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Got some new wood this weekend...

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Slow1, Mar 2, 2009.

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  1. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    Eastern MA
    Ok, all you old timers (defined as experienced burners regardless of age btw) preach about the difference good well seasoned, dry wood can make on the stove. I believed it but like most first year burners I was pretty much stuck with what I could get (at a 'reasonable' price). So, I have been burning some oak that likely was about a year seasoned (some pieces sizzled, others didn't you know the mix - sold as "seasoned" last fall) that I bough at the going rate for my area (about $270/cord). As the winter has gone on, it has improved due to additional drying time outside and inside of course - I keep several days worth near the stove to warm up and get some last minute drying time in etc...

    So, to the point here - I picked up a load of wood from a guy this weekend, perhaps 2.5-3 cords (really hard to know until I stack it - I'm thinking of posing a pic of the pile and see if anyone can correctly estimate the volume). Half of it is green as can be - split a week before I bought it, the other half was split "3 or 4 years ago"... Now you see where this is going? Hmm.. I of course sucked up every piece of the seasoned wood he would let me take and just as soon as I could I brought in a load of it to try in the stove.

    This is all oak for the most part. It is split much larger than what I had before (previous pieces were all 14-17" range and split fairly small maybe 3-5" diameter?). What I have now are all 18-20" long and split to 4-8" diameter with some pieces 22" long and some pieces too large a diameter to burn so I'll have to split them again (my stove can take up to 20" so I'll be cutting a fair number of these down.. but it's worth it to me!).

    Hmm.. does it burn any different? Umm... yes - without a doubt! Today I started a fire with my usual wood just because I had small enough pieces to do it and it was early so I wanted to have a 'normal' start to the day. After it was going I put a couple pieces of the new wood in... it caught nice and fast so I cut the air back much faster than usual. Perhaps too fast. Flue temp went up rather quick as everburn went into overdrive, but griddle temp actually went down to like 400 and then slid down a bit more and then the fun started - I noticed a smell of smoke and turned to see serious backpuffing like I've never seen with wood. I've only seen anything like it with the bricks before, but never this severe! I actually had smoke pushing out the seals of the doors (I have a large pot of water on the griddle so that keeps it from flying up or I'm sure it would have clanged! It went up as it was). Now that was a bit scary to see... So, I opened the bypass to disengage the everburn and opened air to let some of the load burn off the gasses - figured since the firebox was running cooler than everburn it wouldn't hurt too much. As the flames kicked in naturally the flue temp went up, but not critically and after a while I cut the air down to slow the burn a bit (leaving everburn still disengaged) and let more wood char and outgas until finally I was comfortable re-engaging and it roared! I left the air at about 1/3 open to keep a flame going in the firebox and that load cooked away at hot temps like I've not had before - flue stayed at the high end of what I'm comfortable with (perhaps just higher than i"m used to - Griddle at about 470 and flue at just over 500).

    Rest of the day I had great coals and only put on in total 5 of the new splits - house is as warm as it has ever been with the stove running and I'm sitting here with a nice big bed of coals waiting for the house to cool down to the point where I'll put another load on.

    So, as others have said - good seasoned wood does indeed make the stove function like a different stove. Of course one day with 5 pieces of wood doesn't really make for a good sample size, but I'm impressed with the difference already. Just thought I'd share... Now I wish I could get more of this stuff... a cord to a cord and a half seems like a tease!

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  2. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

    Joined:
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    "and then the fun started - I noticed a smell of smoke and turned to see serious backpuffing like I’ve never seen with wood. I’ve only seen anything like it with the bricks before, but never this severe! I actually had smoke pushing out the seals of the doors (I have a large pot of water on the griddle so that keeps it from flying up or I’m sure it would have clanged! It went up as it was). Now that was a bit scary to see… "

    Seriously, this makes you happy? I would have thrown it out into the yard.
  3. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2008
    Messages:
    2,663
    Loc:
    Eastern MA
    I won't say it made me happy. However, it was quite interesting (from an academic / engineering point of view). Basically my conclusion is that the new wood has quite a bit less water in it and thus the wood was able to heat up much faster than I was used to. So the way I was operating the stove - get a bed of super-hot coals going, pile them up with plenty near the everburn, pile new wood on top, let it get started and shut things down (including cutting air almost all the way off) simply wouldn't work any more. Thanks to my reading here I at least had a good idea what was going on - and had a good idea of how to get out of the situation.

    What I AM happy about is that I may yet be able to get even more heat out of this stove without melting down the chimney. I'm burning the nice wood again today and this morning I avoided the backpuffing completely - basically shut down the air much slower (per advice in other threads here given to others). I'm starting to see longer periods of time with the griddle temp higher than the flue which I take to mean that I'm figuring out the proper air setting.

    One other interesting observation - it seems the better seasoned oak has lighter (in color and weight) ash than the greener wood... again, not necessarily large enough sample to draw conclusions but interesting note.
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