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Hard Maple Observations

Post in 'The Boiler Room - Wood Boilers and Furnaces' started by Eric Johnson, Apr 8, 2008.

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  1. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Some of you longtime members may remember a few years back when a big, old hard maple in my front yard died and had to be taken down. Naturally, I reduced it to firewood in short order ("don't bet against me when it comes to firewood" I told my incredulous neighbors). Stacked it for a couple of years and now I'm finally burning it.

    It seems to burn a lot better in my boiler than the beech that I've been burning all season. I've noticed that the maple burns really hot, leaving this fine, white powder instead of the more common gray, granular ash. I don't know if there's something that sets hard (sugar) maple apart from the beech, which is also pretty dry, but it seems to be the perfect food for my EKO.

    The vast majority of what I cut and burn is beech, and that won't change. But I do cut some maple, and moving forward, I think I'll segregate it as much as I can so that I can use its fine qualities to my advantage. Maybe as a superior fire starting wood. Another nice thing about maple vs. beech is that the maple has thick bark. This actually results in less solid wood per load (it adds up over time when you cut and haul 20 full cords per season like I usually do), but it also makes really good kindling/firestarter when dry. The beech has very thin bark that disintegrates when dry.

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  2. ISeeDeadBTUs

    ISeeDeadBTUs Guest

    Hard maple is the BEST I've ever burned. But I prefer Oak, especially red. I find the maple is a groan to split, rots incredibly fast, and with syrup at about 60/gal, I am eyeing an evaporator for the end of my - as yet unbuilt - new wood storage shed.

    Now if we could just find some way to bottle up the people heat up in OF . . .
  3. Sizzler

    Sizzler New Member

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    Hello all. Been lurking here for a few months gathering info on efficient wood burning. Decided to purchase an EKO 60 a few weeks back along with a 1000 gal propane tank for storage. Will be in the process of install on and off for the next few weeks. The forum has been great help in my quest for knowledge. Thank you.

    Great news regarding the Hard Maple since it makes up about 90% of our firewood supply. Got 6 cords drying in the shed (2 yrs old) and have been cutting the past few days in hopes of having enough dry wood for the EKO next fall. Cut, split, hauled and stacked a full cord this morning and my back is feelin it. The plan is to have 16 cords cut and stacked by June. We have burned a little of everything including Maple, Beech, Ash, Oak, Elm, Bitternut, and Ironwood etc, but our insert prefers Oak above all.
  4. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Welcome to the Boiler Room, Sizzler. Wrong nic for a guy with all that dry firewood.

    I'm from Coloma originally. The red oak might be as good as the maple for all I know. Can't get it in this part of NY, but I sure burned a lot when I lived in Wisconsin.

    It sounds like me like you've got your act together. You can heat your hot water this summer and start saving money right off the bat. Keep us apprised of your progress and results.

    BTW, you've probably read it already, but if you can get your fire going with good, dry wood, the EKO 60 will handle less dry stuff OK if you're careful not to overdo it. You can stretch your very dry wood supply out pretty well by augmenting it with the moister stuff, especially in cold weather. Longer term, of course, your best approach is to have at least one season's worth of the good stuff stockpiled by fall.
  5. DenaliChuck

    DenaliChuck Member

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    You guys are killing me with all this talk about oak and maple. For BTU the best we get is white birch, but it has way more creosote than the white spruce I could also get. I'd give my left arm for a few cords of maple but I don't think I could actually put it into the woodstove!
  6. Reggie Dunlap

    Reggie Dunlap Feeling the Heat

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    I burn hard maple, beech, yellow birch, and cherry in the boiler and whatever white birch I have in the fireplace. I always heard that beech provides more BTU's than maple, but I prefer maple. We don't have any oak this far north so I can't compare it to beech or maple.

