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How big a chunk do you dare?

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by KateC, Oct 25, 2006.

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  1. KateC

    KateC New Member

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    For the size of your firebox---what's the biggest piece you can throw in and get to burn successfully?? Being a newbie I often look at ''chunks'' and think 'no way'-----so I'm wondering how big you all get away with.

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  2. pgmr

    pgmr Feeling the Heat

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    If it is seasoned, fits through the door and the door can be latched, it goes in!
  3. DavidV

    DavidV New Member

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    Ditto. That about covers it. Of course you want to have some coals or something established so it burns and isn't just "cold chunk storage".
  4. AKFireMan

    AKFireMan New Member

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    I have a top loader, if I can stuff it through the opening I burn it.
  5. KateC

    KateC New Member

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    Nope----by 'you' I meant 'you'----not 'I'----and I was just asking out of curiousity----I'm not gonna do something I'm not comfortable with because 'you' say it's okay. But thanks for the patronization.
  6. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

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    :lol:
  7. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    Normally I burn 3 to 6" splits in your case unfortunately you are going to have to 1/2 what was delivered.

    Some here have refinded the burning practice to incorperating mother logs or splits

    Mother logs or splits are bigger and will burn longer and will help achieve overnight burns
    To me the prefect Mother pieces, are actually rounds from 4 to 7" cut from standing dead oak trees

    Kate you are forced now to a different burning sequence using smaller rounds they will also ry out quicker in the fire and will burn
    tou might want to monitor your chimney to see what going on atleat once a month maybe once every two weeks

    Roo is right wood does dry in winter so there is hope stacked split elevated of the ground and top weather covered


    Speaking of which ever hear of a solar dryer for wood like wood stacked in a green house where thesun heats it up and dries it. I heard that it only takes 6 weeks?
  8. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    I am thinking the rate of heat output with a big chunk will be lower, which could be a match for the conditions.
  9. suematteva

    suematteva New Member

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    Whatever will fit through the doors...Our wood is min 2 yrs old and is quite dry..we found it last longer and more even heat..
  10. Mike Wilson

    Mike Wilson New Member

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    I put in the largest chinks that will fit, being careful not to whack the baffle plate on top. Then I'll stuff little bits of wood around it, whatever junk will fit. Personally, I find that large chunks don't burn so well on their own, which is why I add the little bits.

    -- Mike

    [edit] I mean, the largest "chunks" that will fit. Honestly, I have never stuffed a Chinaman in my stove... honestly.
  11. KateC

    KateC New Member

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    Again, I was not asking the question with the intent to use any answers as a benchmark guide to running my own stove. Sometimes a simple question is just a simple question.

    Presuming to know my reason for asking IS patronizing.
  12. carpniels

    carpniels Minister of Fire

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    HI Guys,

    my first stove (VC Intrepid II) used small pieces and I spent many hours splitting it. My second stove (Jotul Castine) was larger and I started usign larger pieces (This cut down (literally) my splitting time in half. Now i have an even larger stove (Quadrafire Isle Royale) and that beast takes anything up to 24 inch and 8 inch split. Now I hardly have to split anything at all. Rally easy and long burns.

    Carpniels
  13. velvetfoot

    velvetfoot Minister of Fire

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    That was him all right. He was taken aback that someone actually recognized him.
  14. Dave_1

    Dave_1 New Member

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    Kate,

    As mentioned previously, any ”seasoned“ piece that can be handled safely & has a bed of coals to lit off from.

    But you will soon discover that the term “seasoned” is open to personal interpretation.

    Some erroneously conclude that wood which is split & then allowed to “air dry” for a year is “seasoned”.

    And then you read about people buying such “seasoned” wood only to find out they have a hard time keeping a fire going & are afflicted with creosote.

    So to me the word “seasoned” wood means @ 10% moisture content (mc).

    At that mc the wood produces 20% more btu’s than wood with a mc of 20% & creosote is practically non-existent.

