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Green or seasoned wood

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by Tritonman, Feb 13, 2008.

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  1. Tritonman

    Tritonman New Member

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    Newbe is excited. What a informative site. Glad to be a member and fellow wood burner. Had a owb for 4 years now, and I have only burned green wood. Been doing some research on this matter and would like some opinions on green vs. seasoned. Green is more available because it is free, and I would have to cut double the amount in one year to allow it to season. So I guess I do not have the ambition to do that unless someone gives me good motivation in the form of education and prior knowledge. I live in Northern Ohio and burn approx. 8-10 cords from Oct. to April. Usually pine in the warmer months and hardwoods including cherry in the cold months. I cut 24'-26" logs then split if to heavy for the wife. I fill once a day in 30 degree plus days and nights then in colder twice a day. Any input would be appreciated.

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  2. sled_mack

    sled_mack New Member

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    Welcome to the forum.

    What kind of OWB? I had a Taylor before changing to a gassifier. You will find that you will burn less wood if it is seasoned. There is no doubt about that, based on my experience with the Taylor. I also had less smoke and a bit less creosote build up in the boiler with seasoned wood.

    I know it's a big effort that first year, but once you have that extra year of wood cut, you only need to maintain it. And, you'll be maintaining less.
  3. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    If you're burning green wood, you're losing energy in two different ways:

    1) It takes a lot of heat to boil all that water and turn it into steam. All of that steam goes up the chimney as wasted energy.

    2) The water cools down the combustion and reduces the ratio of available oxygen, so combustion is slowed down and much more potential combustion does not happen. The result is that a lot of unburned gases go up the chimney with the steam.

    These combined losses can easily be half of the total energy in your wood.
  4. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    You'll find your boiler is a lot more responsive and produces a lot more heat with dry wood. As sled said, all you really have to do is get ahead once, and then you'll always be a year ahead on your wood. Well worth the effort, I don't think there's any question about that.

    The only reason you're still burning green wood is because you have an OWB and you don't have to worry about creosote in the chimney or smoke in your house. But regardless, dry wood is much, much better fuel.
  5. Tritonman

    Tritonman New Member

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    Thanks for the replies. I guess I'll splurge and buy a cord of seasoned wood and see the results. The intimidation factor of cutting for a whole year makes me tired just thinking about it. But, maybe I'll be in shape afterwards. I have a heatmor and love it. No problems yet. (knock, knock). I have tons of questions and maybe some advice. Thanks alot.
    wood wood
  6. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    Our first year with a gasifier, we had NO wood stored ahead. We had to scrounge to find enough dry wood for the first year. At the same time, we laid up half the next year's. The next year, we only had to scrounge half a year's worth of dry, and we got enough laid up so we were almost a full year ahead. Now we're close to two years ahead, so we can relax a bit.

    Nothing like looking out the back door and seeing a year or two of wood ready to go. Makes you warm just to look at it.
  7. mikeyny

    mikeyny Feeling the Heat

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    As you say, "maybe I will splurge and buy a cord of seasoned wood"< I think to myself, where do you buy real seasoned wood. Where I live it doesn't exist. ALL of the suppliers claim it is seasoned but it is not, so be careful and don't be fooled. Learn how to recognize good seasoned wood.
  8. Tritonman

    Tritonman New Member

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    Again, I'm fairly new to this wood burner hobby, but what is a gasifier and thermo whatever(i've seen this on other posts). I have a heatmor, and heat a 2,900 sq. ft. ranch with a finished basement. Anything that would help me burn more effecient and understand the burn process is great info. I bought the unit off of a really nice engineer guy and pick his brain as much as possible. I'm thinking he thinks that I ask to many questions and should just cut, split and burn. Is it that simple or am I missing the big picture? I do not exactly know how many cords of wood that I burn or what difference does it make that there is always creosote on the firebox door. I have never paid attention to the burn times. But, I do know that my electric bill isn't much more during the heating season. I clean the ashes out every 3 weeks or so. And finally, I am ready to learn from a bunch of serious burners.
  9. Tritonman

    Tritonman New Member

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    Mike, your right. I guess you could have truly seasoned split oak and it gets rained on. Will it then still burn like seasoned wood?
    These are good starting questions for me. Again, I cut a tree down split it then burn. I'm not doing it the right way. I guess I'll take the sellers word for it. I'll take my time buying. Another valid point for the newbe. This is all good stuff. Thanks.
  10. atlarge54

    atlarge54 New Member

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    If you live near a grain elevator where corn is stored outside ask about getting some of the tarp when they throw it away. Our local elevator replaces it every year. I don't know what it is but it's ten times better than the junk China tarps for sale at most places and it's free. For wood to be really dry it must be covered or under a roof.
  11. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    Gasifiers are wood boilers, stoves, or furnaces that burn the fuel in a two-step process. First, the wood is heated in an oxygen-poor environment, generating a lot of flammable 'wood gas' (ten dollar word for smoke). The wood gas is forced through a nozzle where it's mixed with fesh air and burned. This creates a very hot secondary combustion, resulting in extremely clean and efficient operation.

