New Insert Coming on Friday -- What Wood to Buy?

snowdog650 Posted By snowdog650, Feb 24, 2013 at 10:04 PM

  1. snowdog650

    New Member

    Dec 3, 2012
    Northern California
    Hello all.

    We finally took the leap and will have a Lennox C210 insert installed this Friday. We live in Sacramento, so the burn season is just about over for us already (it will be 70* all week this week), which is why we purchased now ... lots of good deals out there locally.

    My question is on what wood to buy. There are plenty of retailers here locally, with a good variety of wood available -- as the Sacramento Valley is home to plenty of oak, eucaplytus, cherry, peach, almond, and hickory. I know that we want to buy at least 1 cord, and are willing to spend a decent amount of money for our first load of wood.

    I am seriously considering a local guy who sells *seasoned* almond, split and cut to 18" ... delivered for $350 - $400. Expensive, yes ... but I want good wood for next October to properly break-in the stove and then have a good burn season.

    What is the maximum mositure content I should be looking for to burn this October? If I measure 30%, will it get down to 20% by then? Will Oak or Cherry or Peach season faster than Almond? I know eucalyptus takes longer because of the oils in the wood.

    My wood will be stacked properly, and in Sacramento, we see very low humidity in Spring, Summer, and Autumn ... with very little rain (a few years ago, we went from 15 April until Thanksgiving without rain) ... and summers can be very hot, with temperatures ranging from 90*-105*.

    After this next season, we know we won't have an issue, as we will be able to allow future wood purchases to season for 2 years. It's this first load that we are unsure of.

    Any assistance or advice is greatly appreciated.
  2. AppalachianStan

    Minister of Fire

    Nov 4, 2011
    Clover SC
  3. fabsroman

    Minister of Fire

    Jun 1, 2011
    West Friendship, Maryland
    Oak takes 2 years (maybe 3) to burn. I have some in my stacks that I stacked in September 2011 and it is around 24% moisture content and while it burns, it could be better. You want to shoot for 20% interior MC. The way to measure MC is to split a piece right when you are ready to measure, and then take the measurement from the interior of that split. I was amazed at how wet the red oak still was on the interior.

    Cherry will dry rather well. I had some cherry in the stacks from the same time period and it burned really good this winter. No issues with it lighting or smoking. Thing is, cherry does not have the btu content of oak. Hickory has a higher btu content than oak, but I have no idea what the seasoning time is on that. Poplar seasons pretty fast, but it also burns very fast and does not have anywhere close to the btu content as oak, hickory, hard maple, and others. Do not pay a premium amount for poplar, that is for sure.

    Some of the others might be able to help you with the other woods you mentioned. I have zero experience with eucalyptus, peach, and almond.
  4. Gark

    Minister of Fire

    Jan 27, 2007
    SW Michigan
    To find BTU value, google "firewood BTU". Unfortunately, those BTU charts (none that I've seen) tell the relative seasoning (drying) time.
  5. blades

    Minister of Fire

    Nov 23, 2008
    WI, Milw
    Hickory will take about the same as oak drying time wise. Cherry and peach will dry faster, almond& eucalyptus not familiar with, but will guess almond about the same as the the other fruit woods. Miminum time for any is about a year after it is split ( properly stacked so air can ciculate). Those kind of prices around here better be kilned dried to a moisture content of 20% or less. Get a moisture meter resplit one of the splits and see what it registers as, in the middle, only way to be sure of what you are getting. Smaller splits will dry faster ( course burn quicker also) but ya got to start somewhere. Always ask when it was "split and stacked"for sale not just when it was cut up into rounds for the splitter. Might want to get some of the compressed wood log or blocks, mixed in with less than perfect wood will get you going.
  6. Jon1270

    Minister of Fire

    Aug 25, 2012
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Since you're in a mild climate, I doubt you'll want much hickory or oak. Heavy, high-BTU woods like those are the stuff that people in colder regions save for when it gets much colder than Sacramento ever gets. I think you'll want what those of us in the Northeast would think of as "shoulder season" wood, because the middle of your winter is like spring or fall for us. Heavier woods will take a long time to season, and after the extended wait you'll have wood that burns so hot for so long that your house gets warmer than you want it.

    Looking at this chart (EDIT: never mind), I'd go for the cherry or peach first, then the eucalyptus, and I'd probably skip the almond. I might also try to find some of something lower down on the list for milder days.
  7. Jon1270

    Minister of Fire

    Aug 25, 2012
    Pittsburgh, PA
    On closer inspection, I think the BTU chart I linked to is probably garbage. I picked it out of a Google search because it offered numbers for the woods you're considering, but its suggestion that cherry has almost the same BTU value as hickory is silly. My main point stands, though; I don't think you'll have much use for the higher-BTU woods that we cold-climate burners would prize.
  8. gerry100

    Minister of Fire

    May 16, 2008
    NY Capitol Region
    I wouildn't pay a premium for " seasoned" wood since no one knows what exactly that means.

    Buy green wood, split it small and stack it well , in your climate you should be good by late fall.
  9. jeff_t

    Minister of Fire

    Sep 14, 2008
    SE MI
    Stay away from oak for next year. Even in your climate, expect two+ years to get to 20%. I have about four cords I split in the fall of '11. Last summer was exceptionally dry and warm here, with almost three months of no rain, and many warm, windy days of 90+. At last check a couple of months ago, it was still in the low 30s for moisture. Cherry split and stacked at the same time is 15-17%.
  10. PapaDave

    Minister of Fire

    Feb 23, 2008
    Northern MI - in the mitten
    Not familiar with your area at all. What's the climate and how do you plan to burn?
    Will this be full time or just occasional? How's the insulation in the house?
    Get a fast drying wood for next winter, and also get your wood for winter of '14-'15 now.
    You'll be a much happier burner with dry wood.

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