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No Plan - Can You Get There?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by jebatty, Oct 11, 2008.

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  1. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    With all the wood burners, especially new, struggling to find inexpensive sources of fire wood, seasoned fire wood, wondering what kind of wood to get, and hoping to make it through this heating season with the crumbs left us in the economy melt-down, the old adage "If you don't have a plan, any road will get your there," comes to mind -- if you don't mind where you end up.

    There is no wrong time to have a plan, and there is no time too late to have a plan. Maybe the plan will be for next year or the year after. But make the plan now, outline the action steps to achieve it, put a time line on each action step achievement, and next year or the year after you will be relaxed and enjoying wood heat comfort during a cold winter.

    Any wood is good firewood. Some just has more heat energy per pound when dry than other wood. This link shows you which wood packs more heat energy per dry pound.
    http://hearth.com/econtent/index.php/articles/heating_value_wood

    When buying wood, compare price based on heat (btu) value per pound. Often the more expensive wood per cord is less expensive based on heat value. And sometimes the opposite is true.

    Wet wood does not burn. If wood is wet, the heat from a fire or other source has to dry out the wood before it burns, so wet wood consumes lots of heat energy, if you try to burn it. Very inefficient and expensive.

    "Seasoned" can mean almost anything; what you want is "seasoned" wood that is dry. Dry is moisture content of about 25% or less, and the "or less" the better. Moisture content is not easy to check in a load of wood, and some pieces may be much drier than others. A dry surface does not mean a dry interior. A moisture meter can help (pin type or surface type), but drying (seasoning) wood is not rocket science, so do a little advance planning and forget about the science.

    Most wood cut, split, and stacked in the open air with good air circulation over one summer (4 months) will be dry enough to burn that fall and winter, but it is far better to give the wood two summers to dry. And some very dense woods take a minimum of two summers with three being much better. I haven't found any wood that takes longer than three summers.

    The key to drying is good air circulation. Stack the wood off the ground (8" is good), don't make the stacks too wide (maximum of 4' wide or 3 rows wide), and leave space between stacks. A windy site is better than less windy; sunny is better than less sunny. Covering can help if the cover is not tight to the top of the stack - make sure that there is good air circulation across the top of the stack. Many people successfully dry wood with no cover. A tight cover, like from a tarp that hangs over the sides, really impedes air circulation and increases condensation that drip back on the wood -- not good.

    Experience will tell you how much wood you need to have on hand. For most people with ordinary inside wood stoves, average sized homes, and wood heat much of the time, 3-6 cords per year is enough. Having too much is better than too little. Wood unburned this year is even better burning next year.

    As mentioned above, any wood is good firewood - if it is dry. No wet wood is good firewood. Wet wood almost always equals creosote. Dry wood, burned in a relatively hot fire, almost always means no or very little creosote. Creosote is the result of a too cool fire, which often results from wet wood, or letting your fire smolder.

    The chemistry of wood burning requires a relatively hot fire to achieve relatively complete combustion. If combustion is not complete, you are sending unburned wood gases ($$$) up the chimney. Your buck, not mine. Although this may vary by stove, and by catalytic or not, actual burn temperature of about 600-1100 is the range of efficient burning for most wood stoves. Some may be hotter, I don't think any are cooler. In my experience this usually translates to exterior flue temperature 18" above the top of the wood stove in the range of 300-400 for efficient burns. With my stove 350 is the sweet spot. Interior flue temperatures are about twice this. Obviously, you can burn hotter, but the result is more heat being thrown away up the chimney. Most double wall, insulated, Class A chimney are rated at about 2000 continuously, so you have plenty of safety factor unless you are burning really, really hot, or you have a chimney (creosote) fire.

    CORRECTION: Class A chimneys are rated at 1000F continuous and the 2000F is only for short duration. See following posts.

    If you need 4 cords of fire wood for an average winter, a good plan might be, if adopted today: On October 1, 2009, I have 9 cords of cut, split and stacked fire wood on hand that has dried for at least 4 months; with 4 cords for burning winter 2009-2010, and 4 cords the following winter. The extra cord is for that really cold winter. Then add 4 cords each summer so you always are burning wood dried two summers.

