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Drying Wood Quickly Indoors

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Battenkiller, Jan 8, 2011.

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  1. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    That is what I do now, I have 35-40 cord in various states of the pipeline and no concerns of having to burn wet wood. However, Gryfalcon nailed it here:

    I would add that storing, moving, stacking, storing, moving, stacking and finally moving wood is a lot of work. It also takes a lot of space and room under a roof on my suburban lot.

    Battenkilner is offering a possible way around that. But, you would have to be set up right to make it work without risk of having to burn less than ideal wood. Which, I suppose is another thread in itself.

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  2. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    George, no offense, but for a guy who doesn't even have a stove yet, you seem pretty sure about how dry wood needs to be to burn well.



    I started a fire with 100% BattenKilner rocket fuel exactly one week after I first brought it into the basement. I set things up so that I would get the fastest possible startup I could achieve. Well, things went so fast I didn't even have time to write much down. Thankfully, I was able to get a timeline by looking at the EXIF data from the few shots I was able to take of the process:

    I went down to check the stove just before 10 AM. Top was at 125º, flue was about 75º (room temp). I thoroughly cleaned out the ashes and pushed together the small pile of coals that was left from the night before. In a departure from my usual starting practice, I decided to use a small wax/sawdust firestarter of my own making. They are about 1" square - maybe 1/10 the volume of a Super Cedar (a type commonly used by Hearth members).

    First photo is time stamped at 9:52:09, just prior to lighting the starter.
    Second shot was taken at 9:55:44, 3 minutes and 33 seconds later. I added more wood at this point and closed the doors.
    Third shot was at 9:57:05, 1 minute and 21 seconds after the wood addition. Closed the doors again.
    Fourth shot was at 9:58:41, 1 minute and 36 seconds later. I closed the doors, shut the intake damper to about 1/4 open, and waited while the temps rose.


    Here are the stove top temps as they climbed:

    10:00:38 - 350ºF - 8 minutes and 27 seconds after lighting
    10:03:17 - 525ºF - 11 minutes and 8 seconds after lighting
    10:05:40 - 600ºF - 13 minutes and 23 seconds after lighting
    10:09:00 - 700ºF - 16 minutes and 51 seconds after lighting

    About that time I started to smell that old familiar smell... screaming hot flue pipe. My magnetic flue thermometer is pretty accurate, but it has a very long lag time. It only said 525º, but I grabbed my IR gun and shot the pipe. 785ºF! I quickly opened the top loading door to kill the draft a bit and help cool it off. It dropped to about 715ºF, and I decided to toss in the main load. Three splits of progressively larger size, loaded quickly, one after the other:

    7 lbs/3 oz, 9 lbs/7 oz, and 14 lbs/4 oz, for a total load of 29 lbs/14oz.

    The large splits ignited immediately upon hitting the wood below (see flames shooting around wood on the right), and I closed the load door. I waited until the flue temps got up (about 600ºF flue, 750ºF stove top) and closed the bypass about 29 minutes after I struck the match. At 10:32:52 I snapped the shot of the smoking (?) chimney seen in the lower right hand corner of the last sequence - exactly 40 minutes and 41 seconds after liftoff. Went back inside and the stove was cruising at 700ºF, flue temp stable at 375ºF. At no time after the first few minutes was the intake damper open more than about 1/4 of the way, and I only opened the stove doors for a second or so to take the photos (no glass on my stove), so there was no huge air boost needed to get the wood to take off.

    This all happened during the time that most EPA stoves would have been functioning without secondary combustion yet occurring, operating strictly in an updraft, cold-start mode. Therefore, I see no compelling evidence why it wouldn't go identically in a good EPA stove with decent draft, especially the first 30 minutes of the burn.

    EDIT: The last photo in the stove top thermometer sequence is not the correct one. That was taken a few minutes after the main load was loaded. The actual time-stamped photo taken at 10:09:00 was showing 700ºF as I stated in the text.

