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Moisture content

Post in 'The Gear' started by Ansky, Mar 30, 2013.

  1. Ansky

    Ansky Member

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    I just bought a moisture meter. The brand is "General." I was playing with it today and have a couple questions.

    I ran out of "good" wood a few weeks ago. So now I am burning stuff that isn't as seasoned as I'd like. The MM says that it is around 18-20%. So according to that, it's not as bad as I thought.

    But then today I was splitting wood for next year that came from a tree I just cut down 2 days ago. It's a light wood, easy to split (sorry I don't know my trees - but it's not an evergreen...ash maybe?). I tested that wood and it rang up 25-26% on the meter. I was expecting it to be much higher. Maybe because the growing season hasn't started yet?

    So, since that green wood was only 25ish, and I know it's green, the 20% wood that I'm burning now doesn't make me feel very good. I wonder if this meter typically gives low numbers and I should really be shooting for the 10-15% range.

    What do you guys think?
    Btw- I'm testing the wood the right way...by splitting a split and placing the prongs along the same grain.

    -John

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  2. mattjm1017

    mattjm1017 Feeling the Heat

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    I have a general MM and it has read off the chart for some of my fresh oak splits. On my poplar that I had only recently split it read about 25 I believe some wood just dries up faster than others oak for instance takes up to 3 years.
    Defiant likes this.
  3. Defiant

    Defiant Vermont Castings Geek

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    Guys post up some pics, looking for a MM, just curious if you don't mind. Ansky we could help you out with wood ID, we love pic's:cool:
  4. Ansky

    Ansky Member

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    Ok, I'll post some pics.
    But I think I found my answer. This website was pretty helpful.
    http://www.wikihow.com/Season-Firewood
    In short, it says that Ash (which I think I cut down) has a lower moisture content than a lot of other woods. It also says that moisture in tress goes to the roots in the winter, so if both those are true, that would explain it.

    I'll be right back with some pics.
  5. Defiant

    Defiant Vermont Castings Geek

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    How did it split?
  6. Ansky

    Ansky Member

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    It split really easy. No struggle at all with my maul.

    Here's some pics. This is the wood with the meter
    [​IMG]

    This is the start of my stack. It's in direct sunlight all day, so it will remain here all summer. I'll move it to the wood shed in the fall.
    [​IMG]

    And lastly, I believe the leaf on the right belongs to the wood in question. I think these 2 types of trees are what I predominantly have around my property and will most likely be burning. Is the leaf on the left from an oak?
    [​IMG]
  7. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    The reading on the MM is not an absolute. It is a guide. Leaf is red oak and beech.
  8. Ansky

    Ansky Member

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    Thanks. I though I had that leaf pegged as ash, but you're right. Upon further review, it is beech.

    So Wikipedia tells me that beech is an "excellent firewood." Is that true? And if you don't mind, what would be the different burning and seasoning characteristics between the red oak and beech?

    Thanks.
  9. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Beech can be ready in a year but I'd prefer 2 years. For oak, give it 3 years.
  10. Ansky

    Ansky Member

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    Got it. Thanks.
  11. Prof

    Prof Burning Hunk

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    Beech is one of my favorite woods. Doesn't take as long to season as oak, splits easier than hickory and burns long and hot--similar to both of those species. It also seems to grow like a weed in the woods and is good for wildlife--both shelter and food.
  12. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Prof, I hope your beech stay healthy. In most of Michigan they are all dead or in the process of dieing. Looks like our DNR wants to plant a bunch of oaks to replace them because so much wildlife is dependent upon the beech nuts.
  13. swagler85

    swagler85 Minister of Fire

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    Also those MM are calibrated for temps in the 70s so they will read different at colder temps. I believe they read lower with colder temps.
  14. Prof

    Prof Burning Hunk

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    Unfortunately our beech are getting beaten up by a combination of invasives and fungi. I have a timber stand that is primarily beech and hemlocks. The hemlocks are in even worse shape due to the wooley adelgid. I'm in the process of having a woodland management plan done to prepare for the eventual demise of the hemlock and possibly the beech. I'm cautiously optimistic about the beech since there are a ton of young and middle-aged trees that seem quite healthy. The larger ones are why I have so much experience burning the wood. Incidentially, I find hemlock such a pain to split (by hand) that I cringe when I have to take a hemlock down. It does dry fast though.
  15. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Good luck on that Prof. It is really a shame to see so many trees going bad. I remember in my youth a neighbor farmer who feared by this date there would be no more trees in MI. Fortunately, he was wrong but there are so many dieing that I have to wonder about the future.
  16. Ansky

    Ansky Member

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    Thanks for all the responses. There seems to be no shortage of beech and red oak around here. And I guess, lucky for me, that's what I'll be burning primarily. Where I live, these trees are very tall, 80-90ish feet, and very straight. But for the time being, there are so many trees and limbs that are down from the hurricanes and winter storms, that I can just go savaging in the woods and not have to cut any good trees down for firewood.

    My first choice, however will probably be the beech, since it will season quicker (I have no real supply for next year- less than a cord), and the beech splits so easy (I do it by hand).

    The red oak seems to be heavier, harder to move around, harder to split, and takes too long to season.
    Prof likes this.
  17. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Sounds like you have an ideal situation there Ansky. Also sounds like I'd be very happy to be cutting in your woods. lol I have a neighbor who has red oaks like that. Well, he also has some very nice white oaks. He sold about 75 trees last summer so now he has lots of tops for firewood.
  18. Ansky

    Ansky Member

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    The trees are pretty amazing...how tall and perfectly straight they are. I should take a picture and post it here tomorrow. I don't have that many on my property (I've only got an acre that my house sits on, but my neighbor has 50 acres of forest and told me I can go help myself anytime I want. Nice guy)... ive got maybe a dozen that are perfectly tall and straight on my property. But I am curious, who buys them and how much? I was laid off from work last year, so any additional income would be beneficial. But I wouldn't know where to start, or who to call to sell them.

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