    Here is how to get such mc in your wood

    http://osuext.intermountaintech.org/download/build a solar wood dryer.pdf

    http://www.wvu.edu/~agexten/forestry/wooddr1.pdf

    Note on page 7/10 the btu chart verses mc of the wood.

    http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/fplgtr/fplgtr29.pdf#search="calculating%20wood%20species%20btu%20output"

    Have a good one,

    Dave
  15. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    The question has already been answered, (as big as you can fit) so I'll discuss how stoves respond to different sizes. With smaller chunks, and I'm burning a lot of them now, the surface area of the wood is greater, thus the burn rate is higher and hotter even with a damped down stove. One of the nice things I do with all the blasted elm I burn is I cut the rounds more as disks. so I start with peices of wood that are as much as 16-18" across and only 8" or so thick. I split them ito 3 peices, and those center peices are nearly rectangular shaped peices of wood, 8" wide x 16" long and about 8" high. Perfect for my (our) stove. I put in 2 and have a wonderful over night burn. The stove is litterally stuffed with wood and only two chunks. This is the same theory with the biobricks since they too are rectangular, you can pack them tightly so there is less surface area.

    Last year when splitting wood I figured smaller splits would season faster so I split stuff wayyyyy too small. It didn't season for last year, and so now I'm left with like 2 cords of very small and very dry oak and ash. I learned.... I now split to maximize the size of the chunks I will put in the stove, and it will take as long as it takes to season.
  16. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

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    Good information ELMer ! ;-)
  17. jjbaer

    jjbaer New Member

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    What's with this "don't patronize me" thing.........get a life....not everything said as a response to YOUR question which by the way is intended to help YOU, is "patronizing"....LOL...... If you come to a forum and ask a question and other forum members try to help you answer it, then DON'T turn around and accuse them of "patronizing" you. To do so sounds a lot like a saying we had when I was in the military for 20 years that went like this: "search for the guilty and punish the innocent"....

    Anyway, back to engineering basics, that way I can't be accused of "patronizing": the answer to your question depends on many things. If your goal is to bring the stove up to a nice hot temperature for a few hrs of use, then smaller pieces are the way to go. Part of the reason for this was touched on earlier but not completed. Smaller pieces burn better because they have a higher surface area-to-volume ratio which gives you the best chance of having a quick, hot fire. You can take this to the limit and see how even otherwise non-combustible/non-explosive substances can turn deadly when the surface area-to-volume ratio approaches infinity. Take grain, for example. Grain normally won't burn very well if you hold a match to it however, very fine grain dust (which has a VERY HIGH surface area-to-volume ratio) will literally explode in the presence of an ignition source. This is how grain elevator explosions occur. The analogy to wood is that the smaller the pieces you load into the stove, the larger the surface area-to-volume ratio and the more easily it will catch fire, burn quicker and hotter. It will also go out more quickly. So.........if you want a nice hot, fast burning fire that extinguishes faster, you want smaller pieces of wood. For overnight burns, you may want a bigger chunk with more surface area (less surface area-to-volume ratio). And it depends on how you cut the same log! Given an 8-inch diameter log, 12-inches long, it has a surface area-to-volume ratio of 0.666. That same log when sawed into two 6-inch lengths has a surface area-to-volume ratio of the two pieces combined of 1.66. However, if you split that same log lengthwise into two 12-inch long pieces, each piece has a ratio of about 0.98 for a combined (two pieces) surface area-to-volume ratio of about 2. So, to maximize this ratio, you split the wood lengthwise (which is also easier to do than sawing it through the diameter)!

