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Finally - seasoned wood the whole burning season

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by MikoDel, Nov 17, 2012.

  1. MikoDel

    MikoDel Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2008
    Messages:
    46
    Loc:
    Fort Washington, Pennsylvania
    This year is a rare time. I have seasoned firewood that I can burn without worry of going out, and accelerated creosote buildup. I am limiting the 02, banking down the flame, even in horizontal mode, and the heat is gentler and the splits are lasting a long time, for this little heater.

    A lot of things came together to make this possible - a permanent, owned log splitter given gratis by one of my greatest all time best brothers. Unemployed time last year that allowed me to prep. And the smart (duh!) notion that I don't have to split to burning size, just SPLIT. It's drying. That'e the main thing. I'll worry about making it a useable size later. What I can't cram for as the winter fast approches is moisture content. Splitting time - that I can work in. This convenience is affecting decisions I'm making as to whether to plit or gather. I'm splitting everything I have now, in order that next yeat is like this year. Maybe too big, but I'm splitting.

    Now I am truly controlling the temp of our little Intrepid in this modest size den, burning in horizontal mode (zigzag flame path before it reaches the flue) and limiting the oxygen. And the wall mounted fan moves the air to the rest of the 1st floor.

    Trust me on this - even if you have to split the wood just in half and leave it (I did pie slices. I would describe them as the kind of slice you would get at a diner - nothing remarkably generous) it's the best use of your time, even better than collecting more wood.

    Of course you can burn partially seasoned wood. It's ok, in fact it's the norm around here. But you have to know your rate of stack buildup and how to nurse a fire. You better have a bellows. Sometimes the flames (or lack thereof) can be pitiful, but the room is usually somewhat warm, and it's "free", so FTW. (Not free if you count my time.) And if my "partially seasoned" stock is dry enough to burn strong, I still have to burn hot with full 02.

    Last year I pie-sliced these trunks, and now I can enjoy secondary combustion with limited oxygen, the way it's supposed to work. I have recently read forum posts and visited mfgr websites that taught me: limiting the 02 is ideal. Slow the burn and combustion of volatiles is best. I usually can't employ this best practice because I have to allow as much 02 as possible in order to keep my chimney cleaning intervals to no more than Thanksgiving, New Year's and Valentine's Day. Last year I didn't clean at all, but it was a warm winter.

    Tonite the little Intrepid maintained a hot coal bed for six hours. After returning home I chuckedin splits and restarted with no kindling. The heat is gentle and unsweaty, even when the temps climb to moderate during the day. I don't feel guilty about keeping the fire on a day with a 50* high, because the burning is efficient. If I start the fire at 8am, maybe I reloaded 4X by 10pm. Of course in the beginning I reload more because I am burning hotter to establish coals. The wood isn't that seasoned.
    Beer Belly likes this.

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  2. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Michigan
    MIke, having good dry wood to burn makes such a super difference when burning wood that it is difficult to understand why more folks don't aim for the ideal. That is 3 years worth of wood in the stack and that wood also has been split. If everyone would do this I am convinced that 99% of a wood burners problems would disappear.

    I do not agree with partially splitting the wood and then going back later to finish the splitting. We put enough work into putting up wood without begging for more. Get it split as soon as possible! Then get it stacked off the ground and stack it in the windiest spot you have. That wind will dry the wood.

    Once folks see the difference in how wood burns when it has been dried properly they are simply amazed! So if you have this year's wood put up, good for you. Now work on next year's. When that is done, keep on working. It does take some time to get 3 years ahead but once there, it is sort of like the old pitcher pumps. You have to work like crazy sometimes to get water, but once you have it, you just keep an easy steady pressure on that handle. Once 3 years ahead on the wood, then each year you gather only enough for one year and you will never want for dry wood.
  3. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

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    2,663
    Loc:
    Eastern MA
    I can't agree more with the joy of having good dry wood. Each year I keep saying "this is my best wood yet" and I think I'm right... Nothing like having it split and stacked for 2-3 years to really appreciate the difference.

    This year I did something new here - I piled up my wood for this winter as normal (large 'cube' next to the driveway with about 3.5 cords), but right after stacking it up, I went ahead and covered the top with a tarp and stapled it all the way around. This "roof" I think has made quite a difference as I can tell the wood, which I believed to be ready in the spring, seems to be even drier than before. Nice to pull it out from there and find dust on the pieces. Even some of the marginal pieces that had some punk, the punk is so dry it crumples off and blows away (which is messy I admit, but at least no water in it!).

    Burning difference is night and day from my first year too - it seems that I can almost light the oak splits from a match (not quite, I do use a small piece of a super cedar) but I don't need piles of kindling to get it going.

    Now as to the splitting suggestion you have - I do fully agree with the notion of getting it split quick. However, it seems to me that more time is spent moving the wood around than actually splitting it down, thus if I were to go back and re-split my piles from larger chunks to smaller it would be far more work than just doing it once. But perhaps it is different for me as I'm a manual splitter so once I get it cracked in half (or made into planks for larger pieces) the process is generally just one wack per split and I like to take them down the edge so the large piece stays put rather than keep having to stand pieces up again.... I like to get my wood split and stacked up once and for all as quick as possible, takes up less space too (I'm very space challenged with close neighbors).
  4. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    27,816
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    Good point on the Super Cedars Slow1.

