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Holz Hausen Experiment - Results are IN!!

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Apprentice_GM, Aug 27, 2008.

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  1. fossil

    fossil Accidental Moderator Staff Member

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    Thanks, mate, will do. Good to hear from you, and thanks for the report on the results of your research project. We're about to get cold up here...you stay cool. :p Rick

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  2. Apprentice_GM

    Apprentice_GM Member

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    Ha ha ha! Nicely put :)

    Should I contact this webmaster here, and the author he references you think, to inform / educate them? Or would it seem like bragging and belittling them? Or just let my results rest on merit?
  3. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Hey. Creosote is his friend. He is a sweep. His kids have to eat too.
  4. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    Well Apprentice_GM's application of the scientific method should put the wooden stake right right into the heart of any HH 'faster seasoning' claims.
  5. golfandwoodnut

    golfandwoodnut Minister of Fire

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    As Apprentice said the HH has it place. Alot of storage in a small foot print. But I think the best attribute is the conversation piece. I have some pretty nice looking rows(ricks?) but they do not garner near the attention that the HH gets. People can't stop talking about them when they see it, usually because they have never seen anything like it. I did find that they seasoned well for me, here is a picture of mine after just 1 year.

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  6. jdinspector

    jdinspector Feeling the Heat

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    I am dis-assembling one of my holz today and over the next week. It was constructed in 4/09 (15 months ago). Amazing how much hollow space is in there. I did take some moisture readings on re-split pieces. Oak and Maple that had started as fresh cut/split is at about 16-18% on my Protimeter moisture meter. I didn't have any mold or fungus growing in mine. I did build a small roof made of bark on the top. I'm pretty happy with how it turned out. As an earlier post said, it's a great conversation piece.

    On a related note, the poultry netting that I used to "contain" the perimeter worked like a charm. Some leaning happened, but nothing collapsed. I was able to salvage the whole roll and put it on another holz that I have in another part of my yard.

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  7. Vic99

    Vic99 Minister of Fire

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    Great experiment.

    I currently have 3.5 HHs and 5 ricks on my property (8ish cords). I used one and a half HHs last season. They were uncovered. I covered the remaining half this past spring because I noticed that the middle area of both was quite moldy. I hypothesize that once leaves & moisture get into the middle it never really properly dries out. Although I have not taken measurements, I currently have 1 HH that I've been slowly building over the past 6 months (I split by hand and have 3 month old now). Since it has had the top covered with a tarp from day 1, I reckon that it will be pretty dry when I burn it in 2-3 years.

    I'd like to know the covered vs. uncovered HH, but can only give anecdotal info in the future as I'm not up for creating 2 HHs in a short time.
  8. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Excellent experiment Mr. Apprentice. Thank you for taking the time and energy to document this. It sounds like it is no more efficient in speeding up the drying process than a heap-hausen. :lol:
  9. wendell

    wendell Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the time, effort and report!
  10. Apprentice_GM

    Apprentice_GM Member

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    Jags, I'm convinced that a heap hausen would season faster than a Holz Hausen - but happy to leave that experiment to someone else!!! :)

    Thank you everyone for your support and kind words. There were times when I was feeling like I was wasting my time (regretting my whole OCD approach to everything really) then I would philosophize that I might be helping others (in making decision which seasoning method to use) so carried on.

    I notice the original chimney sweep page I referenced claiming HH seasons faster has disappeared . . . the whole site seems offline.

    I am also wondering about this:
    Maybe I packed my middle pieces in too tightly? I tended to throw uglies and chunks in there so it was much looser than normal stacking, but maybe it needs to be looser? I'm not repeating the experiment though! :) Those seasoning numbers are pretty impressive, definitely better than mine. I still have to get around to analysing and uploading my weather data eg "number of degree days" but I live in a pretty temperate climate, and I read that oak takes a long time to season than other species, but 15 months from fresh to 17% seems outstanding.

