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Speed up seasoning of small oak splits

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by ddahlgren, Jan 25, 2013.

  1. ddahlgren

    ddahlgren Feeling the Heat

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    Is there any way to do this? Currently about 20% moisture and just refuses to burn well, like trying to burn rocks. I am assuming my moisture meter reads correctly. It is brand new about a week old so have nothing to compare it to. My guideline if seasoned previously was if the end grain is not split and cracked it is not ready. Though that does not always work for me on big splits. The other thing I have learned is a wood pile will balance the moisture content in that if you put wood that has a higher moisture content with wood the a low moisture content the dry wood will go up in content while the high content will go down sort of reaching a balance point. I think the wood pile needs to be treated as a whole and if new wood comes in it needs it's own pile. I need to get at least another 6 weeks of heat and by volume i have enough wood but by condition i have a week of decent stuff maybe a bit more. Are eco bricks a possibility to take the edge off during the day or a waste of money? Locally they are about 50 cents each in a 6 pack. Years ago I used to burn pallets and a friend of mine had a big pick up and we would get 4 loads at the town dump 2 for me and 2 for him. Back then they were made of hardwood the ones I have lately make good kindling but nothing worth burning. I am open to ideas though kiln dried fire wood costs with 20% of fuel oil so why do the work for an unknown savings if any.

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  2. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    At 20% on a freshly split face, you should get decent burning. If you are measuring on the outside of a split the moisture will read much lower than the inside.

    That said, lots of people have had luck getting by with marginally seasoned wood when mixing in some eco bricks as you mentioned.

    How long as this wood been split and stacked? Generally, oak needs to be split and stacked in a loose fashion in an airy location for about 2 years, some say 3, to be seasoned.

    It's one of the more frustrating woods to work with because of that.

    pen
  3. ddahlgren

    ddahlgren Feeling the Heat

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    Thanks for the reply we are talking 6 months so maybe next year it will be ok. I can see what the problem is and learned a painful lesson by stacking the new wood with the wood that was 2+ years old and a joy to burn. Basically I poisoned the wood pile. I know this has to be the problem as the old wood has gone up 8% in moisture 2 weeks after mixing them. The splits I go recently were supposedly left as 8 ft rounds for 2 years and split 6 months ago. When I placed the order I asked for plenty of ash mixed in as I have heard it buts fairly well even if not fully seasoned. After they dumped the load I asked how to identify the ash and told they did not have any to put in that was in 16 inch lengths..sigh.. The splits are faily small at 4 inches on a side. The problem is they measure ok with meter but put in with a roaring kindling fire all they do is flash for a few minutes then smolder and slowly go to coals even with a 500 degree stove temp. I am assuming they are just too wet no matter what the meter says. I was thinking of putting a pile 5 ft from the stove loosly stacked and see if the fan and low humidity might help them.
  4. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    Did you split one of those splits and use the mm on the freshly split inside surface? Wood doesn't really start to season until it's cut to length and split. So how long those 8 foot rounds have been lying around is close to irrelevant. You've got 6-month-aged oak, which isn't in burnable condition.

    A kindling fire isn't enough to get insufficiently dry dense hardwood to light off, but a couple of eco-bricks should work a lot better if you can't get access to a supply of actually dry wood. Also, I've found even dry red oak ignites somewhat reluctantly in larger splits. I find I need to start with a Rock Maple fire, then start adding the oak when temps are well up. The primary virtue of oak is that it burns comparatively slowly, so it's ideal for long fires like overnight. Rock Maple is about the same BTU content, but it gives up its heat easier and faster. Ash is good, too, though not quite as hot.

    But best would be not to even try burning that oak but leave it to sit for a year or two. It's good stuff and a shame to waste it by burning it before its time. (And also, watch out for creosote accumulation in your chimney. If you're going to burn this stuff, either get a sweep in to look at it in a few weeks or do it yourself if you know how.)

    Yes, definitely, piling the wood inside and turning a fan on it will help it dry, though probably take it a couple of weeks to make much of a difference with 4-inch oak.

    Interesting observation about "poisoning" the wood pile.
  5. Huntindog1

    Huntindog1 Minister of Fire

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    Split the wood one more time and keep the next stove load pieces in by the stove stacked cabin style.

    The next 8 hours or so of the stove cycle will dry out those pieces that you just split one more time.
  6. bryan

    bryan Member

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    You can try mixing the pallets with your marginal wood, which is what a lot of people around here have recommended. I've spent a good portion of winter burning pallets and the pallets burn a lot better when mixed with cord wood. Trying to burn kiln dried poplar/pine seems like trying to burn gasoline efficiently in a stove. It goes off all at once and then you've got nothing. At least with the cord wood mixed in the pallets pieces burn slower and more evenly while the cord wood comes up to temp.
  7. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    "The other thing I have learned is a wood pile will balance the moisture content in that if you put wood that has a higher moisture content with wood the a low moisture content the dry wood will go up in content while the high content will go down"
    HUH?
  8. ddahlgren

    ddahlgren Feeling the Heat

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    I don't have access to a truck anymore short of renting one.as all I have now is a 4 door sedan and a Corvette. My back and splitting wood is not going to happen and the splits are so small now if I split them one more time they would be kindling. I went to tractor supply and bought 10 packs of Eco-bricks and will try a couple this afternoon and see how they burn. Better than loading up the chimney with creosote trying to burn wet wood. I need to clean out the stove as there 4 inches of ash in it and I mean ash no coals at all. I turned them several times today and got the last little bit they had. I am also installing a quality probe style stack thermometer that came in a couple of days ago. It reads 150 to 750 and thought an appropriate range. If it works well will buy one for the stove top as the same company makes a quality sure thermometer. I started a thread about heat output and gathering quality tools to get good info to share as the Rutland thermometers I bought at Lowe's are just one step above scrap metal.