    Also, you have to be careful on some stoves if you try to use the "if I can cram the wood in, then it goes in" approach. Some of the newer stoves have ceramic baffles or plates near the top and the manufacturer tells you (oh, I forgot, that would be "patronizing"...sorry) that if you, I mean "I", hit this surface with a log you, I mean "I", could easily break the ceramic and ruin your, I mean "my", stoves ability to burn smoke........LOL

    No patronizing here, just engineering........ : :)
  18. ChrisN

    ChrisN Feeling the Heat

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    Dave, I'm not so sure that is an erroneous assumption. I have all sorts of hardwood species in my stacked wood, all of which was accumulated / split / stacked in the open, with no covers, or heaters, or greenhouses or anything. My wood is processed between late fall and early spring for the next year's burning season. I don't have any idea what the mc is, just that the wood looks dry, and when two pieces are banged together I get that nice clunk sound that dry wood makes. I think that advocating fancy solar heaters, or greenhouses, or curing firewood for years on end is doing a diservice to newer burners. It's simply not that hard to establish a dry wood supply. I sometimes think some of us get too wrapped around the wood drying axle here. I mean this really doesn't need to be rocket science. It makes for interesting theoretical reading I guess, but really, generally speaking if the wood is split and stacked for nine months to a year, it should be just fine to burn.

    My $0.02
  19. jjbaer

    jjbaer New Member

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    Continuing with my earlier post and ChrisN's post, I agree with him. Cut it, stack it and wait several months until it dries out. Also, expanding on what I said in an earlier post about increasing the surface area-to-volume ratio, a log split into 2 pieces also dries out more quickly than does the same wood not split because (again) the surface area-to-volume ratio for the split wood is greater. Splitting also exposes the central core of the wood to the atmosphere which helps. If possible, I split green wood (not dried wood) for this very reason. It not only dries faster but it also burns hotter and faster. :coolsmile:
  20. KateC

    KateC New Member

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    [quote author="castiron" date="1161889008"]What's with this "don't patronize me" thing.........get a life....not everything said as a response to YOUR question which by the way is intended to help YOU, is "patronizing"....LOL...... If you come to a forum and ask a question and other forum members try to help you answer it, then DON'T turn around and accuse them of "patronizing" you. To do so sounds a lot like a saying we had when I was in the military for 20 years that went like this: "search for the guilty and punish the innocent"....

    Ahem----the question was 'how big a chunk do YOU put in'---NOT 'how big a chunk is it okay for ME to put in'. Chiding and lecturing me for what you translated the question to ' really be' certainly is condescending and uncalled for. If I had wanted information on the variables concerning combustion, an engineering lesson or any other manner of help or advice I would have included such a request in my post.

    And does this mean that the poster who originated the Drunken Woodtending post was REALLY asking ''how many beers can I have and still use my stove''? If so, guess we all really dropped the ball on that one.

    Maybe you're the one who should get a life.
  21. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    Yep! - Then throw in a couple smaller chunks to fill up any left over gaps. I save this technique for the longest and coldest nights of the year, but it is really nice to have a huge chunk of oak or hedge throwing off heat for 8-10 hours.

    Corey
  22. ChrisN

    ChrisN Feeling the Heat

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    Thinking it over you're right, after a highly unscientific analysis, I believe the sound is "Th-wank Th-wank th-wank (the slight echo does it for me!) :p

    Kate, I'm sorry you are feeling put upon, most everyone here wants to be helpful, some of us may be less tactful than others, but from what I've seen over time is pretty much everyone posts with good intentions. My very friendly advise is to let it go and burn happily!
  23. jjbaer

    jjbaer New Member

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  24. KateC

    KateC New Member

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    Alot of the responses included additional information and advice, which is more than fine with me and I appreciate the spirit in which they were generously given-----however, I really don't think I was over-reacting by taking offense at a snotty verbal attack based on an erroneous assumption, and if standing up for myself means to YOU that I have a bad attitude, well, bummer.
  25. jldunn

    jldunn New Member

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    If you're doing the "put in big chunks and fill in the holes with little splits" method, don't forget to fill in the rest of the air gaps with pellets. A 2-liter cap full of gasoline underneath will start it up nicely.
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