    For me, in my climate with my species, I reckon 2 summers / 18 months in ricks is equivalent to 3 summers / 30 months in a Holz Hausen, so I am definitely sticking with the ricks.
  11. Apprentice_GM

    Apprentice_GM Member

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    Finally I have a theory about bark on top. Unless the bark is concave, cupping rain towards centre and flowing outwards like tiles if stacked that way, I can't see how they help. If they are the other way up then the water is going to shed to the side and penetrate the Holz Hausen with minimal shedding to the outside. Maybe I let too much water into my HH?
  12. midwestcoast

    midwestcoast Minister of Fire

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    I agree. Unless the roof is rather carefully constructed I don't see it shedding rain just 'cause the bark side is down. I recently made a HH & tried the 'tile' method with some bark chunks. We'll see... :)
  13. jdinspector

    jdinspector Feeling the Heat

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    The "roof" on my HH was loose bark that had fallen off old pieces and some that fell off during splitting. It was not logs with the bark side up. I installed it "shingle style" so that water was shed to the perimeter of the structure. During dis-assembly, I noticed that many perimeter pieces were stained on the exteriors (gray), but were pretty clear on the interior portion of the logs. Evidence that water was running down the outside of the structure.

    I think the loose layered bark allows for a great deal of ventilation, while shedding most of the water.

    Regardless, I still think a previous poster was right. A HH is really more of a conversation piece, but also allows me to stack a lot of wood in a small footprint. Not sure how much faster (or better) it seasons wood.
  14. snowleopard

    snowleopard Minister of Fire

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    Bumping this thread, since the question has arisen again.
  15. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    My holz hausen (six of them) have roofs constructed of slabs from the outsides of large rounds. The roofs do not shed water. I don't see how I could make a reasonably waterproof roof with curvy wood 'shingles.' Nevertheless most of the wood in the interior of the stacks does not show much evidence of water - it is still wood colored, not grey like the wood that is exposed to rain.

    For me one advantage of holz hausen is that they stand on their own and can be constructed of oddly sized and shaped firewood. unfortunately, I have had a recent collapse of one. The first two I created stood for two years without any sign of sagging, while the more recent ones don't look as solid after about 1.5 years as they did when I stacked them. I think I am getting sloppy when stacking.
  16. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    The same way you would if you were to use tiles. This all sounds like a big ol pain in the booty to me.

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  17. midwestcoast

    midwestcoast Minister of Fire

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    Or like this ^ ^ ^ ^
    u u u
  18. golfandwoodnut

    golfandwoodnut Minister of Fire

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    I put the bark side up on mine (see my image on the side). Do I think it really matters? No, rain does not hurt anyway, it does not go back into the wood. But it looks really cool. I can never get people to talk about my rows and rows of normal stacking, but everyone cannot stop talking about the HHs.
  19. Apprentice_GM

    Apprentice_GM Member

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    Yeah my HH was quite a talking piece, but I must be a bit useless because I built a base which sucked and caused a collapse, then put down 4 pallets and built it again - and it collapsed halfway through building it - then after finishing it had a mini collapse and I had to repair it AGAIN.

    That's when I thought of wrapping some fencing wire mesh around it which worked well, of course it could be because my splits are all oddbods <cough> from scrounging.

    I tried the above bark roofing method, putting "cup up" pieces around and capping them with a cup down piece, but I don't think it matters much either (someone else can do the experiment to compare HH with a good roof vs HH without one lol : )

    As far as seasoning goes though, ricks win - easily. I'd love to know how a "heap hausen" goes because I am always keen to reduce my energy inputs (ok, I'm lazy).
  20. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    I have a windy well drained site with good southern exposure. My heap got to 30' in diameter last year and it dries just fine. I've heard all the arguments against heaping. However, unless you are stacking in well spaced single rows, I don't see how a loose tossed pile is going to perform exceptionally worse than a HH or the multi row tight stacks. I use the loader to make the heap as tall as possible but otherwise just toss it from the splitter onto the heap.

    The biggest problem I have with the heap is stock rotation. I am considering moving to a windrow setup to get around it. Or, maybe multiple year sized heaps.