    Enough said; time to sip a cup of coffee by the warmth of my wood stove burning wood dried 3 full summers.

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  2. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    Yes that is a great master plan. Alway fills great to have a clean shot at the 8 ball !!!!!!!!!!!
  3. billb3

    billb3 Minister of Fire

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    <<Wet wood does not burn.>>


    It never rains in California.
  4. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    I dont' totally agree. I've been heating with wood for over 40 years in the northeast - New York, Vermont, and northern Michigan. Some woods here are not worth bothering with, and some are just plain dangerous when used by the average person.

    One example of wood not worth the bother is our native poplar. Very high water content, very low BTU content and very hard to dry unless conditions are perfect. If cut, split, and stacked uncovered - it will often rot first - when beech, ash, hard maple, red maple, red and white oak, birch, etc. will dry just fine. And, if you do manage to get it dry, it feels like styrofoam it's so light. Bascially just wastes time, storage room, and labor.

    Some examples of dangerous woods are the many highly resinous balsam firs, red pines, black and white spruces, etc. They leave a lot or resins sticking to the inside of the chimney unless burned full-bore and hot. Many people heating their homes do NOT burn super hot all the time - and such woods can lead to some impressive chimney fires. We also have a variety of locust that makes little explosions like somebody threw fireworks into the fire. If the stove door is open, it can send hot sparks flying out - sometimes 3-4 feet distant.

    I've got a large farm house with two primary wood heating systems. One for very cold weather (minus 30F to plus 30F), and one for mid-range weather ( 30F and above). Cold weather I use and "outdoor" wood furnace installed inside, with a Canadian chimney system. The Canadian chimneys are safter and more fire-resistant than USA coutnerparts yet cost about the same. Furnace also heats all the domestic hot water - and the room built around the furnace holds 8 full cords of wood. Wet wood brought into the room will dry in two weeks once the fire is going full-time - long before it has to be used. Rooms is also a great place to hang wet winter clothes. They dry in an hour or less. In warmer temps, we heat the house with a convection-only woodstove.

    Also, one wing of our house is basically, a 40 foot long kitchen. There we have a wood cook stove, a Rumsford wood-cooking fireplace, and a wood-fired bake oven. When my wife is cooking with wood, it will keep the entire house warm as long as outside temps are 30F or above.

    Also have a large three-story barn and tractor workshop - all heated with a convection-only, 1970s era Thermo-Control very-large wood stove. I located it centrally on the first floor, and by convection alone heats the entire build quite well.
  5. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    You need to correct that Class A chimney info. Class A is UL rated for 1000 degrees continuous. Also please clarify where the 600-1100 degree measurement is taken before somebody gets the idea that 1100 degrees is an acceptable stove top operating temperature.
  6. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    Yes, I don't know where he's getting his 2000 degree F continous figure from.

    I'm in the USA (New York), but I bought my pipe in Canada because their ratings are stricter and pipe is better quality. But, even the Canadian pipe is only rated at 1200 degrees F continous.

    USA pipe - specs - UL-103HT for the United States Along with many other tests the UL 103HT Standard requires the chimney to withstand three 10 minute chimney fires at 2100°F. Listing
    #50195-C7-703403 Rated for 1000 degrees F continuous.

    CANADIAN pipe - specs - ULC S-629 Standard requires the chimney to withstand three 30 minute chimney fires at 2100°F. Listing #195-7110, 7113, 7156
    Can be run full time at 1200 degrees F.
  7. myzamboni

    myzamboni Minister of Fire

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    Any wood can leave resins if not burned hot. Stick to your hardwood experience and let the left coast experts chime in on the conifers (since that is almost all we have out here). These woods are ticking time bombs. I am amused at the reputation they have back east.
  8. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Thanks for the correction on the chimney temperature. UL 103 and UL103-HT. I misread my information. I believe both are rated for 1000F continuous and 1700F and 2100F, respectively, for limited duration.