    Gasifiers typically have virtually no smoke, no odor, and burn about 40% less wood for the same heat output as conventional stoves. They also cost a good deal more, and are somewhat more difficult to learn to operate.

    The sponsor links at the top and bottom of the page usually include gasifiers.
  12. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    A gasifier burns the smoke you get coming out of your Heatmor and turns it into heat. The result is around twice the efficiency. Like nofossil says, if you check out the banner ads in this forum, you can see a video of what it looks like when the smoke is burned in the gasification chamber.

    Anyway, getting back to dry wood, which will make your Heatmor (or any other wood burner) run a lot better and cleaner: Cutting wood is really good exercise and you'll find that it's really satisfying since it's one of the best investments in time that you can make, and you'll get into pretty good shape in the process. Typically, all you need to do is let your wood dry for a year or more, and it will reach the right moisture content pretty much on its own. You need to cover the wood or move it under some sort of roof a few months before you burn it. But it's well worth the effort, time and storage space if you're serious about burning wood.

    And Mikeyny is right: It's hard to find dry wood for sale. Usually it's sorta-dry. "Seasoned" doesn't mean dry--it means kinda-dry. The good news is that you don't need dry wood for your Heatmor. The even better news is that you can make your own dry wood and your stove will burn a lot better than it does now, and it sounds like you're pretty happy with the way it works now. So it just keeps getting better with a little planning.
  13. steam man

    steam man Minister of Fire

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    Anybody ever hear of a firewood sold and the the price set according to an average moisture content on a sliding scale? It would seem reasonable at first glance.
  14. mikeyny

    mikeyny Feeling the Heat

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    Most snake oil sales men wouldn't operate that way, after all, there snake oil is the best around.
  15. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    That suggests a level of sophistication that doesn't exist in the wonderful world of commercial firewood production and marketing. The only way to be sure is to roll your own.
  16. Tritonman

    Tritonman New Member

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    I know that no question is stupid, but is there a way to convert a heatmor to a gasifier? Did anyone see the report issued by New York in regards to owb's and your lungs? It might be old, but informative. In the report it talks about emissions from burning wood. Is anyone concerned or take precautions when filling or out around your burners? When I remove my ashes I wear a gas mask(scaring the crap out of my kids). And does anyone have a heatmor or are they old technology? Do most own gasifiers?
    And, for my birthday I'm asking for a cord of seasoned hardwood of my choosing. Now, there is a start.
  17. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    With my old woodstove that generated a lot of ash dust when shoveling the ashes out, I wore a mask. My new stove has a very neat ashpan system that minimizes the dust and I don't bother most of the time. One of the big things that most studies leave out is the basic fact that "The dose makes the poison" - IOW it is the QUANTITY of something you are exposed to that does the harm as much as the stuff itself. Many things are harmless or even beneficial in small quantities, but deadly in large amounts. Lots of the more "fear-mongering" type "studies" ignore this, or bury it in the fine print, and try to sound like "You got a whiff of "X", now you're gonna die horribly"

    I would say that if you are raising enough ash dust to worry about what clothes you are wearing, you should probably wear a mask, if you just get a little it probably isn't worth it.

    Burning dry wood will reduce the smoke from your boiler considerably, in addition to getting you more heat from it per cord.

    In terms of the dry wood, you don't have to get all the way ahead in one jump... Cut and split as early in the season as you can so that you can get the wood as dry as possible, and keep track of the age of each pile so that you burn your oldest wood first. In addition try to cut 30-40% more than you plan on using each season, and after a year or two, you will be burning your oldest wood at a year or two old, right where you need to be.

    There is a lot of debate on whether or not one should cover wood, and what I've decided is that while an open sided wood shed is optimal, it isn't essential. It IS important to get your wood cut to "stove length" as early as possible, and to keep it off the ground on pallets or other spacers, both to protect it from ground moisture and to allow air circulation. If you don't have a shed it doesn't matter that much if you cover it during the warmer/ dryer season, but it is good if you can top cover the piles in the winter / rainy seasons. DON'T cover the sides, just the top and maybe down enough to keep the tarps from blowing off.

