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How long to get a hot fire going??

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by redspitster, Dec 5, 2005.

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  1. redspitster

    redspitster New Member

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    I am new to burning so bear with me..

    I had a Jotul Castine put into my existing fireplace with a full SS liner straight up the old chimney to the top. Using a stove top thermemeter I had several small fires to season the stove per the manual.

    Now for the question: From lighting up the stove to when it reaches 300 degrees it can take 2+ hours. It seems to be tough to get it much hotter than that even with the air valve fully open. It seems like after a while when things get going I have been able to get it up to 500 deg but it takes a lot of time and fuel to get there. Does this sound typical??

    Thanks

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  2. Nokoni

    Nokoni New Member

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    I'm new too-only two full days burning past the break in fires, Jotul F3, but my stove gets to 300 much faster, 1/2 hour at the most.
  3. Rick

    Rick Member

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    It takes me about an hour to get my stove from completely cold to operating temperature. There are a lot of factors involved: your draft, quality of your wood, and your technique. Your wood can get drier, and your technique will most definitely improve. So, as long as you have good draft, you'll get quicker.

    Rick
  4. Rhone

    Rhone Minister of Fire

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    There's a couple of things.

    A fire normally reaches it's maximum heat 2-3 hours after lighting, from then on it's all down hill. So, a 6 hour burn your fire may be hottest 2 hours after lighting, and for the next 4 hours it goes down from there.

    Next, the water in the wood has to evaporate before the wood can burn, the less water you have in your wood the less time is needed before it burns and less heat wasted on evaporating water instead of burning wood. I've had a situation where the wood was from the bottom of my wood pile and wet. It took me 2 hours to get a dinky flame, and for the next 4 hours it didn't get bigger and produced nearly nothing for heat. All the heat instead was used to evaporate water. I burned wood stored in my basement a year and it nearly instantly took flame and produced tons & tons of heat. Dry wood is a pleasure and easy to use, wet wood is difficult, problematic, and not enjoyable. If your wood is very wet, even with full air you'll find it smolders the entire time and you wish you could give it more air. I've found wet wood doesn't burn very long. The entire time I'm at full air, the wood smolders and after 4 hours there isn't much left and I sit back and say where was the heat. Whereas, dry wood I have to turn the air down and I can get a long burn time and a lot of heat.

    The type of wood makes a difference, all wood generally has the same heat per lb. The difference is how dense your wood, like oak is more dense than birch. Birch being lighter, dries faster, burns faster, and hotter whereas oak being more dense takes longer to dry out, is more difficult to get started, and takes longer to evaporate the water out of it but burns longer. A trick is to always put your driest, smallest logs on the bottom and your wetter, larger logs on the top. If you don't have much in terms of small logs, put your lighter wood on the bottom like your birches and your heavier dense logs on top of them like your oaks. That way your kindling has a chance to evaporate the water in the smaller/lighter ones they will ignite, as they burn they will hopefully evaporate the water in the larger dense logs on top and they will ignite and you'll get good heat. The opposite of putting your wetter, larger logs on the bottom and smaller logs on top is that your kindlin will burn out before it's had a chance to evaporate all that water in the larger logs, and they sort of smolder and don't produce much heat for pretty much the entire burn. Flames, you want flames.
  5. redspitster

    redspitster New Member

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    I wonder if my wood is really as dry as I thought.. I can hear sizzleling is this normal?
  6. Jfigliuolo

    Jfigliuolo New Member

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    Yup... for green or wet wood.
  7. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Sounds like the sizzling is not fully dried wood. Look at the log ends when they start to burn. If you see steam coming out of the end and a foaming wet substance, then the wood is not really dry. You can burn it, but will get less heat from the wood and more creosote.
  8. redspitster

    redspitster New Member

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    would it be a good test to try burning a old pallet? I figure it must be dry.

