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Season time for Black Locust????

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by NordicSplitter, May 29, 2011.

  1. NordicSplitter

    NordicSplitter Feeling the Heat

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    I just picked up a 1/2 face cord of black locust for free. I know you can burn ash right away......but how long do I have to let black locust season???

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  2. n3pro

    n3pro Minister of Fire

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    depends on the moisture content now. I got some from a freshly fallen tree thanks to the bad weather through here and it has some serious moisture. Fresh cut I say 2 years.
  3. thewoodlands

    thewoodlands Minister of Fire

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    Never burned any and we do not have any on our property, my guess was one year.



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  4. NordicSplitter

    NordicSplitter Feeling the Heat

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    The tree was actually cut down today (5/28/11)...Heavy stuff!!!! Plan on 1/4 splitting it soon.
  5. CTYank

    CTYank Minister of Fire

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    There's no such thing, objectively, as a "face" cord; there's a 128 cu.ft. cord, or fraction thereof. Per the law in many states, to avoid swindles.
    Preparing firewood is always an experiment, a gamble.

    Drying time depends on:
    How low you need the MC to go- 25/-% for fireplace, 10/-% or for EPA stove.
    Split size (length/cross-section)- smaller = shorter time.
    Location of stack (S-facing best), openness to SW breezes, elevated off-ground; temp very important.
    Cover to keep from re-wetting in rain.
    Bark on/off. (Bark helps retain moisture.)

    I burn some ash, and would only burn "right away" if desperate; all wood takes time to fully stabilize near optimum MC. (Think deep inside.)
    BL, having very dense fibers, seems to take about 50% longer to dry than you might guess.

    BL has very dangerous splinters, rivaled only by northern red oak IMHO.
    IME, even when dried to near 0% MC, BL needs some more "volatile" wood mixed in, to keep flames/secondaries going; definitely not "shoulder-season" fuel.
    (All MC's named are dry-basis.)
  6. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    I've got one small BL split and some others to get, all dead/standing. This first one is at about 18%. I need 15% on my meter for a good burn, so I think it'll be good this fall.
  7. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

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    Black Locust is go to January wood. Unless you have a lot of the good stuff, I would split it big, set it aside and give it two years.
  8. gzecc

    gzecc Minister of Fire

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    Black Locust is as good ash in regards to seasoning time. Its however better than ash in regards to BTUs. It also, starts out with a MC around 30-35%. In 6 mos after split and stacked in the proper way it will be in the 20% range. In a year it will easily be below 20%. I keep some splits big for overnight burns and mix it in with other hardwoods.
  9. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Nordic, while it is partially true that you can burn ash right away you will find it is much, much better to let it season at least 6 months and better a year. Even better yet is 2, 3 or 4 years!

    One winter many moons ago we were caught unprepared (due to an injury) and I actually had to buy wood. It was all white ash thankfully, because it had just been cut and split with no time for drying. Yes, we burned it that winter and no, we did not freeze. However, we burned a lot more wood than normal and we also cleaned our chimney more often. We got through that winter but I'd hate to have to do that again.

    Ash is low moisture (relatively) when it is cut but still over 30% moisture and wood should be 20% or less. We've been burning ash that has been split and stacked for up to 8 years. Next winter we'll burn all ash that was cut during the winter of 2008-2009. It was split in the spring of 2009 and stacked immediately following the splitting. It will burn nicely and so will yours if you give it enough time to dry.

    I have no experience with black locust but surely wish I had some. I believe a year is good with BL but you might get by this year if you get it split right away. Split perhaps a bit smaller than normal. Stack it loosely out where both sun and wind will hit the stack. Also if you have to choose, wind is better than sun.
  10. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

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    Get it split and stack now and it'll be plenty ready by the time it gets cold this winter
  11. TreePointer

    TreePointer Minister of Fire

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    True.

    I've purposely burned ash at various times of seasoning to test the ol' rhyme. While it is true that green (recently alive) ash will stay aflame, it does so with a lot of hissing and smoke. If one does this in an open fireplace or the outdoor firepit (as opposed to an enclosed stove or burner), this can be observed very easily. While ash is a premium firewood when properly seasoned, I'd rather burn fully seasoned poplar or pine than freshly cut, healthy white ash.
  12. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Good point TreePointer.
  13. Hiram Maxim

