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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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    Hi i have a good friend that lived in NH and while not VT still a very nice place built in 1854 on around ten acres not sold off. Have 3 nice saved splits in to really warm the house up and this little stove headed to 700F with a fan on it. Secondaries in full blaze mode so life is good the room the stove is in is 88 and house 74 upstairs at 65.. So wood is good and Eco-bricks a sad joke. Will have to look into the woodshed can you believe I was taxed on a tool shed 12 X8 at it's worth being 5k??? I built it in 3 days for 1k in material. and wend over the top..

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  2. FishKiller

    FishKiller New Member

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    i want to attempt to tackle the original post, "speeding up seasoning". i am not an expert in wood burning, in fact this is my first season heating primarily with wood. but i have a decent understanding of chemistry and physics.

    there appears to be some confusion on humidity vs. moisture content. humidity is basically the amount of water vapor in air, there are many variables such as temperature, pressure etc. moisture content on the other hand, is amount of water in a material by weight.
    now with that said, the reason wood "dries" in the first place is that there is a differential between the air and the wood, and the water will always move from greater concentration to a lower, i think its called osmosis when its a between solids/liquids and evaporation when its into a gas.. but its been awhile since i hit the books. so even at extremely high humidity there is still less water molecules in the air then there is in the wood because the wood (being a complex solid) has the ability to hold more water then air ever could (and when it was alive it was pulling it from the ground). thus an exchange occurs, water molecules leave the wood and go into the air. i'm not sure what the lowest possible moisture content would be once equilibrium has been reached, but i would guess its in the mid to high teens. obviously your climate will have a small effect on that number.
    soooo....
    the only time wood will be absorbing water after the tree has been cut is if it is in direct contact with liquid water or in direct contact with a solid that has a higher moisture content then the wood does. (like wrapping it in a wet towel and putting it in a plastic bag to slow evaporation). with this said, there is no way that mixing unseasoned wood with dry wood could cause the dry wood to absorb moisture, evaporation would be occurring much faster then osmosis. basically the water would go into the air before going into the adjacent wood(and whatever did in the small areas of contact would be more then negated by whats leaving the wood), this would indeed slightly increase the humidity of the surrounding air, but like i said before... the wood would still have more water then the air.

    so to "speed" up the process do anything that would naturally speed up evaporation... air movement, heat,exposing to air with a lower moisture content, increase surface area (smaller splits).

    as for doors and floors absorbing water... it happens, but these are pieces of wood that have been dried unnaturally to a point beyond normal equilibrium, so during extending periods of high humidity osmosis will actually put water into the wood.

    hope this helps.
    gyrfalcon likes this.
  3. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    Bravo. Nicely explained. Seems to me wood floors and even doors are typically also much thinner than your average split of firewood, and with much more surface area exposed. I note that the old wooden wideboard pine planks that make up the floors of my 1850s house are much thicker than fancy modern flooring, and they don't heave or warp or shrink. They knew what they were doing back then.
  4. madison

    madison Minister of Fire

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    If the stack of wood - would be enclosed with a moisture retaining barrier, I might accept the transfer of moisture/equilibrium between splits. But since the stack is open to air and not enclosed -- i don't buy the theory.
    gyrfalcon likes this.
  5. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    You pretty much have to submerse the wood in water to get it to soak up much moisture.
    gyrfalcon likes this.
  6. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Thats cool, what type of race cars do you work on?
  7. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    Here's a little more specificity on the relationship between moisture content and relative humidity. Woodworkers (like me) deal with this all the time because we need to anticipate and quantify shrinkage and expansion of wood as seasons change. I've got some background here.

    Wood actually is something like a sponge, and if it's very dry (drier than most firewood ever gets before it's on fire) then it can indeed absorb moisture from the air and expand. To make sense of why we don't actually see this happen, we need a little concept called Equilibrium Moisture Content, which is a way of expressing the MC at which wood will eventually stabilize when its environment is kept at a particular relative humidity. The relationship between RH and EMC is known and quite consistent across all woods, regardless of species. The numbers break down like this:

    0% RH = 0% EMC
    19 to 25% RH = 5% EMC
    25 to 32% RH = 6% EMC
    32 to 39% RH = 7% EMC
    39 to 46% RH = 8% EMC
    46 to 52% RH = 9% EMC
    57% RH = 10% EMC
    65% RH = 12% EMC
    74% RH = 14% EMC
    80% RH = 16% EMC
    91% RH = 21% EMC

    Even at the bottom of the list, with RH at 91%, wood seeks a moisture content of only 21%. So even if you kept wood in a 90% RH environment for months on end, it would still slowly dry out to a perfectly burnable state.