    Also, what temperature do you guys generally run at (stove top thermometer)?
  9. Jfigliuolo

    Jfigliuolo New Member

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    Sure... but be carefull. I learned this weekend VERY dry wood burns funny in a stove w/a secondary burn. Even though my stove was fully dampered, The secondary burn was raging on a piece of super dry wood. The wood heats and gives off flamable gasses VERY quickly which get burned in the secondary burn stream. Pretty cool to see.

    That's why the say NOT to burn kiln-dried wood in a non-cat stove.

    I usually burn between 200-400 measured on the outside of my stack.
  10. Roospike

    Roospike New Member

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    BE CAREFULL ! My brother just had a chimney fire with his new wood stove burning wet/green wood for 2 months. Got colder out side and he got the fire cranking to keep the house warm and up it went in flames. Creosote build up happens fast with wet/green wood. Read the post on Chimney fires from creosote build up. http://www.hearth.com/econtent/index.php/forums/viewthread/251/
  11. redspitster

    redspitster New Member

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    Dylan,
    Is this 15 min with the door shut and just the air valve open? I will give it a try
  12. pfmg

    pfmg Member

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    My castine will get to 400 + in 1 hour if i let it, i usually let it heat up slowly.
  13. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    The effect of green wood on a wood stove can be dramatic. Just yesterday I had a good bed of coals and was preparing to load it for the evening at around 10:30. My routine is typically to get a couple peices of wood up to temp, then load it up for the evening. Unfortuanately, I put in a 3" diameter x 14" peice of wood (maybe oak?) and a good size split of elm. (Did I ever mention how much I hate elm?) The Elm took off right away, but I put the round on the side of the stove that has the blower heat sensor. Within 3 or 4 minutes the blower kicked off and I noticed the round just smouldering and black. I really was surprised. When I opened the stove door...sizzling. Still not sure how that peice got mixed in with the dry wood. (must have been the kids) But that one peice of wood sure knocked the heat out of that fire. The fix wasn't so bad...just tossed in more load and opened up the damper. (Got a wet peice of wood? Simple solution...build a bigger fire to evaporate the water)

    The point here is that wet wood will not produce good heat, and you will have a lot of trouble getting it up to temp.

    I'd try finding a few peices of downed wood that has not been sitting on the ground at all and get a fire going with that.
    I think another way to tell if wood is dry is is how long it takes to ignite. Some of the (BLASTED) elm I have been burning lately has been sitting in a stacked pile for probably years. It's very dry, and it ignites within 10 seconds. (Actually, I think it's too dry, as it produces an extremely vigorous secondary burn fireball at times)
  14. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    OK, I've got to ask. We've got an elm tree that I'd like to take down. Now I'm really concerned about splitting this wood. Sounds like I'll be using a power splitter for it. Is the main issue that the wood is stringy and therefore a p.i.t.a. to split? Is it best to split green or to let the rounds dry for awhile before splitting?
  15. wg_bent

    wg_bent Minister of Fire

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    With a power splitter it won't matter, but it better be a big one. If by hand, definitely wait till very dry. I can split dry elm, but it's still really hard. Wet elm...anything over about 5" I simply can't split effectively. Takes 20, 25 hits with a 6 lb maul before it even thinks of craking. Once it cracks open, then I usually hit it with a large and VERY sharp axe. Cuts the fibers rather than splitting. Seems like very cold elm splits a little easier, but not much.

    My neighbor has one of the little 4 ton Ryobi electrics from Lowes, and it won't split the elm.

    In contrast, I can easily split 16" Ash, Oak, Apple, Maple and Cherry. Most times 1 good wack gets them split. Sometimes with big oak I have to work from outside in, but it always splits. (assuming no realy nasty knots). Sometimes Apple can be a pain, but once you get it cracked, you'll get the split.