    Hiram Maxim Minister of Fire

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    +1

    I burned some 3 year old stuff this last Winter. Wow.....great stuff :)
  14. sheepdog000

    sheepdog000 New Member

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    I scored some BL that the local Road Commission cut down when widening a road. I got it in mid-late July and split it in early - mid august. I cross stacked it right away after splitting. I used a mm on some of the pieces last night and found it at 10%. Some was also at 25%. The color of the wood sure is different from when it was split. It's much darker now, almost a reddish orange. I hope this stuff is seasoning quick.
  15. bluedogz

    bluedogz Minister of Fire

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    I have some BL put back that came off a building lot in April, and more that was vertical last Thursday. The 6-month stuff shows anywhere from 9-18% on the meter, the fresh stuff came in at over 30% on every piece. I'll update more when I actually burn it.
  16. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    Black locust is very fast to season. If that was drop in May I would bet split and stack for a few months your going to see reading under 18 percent.
  17. krex1010

    krex1010 Minister of Fire

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    Bl seasons pretty fast as far as hardwoods go, if you have to burn it this year, then I'd say split it small and stack it loosely in single rows where plenty of sun and wind will hit it. It may be useable by the end of the winter, not ideal but it may work out. Best case is split it now and next fall you should be good to go if you let it sit in stacks. In regards to your comment about ash being burnable right away, I disagree, ash will sizzle and hiss just like any other species if you burn it green. In regards to moisture content I saw someone say that for an EPA stove your wood should be at 10% mc. I personally think that's a bit extreme, I believe EPA tests are run with wood around 21% mc and part of the reason being that if the wood starts getting below 15% none of the stoves would pass for emissions, since off gassing of the wood occurs so rapidly that complete combustion of particulates actually decreases. So I'm a believer that, with most wood species, if the wood is split and stacked for an honest 12 months, you are good to go. Moisture meters are a good tool, but as someone who works with small electronic devices I know they are typically only marginally accurate and influenced by factors like temperature, humidity etc. Time and space are your friends with seasoning wood, if you follow that rule you don't need to worry about moisture content and meters and all that.
  18. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    Wood stores water in two ways:

    Free water - Like the water in a soaked sponge, it can actually be squeezed out with sufficient pressure. It is not chemically bound to the wood fibers, so it evaporates easily with little added energy. When it is gone, almost all species of wood will be at about 28% MC and will not even have begun to shrink yet, so it will be mostly crack-free. Below is a photo from "Understanding Wood", showing how much water can be squeezed from a small block of red pine sapwood (about 135% MC). Wonder why it won't burn?


    [​IMG]


    Bound water - This is like the water that remains in a sponge after you have wrung it as hard as you can. Still pretty damp, eh? This water is a whole lot harder to remove, requiring more energy to break the hygroscopic bonds it forms with the wood fibers. This water has to migrate through the split by diffusion, and the denser the wood, the slower the diffusion rate.


    So...


    Locust is known to be a very low MC wood when green, but it ain't close to seasoned dry. Like ash, it has very little free water, but the locust fibers hold onto the 28% of bound water for a long time because locust is so dense. Bottom line is that locust may burn now, but will burn so much better in a year. I don't think it needs two, but locust will last 30 years in a stack and still be fine, so it a good one to lay down for the future.


    For example, last year I found an old barbed-wire fence with locust posts at the perimeter of the property. I'd guess they were older than this house, which is about 60 years old. The posts broke easily at ground level, but I yanked the wire off and burned those old posts one cold February night and they were still good. Although the outsides were punked up, the inside still had usable firewood after all those years.
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  19. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    I can say this. I had a stack fall over that was cut in Feb. Fresh cut. Guess where it went.......lol Burned far better than fresh cut ash (Even Blue flame).... I refuse to re-stack it. I hate Stacking...........
  20. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    Hey, I hate to stack even once. :p

    I know what you are saying about the fresh-cut locust. I burned plenty of it in the ancient furnace I had in my old place. That was a leaky SOB and was designed to run as hot as you could get it. It ate green locust rounds up to 12" like they were candy. I'd go down in the middle of the night to check the fire and there would be the most beautiful bowl of blue flames in there, and the heat off those coals? !!! Made the lenses of my glasses pop and creak in the frame just opening the door.

    Whole different kinda animal than an EPA wood stove, though. I'd leave for a year if I could, but I'd burn it sooner if I needed it. It is very impractical to burn oil or gas when you have a perfectly good wood stove sitting there. Mix and match, green and seasoned, a bit of pallet wood thrown in, construction scraps... anything to avoid touching that damn thermostat. :coolgrin:
  21. krex1010

    krex1010 Minister of Fire

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    Amen Battenkiller! I refuse to burn oil if I have wood to feed my stove! And of the common trees around here locust is the creme de la creme!
    Btw, has the 'kill relaxed to where the trout are cooperating?
  22. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

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    Haven't been on it all season. Like just about everywhere else in these parts, the 'Kill has been running somewhere between high and unfishable all season this year. Plus, I got Lyme real bad this spring and was out of commission for most of the early season. Haven't wet a line all season, first time in my life I wasted an entire fishing license. I'll bet the WW canoeists and kayakers have been having a blast, though. ;-)
  23. krex1010

    krex1010 Minister of Fire

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    Battenkiller,
    Sorry to hear that, hope you recover fully, I know lymes can hang around and mess you up for a while. I didn't get in as much fishing time as I would have liked either, oh well the stripers will be hitting the beaches soon soni have that to look forward to.

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