    The OP is right that wood can absorb moisture from a humid environment, and everyone else is right that that property of wood is not in play here and virtually never applies to firewood in any significant way. It seems perfectly clear that the OP's wood is very wet, and his MM readings are being done incorrectly and are meaningless.

    BTW, if you want to read the MC deep inside a piece of wood without splitting it, pound in a couple of finishing nails the same distance apart as the pins on the meter, and touch the pins to those.
    gyrfalcon likes this.
  8. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    C'mon out and take a look at our stack of maple. Half the face of it is wet in spite of being under top cover. The wood should be dry, but non-stop rains in Nov/Dec did their toll.
  9. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    Well, I don't think anybody said it couldn't get wet. The question is whether that wet goes more than fraction of an inch deep, no? I don't cover my wood at all. It gets wet. It dries out in hours. even in the dead of winter. Even the overall himidity shouldn't make much of a difference. To quote Jon above, "Even at the bottom of the list, with RH at 91%, wood seeks a moisture content of only 21%."
  10. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    It goes in about 3", enough to cool the fire a bit until that moisture has boiled off. I decided to skip burning that stack this year. It'll go in the shed in spring.
  11. DanCorcoran

    DanCorcoran Minister of Fire

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    Yes, wood pellets are very succeptible to moisture damage. They must be kept in a dry area at all times. If exposed to water, they cannot be dried out and used. We used a 40-lb bag every day or two, so figure out how much storage that would entail.
  12. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Non stop rains is sortta being submersed is it not?
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  13. ddahlgren

    ddahlgren Feeling the Heat

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    To answer a bunch of things brought up here.
    Going through records and seeing other woodsheds might help but no real effect as each house is and each change is done on an individual basis. They could and would argue that when the house was built they used a coal stove for heat and would not be burning wood in the first place. Thinking about that though and never ran a coal stove they must have used something to get the coal to light off. It took a year to get permits for my carriage house I built and it is designed correct for the period complete with a functional hay hook.

    The race cars, mostly vintage sports cars GT1 through GT3, Formula 5000 and 3000, GTP, IMSA GT1 currently working on a Vintage Dallara/Judd F1 plus some current race bikes and drag race cars.

    Now the most important thing what type of wood can I buy a year ahead and have ready to burn in the fall if any? I do not want a pellet stove as the labor will take my back out big time I used that up a long time ago working in engine shops and race car shops. i can always hire a local kid to stack wood for a few bucks. Coal is out of the question as I at least imagine there are lots of issues with coal dust and what I envision a long learning curve. If it is a possibility where can you buy it and have delivered to SE CT?

    The Eco-bricks are in my opinion a joke at best at least the ones sold by Tractor Supply. They eventually get the stove to 500 degrees but it takes a long time and if I turn on the box fan next to the stove it cools down to 400 ish. They also lack making a coal bed that seems to add a lot of heat. In short they do burn and not much more can be said about them the ones I have burn slow and lazy and if you give them more air to burn faster the stack gets hotter and stove colder so no gain there.
  14. Jon1270

    Jon1270 Minister of Fire

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    You might find this this thread helpful.
  15. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    Most woods would work, other than oak.
    IMHO, trees which have edible parts season within a year in ideal conditions.
    Examples include fruit trees such as apple, pear, peach and cherry, nut trees such as hickory, walnut and chestnut and maple. I burn a lot of maple, usually soft. I don't have much experience with sugar (hard) maple.

    I don't have ideal seasoning conditions, so I season everything for a minimum of two years, oak three or more. (sometimes much more, oak seems to get better every year for at least the first 5 years).

    Ash is considered by some to be a fast seasoning, good firewood, others call it junk. Go figure.
  16. jatoxico

    jatoxico Minister of Fire

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    ddahlgren are you near Limerock? Been up there acouple times for the vintage festival and the Am LeMans Series, great fun.

    Ash would be your best bet as it is a good hard wood that dries very quickly. Avoid oak since it can take a very long time. The issue I see is getting a supplier that will give you a single species.

    The eco bricks are unimpressive to me as well but perform ok for me when mixed in with regular wood.
  17. ddahlgren

    ddahlgren Feeling the Heat

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    I do have access to some well seasoned wood but the only catch is I will have to cut every piece as it is cut at 22 inches and my stove is very small and only takes 16 to 17 max. I suppose I could get a pick-up load and fight it for a Sunday project.

