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Is there a good reason to de-bark wood before burning?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by dave11, Oct 2, 2009.

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  1. dave11

    dave11 Minister of Fire

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    My chimney guy, who's very nice but considers himself the fountain of all knowledge, suggested to me that if possible, I remove the bark from all firewood I burn, unless the wood hasn't seen rain/water for many months. He says that bark acts a sponge, and will hold on to recent water, whereas the underlying wood is slower to absorb (and of course slower to dry). He says this moisture will accelerate creosote in the liner, which I think we all agree on, though I've never seen this particular issue addressed here or elsewhere.

    I do remember reading somewhere though that bark "contributes" to creosote formation, and so should be removed, though I'm not sure if anyone knows that bark burns any dirtier than the underlying wood.

    So there's two issues: Does bark hold on to recent moisture more than the hard wood, and does it burn dirtier than the wood?

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  2. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    I guess theres some truth to that if your throwing in wet wood the bark may hold it a little longer but dry stil dry
  3. efoyt

    efoyt Member

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    I think it would take longer to debark my wood that it took to cut, split, move, and stack?
  4. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    Ease of debarking would depend on species as would the propensity to creosote. Bark will soak up rain and it also slows the drying of the wood which is why I split everything that can be split. Ash, I leave the bark on but Birch I will strip off as much as I can when I split and then more of it after it has seasoned.
  5. dave11

    dave11 Minister of Fire

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    Well, I'm new to all this, and it sounded like a lot of work to me, though the wood I have now is pretty dry, and the bark is partly off already. The rest could be probably knocked off without too much trouble.

    But I can see his point somewhat. If you have seasoned wood sitting outside, any small amount of rain or snow can soak into the bark pretty easily, and not dry out for a while. So it could end up in the stove. And it wouldn't be caught by using a moisture meter, which is just reading the underlying solid wood, which is very slow to change in either direction.
  6. dave11

    dave11 Minister of Fire

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    Are you leaving bark on the ash though mainly because it's harder to remove?

    We have mainly oak, maple, and cherry here, which seem like they'd be fairly easy to strip, when properly dry.
  7. karri0n

    karri0n New Member

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    I don't try to take the bark off when I'm loading up the wood box from the pile, but if the bark is wet, which you can feel, I'll pull it off as I'm loading the stove, and put the bark into my kindling box. It seems to me the wettest part of the bark is not the outer surface, but the surface where the bark is attached to the log. Once removed from the log, It dries within a day or two, and makes decent kindling in my opinion. I'm generally burning red oak, so the bark falls right off if the wood is try. If it was some wood that's holding onto its bark, I don't waste my time trying to pull bark off, I just throw it in. The minimal amount of water will boil out pretty quickly. I mostly do this for a free source of kindling.


    As to dry bark not burning as cleanly - biomass is biomass, and the fire being above 1500 degrees is what makes for a clean burn. Sounds to me like a similar myth to "you can't burn pine because the pitch will clog up your chimney"
  8. gzecc

    gzecc Minister of Fire

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    I think its nonsense to remove the bark. He is looking for an out, so when you have creosote build up. He can say "have you been removing the bark? Season your wood and your bark appropriately, it won't be a problem.
  9. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    I'm confused. Why would a sweep need an out? If there is creosote, it's certainly not his fault and it's money in his pocket.

    I try to stay years ahead and store my firewood in the wood shed so the bark is as dry as can be. That said, I still strip the bark off of Birch. If I stored wood outside and burned it same year I would take off whatever bark comes off easily.
  10. gzecc

    gzecc Minister of Fire

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    Probably a stretch, I thought he installed the liner. Reread and see he only cleaned it.
  11. dave11

    dave11 Minister of Fire

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    It didn't seem like he had an ulterior motive for saying it. I think he's convinced it's true.

