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"Ideal" woodpile mixture?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by PDXpyro, Nov 17, 2013.

  1. PDXpyro

    PDXpyro Member

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    I'm speaking from a Pacific Northwest perspective here, and was wondering whether others would dispute my general idea of the perfect mix to cover a burning season's needs. Here's my dream list:

    --About 10% ultra-light, quick-starting softwood such as .Western red cedar.

    --Approximately 30% medium-density softwoods (or soft hardwoods) such as doug fir, alder, soft maple, etc.

    --And around 60% hard-core stuff, such as white oak, madrone, black locust, etc. Sound about right?

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  2. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    It gets a little tricky, since some take longer to season than others. If 17% of your supply is species that dry in one year, while 33% dries in two years and 50% dries in three years, then you can sustain burning equal amounts of each category every year, i.e. all of the fast stuff, half of the medium-speed stuff and a third of the slow stuff.
  3. albert1029

    albert1029 Feeling the Heat

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    mass quantities of all of the above and mix it in as you please....ideally...
    UncleJoe, aussiedog3 and Applesister like this.
  4. Applesister

    Applesister Minister of Fire

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    Everyones statement here has great merit. Fresh out of the starting gate will have you tapping into the quick drying wood as the slower seasoning wood dries further. So the lighter woods, despite the low BTUs will save yo A$$ from freezing.
    So dont stick your noses up at poplar and birch and cedar.
  5. Paulywalnut

    Paulywalnut Minister of Fire

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    Great point. I always try to stack by species. Maybe mulberry and locust together but then I can grab
    a mixture from different stacks. By all means I always keep red oak by it self==c
  6. Elderthewelder

    Elderthewelder Minister of Fire

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    This is the best year of my 7 years of burning for me as far as seasoned wood selection goes

    I have about 3/4 cord of seasoned pine, basically using it as kindling and getting the stove warmed up

    along with 2 cord of seasoned Doug Fir that i will use as my main supply of heating wood

    about 3/4 cord of seasoned big leaf maple split in large thick splits for over night burns when it gets cold

    and about a half cord of Alder in case I run out of anything. All of this is seasoned / dry and in the sheds that is accessible by species

    i also have about a cord of Elm and another cord of Fir that is seasoned but stacked on a skid out in the elements that could be used if needed

    and 100 North Idaho Logs in the garage

    Now bring on the snow and nasty weather I say!!
  7. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    Guess I've always tried to have my piles at 100% of the densest wood I can get. ...usually hedge. Reasoning I can always burn a little less or use thinner splits if I have to. Plus there are fewer trips in the hauling, less space needed for equivalent BTUs, etc. If I happen to have 'lighter' wood through scrounges, freebies, limbs or trees down on the property, etc - I will try to burn the light stuff in the shoulder seasons or semi-warm days, etc.

    To get the effect you mention, I DO use a range of different sizes. Small thin pieces for a quick start, medium chunks for small fires and large square logs for strong overnight fires - but all with heavy dense wood.
  8. albert1029

    albert1029 Feeling the Heat

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    seriously, I have about 1-1/2 cord locust and 1 cord silver maple ready to go....so 60/40...If I could get more silver maple would probably mix it in at 50/50...haven't been able to get any cherry lately....
  9. PDXpyro

    PDXpyro Member

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    It gets a little tricky, since some take longer to season than others. If 17% of your supply is species that dry in one year, while 33% dries in two years and 50% dries in three years, then you can sustain burning equal amounts of each category every year, i.e. all of the fast stuff, half of the medium-speed stuff and a third of the slow stuff.

    --Yeah, true: but what I meant was that my "ideal" burning mix would be wood that's all dry and ready to go, taking into account differing seasoning rates.

    Guess I've always tried to have my piles at 100% of the densest wood I can get. ...usually hedge. Reasoning I can always burn a little less or use thinner splits if I have to.

    --There's certainly something to be said for that strategy, but I find it easier and more convenient to have a percentage of softer stuff on hand to mix in. I usually purchase the denser woods green and roughly split, at a good price, from a local arborist who delivers just what I want-- his yard is only a couple of miles away, and I keep an eye on it for when the heavy stuff shows up. No hedge around here, but most years he has plenty of oak, black locust, and/or fruitwoods available.

    Most of the softer woods in my stash are scrounges and freebies anyway, so not gonna pass it up! Just scored a free half-cord of giant sequoia, of all things: quite light when dry, but very useful in its place.
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2013
  10. Standingdead

    Standingdead Burning Hunk

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    I used to just burn whatever I got for free. Sometimes it was from dead trees and overhangs from fields or scrounges. Generally my pile consisted of junk. Pine and poplar for shoulder, elm and cherry for winter. This site inspired me to reach out to local tree service guys and scan CL for scrounges. Get mostly oak and silver maple from the tree service guys. Scrounged a decent amount of ash and black birch this year. I am really looking forward to a 15/16 and on when my wood inventory takes a serious step up in quality. I am even kinda becoming a wood "snob" as I will no longer go out of my way to scrounge pine.
  11. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

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    I'm with you there - now that I got a bit ahead I wonder about those hours spent pulling all that softwood home and splitting it (sap being only one annoying part of that). Glad I did it, but now I'm more in that "as much hardwood as I can get" column. Whatever I bring in (soft or hard) is going to be stacked for about 3 years now anyway so drying time isn't something I hope to be worried about.

    I'm a bit of a simpleton too - I don't want to have to choose which stack or part of which stack to burn at whatever part of the season. I want to just "go bring in the wood" and be done with it. The more dense the better - can always just burn less of it.
  12. burrman

    burrman Member

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    If it burns then I got it. And in no specific order either. Lol
    Missouri Frontier and albert1029 like this.
  13. Missouri Frontier

    Missouri Frontier Feeling the Heat

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    I'm lucky enough that everything I have is hard wood. I stack it mixed and burn it mixed. Grab what's on top. Stuff the stove. Burn it until its gone. Repeat as needed. When it's really cold burn more. When it's shoulder season open a window. It's wood keep it simple. Here's to sticking your finger in the eye of the gas company! Cheers
    albert1029 likes this.
  14. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

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    Densest wood you got, IMO. Dry wood burns well, no matter what it is (until you get to those S.American flame retardant species)
    Missouri Frontier likes this.
  15. tsquini

    tsquini Minister of Fire

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    A few years back I have started stacking wood based on dry time. One stack for oak locust and such. The other stack everything else. It works well for me. 1/3 hard wood, 2/3 softer wood maple, ash, poplar.
  16. katwillny

    katwillny Guest

    For me thus far a combination of Locust, Cherry and Maple works best. My oak still has one more year to go before i can use it.
  17. jdp1152

    jdp1152 Minister of Fire

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    This year it's ash and Norway maple. Next year it will be silver maple, sugar maple, and red oak. Year after will be silver maple and red oak. Who knows after that.
  18. jdp1152

    jdp1152 Minister of Fire

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    But, if I could chose, it'd be black birch forever. Good btus and easy to split
  19. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

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    And I really like the smell of working with black birch... I had a lot one year and fell in love with it. Too bad I can't seem to find it very often. I know the logs I got that one time came from a tree service that considered ALL birch to be junk wood, such a shame.

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