    Attached Files:

  3. Renovation

    Renovation New Member

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    I'm far from sure how dry would needs to be, but willing to learn. :)

    No offense taken, but I must point out that, by attacking me (for being stoveless) and not my argument, you are making a classic mistake--what I say is true or not simply based on facts and logic, not on how experienced I am, whether I have a stove, or any other personal qualities.

    This site is based on the idea that inexperienced people can learn from those with more experience--in other words, that the information on this site, viewed in total, is useful. If you invalidate me even though I have correctly leaned the information here, you are invalidating the reason for this forum.

    I'm simply repeating what I have learned from the many experienced and helpful members here, and hope others will correct me if I am wrong:

    Isn’t it true that this forum recommends, over and over, when someone has burning problems, that, as a rule of thumb, their wood should be cut, split, and stacked for at least a year, and measure 20% or less on a standard moisture meter? (the common resistance-type, that measures dry-basis moisture)?

    I hope other folks will chime in and say whether that is true or not. If I am wrong I want to learn my mistake and correct myself.

    I'm not saying that any of your data is wrong, or that the wood does not burn great in your stove and your particular setup, but simply that it is incorrect to assume that wood that measures 29% MC on a standard moisture meter is suddenly the standard for great burning, because I do not believe it is.

    And, if you want to talk stoves, isn't it true that your stove is a pre-EPA model, and not representative of the burning requirements of modern stoves? Is this thread wrong?

    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/27521/#288864

    Back to my original point--I'm asserting that if we want to use this forum's usual standard for dry-enough wood, we care about when your wood gets to 20% dry-basis moisture. Of course that standard may not apply here, but I want BK's moisture charts to be interpreted correctly, and a number of people have mistaken the lower line on the chart for the forum's usual dry-weight MC measurement, and it's not.

    I hope we can all remain civil and friendly, and refrain from personal attacks, for that is what is great about this place, and the standard that I want to maintain.

    If I am being rude, inappropriate or wrong, please correct me so that I can learn.

    Thanks!
  4. Renovation

    Renovation New Member

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    So are you going to give the BattenKiln a try? It seems easy and quick enough to do, and I'd love to know how it works with a King. :wow:
  5. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    Hold on, Curious feller. I ain't attacking you. I really like most of your posts, and your general style as well. It's just that I ain't about to agree with a forum consensus that claims something is true in general just because it appears to be true for them. And I don't think you're rude, either. A bit thin-skinned, maybe, but that's OK.

    I'm not now, nor have I ever, claimed that wood that is 20% MC dry-basis is "the new standard for great burning". The purpose of this thread is merely to demonstrate how quickly wood will dry in the right conditions, and how predictably it will do so once you have established a drying rate for it. I have stated repeatedly on numerous occasions that wood should be in the "ideal" band of MC, its just that I prefer to accept the industry standard regarding what that is rather than a handful of the most vociferous posters on an Internet forum. Doubt me? Fine. Back it up with statements from the stove industry itself. Or call the EPA and ask them why they test stoves at fuel MCs above the ideal range. Hell, nobody seemed to have ever heard of wet and dry basis MCs a years ago. Now it's a point of contention?

    Anywho, let's remain friends and take what I say in light of how it was intended, K?

    Regarding my old "smoke dragon", I am just trying to show how well wood like this will burn in any stove at startup. EPA stoves don't really vary in how they burn at this point, it's the secondary combustion that sets them apart at a point later on in the burn than I showed here. I feel very strongly that if somebody can't get a roaring fire with this stuff in hand, they need lessons in how to burn, not in how to season wood. In short, nothing will help them until they accept they need to learn to operate the stove better. Whether or not I will achieve peak efficiency with this wood would have to wait until I get that hip flue setup with all the fancy sensors and flow meters and such. But it is extremely clear to me that this stuff would come close... real close. All you have to do is open up the top load door and look at the quality of the flame, and feel the intense heat come ripping off this stove for hours to know that. That's the kind of knowledge you only get from long experience, not by agreeing with a forum's membership. And again, I mean no offense.