    But I think he might have a point. If the bark has seen rain/snow recently and not had a decent amount of time to dry, it's probably retaining a good bit of water. I was able to squeeze a good bit of moisture out of some bark in my woodpile even though it hadn't rained here for days and the wood seemed dry on top, especially the thicker bark.
  12. Danno77

    Danno77 Minister of Fire

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    I move my wood so many times that if the bark is gonna come off it will. Generally, it's been my experience that if the bark is still hanging that tight onto the wood then it's not worth the effort to try to get it off. if it falls off then there's a good chance that it is a little wet, just like you propose. let it dry out near the stove and throw it in later. no harm, no foul.

    nobody will argue that bark doesn't absorb and hold moisture more than the wood, it's just a question of how big of an issue it is.
  13. TreePapa

    TreePapa Minister of Fire

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    I debark wood when splitting IF the bark comes off easily. Debarked wood seems to season a little more quickly.

    If the bark is still on, I will sometimes debark it before bringing into the house, again, if the bark comes off easily. Mostly so as not to be bring bark mess, and any critters who might be just under the bark, into the house. Also in my FP, the bark sometimes does not burn quite as well as debarked wood.

    Lastly, if I had birch, I would take the bark off and keep it for tinder but I don't know of any other species for which the bark would be worth keeping.

    Peace,
    - Sequoia
  14. PunKid8888

    PunKid8888 New Member

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    So would this mean that if you stripped bark and then let it dry, you could potentionally burn it for heat. maybe in-between good wood burn cycles as to not load up on just bark.

    I ask because the wood I have split recently all had thick bark just peeling right off. I peeled it off just because it was so easy and I figured the more wood exposed the faster trying, regardless. So I actually have a bunch of bark that is pretty dry, and I was wondering if I could just burn it. Kinda like eating the crust of the pizza, it may just be the Dough, but hell its still food so why waste it.
  15. karri0n

    karri0n New Member

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    I think this would be akin to burning cardboard. You COULD do it, but it's gonna burn up quick and make lots of ash. That's why I just use it for kindling. It doesn't have the density of the actual wood, so it starts faster and burns shorter.
  16. ksting

    ksting New Member

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    If it falls off while splitting or stacking, great! If not, don't lose any sleep over it! ;)
  17. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

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    I know some folks who used to get the cores from veneer mills. Basically a big round dowel with zero bark. They claimed a much lower ash content and faster drying.
  18. burnt2perfection

    burnt2perfection Member

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    Best answer. :coolsmile:
  19. CowboyAndy

    CowboyAndy New Member

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    the only reason i would consider removing the bark is because the wood itself tends to ignite easier than the bark. but its really not a big deal for me. if the wood is seasoned properly, the bark should be almost falling off anyways with some species, like maple.
  20. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    I support their claim. Back in my youth I scrounged lots of Birch cores from the plywood mill. Some of them were big rounds that had a soft centre and got rejected when they spun out on the lathe.
  21. Slow1

    Slow1 Minister of Fire

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    That sounds like good stuff to burn. I bet they were consistent in size too - easy to stack and the heart of the wood is the hardest isn't it?
  22. CowboyAndy

    CowboyAndy New Member

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    bark does have ALOT to do with drying, as does surface area of exposed wood.

    barkless wood WILL dry faster, but is it worth the effort if you have to take it off? try to take bark off freshly cut sugar maple.
  23. kenny chaos

    kenny chaos Minister of Fire

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    Yes, don't ever burn a log that has bark on it, especially the new epa stoves.
    Please, somebody shoot me.
  24. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    I've never purposely taken bark off of any log for firewood as I see no need for it. If the bark falls off, that is okay but I certainly would never try to take it off just for burning.

    Some use bark for kindling but I've never found it all that great. The stuff that falls from our wood gets thrown into a pile. We use some for mulch and some just gets hauled to the woods and thrown into a water hole.

    As for the bark soaking up rain etc., isn't that one of the big reasons we cover the TOPS ONLY of the wood pile after the first summer? If the top of the pile is covered, then there should be no concern there as only the sides of the piles will get hit with some rain and that little bit won't matter at all.
  25. JotulOwner

    JotulOwner Feeling the Heat

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    I like to remove the bark before bringing the wood into my home. That way, there is less chance for insects to get into the house. When the bark is loose, I just rip it off and brush the other crapola off the split before tossing it into the container I use to carry it in the house. That's just me. It's easy and makes less mess to clean up in the house.
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