    Mike, if you'd like to try those super cedars, you can request a sample. You'll love them. Also, each super cedar is good to light 4 fires so they are not expensive.
  5. corey21

    corey21 Minister of Fire

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    2,217
    Loc:
    Soutwest VA
    Glad ito hear your are burning seasoned wood i found out about that with my wood this year.
  6. PapaDave

    PapaDave Minister of Fire

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    5,740
    Loc:
    Northern MI - in the mitten
    Ahhh, another convert.
    Welcome to the fold Miko.:cool:
  7. adrpga498

    adrpga498 Minister of Fire

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    New Jersey
    My avatar pic deals well with space challenges. I approve this message.
  8. firecracker_77

    firecracker_77 Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    NWI office - 2 Heritages; Chicago home - Woodstock
    Not to argue with the principles of burning dry wood, I can see a point in getting them split, letting them season a long period of time in larger split form, and then taking them and splitting to final size right before burning them. This would work ok if you had ample time to let them season. Larger splits season slower, but they would eventually get there. An option I would consider if I had limited time on the front end and could afford to have stacks seasoning for a long time before you would need them. A log quartered will get there in time, unless the log itself had a massive diamater to begin with like a 150 year old oak or another old growth.
  9. Beer Belly

    Beer Belly Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Connecticut
    This year is the closest I've come to somewhat seasoned wood......burning Cherry that is at 15-20% on the MM.....the only problem, only have about 2 or so cords. In my stacks I have 5 cords of 1 year old Oak....1 cord of 1 year old Hickory.....1 cord of Maple.....and a whole bunch of Ash, Maple, and Oak on the ground waiting on the splitter....I figure next year may be better.
  10. MikoDel

    MikoDel Member

    Joined:
    Nov 29, 2008
    Messages:
    46
    Loc:
    Fort Washington, Pennsylvania
    I'm reading these posts, and I guess I'm not surprised that there are a few of us out there who
    have been challenged by the amount of prep and time required to get the payoff of seasoned, dry
    firewood. I am also amazed by some of the pics of the huge piles!
    I appreciate the advice too. I agree with the old warehousing and logistics axiom "Don't handle it
    twice." But keep in mind that my setup is a smallish, 25,000 BTU stove that takes a maximum 16"
    long split. I simply do not have the time to split the trunks down to size on the first go-round.
    My wife and daughter have to get their time. Can't be out there playing Jeremiah Johnson from
    morning till night ever day. Though I admit, I do enjoy the workout.

    I frequently am dealing with full size mature trees that I have felled, and I have no help during
    the splitting and stacking process. My family used to help me, but for various reasons this year
    and last I was solo. I wasn't too specific earlier, but I mean rounds so large I have to put a 10ft
    ramp on the splitter rail (my splitter's tilt feature needs some work) and roll them on. And
    rolling these 150-200lb rounds up the ramp is difficult. In terms of size, I'd say the diameter was
    easily 3ft on some of them, and no less than 2.5ft on all of the big rounds.
    So this is why I elected to get them split to pie slices and not go all the way. The amount of work just to get them that far was a sweating, panting, out-of-breath, and days-end muscles aching job! For several days on end.

    I attached some pictures from a few years ago, 2008 I think, of the same kind of work. But last year they were all just very big Bur Oak trunk - no mix.

    Attached Files:

    firebroad likes this.
  11. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    MikoDel. I see the biggest problem you have. Can't you put that splitter in vertical mode? That save a lot of work. More than can be imagined by most. Even on the smaller logs. I really can see no sense in having to lift each and every lot up onto the splitter. If you look closely at my avatar you'll see how I split wood. I sit while splitting and rarely will I work up a sweat. When the logs are big, I simply roll them and never lift them to get them split.

    When big logs do have to be rolled, one simple tool can take about 50% of the work off you. A simple cant hook. I'd really be lost without one.

    Canthook.jpg
  12. WoodpileOCD

    WoodpileOCD Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Central NC
    I finally got 3 years ahead last year. Worked my arse off to get there but something unusual will have to happen for me to let it get below that again. Besides the seasoning aspect of it, I got to thinking about what some people talked about here. I'm 61 years old and have always been in good shape and good health but I don't ever take the health part for granted for a minute. The discussion was that if something happens and I couldn't collect ANY wood this year, I'd still be ok this year and next.

    I must say that it is pure pleasure to know I have as much properly seasoned wood as I could possibly used this year. I'm burning year and a half old sweetgum and hickory with a little left over poplar. Also mixed in is some 2 year old red oak that is burning great but I'm still trying to save most of it (about 2/3 of the 12 cords I have) for next year.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  13. remkel

    remkel Minister of Fire

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    Southwest NH
    Second on the cant hook. I was rolling 20' logs with relative ease this past year. Made the work so much more enjoyable. As for the verticle splitting, all I can say is here we go again!
  14. tim1

    tim1 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 8, 2011
    Messages:
    135
    Loc:
    columbia river gorge,portland or
    Ditto on good dry wood and 3 seasons worth. Big plus, i went with a pe summit replacing a mamma bear fisher. What a differance, more heat and a lot less wood use!!!! Chose the summit for the bigger firebox and the extended burn. don't really need this much stove, but for now, it runs at about half load just fine. Hasn't snowed yet here in oregon. I too split all at one time, enough mess to clean up as well as equipment in place. Have 10 cords put up, ran out of sheds, will build another one in summer, as am retiring on enclosed building, too hard to get to. Tim

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