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split wood scent

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by jj3500, Jun 1, 2009.

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  1. jj3500

    jj3500 Member

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    Just a general question....
    I recently split a lot of rounds that were sitting for over a year....red oak and maple. For me, there is a strong smell of the tree when I first cut it down. After splitting it, that smell is again present. Is this an indication, other than moisture readings, that the wood is not ready to burn or not even close to burn? I realize that rounds do not season.

    Thanks

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  2. edthedawg

    edthedawg Minister of Fire

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    I'm gonna reckon this'll be moved to the Woodshed, but I'll agree w/ your suspicions... I got that strong oak smell on some splits sitting about 9 months and chucked 'em back on the stack. I was splitting big ones down smaller and they were deep red inside and full of resin smell. the seasoning process does more than just pull out moisture, it also oxidizes those resins to minimize their tendency to become tar inside your chimney.
  3. jdinspector

    jdinspector Feeling the Heat

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    Yes, the smell of wood (particularly oak) indicates that the wood is still wet. Better get it covered. You'll be fine by fall.
  4. Wet1

    Wet1 Minister of Fire

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    I'm not sure I'd agree. If this red oak was just recently split, I highly doubt it will be ready to burn this fall. Next year possibly, but not this year. The maple OTOH, could be close depending on what type of maple it is. If it's hard maple it might not be ready for this fall. If it's soft maple, it will be ready to burn this fall.
  5. gpcollen1

    gpcollen1 Minister of Fire

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    I'd agree to an extent. I think it depends on how long those logs have been sitting - the red oak in particular. I had a big stack of red oak rounds that i did not split when I cut them up. After one year, they were stinky and wet when I split them and not quite ready to burn. I did burn them in Feb/March when i ran out of wood and paid in the form of creosote and labor. The following year they were fine. I would stack it and test them come September to see if they are worth burning.

    Nothing worse than trying to get your stove going with wet Red Oak...
  6. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Challenge: Go buy some red oak lumber or plywood at a lumberyard. Cut it. Do you get any red oak odor?

    If you smell it, does that mean this lumber is not dry?
  7. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    True - I would tend to believe the odor is more from volatile organic compounds (google VOC's and terpenes). In the wood sap, you have basically water and these "oils". The water may evaporate, but the oils remain. I would almost reason the dryer the wood, the STRONGER the odor, as the remaining oils are more concentrated.

    As cases in point, I was cutting a 2x10 which was in baking my attic for the past 36 years. I almost ran to get the fire extinguisher as it smelled like someone had spilled a bowl of turpentine all over the floor. (plus, I think that chunk of pine was heavier than any piece of oak you'd buy today). Also consider things like maple syrup where the water is driven off and the flavor/smell of the remaining sap is concentrated.
  8. gzecc

    gzecc Minister of Fire

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    Cozy, now your getting into old growth lumber characteristics. Long leaf pine from 100yrs ago would be considered a hardwood today. Was that a slight orange colored pine?
  9. Alan Gage

    Alan Gage Member

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    Been splitting a lot of very dead white oak. Was dead standing until the roots rotted away and then blew over, don't know how many years it sat before I got to it. 16 in rounds are cracked the whole way through and the center reads about 25% on the moisture meter when split, after a few weeks it's considerably lower. The sweet smell of split oak isn't as noticeable on these as it is with fresh wood but it's definitely there and it's definitely ready to burn, it's about all I burned last winter.

    That's not to say yours is ready to go, I don't know.

    Alan
  10. gzecc

    gzecc Minister of Fire

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    Alan, take a picture of those splits. I bet they look just like the ones I have. I don't want to burn them!
  11. Corey

    Corey Minister of Fire

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    It did have some orange / red to it...really dense stuff, the weight caught me off balance and almost pulled me through the attic opening. Growth rings about 1/16" apart.
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