    I get so weary of new burners having their wood constantly called into question when it's so obvious from reading their complaints that no wood will burn well they way they are running things. Is this ruining my life? Does it really matter that much to me? Well, no, it really doesn't, but it means something or why else are we here in the first place? I often think for days about whether or not I should post some controversial bit of info. Surely I will be held in contempt by many who disagree with what I am saying. That's the real beauty of the Internet. Even though I try hard to help, in the end, I really don't give a shite what folks here think of me.
  6. pen

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

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    Why is it every time I read this thread that things like this keep popping into my head

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Hmm, yea, just not sure why I keep shaking my head as I am reminded of misinformation like these. Strange coincidence I suppose. :)

    pen
  7. Renovation

    Renovation New Member

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    Thanks, great to know, and likewise! ;)

    That is not what I said. If you reread my post, you'll see that I actually said:

    The reason I said that is because, in response to a newb asking about rules of thumb for MC, you said in your thread here:

    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewreply/778755/

    which is now included in the Wiki here:

    http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/wiki/Determine_moisture_content_of_wood/

    Which I think could lead a newbie reading this thread, searching the threads or reading the Wiki to believe that 29% (as mentioned here) or 33% MC on a standard meter is the rule of thumb. I think that entry in the Wiki is misleading, since the usual advice here is 20% MC or less on a standard, dry-basis meter.

    It seems to me that the Wiki should reflect the advice that is generally given, and if that is now to be 33% or less MC on a standard meter, perhaps that should be acknowledged and discussed?

    That is my concern, and has been all along.

    This takes nothing away from your thread, your innovation, or your ideas, all of which I respect. I simple want newbies to get good rule-of-thumb advice about what sort of wood will generally burn cleanly and easily, and don't want your unique experience and beliefs, in threads and the Wiki, to confuse that.

    Fair enough?

    Absolutely, and likewise.

    That cuts to the heart of the matter. You are questioning the general assumption here, and that seems a very valid topic, worthy of discussion in it's own thread. But if you're sick of the whole thing, I certainly understand. :)

    Best Wishes!
  8. homieg9999

    homieg9999 New Member

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    I ran some analysis on my TI-86.

    I fit an exponential function to your data:

    Dry Basis: y = 53.2185341(.92112541^x), this equation fits the data about 98%

    Wet Basis: y = 34.831669(.943085961^x), this equation fits the data about 98.4%

    Just plug in days into the x variable, and you'll get an extrapolated moisture content, orrrr you could plug in what moisture content you want for y, then solve for x (days) with logarithms.

    I hope this is helpful.
  9. Renovation

    Renovation New Member

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    Thanks HomieG!

    I know that Excel has similar wizards, that will curve-fit data. I was hoping BK would click his up, and let us know.

    Could your solve for 20% wet-basis, and 20% dry-basis, and tell us how many drying-days you get for each, if you haven't hit the "clear" button yet? :)
  10. homieg9999

    homieg9999 New Member

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    I did it by hand using log properties:

    Dry: 11.91 days

    Wet: 9.46 days

    I'm going to bed now, but if there is anything else you'd like me to run, I'll try to get to it tomorrow :)
  11. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, the "9" and the "0" are real close on my keyboard. I was letting my typing finger fly on that one 'cause Lady BK was tapping her foot waiting for me to go to the store. I meant to write, "I'm not now, nor have I ever, claimed that wood that is 29% MC dry-basis is "the new standard for great burning". Which is the truth. Sorry for the poor proof reading.


    Yeah, I fit an exponential curve to the data and found it fit pretty well. I was reminded of what an organic chemist friend told me once. He said, "Lewis structures are too good to be true, and ligand theory is too true to be good." That really sunk in for me, and I try not to describe things with mathematical models unless I really understand exactly what is driving them. Which in this case, I don't. I'll try to play with it when I have a chance, and thanks for the input, guys.

    BTW the wood is now 8lbs, 7 1/2 oz. RH is down to 22%. MC is 26.6% dry-basis, 21% wet-basis after 10 full days. The split has lost 2.06 pounds of water, or 54% of the original water weight of 3.84 pounds.