    AGREE: 1100 is NOT an acceptable stove top temperature. My choice of the words "burn temperature" may have been misleading. A better description might be the "the temperature of the burning wood gases."

    Steel color by temperature:
    black red - 1000F
    blood red - 1200F
    cherry red - 1500F
    http://www.muggyweld.com/color.html

    The temperature of the burning wood gases are as I stated. The burn gases quickly cool as they are mixed with air inside the stove. Thus, although burning gas temperatures may be into the 1100F range, by the time the gases reach the stove top or the flue they will be much less.

    Further regarding burn gas temperature of about 600-1100F, sustained flaming ignition of wood occurs between 400-500C (752-932F). The surface temperature of the wood is between 300-400C. Vigorous production of flammable volatiles occurs beginning at 300C.
    http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/pdf2001/white01a.pdf

    Primary combustion of wood occurs between 544-900F.
    http://www.rapidfiremapping.com/how_fire_works1.html

    Secondary combustion occurs above 900F, usually about 1100F and above.
    http://msuextension.org/publications/HomeHealthandFamily/MT198405HR.pdf
    http://www.mb-soft.com/juca/print/315.html

    See also:
    http://www.fpl.fs.fed.us/documnts/fplr/fplr2136.pdf
    http://pods.dasnr.okstate.edu/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-2509/BAE-9432web.pdf
  9. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Plenty of room for disagreement here. Just scan the many posts of people who burn the pines and spruces. For many that is all they have. All wood is dangerous to burn if handled improperly, as is gas, coal, oil and other fuels. I regularly burn red pine, white pine and jack pine, all well dried. Occasionally also burn balsam fir and white spruce. Just don't have much of that.
  10. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    I'm talking generalities here - since anything more specific is kind of useless without proper and probably myopic/esoteric context. Your initial post mentions "all the wood burners, especially new" along with "any wood is good firewood." I said I disagree, and still do taking the statements in a general context.

    Nothing is dangerous if used safely. No argument there. And, any softwood can be used to make heat safely. I've been using tons of white pine, red pine, and hemlock slabwood for years in my sap-house to make maple syrup. Haven't burnt the place down yet. That being said, just because a certain area has primarily softwoods, and people use them safely, it doesn't make them good in the general sense. Just makes them the best available in that area - whereas they are considered crap on the broad spectrum of woods used for heating. In my area, soft woods have zero value except for boards. For firewood - you can't give the stuff away.

    You mentioned new users - and with burning wood - there certainly is a learning curve. Some people burn their houses down and learn the hard way. I was working in a woodstove and furnace fabrication shop in the mid-70s during the "oil embargo" days. Many people were scrambling to burn wood who'd never done it before, similar to what's happening now. The "new' airtight woodstoves led to many chimney fires. Not because they are bad, more because they are not fool-proof. Now - those stoves can no longer be sold legally and be called "woodstoves." So, now we're onto the EPA rated stoves - or former woodstoves now being sold as "wood furnaces."

    If someone's time and labor is worth something to them - as well as the expense of maintaining wood splitters, chain saws, tractors, storage space, etc. - then it makes little sense to waste any time with softwoods if hardwoods are available - unless for kindling and "hot burn" fires needed once in awhile. Also, for heating 100% with wood, you need a wood that can leave some coals and heat all through the night. Works fine with hard maple, oaks, etc. - but you'd be hard-pressed to get your stove to heat a house 8-10 hours on a load of white or red pine, balsam fir, spruce, poplar, etc., &c;.

    To put simply - all wood has the same BTU energy content per pound - yes. But, some is damn near impossible to dry - and some weighs almost nothing per given volume if it IS dry. Also, several softwoods are heavy in resins that easily collect on the inside of a chimney if used in a low fire by a novice - and often can, and have, led to some pretty huge chimney fires. Do I use them - yeah, sometimes - just to get rid of the stuff. I've got over 150 acres of forest and hate to see any wood get wasted. But, I also throw kerosene into my woodstove once in awhile, and make it run so hot the chimney pipe starts to glow. That, I'm sure is deemed dangerous by many.

