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Frustrated Burning Locust in a catalytic stove....

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by fire_man, Nov 23, 2009.

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  1. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    I've heard Locust is one of the best burning woods but I've had my problems. Last year I tried burning locust in my new Fireview that had been split (3-4 inch splits) and seasoned for a full year with miserable results - it was very hard to get the load burning and had poor heat output so I figured it needed another year to season. After fighting with about one face chord of locust, I switched to my trusty 1-year seasoned Beech and Birch and got my usual very fast reload light-ups (5 minutes to get the flames really going and another 10 minutes to get the flu temp up to 500F and then I engage the Combustor). I measure the flu with a surface thermometer about 3 inches from the output of the stove. I also always make sure the stovetop is at least 250 F before engaging the cat.

    Fast forward to this year, now the same locust has been seasoned for TWO FULL YEARS and was well covered (top only). Tonight, I loaded the stove and it took over 30 minutes (with cat bypassed and the door slightly open) just to get the flames to START BURNING the wood. Then after another 15-20 minutes (with the draft set to #3) the flu temp finally climbed up to 450F and I engaged the cat. The locust was loaded on top of a very hot bed of coals (stove-top temp was still at 275 F when I reloaded the stove). I then waited for the usual quick stove-top temperatrue rise but after waiting a solid hour it never got above 300F ! I had to bypass the cat again, bring flu up to 500F and finally after re-engaging the cat the stovetop quickly rose all the way to 650 F. I finally got lots of heat and its been cranking for over an hour at 600 F.

    Why does this locust take so long to get burning and has to be babied so much to get the cat to light-off? Even one year-seasoned oak lights better!! :-S Has anyone else had trouble getting locust to burn in a catalytic stove?

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  2. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    Burns much better if you throw a few splits of pine underneath it.
  3. staplebox

    staplebox Member

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    Loc:
    Eastern CT
    Sorry I don't have any answers for you. I was planning on burning 2+ cords of black locust this winter for the first time. It hasn't been cold enough here to run the wood stove yet. I cut and split this stuff about 1.5 years ago and figured it would be ready to go this winter. I have a moisture meter and it seems to average about 20%. Are you able to check that? I've heard that locust can be tough to get going but then it burns like coal. I hope my locust burns better than yours because I've only got about 1/2 cord of seasoned maple to mix in. Good luck.
  4. dreezon

    dreezon New Member

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    Peoria, IL
    Hmm... I've got a ton of black locust, too. Amazing how little time it takes to dry. As far as your burning issues, I'm not sure. So far, I've only thrown in a few pieces mixed with elm and bitternut hickory. I think it did take a good while to get the locust going and the log seemed to stay in tact forever compared to the other stuff. The chunk of osage orange I tried lasted even longer.

    Perhaps that is a good idea, mixing it with something else that will take off faster. I'll have to try some full loads of locust and see how it goes for me.
  5. tradergordo

    tradergordo Minister of Fire

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    I've heard some people complain that it creates such a big long lasting coal bed that they can't reload as frequently which can be a negative for an extreme cold climate as the burning coal stage is not as hot as the flaming log stage. I don't know, I've never had any problems with black locust, personally I think its the greatest species of wood I've ever burned, would gladly trade anyone for it. Some say it takes 2 years to season, but I haven't found that to be the case either, 6 months split and properly stacked out in the sun, and its good to go as far as I'm concerned. I don't start cold with it, I usually add to a hot firebox. Then again, I don't have a cat stove, maybe that makes some difference? Not sure.
  6. gzecc

    gzecc Minister of Fire

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    IMO full loads of Black Locust, is not ideal. It is hard to start a fire with and it also stinks outside. I mix it with other woods depending on the conditions. Usually use a large one for overnights.
  7. budman

    budman Minister of Fire

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    I'll take all that i can get.
  8. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    You could try splitting it smaller. Our problem with locust was the coals would last forever and prevented you from reloading the box.
  9. Lanningjw

    Lanningjw Feeling the Heat

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    Use your beech and birth at start up. Then reload with you locust after you have a well established fire, see how that works for ya.
  10. logger

    logger Minister of Fire

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    My locust is mixed in w oak and when its cold I try to get more locust in my hands. Mine lights up pretty fast due to its bark and doesn't take much to get blazing hot. Im not sure what your problem can be, as I absolutely love the wood.
  11. FireWalker

    FireWalker New Member

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    I burned all locust last year.....I like maple, beech, ash and oak. Someone quoted last year when I posted a similar post to this, "it's like throwing a steel pipe in there". I found locust hard to start, with smelly smoke outside, the bark falls off the splits making it messy and it's hard to split by hand. I have 1 face cord left now 2 years seasoned, it will be mixed in with other types and that will be that. I got as much as I could get for free so who am I to complain. A good mix of wood is best!
  12. iceman

    iceman Minister of Fire

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    Loc:
    Springfield Ma (western mass)
    where in eastern mass are ?


    where in eastern ct are you?
    we can trade a pick-up load
    i have maple, red/white, oak , some ash....
  13. RIJEEP

    RIJEEP Member

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    Lil' Rhody
    Locust is a very dense and hard wood. It is tough stuff man, proven thorough its functionality.
    Like others have said, get your stove up to temp first, maybe even hold off on the Locust until the 2nd load. To aquire nice coals. You can also support its combustion with other woods mixed in the firebox.