    Everything I get is oddball scrounge too, you don't have to worry about a heap falling over ;-)
  21. 73blazer

    73blazer Member

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    Here's my take on HH with some amateur back-up data.

    I use them, and I agree after using them for 3 years there is no way they can season green fresh cut wood in three months. Based on my readings, I don't think they're better than standard ricks or rows, and indeed, as the results of the original posters experiments shows, which I am not refuting here.
    So, why do I use them?
    Simple, I live on 10 acres of heavy woods. The idiot who built the house didn't knock enough trees down and I have extremely limited space to store my wood that gets sun. I have plenty of wood supply, but no place or very little place on my property that gets sun, let alone wind, all day or even 1/2 of a day, except very few small areas. I keep pulling more trees down as time goes on, but since they're so close to the house, it's a time consuming process, in the interest of safety and the size of these things (usually 70-90' 1-2' diameter red or white oak or maple), I spend half a day rigging cables and pullys and winches and multiple tractors and and trucks as ballast, safety gear to ensure it falls exactly where I want it, so it's a very slow process, for me. So, until I get enough space cleared for row or rick stacking, I use the HH method. Right now I have 2, a 9.5' and a 6', and they get sun the majority of the day. The 6' was split/stacked Mar 2010 (originally in a 10' and then restacked mar 2011 into it's 6'), and the 9.5' Mar 2011.

    So, what are my results? Well, I do have a moisture meter, but I've never run controlled experiments. I do take readings however.
    My wood is usually dead wood, that said, it's still 45-50% moisture content, to start. I cut and split and stack.
    A year and some months later, coming out of the holz, yeah, the inner pieces do seem "wet" if you will, but, that's only surface wetness, not really important and dries up in a day or 2. When I split and take a reading, it's usually in the high 20's. (red/white oak and maple), ok, not so good. The first year I did make make a small row stack and it got low 20's after the same period of time.
    But, here's the vexing part, I move from the HH to the big covered front porch I have for easy access from the house on a regular basis to stock my indoor wood rings. My porch holds about 3 face cords. Usually, it's on the porch for about a 3-4 weeks, I stock it up in fall and as each face cord gets burned I bring another face from the holz up to the porch. It gets some wind and western sun in the afternoon. After sitting on the porch for the better part of a month, and then inside for a few days, when I split and take another reading, I get high teens, some low 20's on the bigger splits.

    How's that? Well, I've contemplated that for a while. My best theory is, wood pours open up over time, and time alone, wood can never again hold the same amount of moisture it once did after seasoning. In a HH, the pours still open up, but there's not a good place for all that moisture to be released. But after stacking loose on the porch and inside for 3-4+ weeks, that moisture is readily released quickly because the wood pours are already open.
    I do think there is something to the draft effect of a HH ,certainly the inner pieces are more surface wet than the outer pieces, but it's not a nasty mold mess inside the HH like I envisioned the first time I built one . But I did measure once with a temp probe, on a nice calm day in the fall, it was 42 ambient outside, the bottom of the stack was 42, and when I got a ladder and put the probe at the top of the stack, it was 45, i retook those measurements several times, and then several more times over the next few months, different ambient, but always the same delta, 3 degrees. Anywhere where there's a temp difference, there's gonna be air moving. Or it could have been just the nature thermal mass of the stack, who knows.

    The HH's work for me thus far, I'd prefer row stacking. I will say one additional thing, they are a major conversation piece. When we have people over entertaining in the summer, it is always brought up and talked about, invariably, even if they've been here before and seen them.

    Just my $0.02!
  22. Apprentice_GM

    Apprentice_GM Member

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    Well some interesting info there. First of all, if the inner HH pieces are 28% vs the ricks 22%, that's a significant difference in seasoning for ~18months. However, I am very interested in what happens to the rick seasoned wood on the porch - how much that drops. Does it stay lower MC than the HH inners, or end up the same? Thanks for your post.
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