    And - one note on the correction you put into your post - about Class A chimneys having a continuous 1000 degree F rating. The Class A Canadian pipe is a bit higher - at 1200 degrees F. Also rating for 1700 F degree temps for one hour at a time. I wouldn't use anything else. Not so much because of the higher temp rating - more for thick insulation is uses - which helps keeps the chimney temps hot with a low fire. It's amazing stuff and I haven't seen any USA equivalents yet. CF Sentinel made by Selkirk of Canada only. It wasn't easy to get in New York since Selkirk also makes USA pipe and doesn't like to compete with itself (if that makes any sense).
  11. RedRanger

    RedRanger New Member

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    We don`t have pine to burn out here on the west coast, unlike the interior of this province. Kinda wish I did have some just to try it? I am however getting nice clean burns with the douglas fir that I have been burning for the past 2 weeks. Best I have managed so far is a decent 6 hour burn. With some more practise in the 2.5 cu.ft. firebox I might see even as long as 7.5 hrs.

    If all you have that is plentiful in your area=douglas fir, big leaf maple, alder, and cedar, then that is what you must burn. Having said that, burn it hot, learn how your appliance performs best for you and that will mean very little cresote. And that can be true even when turning it down to lowest setting for overnite, as long as you get it hot,hot,hot the following morning. Been said before, but "education" is the key.
  12. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    That's something that's been preventing me from moving. I'm in central New York and own several large wood lots. All loaded with hard maple, red maple, beech, birch, ash, red oak, white oak, pignut, etc.

    But, I also own some rural property and a house in northern Michigan. We've been wanting to move there for a few years now. I have 50 acres of woods there - but it's all red pine, white cedar, tamarack, and poplar. I am reluctant to live anywhere that gets -20 to -30F temps and not own my own hardwood stands. Now, maybe if I had a super-insulated house with some geothermal heating, the quality of wood would not be such an issue. But, with the current up trend in fossil fuel prices - I won't move until I can buy some woods with hardwood trees. Here in New York I've bought some pretty nice woods for $500 - $600 per acre. But - in northern Michigan - seems hardwoods are more scarce and such woods bring a premium. A few lots I've looked at are priced at $4000 per acre and up and that's with 4" - 6" hardwood trees. Here in NY, I'd call that an overgrown field or a brush lot - not a woods. At that price, not sure if it's worth buying a 20 acre or larger, hardwood lot. I'm still waiting for - either for prices to drop - or a rare find somewhere. Sometimes, land that is legally landlocked goes cheaper - but haven't found any great deals yet. That is, except in the upper peninsula of Michigan that's 60 miles from my property. And, at present, it's illegal to truck wood between upper and lower parts of Michigan.
    I had a chance to buy 80 acres of mostly hard maples for $45K.
  13. RedRanger

    RedRanger New Member

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    Don`t let that prevent you from moving. Take the loot from the sale of your properties and do like "north of 60" buy a Princess Blaze King Cat Stove".. I think he burns mostly spruce (softwood) and gets 10-14 hour burns.. Sure it is a cat, little more fussing, but like he says, the rest are just "prettry toys in his opinion".. I am still regretting not spending the extra loot to get one of those :sick:
  14. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Tell that to the folks dealing with winter/spring floods on the Russian River. When it decides to rain in northern CA, it can do it with a vengeance.
  15. Redox

    Redox Minister of Fire

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    I think the song specifically states SOUTHERN California...

    "It never rains in California, but girl don't they warn ya. It pours, man it pours." - Albert Hammond

    Chris
  16. jebatty

    jebatty Minister of Fire

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    Local cultures are pretty powerful in shaping how we look at firewood. You mention poplar. Maybe not for you, but for some there is confusion over poplar, popple and aspen. My gut call is that N MI more likely has aspen, aka popple, and not poplar, but you probably are correct because it's your land. I've never burned poplar. There is none around us.

    On the other hand, aspen aka popple ranks near the bottom in heating value per cord, and that's the majority of what I burn in my wood stove in the living room, and been doing it for 18 years. Temps of -20 to -30 are common in N MN; stove and house do fine. Burn a little more than a higher heat value wood, but I split into large pieces and they burn for hours. One stove in the living room heats 1500 sq ft.