    Elm will hang on to the very last fibre. It may not have the BTU's of oak, but there's lots of it dead around here, and it burns pretty well, so on one had I hate it, on the other, it's free.
  16. adrpga498

    adrpga498 Minister of Fire

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    Hello Red,

    I have the same stove, usually between 1 to 2 hrs to reach optimum heat . I run between 450 and 700. Check the size of splits and pack it full with dry wood. Hissing is a bad sound try to avoid when ever possible. Good luck
  17. SeanD

    SeanD New Member

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    I split all my firewood by hand until last year. That's when a friend of mine had a huge American Elm fall in a microburst. The base of this tree was over 30" in diameter. 6 rounds filled my truck bed. Thank goodness I could roll them down a hill into the truck. It just would not split by hand. Very fibrous and the grain twists all over the place. I decided to buy a splitter. Got a 27 ton hydraulic and even that struggled with some of the pieces. There are a couple tricks to splitting elm:
    1. Let it dry as much as possible.
    2. Don't try to split it into halves, then quarters, etc. as you would do a straight grained wood. Instead split it as you would peal an onion. Take off 3 or 4" pieces on the outside and continue to work in to the heart of the log.
    For all the difficulty in splitting it, elm has some advantages. It is so stringy that I rarely need kindling to start it. Burns clean with less ash than many other woods.
  18. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Thanks for the good tips Warren and Sean. I think we'll get the tree down as soon as possible and split it in June. How long does elm take to season before it's burnable?
  19. saichele

    saichele Minister of Fire

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    The only time I've successfully split elm by hand is when the elm was below freezing. It was a little like pounding rocks, but at least it split. Otherwise it'll sometimes even pop one of those wood grenades up in the air...

    Steve
  20. snowfreak

    snowfreak New Member

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    What happens when it will not split the elm? Does it just stop in its track or blow a built in circuit breaker?
  21. snowfreak

    snowfreak New Member

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    Was it able to split all the pieces even though it struggled? I'm trying to find out what happens when a splitter encounters a round it will not split. Has this ever happened to your 27 ton unit?
  22. DavidV

    DavidV New Member

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    I'm running a 30 ton northstar splitter. Second hand. I have had it shut off on me 1 time. Not a particularly difficult piece of wood, so I think it was a fluke. I have split some big wet pieces of gum and some 18 inch rounds of elm. Green, Dry, it doesn't seem to matter. I have even split a huge narly root ball cut of a monster white oak that went down in high wind. It handled it. it just drops to a lower stage and keeps going

    As to the original post yes wet wood is a real pain. I suggest smaller splits. Two things will be accomplished with this. They dry faster and they make hotter fires.
    We had a heavy wet snow yesterday and I went out to get a load of wood. Took the bone dry wood from under the plastic, loaded it onto the cart and by the time I got to the house some of it was soaked. It's making my fire less intense than usual. taking longer to build up to HOT. if it's clear tomorrow morning, I'll swap out the rest of the wood I brought in for dry and let this have a couple weeks to get back to optimum.
  23. SeanD

    SeanD New Member

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    Snowfreak,
    The problem with splitting elm is that it is so fibrous the wood is "springy", even with a hydraulic splitter. So yes, there were some pieces that would not yield to the splitter. The wedge would press into the log but the wood would compress instead of split. My splitter kept running, just didn't split those particular logs. The solution to this was to take the chainsaw and cut and inch or two into the end of the log. That was all that was needed to get the wedge far enough into the log that the force of the wedge was going out (to split) as opposed to in (to compress).
    After 6 months the split wood was ready to burn.
    Sean
  24. Rhone

    Rhone Minister of Fire

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    Poor SnowFreak, I remember you asking that question before but I didn't get around to answering it. If your splitter hits a log it can't split the motor on your splitter begins to struggle and get closer to stalling, if you keep trying to split it anyway the engine will eventually stall. That's your worse case scenario, it's designed to stall before the hydraulics give or pipes burst or anything of that nature. If it stalls, you put it in neutral and start it up again and you can either continue trying to inch the blade into the wood and the motor will start to struggle you let off the handle, the motor recovers and you inch it a little more into the wood, the motor struggles you let off the handle letting the motor recover, rinse and repeat until it splits, or if you realize that technique won't work then you simple push the lever in reverse and have the blade retract and remove the log and try another way of splitting. I've stalled a couple times with a splitter, no big deal.
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