    And as "Pen" has wisely pointed out, in my ganja-addled delusional state, I am fudging all the data, doctoring up both my photos and the time-stamps in the EXIF data, and lying through my teeth about all of this... just like Big Tobacco does. If you don't die of a chimney fire using this method, the copious amounts of smoke produced will give you all lung cancer.

    Good efin' grief. :roll:
  12. pen

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

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    I'm sorry, but I just honestly don't see what this will prove or gain over preparation considering the other possible negatives associated with drying a month's worth of wood indoors constantly. We all know a "kiln" will dry wood. I don't agree that making your basement one is a good idea.

    Additionally, my concern is that people will take bits and pieces of this data and believe that just throwing their wood indoors for 3 weeks means it's good to go.

    My concerns are honest in that I don't think people will interpret your data correctly. The tobacco companies weren't lying in those adds either, but people were able to make the wrong impressions based upon those statements. I don't want people making the same mistakes w/ your information. Data is meant to be interpreted, it in and of itself is not the conclusion.

    pen
  13. Renovation

    Renovation New Member

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    :) Sweet dreams.

    Is that more days, or days total?

    Which data are you fitting to, the values in BK's Jan 11 data? Your values don't seem to fit, because that data stand at 29% and 23% at day nine, and looking at the chart it's hard to believe the red line would reach 20% only a couple of days after the green one...
  14. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    And I'm concerned about 75% of what I see hyped up on this forum that I know flat out not to be true at all. So what? I have gone well out of my way to explain why this works, and for whom and where and in what situation this might work. At no time did I recommend anybody actually do this, but if asked, I can give a clear explanation of why this may or may not work on a case by case basis. Otherwise, it's just an experiment that has many other interesting things that are coming out of it, like the data analysis others are pitching in with that may help establish drying curves that will be able to be used to reasonable predict when wood will be ready when dried outside.

    I suppose we shouldn't post links to scientific studies, either. They might be misinterpreted, and folks would be creosoting themselves to death with wet wood, or giving themselves third-degree burns by touching hot wood, or dying of CO inhalation, or... whatever. So keep coming in here and trashing the thread, who cares? Maybe you'll save the world... or get the thread locked, as may be your real intention by trolling it.



    Disclaimer:

    This is only a topic on an Internet forum. Proceed at your own risk.
  15. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    Gotta agree there.
  16. pen

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

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    You just proved my case in point. You chose which statement to pick and chose from my post that fit your argument.

    What about this quote from my post
    Are the other concerns (ie, insects, mold) about storing a large quantity of wood indoors bunk? What is the benefit of drying firewood in this manner versus simply planning ahead and having it ready by drying outdoors?

    pen
  17. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    Battenkiller, seems we've got increasingly varied interpretations of the practical implications of your experiments.

    So I renew my plea for a simple bottom line summary.

    You do appear to have said in one of your posts that you took medium-sized splits (what does that mean, please? You talking 4-inch, 5-inch, 6-inch?) of recently cut green Black Birch, left it in your warm cellar (70 degrees? Or is it more than that?) for one week with a fan blowing on it, and then popped it in your stove and it lit right up.

    Can that possibly be right? (I don't give a rip what the measured moisture content is, personally)

    Beyond that, I have questions about what the effect might be of having smaller splits, a lower room temperature, no fan, etc., but I'd really like to know whether I understood the basic premise correctly or I've gotten it completely bolixed up.
  18. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    Gee, the benefit is for those of us who are entirely capable of planning ahead but lack the resources to put such plans into effect, no?

    Insects and mold are not an issue in the winter in cold climates.

    And I sure haven't seen Battenkiller crusading for drying firewood indoors in preference to drying it outdoors. He's just been carrying out a fairly rigorous experiment and reporting the results, which may well turn out to be incredibly helpful for some of us.
  19. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    Gosh, give a guy time to breathe (and tend to his lovin' wife, eh?) :cheese:


    Yes, it can possibly be right. Look at the data, look at the photos, look at the timeline of the course of the fire. Nothing fudged here. If that's the attitude, I'm done here. I value nothing in life more than truth. I don't fudge data, or intentionally deceive. It's just not my style. Just because something seems incredible to you doesn't mean it ain't true. This all makes perfect sense to me, and the experiment is playing out fairly close to how I suspected it would based on previous years doing this... only faster.