    Gooserider
  18. Tritonman

    Tritonman New Member

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    To the one riding shotgun on a goose, thanks for the reply. I came up with a game plan. I decided that I will start cleaning up my woods and burn that wood this spring, and leave my hardwood for next year. It might mean more trips to the owb, but maybe not. I have never really looked into the seasoned or older wood laying around. My mind set was to gather as much green wood as I could. And, I still will. I'll just let it sit, like you said. Getting on and off the tractor hooking chains up just seemed harder work than I wanted. Alot of timberstand improvement on the property as well. I just cleaned out the heatmor sat. with the gas mask on, and glad I did. My clothes and hair were really dusty.
  19. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    Sounds like a reasonable approach. I would suggest trying to get the stuff you clean up into as much of a pile as you can so that it can at least sort of dry before you throw it in the boiler. Wood on the ground will keep soaking up ground moisture, and often will literally rot before it seasons. If you get it up off the ground, it can start to dry, and often the older stuff will dry very quickly. (lots of folks use pallets, or the long branches that are a bit to skinny to burn easily - but it even works to stack on the ground, and then throw the bottom few layers on the top of another stack when you get down to them.

    Gooserider
  20. Willman

    Willman Minister of Fire

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    Anybody ever check MC on winter cut wood versus spring-summer cut wood. I figure with sap down it should reflect a difference.
    A related question is what is optimum MC. 20 ish or so. What is too low ? Eric you stated on an earlier post you had a huge 4 year pile of wood stacked. Would it pay to leave it in round form for longer curing time if stockpiling for future ? I burn my KD off cuts in my wood stove and have to be careful of over firing.
    Will
  21. Nofossil

    Nofossil Moderator Emeritus

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    As far as I can see, too dry is only an issue if you also have small pieces with a lot of surface area. Busted up pallets would be a good example. In theory, this could create too much wood gas for the available secondary air, as well as excessive temperatures.

    I don't think it's possible to get too dry without using a kiln.

    Beyond about 20%, it takes a very long time to gain a very small benefit. A mix of 20% to 35% works just fine as long as you keep some known dry aside for starting fires.
  22. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    In my experience, wood in the pile gets down into the mid 20s and stays there (if I cover the pile) until I stack it in the barn over the summer. Then it gets down into the 15% mc range, which is what I like to burn. I agree with nofossil that without a kiln, you're probably never going to get it too low. Humidity in the air seems to keep it somewhat juiced, regardless.
  23. Gooserider

    Gooserider Mod Emeritus

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    I've never seen anything hard core scientific, the atecdotal stuff I've seen posted here seems to suggest there isn't a really significant amount of difference in MC of freshly cut wood as a function of when it's cut. Also the sometimes heard idea of leaving a tree cut down with leaves on it intact so that the leaves can transpire the water out as they dry doesn't seem to do much.

    The biggest factor in speeding drying seems to be getting the wood cut to your burn length as soon as possible - this is more important than splitting as more water gets lost out the ends of the rounds, so short lengths will dry faster. Splitting helps in the initial stages, but the drying then slows down so that unsplit catches up and both reach the ~20% at about the same time. (and again get it off the ground to prevent reabsorbing moisture)

    That said, I much prefer to drop trees when they are not leafed out - either early spring or late fall, not because of the moisture content, but because getting rid of the leaves makes it easier to see the weight distribution in the tree and plan out how to drop it, plus it reduces the amount of brush and other crap to deal with, and allows you to see the stuff you're trimming better.

    Gooserider
  24. Rick Stanley

    Rick Stanley Feeling the Heat

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    [

    The biggest factor in speeding drying seems to be getting the wood cut to your burn length as soon as possible - this is more important than splitting as more water gets lost out the ends of the rounds, so short lengths will dry faster. Splitting helps in the initial stages, but the drying then slows down so that unsplit catches up and both reach the ~20% at about the same time. (and again get it off the ground to prevent reabsorbing moisture)



    I cut my wood from the stump, Dec-Mar, cut it into four foot lengths, split it, stack it on skids and leave it outside, uncovered. In early Nov I saw to burn length (16in) and put it under cover. I think the splitting is the most important part of drying although I do split it quite fine (3-4 inch splits for small wood stoves)
    I have mainly Red Oak and Red Maple. I'm pretty sure that if I left 6-12 inch rounds, of either species, laying around all summer, sawn to burn length but not split, I'd have unburnable wood when I did split it in Nov.
  25. slowzuki

    slowzuki Feeling the Heat

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    You'd be surprised, its the loss out the ends of the fiber that is the main drying mechanism. For my timbers off the sawmill, I have to coat the ends in wax so they don't dry so fast and cause big splits. Ends drying too fast is the bane of the kiln and air drying aspect of the lumber business.
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