    Other than that search CL makes the calls and see who has some maple ash or hickory. Then stack the oak I have out back with a cover over the top and forget about it for a while. Better yet to just drive there and pick a few pieces out of the pile and see if it burns well sort of a taste test LOL. I do have some maple I can go up and cut up I use some for kindling and some is around 4 inch rounds from trimed trees that had dying branches and a year old since cut and dying on the tree before that. It does work well.

    i do need to call my friend who burns the oak from the same supplier and see what her results are.
  18. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    "Ash is considered by some to be a fast seasoning, good firewood, others call it junk. Go figure."
    I guess I dont remember seeing posts like that, it amazes me how some of the newer wood burners have a few issues with some thing or another and then they know all about it and why it did not work or that wood is crap, it does not work in other subjects either so why would it be any different with wood burning.
    gyrfalcon likes this.
  19. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    "The race cars, mostly vintage sports cars GT1 through GT3, Formula 5000 and 3000, GTP, IMSA GT1 currently working on a Vintage Dallara/Judd F1 plus some current race bikes and drag race cars."
    I am impressed, your skill level must be very high as not just any body can work and be trusted on such expensive cars.
  20. rdust

    rdust Minister of Fire

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    I've never seen white ash be referred to as junk wood. I guess who ever could call it junk wood burns nothing but Osage Orange and Live Oak. ;lol
  21. ddahlgren

    ddahlgren Feeling the Heat

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    I am in SE Ct so about a 3 hour drive no matter how you try to get there.. Watkins Glen and Daytona are my favorites and While Lime Rock is close it seems like more of a bull ring to me. I used to travel a lot with a vintage IMSA GT1 car owned by a friend of a friend and every time I set the car up we were either 1'st or 2'd qualifier and I never bothered to set the car up for qualifying race trim for everything. Had a podium finish every race as well. Personality problems got in the way though as well as getting paid in a timely fashion. He had a partner in the car that would not do what i told him to do on many occasions once at Daytona i told him even though we might not need it always fill to max on every fuel stop. When we ran out of fuel on the front straight last lap leading we ended up third crossing the finish at maybe 90 mph and usually around 203 to 206 mph. I did a bunch of driver coaching as well and the driver did not like it one bit as he and the crew chief knew everything there was to know and I knew nothing because i was not a driver..LOL.. With my lack of being a driver but a very good engineer I turned the car from a middle of the pack car to a podium car in one season and stayed there for the second season I raced with them. Oh well enough of that.. I have some maple that is over a year seasoned time to process that and get it inside so warm for the next few days.
  22. ddahlgren

    ddahlgren Feeling the Heat

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    It is up there without blowing my horn too much. i have worked on Aston martin GTP Jag Group 44 Lancia/Ferrari March/Ferrari/ Nissan GTP cars Porsche GTP 959 962 etc. All in the 800k to 1.4M range. Some one of 1 cars that can not be replaced. I make parts for them as well. It is a labor of love and sometimes 50% art as well aluminum sculpture but will never get rich at it. There is something to be said about working at something you love. The funniest one was a 1 of 1 Nissan GT car commissioned by Paul Newman with a twin turbo 4 liter V-8 never sold in the USA built in '83. They ran it a few times and never lived up to what was hoped. so parked and finally sold and resold with a whole cast of characters playing with it to only make it worse. I was hired to straighten it out after the next new owner bought it for 60k basically salvage from what could be sold if parted out. Worked on it for 4 days at the race shop in NH. Fixed the ignition injection retimed both and changed a bunch of parts that were either worn out or changed to something just plain wrong. My tab was 4500 for labor and travel and they spent about 1k in fuel for it. The fuel it needs is 26 a gallon... So maybe 6 k total. Test at Watkins Glen and the car very fast and runs better than the day built. The owner refused 1.3M for the car and complains about my billing being too high..LOL.. Now when someone calls I just tell them up front I am not a cheap date and if they are ok with that I will look into their problems and fix them. You just can not have good fast and cheap at the same time pick two and you are ok..LOL..
  23. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    One of the owners of a tree company I do service work for.
    My next door neighbor burns only ash.
  24. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    I suppose I could have left the controversial part out. It just seems like a good idea to present all veiwpoints and not be overly definitive. I am trying to become a good internet citizen.
  25. jatoxico

    jatoxico Minister of Fire

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    I could see Lime Rock being considered small time for pros but a lot of good views for the spectators. Always wanted to go to Watkins Glen, always read it was first class.

    If you can get kiln dried wood you could keep it in the basement or something since it's already dry and supposed to be bug free. A little here a little there and you're on your way.

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