    Did I say I took medium splits into the house? Then I misspoke. These are huge splits, some of them in excess of 15 pounds, even dried down this much. 7" x 7" x 20" long a few of them. The biggest one I stuck in that fire was over 14 pounds. Burned like sugar, lasted for hours, heated the whole place to 71º until mid-afternoon.

    The effect on smaller splits is enormously better. The smaller splits I started the fire with came into the basement that way, I never claimed otherwise. They measured 12% MC on the outside, and they are small enough that they were likely close to that on the inside. Is it any secret that smaller splits dry much faster than fatter ones?

    Another thing. Someone said at one point that these would be dried to a low MC all the way through. Sorry, but I never claimed that. It's simply not true, impossible, in fact. There is a very steep moisture gradient inside all of these splits. They will take months to reach full equilibrium. So what? The same thing might take years if done outside.

    This has absolutely zero effect on the way these burn, as you can see in the photos. The fact that they are so dry on the outside means they ignite almost instantly, and the residual moisture inside gives a long, stable burn, better than the stuff I've had outside all year (yes, I do some both ways, always). Net heat loss through evaporation will be equal to a split at full equilibrium that has the identical total amount of water, but I really feel I will get a better total combustion efficiency and overall efficiency, at least in my stove. YMMV.


    You live close enough. Make the trip over and see for yourself. We'll torch off a 100% BattenKiln-dried black birch fire in my stove and let you be the judge. I'll even send you home with some for your little rock stove to keep you warm when you get home, and feed you well while you're here. :coolsmile:
  20. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    Thanks, friend. I really needed that. :)
  21. pen

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

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    Well, I've done this myself at one point putting a cord and a face of wood in my basement. That year I hit 101 on the wall thermometer 20 feet from my wood stove. W/ that much wood in my basement at all times I had a solid month of firewood on hand even in the coldest weather. In this "experiment" of mine, I lacked a moisture meter but I did have a non-epa woodstove much like BK and I'm willing to bet an even hotter environment consistently. I too can say that the wood will dry, but still is nothing like having fully seasoned wood on hand as I would get into wood from time to time that would burn completely differently from the previous load which made it very difficult to plan on load sizes / when to close the drafts and how much, etc. I also spent a month vacuuming the window sills every day because of the bark borer beetles that I had leaving the wood. My window's sills would literally be covered in an 1/8 in layer of beetles from end to end. Thank god my wife is an understanding woman who didn't mind the "experiment" as well (so long as I was the one to clean the window's every day). I also had 1 chimney fire that year.

    Since then I have learned better, I have not had another chimney fire and I have not had window's filled w/ beetles.

    BK is doing nothing new here, others have tried this and my point is there are many variables involved which makes his data nearly worthless. If you want to be safe do it right. If you are just getting by, remember, you are also taking on the burden of the extra risks involved.

    Education / knowledge is the key to power. His data is certainly part of that. However, I want to make sure that everyone realizes that it needs further interpretation and that baselines can't be set here since there are simply too many factors involved.

    I don't mean to knock what BK is presenting, it's foolish to argue that a hot dry environment will dry wood (duh) I am simply concerned that the results are being misinterpreted in terms of the "BIG PICTURE." The big picture to me is safety. So, for this procedure to work for everyone else, they too have to get the triple beam balance out and make such careful measurements to ensure they have gotten their wood to the "promised land" (whatever that is). In in the meantime, what will they be burning too add heat to the room to even get the wood dry?

    This practice is reactive rather than proactive and that is the problem.

    pen
  22. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    Did I say I took medium splits into the house?

    Then I misspoke. These are huge splits, some of them in excess of 15 pounds, even dried down this much. 7" x 7" x 20" long a few of them. The biggest one I stuck in that fire was over 14 pounds. Burned like sugar, lasted for hours, heated the whole place to 71º until mid-afternoon.

    The effect on smaller splits is enormously better. The smaller splits I started the fire with came into the basement that way, I never claimed otherwise. They measured 12% MC on the outside, and they are small enough that they were likely close to that on the inside. Is it any secret that smaller splits dry much faster than fatter ones?