    With Eco-bricks start with 2 or 4 to get a feel for them before a big load? I have been running the stove temp with good wood at 500-550 and no idea what the stack is only that i have the secondary lit well and a lick on the finger and touch the stack makes a very sharp sizzle so guessing 350 or 400. I am thinking the probe will read close to double that.
  9. ddahlgren

    ddahlgren Feeling the Heat

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    I measured it is all I know. If you think about it very dead trees absorb and give up moisture all the time. Floors doors boats furniture etc. After some thought it is not surprising really. My 140 year old stairs creak in the winter and not the summer and covered in paint, the floor has 2 coats of poly and visibly shrinks in the winter giving up moisture swells in the summer taking it on. Being an engineer i should have figured this out before I did it.
  10. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    So you think moisture goes from green wood into the seasoned wood.
  11. rdust

    rdust Minister of Fire

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    I didn't see the answer anywhere, you are checking the moisture content on a fresh face after splitting a piece, correct? If you're not splitting and checking a fresh face the moisture content means nothing. IF the wood is 20% on a fresh split face the wood should be burning darn near perfect.

    Stick the moisture meter into the palm of your hand a little, it should read 35%. If it's reading that it should be working well enough for the purpose of firewood.
    OldLumberKid and gyrfalcon like this.
  12. DanCorcoran

    DanCorcoran Minister of Fire

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    OP, you said your stack thermometer reads 150-750. Mine shows the good burn zone to go up to 900 or so. I try to get my flue gas to 1000 degrees for a few minutes once a day, to burn off any fresh creosote. Your thermometer would be pegged on my stove for a good part of the burn.
  13. ddahlgren

    ddahlgren Feeling the Heat

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    I don't even think it needs to be green wood it could be a damp towel. I think anything with a surplus of moisture will have some of it absorbed by something with a lack of it. The same happens with heat the stove is hotter than the room so the stove gives up heat to the room. If the house was on fire it would give up heat to the stove. It does not seem complicated after some thought that all things try to reach equilibrium why would a pile of wood be different?
  14. ddahlgren

    ddahlgren Feeling the Heat

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    What is your stove temp with 900 degree stack? I was bouncing back and forth between 200 to 1000 or 150 to750 range. It is not installed yet so might be able to exchange it. your 900 is very close to the continuous for Duravent Plus.
  15. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Only on the surface, have you checked a fresh split yet?
  16. ddahlgren

    ddahlgren Feeling the Heat

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    I am ashamed to say i do not own an axe or splitting maul. No real easy way to check. I would think how far transfer in would be a function of time the longer the exposure the greater the transfer. the same as the longer your stove at 600 degrees the more the room heats up.
  17. rdust

    rdust Minister of Fire

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    Your readings mean nothing on how well seasoned the wood is. If you have a hammer and a chisel you can use it to crack at least one split open to check it out.
  18. Huntindog1

    Huntindog1 Minister of Fire

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    When you get time you should get you a splitting maul.
    JeffersonCoKs likes this.
  19. ddahlgren

    ddahlgren Feeling the Heat

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    Will do! i might just get a wedge as in the shop I have a 20 ton press and see if i can send the wedge through to check the occasional piece.
  20. bupalos

    bupalos Member

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    It's probably only the outside 1/2" of the wood that is much affected by the raising and lowering of relative air humidity levels around it. That's what's actually happening with that mixed stack I think, you're creating a higher air humidity. I don't know the specifics of the physics that governs this (I think the word hygroscopic would be involved) but even keeping 15% moisture wood in air of 95% relative humidity for extended times doesn't noticeably raise it's moisture content on a fresh split face from my experience. Though I do agree that wood floors do expand and contract and cup and bow seemingly in response to air humidity, I think this is only happening to a very shallow depth.

    Someone should explain the science here.
  21. ddahlgren

    ddahlgren Feeling the Heat

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    I agree as only saying what i see and doing my best to explain my thoughts and explain it away...
  22. DanCorcoran

    DanCorcoran Minister of Fire

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    My stove-top thermometer usually reads 500-600 maximum when I'm burning, but this is not when the flue is at 900 - 1,000. First the stack gets hot, then I reduce the primary air, which raises the interior stove temperature by sending less heat up the flue. So when the flue temp is going down, the stove interior / stove top temperature is going up.

    Here are links to my two thermometers (I think many on this website use these):

    http://www.condar.com/probe_meters.html

    http://www.condar.com/stove_top_meters.html

    P.S. As many have stated above, don't even bother taking a moisture reading on the surface of a split from your woodpile. You need to split it again and read from the freshly split face, with the two prongs of the probe parallel to the grain. Any reading from the outside of an old split is meaningless.
  23. bag of hammers

    bag of hammers Minister of Fire

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    My flue probe might be similar to yours - top end of the "good" zone is 900 deg...? My dog's breakfast of kindling takes off fast, pipe gets hot really fast (I have to watch it - learned not to walk away with air wide open on start-ups). It can go to 1000 in under 10 minutes. I start to close the primary air down gradually before it hits that temp - then stove starts to crank the heat while the flue temps settle back to the lower end of the zone.
  24. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    I think you said something above about a back problem preventing you from using a maul, no? If you get yourself a good hatchet and a heavy hammer or small sledgehammer, that'll work to split the occasional piece of wood without putting too much strain on the back, especially if you can sit or squat to do it. (Ask me how I know...)
  25. ddahlgren

    ddahlgren Feeling the Heat

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    I have a hatchet and a 3 1/2 pound hammer.. Will that do it? Back is trash the docs would fix it if only they where to start as all trash. I am not up for fuse and test.. Dave

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