    Been burning flooring scraps, 2x4's, and anything else that's dry, it all burns fine, but nothing beats bone dry hard maple.
  7. free75degrees

    free75degrees New Member

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    I burn mostly read oak in my insert and it's a breeze to split, smells great, and burns great. I just bought a Tarm solo 40 and I told the salesman that I burn mostly oak and he said to be careful because the high acidity in red oak can cause corrosion in the boiler. He said to try to use a mix (which i can do since I have a plentiful supply of a variety of wood types from the town recycling and disposal center :^))
  8. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Interesting comment but frankly I don't believe it. Give Tarm a call and see what they say. I wish I had more red oak to burn, but aspen and pine are the trees in my woods so that's what I burn.
  9. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Tannic acid is pretty strong stuff, but I've never heard of it causing problems with any wood burning appliance, so I don't know. Many places that's all they burn--and all they have burned for generations--and you'd think you'd hear about it if there was a problem. Hemlock has a lot of tannic acid, too, as does hard maple from the smell of some trees.

    Let's get the MythBusters after this one.
  10. Ncountry

    Ncountry Member

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    We used to soak our traps in a barrel with red oak chips and or sawdust .It stained them a blue -black color. OK it was purple. Not only were the traps camouflaged but they seemed to be less prone to corrosion as well. I also like hard maple better than beech . In my experience beech is harder to season unless protected from the weather . According to most charts hard maple and beech weight the same /cord but it always felt like the maple was heavier when dry... Maybe the maple was not dry?
  11. atlarge54

    atlarge54 New Member

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    Does anyone know of an identification guide for firewood on the internet? There are soooo many types of maple, what are the basic ID charcteristics? Silver is easy to identify and about the worst for heat value. The maple I cut a ton of last year is HARD and HEAVY. The bark is very coarse with a little silver color in places, the wood when cut fresh shows a light red to pink color when drying. The bulk of my wood comes from cutting crews working in town so I cut lots of maple. The maple I have now seems like it requires more than one year to dry, I jokingly call it my anthracite pile.
  12. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    If it's heavy when dry, it's probably hard maple. The soft maple varieties start out about the same weight, because of the water, but quickly lose it as they dry. Hard maple takes longer to dry, but it's worth it. Hard maple is a very resiliant tree that can grow well under a lot of different conditions, which is why it's so commonly found in people's yards and along streets and roads in the Northeast. It's also native to this part of the world, as is beech.

    Beech is a little tricky, although it has some really fine qualities, such as the thin bark I mentioned earlier, it's easy to split, grows like a weed (which it basically is) dries at a decent clip and has a high btu content. My only complaint with beech is that it rots easily, so you can't leave it laying around on the ground for a couple of years and expect it to remain solid, like you can with maple.
  13. Sizzler

    Sizzler New Member

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    We cut 10 cords of hard Maple back in the winter of 2006 and piled it under a waterproof overhang on the west side of the house. The moisture content on the larger splits is still quit high for two yr old wood probably due to poor air circ and the rows being a little close together. We are currently breaking down most of our splits to the 4-5" range and stacking single file rows in a open pasture to receive full sun and wind.
  14. WRVERMONT

    WRVERMONT New Member

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    Sizzler, that will dry it out in no time! Your going to be set this next winter. As to maple, It is great in a gasifier. Burns hot and does not leave very much ash behind. Keeps things clean. I have had the luxury of burning hard maple almost exclusively this winter. Collect that wood. Wood is Good. Sustainable too!
  15. Eric Johnson

    Eric Johnson Mod Emeritus

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    Well, WR, based on our collective experience, I'd say that hard maple is the preferred fuel for an EKO 60. Pretty impressive how well it burns.

    Interestingly enough, there's lots of beech growing in Eastern Europe, where these boilers were designed and built. But I think North America is the only place on the planet with an appreciable amount of hard maple.
  16. Sizzler

    Sizzler New Member

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    Thanks for the words of encouragement. I've tried drying about everyplace i could think of including the garage, barn and then the overhang and have not been satisfied with the results. Now i'm thinking wide open space is the way to go, at least until the snow fly's and then move into the heated garage where it can get warmed and more dry near the boiler.
  17. WRVERMONT

    WRVERMONT New Member

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    I haven't burned enough beech to know how it acts. Though I have read it is a good dense and high BTU wood. For awhile I have been planning to do some burn testing. Different species trials. When I do I will post the results. I will be doing regular burns all summer as I now have my DHW system up and running. No more propane to heat our water@#@!!. In the summer I may burn some "lower end wood" just to save the good stuff for winter. Then again it is so nice to burn the good stuff.
  18. Sizzler

    Sizzler New Member

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    [quote author="Eric Johnson" date="1207710886"]Welcome to the Boiler Room, Sizzler. Wrong nic for a guy with all that dry firewood.