    Tamarack is pretty good, a high mid-range heat value wood. Hard as the other side of heaven. A notch below white ash and birch and a notch above cherry, black ash, and red pine. I tend to leave the tarmarack and save it for lumber because it so hard. Red pine is a lot easier to cut and grows larger, but only burn the branches and slabs because it makes good lumber.

    I wish we had lots of oak and sugar maple on our land. I certainly would use it for firewood. But have to go with the wood I have - aspen and the pines, some birch, an occasional red oak.
  17. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    Yes - there's lots of confusion. There are many local names for trees that carry different meanings across the country. And, there's also the problem of "cultivars." Trees of the same species can have different qualities in different regions. One example is our local hemlock. It's the #1 tree sawed for rough framing lumber but has inconsistent quality. On the other hand, I buy Canadian hemlock - of the same species - and it's much better quality with a denser grain.
    Same with white pine. Our local white pine tends to be shaky and blue colored. One county away, it tends to be better quality.

    My son and daughter-in-law visited here in New York - from Boulder, Colorado. She said she was amazed at the size our "Aspens" here. The trees she was looking at were local poplars and white birches.

    I worked as a tree-man for Asplundh in the early 70s and I heard many tree names in northern NJ that don't seem to apply anywhere else.
    I know there are over 30 types of poplars and I'm no expert on the matter. Around here, many are called Cottonwoods, Tulips, Lombardys, Bigtooths, Quaken Aspen, etc. Oldest known living tree in New York State is a Cottonwood. We also now have a wave of hybrid poplars being used.

    The poplar we have here in my area of New York is useless for anything (on my relative scale). They tend to grow very large - and then when a good windstorm comes - they blow down like dominos. Very shallow rooted for the tree size. A few years ago I had over 50 very large trees all come down at once. I couldn't stand to see them get wasted - so I cut many up, split, and stacked. A total waste of time. Most rotted before they dried - and what did dry weighs almost nothing. It's like styrofoam. I also took some down to the saw mill where my wife works and got some boards sawed. Also pretty useless. By the way, my wife isn't a logger. She helps run a water-powerd historic saw mill in Delaware County, NY.

    http://www.hanfordmills.org/

    Now, in northern Michigan - both peninsulas - "popple" is just about all I hear about. People speak as if its their greatest resource. So ??? Looks the same as the poplar trees here in NY - but maybe it's better - or maybe they've found a better use for it. I know they log differently there. Here in NY, we selectively log on a rotation schedule. Usually in any given lot, only the best trees are selected on a 10 year schedule. No softwoods cut here except for large red and white pines for boards. Hemlock used to be logged for pulp, but rarely anymore.

    In the area where my land is in Michigan - they clear cut entire wood lots. They cut every little stick. Then, they chip it all up - and deliver it to mills that make OSB board. To me, it's kind of sad to see the land stripped bare like that. I've also heard that "popple" boards are a poplar (no pun intended) lumber. Maybe because it's all they have? I do notice, that in all the local firewood for-sale ads there, it's still beech, maple, and oak. No softwoods. I think much comes from state land. State of Michigan allows tax payers to remove deadwood from state land.
  18. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

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    I have to claim ignorance with some of the newer woodburners. I grew up using old cast-iron coal/wood stoves that were hard to control and would not hold a fire longer than a few hours. Heated my old farmhouse for many years with one.

    During the 1970s, I worked for a small factory that built and sold "Thermo-Control" wood stoves. That was during the 70s "air-tight" rage. I still have a big, Thermo-Control Model 500 heating my barn and work-shop. They are heavy but of poor quality and have to have new steel welding in as they warp and burn out.