    Whatever seems to work well w/ your stove. Once it is dialed in, you may find yourself actually saving it for real cold weather and longer burn times. If you absolutely hate it...Ill forward you my shipping address!

    Good luck! :coolsmile:
  14. Hurricane

    Hurricane Minister of Fire

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    Central NJ
    +1
    it works best in a hot stove. Pain in the butt to start fires with it. You will love it when it gets cold outside.
  15. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    I have never tried to burn locust. We burn a lot of ash and ash is not the fastest starting wood but still excellent for firewood. What we do is always load some soft maple in the front bottom; one or two splits. The ash gets stacked in the back and on top. The soft maple burns faster and hot so by the time that is partially burned the ash will get going good.

    Not sure if this would work for you or not but perhaps worth a try. I'd try it with your birch where we use soft maple. Even if you have to use 3 splits of birch, the locust should give you the longer burns once it lights off.

    Good luck.
  16. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    Ha, same stove, same firewood, same problem. I find Black Locust does the same in my stove. Where is your air set when you engage the cat? Usually I engage at #1 for all my other woods and after a few more minutes I will turn it down to .5-.75. Locust is different, it's like throwing lead pipes on a hot bed of coals, I will engage higher like 1.5 or a little more. That stuff is so dense it needs more air to get going or the cat will stall, but once it's going it will burn very hot. Let it get burning on a higher setting for about 20 minutes before turning it down for a long burn. I also like to load a split of something else in front of the Locust to help it out.
  17. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    Its great hearing from another Fireview owner with a similar burn issue. I have always set my draft at .5 when I engage the cat for all my wood types. I never tried starting at 1 and then dialing it down to .5. I get the stovetop up near 250 F and make sure the surface temp of the flu is near 500 and then dial down to .5 and then engage the cat. I always had good luck this way until burning locust. Throwing in a lead pipe is a good analogy. I never once stalled the cat until I burned this stuff. I checked with a moisture meter after a re-split and it read 21%. I just fully loaded with locust and will try the 20 minute higher setting idea. Thanks. :)
  18. staplebox

    staplebox Member

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    Me?
    If so, thanks for the offer but I almost lost a finger to this damn locust; I can't wait to burn it. I think I'll just use the maple to to get it going. If that doesn't work I'm gunna dump a few gallons of gas on the wood pile and burn it where it stands. I will have my revenge on that locust.
  19. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    Not really. It's very low moisture so it starts off pretty dry.
  20. DiscoInferno

    DiscoInferno Minister of Fire

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    I've had problems with other woods, notably hickory and (believe it or not) cherry, where they needed extra primary air through the whole burn or else I would get a bunch of black coals at the end. (All multiple-year seasoned.) Locust is hard to get going good (you never want to try to start a fire with that stuff) but I always found that once it did I could shut down the primary air all the way and it would burn to ash eventually. It seemed to burn hotter in the coal stage than anything else.
  21. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    I wonder if Staplebox almost lost his finger from a Locust splinter infection? - every time I get a splinter from Black Locust it instantly hurts ten times worse than any other wood and I have to get it out fast! I guess that's why there are 75 year old fence posts made of this stuff . Don't throw gas on the pile - it really burns nice once you get it going!
  22. littlesmokey

    littlesmokey Minister of Fire

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    Each region has a wood that is a high Btu producer, but a cranky wood to burn. When I lived in the Northwest, I never figured out the rules for Madrone. Friends in the MidWest swear by Osage Orange as the wood to burn, but you have to start at an early age (4 or 5 yrs) learning how. SoWest is IronWood and Mesquite. All are very dense woods, weight by cu.inch is at the top of the scales. NoEast Locust, but true Linden is a bugger too. Here with little more than Conifers, Juniper and Pinion are the difficult woods. I think overall, high starting heat is necessary to get them to "fire-off" and sustain their burning. They might be the best to burn for output, but are often difficult to harvest, dry and burn. This all may add to the mystique.

    If you have a cord or two of the crankies, think about trading it for say two to four cords of your favorite wood. I used to trade soft maple for DougFir in Washington. Neighbors wanted a "decorative fire" not one spitting on the rug all night. Of course I encouraged that a lot.

    My latest search is for Holley trees and dwarf plumb and cherry. Compact, small diameter, easily processed and after a few years hot to go. I also pick on the apricot and apple orchards that are going to become subdivisions. Not many of those now, however. Oh, for any of you in my area, these are losey woods to burn, so I'll trade you two for one some great clean burning and easy to use Aspen. Just let me know what you got.
  23. staplebox

    staplebox Member

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    Nah, it was the splitter. I posted picks here last year. Finger still hurts sometimes and the nail grows funny - but it works. It was either my fault or the wood or the splitter. I choose to blame the wood because it also smelled bad.
  24. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    ouch :bug:
  25. Chris_N_Westvirginia

    Chris_N_Westvirginia New Member

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    Hard to split?? 6lb maul will bust locust like butter Green or 100 yr old fence post . i myself will burn every inch of locust i can get me hands on. Burns hot and long like coal will. Id rather have a long lasting bed of hot coals in their than burning crap wood like poplar or something similar that dont hold coals for along time . much easier to reload and get a fire going with the hot coals and hot stove . I got work to do on the farm i know after a load of locust goes in 6 hrs later or so i still have some coals glowing .
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