    Another thing. Someone said at one point that these would be dried to a low MC all the way through. Sorry, but I never claimed that. It's simply not true, impossible, in fact. There is a very steep moisture gradient inside all of these splits. They will take months to reach full equilibrium. So what? The same thing might take years if done outside.

    This has absolutely zero effect on the way these burn, as you can see in the photos. The fact that they are so dry on the outside means they ignite almost instantly, and the residual moisture inside gives a long, stable burn, better than the stuff I've had outside all year (yes, I do some both ways, always). Net heat loss through evaporation will be equal to a split at full equilibrium that has the identical total amount of water, but I really feel I will get a better total combustion efficiency and overall efficiency, at least in my stove. YMMV.

    You live close enough. Make the trip over and see for yourself. We'll torch off a 100% BattenKiln-dried black birch fire in my stove and let you be the judge. I'll even send you home with some for your little rock stove to keep you warm when you get home, and feed you well while you're here. :coolsmile:[/quote]

  23. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    Yikes! That's a whole lotta beetles. I don't wonder you're leery of the whole idea. I sure would suggest if you've got wood that's full of beetles (or ants) that this is probably not a useful way to go for you. Personally, I've never had a single beetle in the house, an ant or a spider only once or twice in three or four years, and I already store several days worth of fuel in my living room next to the stove. I wouldn't even want to pick up a piece of wood crawling with beetles like that, thanks very much!

    I would respectfully suggest, though, that having it in as high temperatures as you apparently did and for as long as you did perhaps caused eggs to hatch in great numbers, something there's little risk of in a week.

    Beetle-infested cordwood aside, what possible risks could be involved in burning wood dried outside versus inside? I know when I've gotten my wood to the "promised land," and so do you. It burns easily and cleanly and without hissing and oozing. I don't see what difference it makes where it was while it was getting to that point or how long it took. Do you make those careful measurements to make sure your wood is ready to burn now? I sure don't. I can recognize dry wood by the heft and feel of it, and when I'm in doubt, I throw a piece in the stove to see what happens. And for whatever it's worth, seems to me there's always patches here and there in my wood stacks that clearly aren't ready and don't burn well, even when the rest of it is fine, for no discernible reason. Again, I don't really see how that would happen more often just because the wood was dried in a different location.
  24. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    Oye. BK, as soon as I figure out how to build a Battenkiln in my basement, I will forward it to you for a peer review. Maybe drinkin more Kool-Aid, but I am pretty sure there is a benefit to hot dry moving air in the drying process.
  25. pen

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

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    Loc:
    N.E. Penna
    The wood crawling with beetles was from a bunch of beautiful ash trees cut live in an attempt to protect a house / garage from a wind storm. The wood was cut / split / stacked outside for a few weeks before I moved it into the house. After a few weeks in the house I started noticing very fine saw dust on the cat. I went investigating and sure enough, my wood had a layer of dust on it and pieces looked as if they were shot w/ a shot gun. The holes were from the beetles exiting after they ate their full under the bark of the unseasoned wood.

    This was with a very common wood, ash. The very same stuff that people like to burn under seasoned because "ash wet or ash dry a king will warm his slippers by."

    Now in my neck of the woods we don't have termites, no poisonous spiders, in all, the creepy crawlers are very tame. As such, the ones of these that I was afraid might start attacking my house and furniture fortunately could not due to the beetle type. However, for someone who lives just a few hundred miles south of here, the "bugs" to be concerned with can be much more fierce.

    So in the end, the wood I brought in was just as fresh and beautiful as the birch presented here just a different species. Had the ash been seasoned 1 year outdoors the bugs would have innocently left outside of my home and the living phloem would have dried so that it was uninhabitable for them. At the point of bringing the wood indoors, there were no visible signs to predict what was going to happen.

    Point: Bug's generally don't dig dry wood. If you make the wood dry in your home, the bugs that are in it will need to exit as they are not content with folding up and dying as their food source literally dries up.

    pen
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