    At present - we heat our large, 1820s vintage farmhouse with several heating sources. During the coldest weather - I have a large Woodchuck hot-air furnace with it's own room built around it and it's attached to the house. Has a virtually burn-out proof, heavily insulated Canadian chimney (Selkirk sentinel CF). This unit also heats all our domestic hot water. Having the room built around it works great for drying damp wood before using. Big draw-back is the electricity it takes to run the furnace blower. But, we are on solar-electric with a 5400 watt system so we make all our own electricity anyway. When I was shopping for a wood-furnace - I wanted to try the first EPA hot-air wood furnace to hit the market. The EPA Caddy made in Québec. But, they refused to sell it to me because I'm in the USA. So, I never got to try it and bought the HD Woodchuck instead. I'm very happy with it. But, when temps outside are 30F or above, I shut it down.

    For warmer temps - we revert to heating the house with one wood stove. It's the largest Hearthstone sold. EPA rated, and all that. It was a learning curve dealing with it - as compared to older "air tight", or pot-belly stoves - but it works very well and hold a fire for a long time when turned down. It's the Hearthstone Mansfield model. Seems to make the same heat as our older pot bell stove with half the wood -and burn three times as long.

    Besides all that - my wife is a historic cooking nut. So, we have a Rumsford wood cooking fireplace and wood-fired bake over. Also, two wood cook stoves - all in the same large kitchen.
  19. Cluttermagnet

    Cluttermagnet Minister of Fire

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    FWIW I have a local friend who owns some acres- he built a horse barn whose siding was cut from our local Tulip Poplar variety. He claims it weathers very well. Certainly appears to me that it is holding up well. Yes, it is a very light wood when seasoned, and burns up very fast. Would not be of much interest to me either, for firewood.
  20. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    Poplar is one of my 'go to' shoulder season woods...I'm very pleased with it. Never had any rot out on me either sure it burns fast, but it puts out a lot of heat too. Also when it's 20 below it'll keep your house a lot warmer if you got the time to keep chucking it in every 45-50 minutes or so...not a good wood for when you go to bed though.
  21. cobble

    cobble New Member

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    [/quote]In the area where my land is in Michigan - they clear cut entire wood lots. They cut every little stick. Then, they chip it all up - and deliver it to mills that make OSB board. To me, it's kind of sad to see the land stripped bare like that. [/quote]

    JD - Popple is harvested that way as that is how to get best regeneration. When the sun warms the old roots they send up a thicket of root sprouts that are just the thing for ruffed grouse (aka pahtridge). Grouse love popple. The young thickets are ideal cover from predators and the mature male trees have catkins that are the number 1 winter food. I think people grow popple just for the grouse. I've heard that some folks feed popple saw dust to cows. The bugs in their stomach digest it just like the do the cellulose in hay. I've got plenty of oak on my woodlot but wish I had a little more popple for the pahtridge. Cobble
  22. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    My plan: never pass up firewood, ever.

    The only time I veer from my plan is when my woodshed is full. Even then I'll drop it at my parents place.
  23. glacialhills

    glacialhills Member

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    The only way everyone here will know that they are comparing apples to apples is to Positively identify the trees everyone are calling Popple, Poplar, Aspen, Cottonwood. ect. ect. I can tell that there are at least two or more different genus being described here but until we see some positive identifiers like leaves, nodes, bark all this talk is just a bunch of here say and old fashion wives tales.Its the same as the old "Ironwood" tree that is describing just about any tree that was hard to split with an axe way back when. It could of been one of the hornbeam's or Osage, or elm or heck I even heard some call hickory "iron wood" I am sure the wood being described as really heavy when wet and like Styrofoam when dry is different than the wood being described by others as a good shoulder season wood. Or good for barn siding or what have you. Lets figure out the genus and species being described then we can all be on the same page when it is said to be good or not so for burning or bad for lumber or whatever. Positive tree id really isn't that hard...just takes some investigation and a bit of research.
  24. caber

    caber New Member

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    Loc:
    Western Maryland
    We have a lot of Tulip Poplar in our pastures that we are clearing. Some of them are 60'+ tall. I have had maple, oak, hickory come down in wind storms, but never a poplar. As firewood, tulip poplar has it's place. It cuts and splits very easily. It dries in a heartbeat. It lights easy and burns hot but unbelievably fast. A fully loaded stove with tulip poplar will burn out in 3 hours at best. Overnite burns are no good, but its nice for the shoulder seasons when you want a quick and hot fire. If you have it it plentiful amounts as I do, you can use it even on the coldest days as long as you are willing to load up the stove every 2-4 hours. Saves my good wood for overnites and when I'm out.
  25. jdemaris

