would be no reason for using them.
  14. jharkin

    jharkin Minister of Fire

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    Not an apples to apple comparison. Heat pumps deliver more BTU per watt consumed than electric resistance heaters. Heat pumps dont have an efficiency rating that can be compared to electric or fuel burning heating systems because unlike those, they dont convert energy directly to heat, rather they use energy to move heat.

    Every electric resistance heater will driveler exactly 3413 BTU per KWh consumed.

    A heat pump rated at SEER 12 will deliver 12,000 BTU for that same 1 KWh.


    We could do the math but I'm pretty much positive its costing you more to dry the wood in the oven than you are saving on electricity burning it.
  15. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    I agree with what some others have written - using the oven for heat is no less efficient than using electric baseboard heaters, except that the oven might not be in the room you want to heat. Also, I don't see why firewood would be more likely to burst into flames than many other things that you bake in ovens. Just don't dry it out too much. We have all electric heat (except for the wood stove) and I try to schedule baking stuff like turkeys on cold nights because the extra heat from the oven offsets the need for the electric baseboard heaters to kick on.

    If I was going to choose dry firewood or dry kindling, I'd choose dry kindling. I suggest you bake kindling and small splits in the oven so that you can get clean, convenient starts. Once you have a fire burning, you can add some underseasoned wood and it will be a pain, but at least you won't have to fight to get a fire started.
  16. flash49

    flash49 New Member

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    I use a hair dryer...it's faster than an oven.
  17. WhitePine

    WhitePine Feeling the Heat

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    A correctly sized basic (builders grade) air source heat pump will run almost continuously in cold temperatures, even in Georgia. Heat pumps are sized for cooling, not heating. Since they lose efficiency as the temperature drops, a correctly sized air source heat pump will usually require supplemental heat in cold temperatures. The cheapest form of supplemental heat, equipment wise, is electric resistance heat, aka heat strips, which is probably what you have. Unfortunately, they are very expensive to operate. It's likely that they are coming on a lot, which would explain your high electric bill. Their set point can be adjusted on some models. It is not uncommon to have them set incorrectly. Some thermostats will turn them on too soon. Honeywell smart thermostats are notorious for it.

    However, your heat pump should not operate almost continuously in mild weather, so there may actually be something wrong. The residential forum at http://hvac-talk.com would be one place that may be able to help in that regard. There are some real pros there. Unfortunately, they are anti-DIY, so their help is limited to generalities regarding what may be wrong with your system. They won't/can't tell you how to fix it. They also go bonkers if any price information is posted.

    It is possible to heat entirely with an air source heat pump in your cimate without an auxilliary heat source coming on all the time. The heat pump has to be oversized for cooling. That requires a dual stage heat pump, so that the house doesn't cool too fast in summer, which can cause all kinds of problems, including mold. Dual stage heat pumps are not cheap. Builders just don't install them unless the buyer demands it, which generates a significant up-charge.

    Running your oven to provide heat for the house is exactly the same as having the heat pump's heat strips come on. If you are already into the heat strips because of the temperature, the oven won't make any difference in your heating expense. Any moisture driven off the logs will probably help humidify a too dry house, so that would be a plus. The possible safety hazard would be the only real downside, other than having your oven tied up. It's hard to bake a pizza with a bunch of splits in the way.
  18. barrettdp

    barrettdp Member

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    Great info on the heat pumps! This explains why our digital controls will pop up "emergency heat" on the reading alot.
    Thanks again
  19. barrettdp

    barrettdp Member

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    I work nights and have (unfortunately) been up the last couple of nights. I baked several loads of splits at 300* for several hours. I can say that it does indeed work, especially for smaller splits, but at who knows what cost on the electric bill.

    The smell in the house was unpleasant to say the least. And the constant attention for sake of mind is just annoying.
    Getting the kids ready for school this morning as I was unloading the wood from the oven I had one of those "wtf are you doing" moments. Felt pretty stupid all of a sudden. Will not be trying it again.

    I also tried placing several pieces on top of the wood stove. Even with metal spacers keeping the wood off the stove something would start smoldering after awhile. Way to dangerous.

    The idea to just reload a little sooner with a lot of coals and longer start up times seems like the way to go. Thanks to those who mentioned it.
  20. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    :lol: :lol: :lol:
  21. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    I guess it would work, at least partially. Still, wood needs air circulation to dry the best. Overall, it is certainly something I would never consider. If that had to be done, I'd simply quit trying to burn the wood and turn the furnace on.
  22. WhitePine

    WhitePine Feeling the Heat

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    Yep, that's it. Some thermostats have an adjustable setting for the differential or swing which controls how much temperature drop sets off the aux heat. When we had a non-Honeywell thermostat, I set the swing to 4 degrees (its max). The default tends to be 1 or 2 degrees. The Honeywells I have seen don't allow you to change this setting. Some of them do allow you to lock out the auxiliary heat above a certain temperature, but only if an outdoor sensor is installed. I have ours locked out above 10F. Our high efficiency two stage heat pump works down to that temperature, although it can't quite keep up at such low temperatures.

    You can also install an outdoor thermostat right in the heat pump. They can be used to lock out the heat strips above a certain temperature, or to lock out the heat pump itself below a certain temperature.

    There is also the brute force method, if the aux heat strips have a separate breaker, either at the panel or on the heat pump itself, they can simply be turned off. There are two downsides. You have to remember to turn the breaker back on if you need emergency heat in case the heat pump itself fails or it gets really cold out, and the big one, your system will blow freezing cold air during the defrost cycle.

    On the positive side, it keeps the cats from sitting on the registers. :lol:
  23. barrettdp

    barrettdp Member

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    Great info again! I may look into ours a little more. The thought of overriding the back up heat strips intrigues me plenty. My wife tends to run the central if she forgets to reload the stove when I'm at work.

    Thanks again
  24. logger

    logger Minister of Fire

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    Wood in the oven, huh? Well that would suprise me if I hadnt seen the pic of your dogs in the stove first.. get them the h*ll outta there! lol. As far as cooking your wood, I'd make sure you have a low insurance premium and a good escape route with a family meeting area.
  25. DanCorcoran

    DanCorcoran Minister of Fire

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    Logger,

    Did you receive the PM I sent regarding your avatar?
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