    I'm from Coloma originally. The red oak might be as good as the maple for all I know. Can't get it in this part of NY, but I sure burned a lot when I lived in Wisconsin.





    Eric,

    We're about 70 miles North and East of Coloma near the Shawano/Waupaca Co line. Are you familiar with the area? How do your NY winters compared to Coloma Wi?
  19. sweetheat

    sweetheat Member

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    The red oak around here has to season for a least 2 years. Dry hard maple and yellow birch work the best for us. We try to stay 3 years ahead of the game. Face one side of your wood piles directly south. Cover the north side well, protect from wind blown rain. Our wood piles are all outside, four rows wide and covered with tarps and rocks. works ok until the big blow, dedicated pile for next winter gets well protected from rain and snow. Beech will get dody if left out and not split. Good btu's, Try some hornbeam and locust some time! watch out for green alders, it will melt your stove. sweetheat
  20. SE Iowa

    SE Iowa New Member

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    It's always interesting to read all the post from you guys up there in the NE. We have such a different mix of trees out here W of the Mississippi. Very little beech, little spruce or any evergreen. Our top four is probably OAK (red and white), Maple (Hard and Soft), ELM, ASH. We also have a ton of Walnut, Locust, Box Elder and Mulberry.
    Also, I was wondering if any of you guys had ever heard of OSAGE ORANGE otherwise called hedge apple? If you ever travel through central Illinois and then move accross the mississippi you will find it as field borders all the way out through Kansas and Nebraska. Basically, before there was barbed wire and other metal fencing, the farmers used it as field borders. It produces grapefruit sized balls that are mostly rhine. We place them in our homes and they act as natural repellents to spiders and bugs although humans can not smell them. Anyway, once they dry out, you place them in a bucket with water and they make a mush. We then use a hoe and scratch a line in the desired fenceline and pour a small stream in the furrow. Then, a living hedge begins to grow. It looks like a traditional hedge for 5 to 10 years that is virtually impenetrable to most big animals (cows). after it matures, It basically becomes an absolute solid line of hedge/trees spaced about 6 to 18 inches apart. It's a real narly mess and hard even to cut/clear. We (farmers) use the wood to make corner posts and other fence posts. This wood will not rot!!!! We just cut them in 8-10' lengths and bury about 4' into the dirt. We then tie our barb wires to them to start our fences. I have seen these wood posts buried for 30 years and still have not rotted! If you ever see post out west that look petrified, Hedge apple is probably what your looking at. Above ground I'll bet they last 40-50 years after you cut them.

    Alot of us burn this wood too. It is hard to get started but once it starts, it burns hot and long. Locust is similar and used for the same purpose and burns hot too but nothing is like Hedge apple. I feel it is the best wood to burn if you have it. Has anyone out there seen or heard of this stuff?
  21. Ncountry

    Ncountry Member

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    Does it have a yellow-orange color? With a bumpy outer skin? I know where there is a tree [about average apple tree size] growing not far from here on a pasture edge. Being fairly knowledgeable of most of our local trees I always wondered what it was. At a quick drive by I initially thought it was an orange tree.
  22. SE Iowa

    SE Iowa New Member

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    Yes, pretty much. The "apples" are the size of grapefruits and are a greenish-yellow. They are fairly firm but once they fall to the ground, they get mushy pretty quick. When the tree gets big it sends out limbs/trunks that form a canopy that is hard to get under, but once your under/thru it, there is a nice little shelter there that is pretty clear of other weeds, etc. The wild bobwhite quail thrive in it because it kills out the thick grass underneath (so they can walk) and provides shelter from the above birds of prey, etc. I'll try to take some pics with the wifes digital camera and try to post them for you.
  23. SE Iowa

    SE Iowa New Member

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    Google hedgeapple. I found hedgeapple.com/hedgeapplepics.html with some good pictures.
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