    jdemaris New Member

    Joined:
    Oct 11, 2008
    Messages:
    452
    Loc:
    Central New York State
    Just to clear the record here, I am the one that mentioned our local "poplar" being pretty useless for firewood and feeling like styrofoam if it ever gets dried. That is here in Otsego County, central New York State. The tree is Big Tooth Aspen, i.e. (populus grandidentata) . It is a nuisance tree in this area. It grows fast and is very shallow rooted. Subsequently, when a stand of these trees reach the proper size, one good windstorm blows them all down like dominoes. That happens often in our area, and you can't give them away - not even if you cut them up first. I still have over fifty mature trees laying in my woods from the last big blowdown five years ago. On a relative scale, totally useless here for firewood and no market at the local mills.

    To be technical here, if you cut one of these trees and manage to get the wood dry enough to burn, it yields about 1/2 the BTUs per cord of the most common hardwoods in my area. Local trees yield 13-18 million BTUs per cord. Compare that to the surplus of local hardwoods - i.e. and e.g. Pignut Hickory with 24.5 million BTUs, White Oak with 22.7 BTUs, Beech with 21.8 BTUs, Red Oak, Yellow Birch and Hard Maple all yielding 21.3 million BTUs, etc., &c;. In my area, there's not much wood around with less BTUs, except for Balsam Fir and a few Spruce trees.

    Besides the intrinsic BTU content of certain species of wood, the ability to get it dry is another, very important factor. It's not easy to here in my area - you have to be a good planner. Part of that plan is choosing woods that dry easier than others, if you have that choice, Beech drys very fast, and Ash can be burned the day it is cut - if absolutely necessary. With the latter, it won't yield the same heat when burned right-from-the-stump, but . . . it's one of the few trees you can cut down, and burn, mid-winter when in a pinch.

    In regard to properly identifying trees - that is fine but it is only part of the story. The same tree species can vary a lot in different locales. In my area, same species trees can be very different only 50 miles away. That's because of moutain and valley areas here, where climates and soils differ a lot over short distances. Same goes for the ability to dry wood. An area, or "micro-climate" low in sunshine and high in rain and snow does not make it easy to dry wood outdoors.

    In regard to the mention of Ironwood - in my own experience, living and cutting trees in the Northeast for 40 years, I've only heard it in reference to two trees - both commonly used for fenceposts. I am also aware of the Desert Ironwoods in other parts of the country. American Hop-Hornbeam (Ostrya Virginiana) and Black Locust (Robinia Pseudoacacia) are what I'm referring to here.. Even though they both are often called "Ironwood" when used in the context of fenceposts at the farm, most people here certainly know the difference between the two - especailly due to the large throrns on young Black Locust trees.

    Regional and/or ethnocentric terms for plants and animals have always caused confusion. The Arborvitae (Thuya Occidentale) is a great historic example you don't hear much about. In the early 1500s Jacques Cartier was tromping around in the north, near where Québec (Holchelga) and Montreal (Royal Mountain) are now. His men were dropping dead from Scorbutus (scurvy). He wrote in his journals that the local Indians gave him a magical cure - made from a tree many historians believe was Sassafrass. It cured his men. Same thing happened years later when Samuel Champlain entered the same general area and also had a scurvy problem. But, eventually, the tree seemed to have been misidentified and the wrong tree giving the name of "Tree of Life" due to these incidents. The Arborvitae (Tree of Life) is now the White Cedar. And, it's kind of funny because back then, they certainly knew the Sassafrass was the tree to get for great medical cures. Sir Walter Raliegh became a sassafrass "boss hog" and made lots of money shipping sassfrass back to England as a cure-all. During that time, it was thought to have the ability to cure just about anything. I still like it for making root beer.
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