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Sweet Gum question

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Mike821, Feb 26, 2011.

  1. Mike821

    Mike821 Member

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    Good day.....I have a sweet gum tree in my backyard that is going to be removed this year. I am looking for some BTU info and rate of burn. Has anyone had any experience with this type of tree? Also...I think it is sweet gum. It has prick balls that fall in the fall and winter.

    Thanks-Mike

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  2. NH_Wood

    NH_Wood Minister of Fire

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  3. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    The gum balls are diagnostic - nothing else like 'em. You have Sweet Gum
  4. NH_Wood

    NH_Wood Minister of Fire

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    Absolutely - only thing close is sycamore, but no spikes. My plant taxonomy prof called em' porcupine eggs :lol:. Cheers!
  5. adrpga498

    adrpga498 Minister of Fire

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    I hope you have a hydraulic splitter, is so then your in good shape, burns nice.
  6. Mike821

    Mike821 Member

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    Nice....thanks guys! As for the splitter...well I gues I will be renting. I split all my wood by hand. I had a sycamore that yeilded eight cords....dam large tree. If it is anything like sycamore no way I am splitting by hand.
  7. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    Splitting sweet gum is line trying to split a roll of bailing wire.
  8. mywaynow

    mywaynow Minister of Fire

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    Looking at that table of BTU ratings, I really feel blessed with the native species available in my area. Oak, Locust, Maple, Dogwood, Elm; all available without much searching. Also a noteworthy fact from the tables; the highter the BTU, the greater the wieght per cord. No exceptions. This makes it easy to choose whether or not to take wood while in the woods. I noticed that some Beech I had accsss too earlier this season had so awesome wieght to it. This stuff wieghed more than the Red Oak I had been working, and that is heavy wood. The BTU on the Beech is reflective of that wieght difference.
  9. NH_Wood

    NH_Wood Minister of Fire

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    Yeah - that table seems to yield higher BTU values for some species than the table from the chimneysweeponline site. Not sure which is correct (or if either is correct!). Cheers!
  10. BrotherBart

    BrotherBart Hearth.com LLC Mid-Atlantic Division Staff Member

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    I burn mostly oak but I could live out the rest of my life burning Beech and be a happy guy.
  11. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    I spent a hour today, enough snow has melter to put the tons of Sweet Gum seed pods on bare ground, with my 22" mulching mower set real close to the ground mulching the seed pods. I think the tree is very pretty, grows relatively fast, but what a mess. Sad to read it isn't good fire wood, the thought has crossed my mind a couple of times. No one to blame but me, no my wife it was her idea, we planted the two trees about 20 years ago and I've been cleaning up the pods ever since. Wish the pods were better fire material. I also have a lot of White Pine, and I tried to use pine cones for fire starter. It works, sort of, but not well enough for me to continue the practice.

    I can't imagine trying to split wood that is like a "a roll of bailing wire."
  12. WoodpileOCD

    WoodpileOCD Minister of Fire

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    +1 on the bailing wire. You can do it with a hydraulic but bustin rocks with a 20lb sledge would be easier than splitting sweet gum. Round here we call those thing monkey balls, don't know where it started. They are a definitive ID for sweet gum however.
  13. Remmy122

    Remmy122 New Member

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    I hate sweet gums. Well I hate the seed pods, I wish I could take down the one that drops in my yard but its the neighbors. The trunk is on their side of the property line but all the branches hang over mine... Im the lucky one with the seed pods!
  14. WoodpileOCD

    WoodpileOCD Minister of Fire

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    You PLANTED sweet gum trees ! You planted SWEET GUM trees???? What ever possessed you to do that. First time I ever heard of anyone doing anything with sweetgum but trying to get rid of it.. :bug:
  15. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    Some of the corporate "parks" around here have Sweet Gums lining their drives. They are pretty trees, but the pods/balls are a real mess. I can't just leave them there to decay, it takes many months, maybe years for the pods to decompose, and I hate walking on them, let alone looking at them. When I well the house I'll be careful to keep the pods cleared and if asked say I don't know what kind of trees they are?

    The bailing wire for splitting was just an unexpected bonus.
  16. CTYank

    CTYank Minister of Fire

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    Yup, been known for many years that higher fiber density -> higher energy density. The wild card is moisture content which varies a lot across species and sites, and makes it difficult to determine fiber density by inspection. Northern red oak on the stump has LOTS of water.

    With conifers, pitch can add quite a bit of energy.
  17. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    One nice thing about Sweet Gum is that in late fall lots of birds pick the seeds out of the gum balls. Check out a sweet gum in late November and you're likely to see lots of birds, especially Goldfinches, picking seeds.
  18. SmokinPiney

    SmokinPiney Feeling the Heat

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    I've always hated tryin to split gum. I usually toss it aside for the bonfire but this year i let some sit in rounds for about 9months and they split just fine. I did try with the maul and the rounds just laughed at me but the splitter popped em right apart. Stuff burns like cedar when it's dry!
  19. bigtall

    bigtall New Member

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    Wow. Sweet gum. Number 1,487 on the list of 1,487 fire wood trees. You are better off burning old newspaper. Lasts longer and is better than waiting the years it takes gum to dry.
  20. FLINT

    FLINT Feeling the Heat

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    Sweet gum is a fine tree for wildlife and the leaves turn a very pretty yellow or sometimes even purple in the fall.

    Here are my experiences with using it for firewood.

    It is VERY heavy when green - lots of water in it.

    If cut green, it splits best as soon as possible after cutting. If the rounds are very big - good luck - think about renting a splitter.

    Do not ever leave it laying on the ground for long, as it rots very fast if laying on the wet ground

    If you split it green, don't stack it directly into a tight shed, or the wood could mold - I'd leave it in stacks to dry for a while before putting it into a shed, unless your shed has great air flow.

    Even though its very wet when green, it seems to dry totally within a year and maybe faster

    its pretty light when dry - about like red - well, maybe a little lighter than red maple - maybe like silver maple

    burns very well when dry, my dad actually likes it pretty well. I'd put it in the same group as soft maple. Better than like Tulip poplar.
  21. Jerry_NJ

    Jerry_NJ Minister of Fire

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    Speaking of decomposition, how about the seed pods? If mulched, or at least broken into pieces with a mulching mower, can the mulch be left on the lawn? Is it a plus, minus, or no difference?
  22. WoodpileOCD

    WoodpileOCD Minister of Fire

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    Don't know how much you have actually burned or where you are getting your info from but my experience is more in line with what FLINT has to say.

    According to the Log Rack http://www.thelograck.com/firewood_rating_chart.html it puts out 18.7 million BTU per cord which is right up there with sycamore, cherry, maple and higher than any of the cedars, which I love to burn, or any of the pines. It is a bear to split but it dries fast so if you are looking for something for next year while your oak dries (like I am) I certainly would compare it to newspaper.


    From FLINT's post
    Here are my experiences with using it for firewood.

    It is VERY heavy when green - lots of water in it.

    If cut green, it splits best as soon as possible after cutting. If the rounds are very big - good luck - think about renting a splitter.

    Do not ever leave it laying on the ground for long, as it rots very fast if laying on the wet ground

    If you split it green, don’t stack it directly into a tight shed, or the wood could mold - I’d leave it in stacks to dry for a while before putting it into a shed, unless your shed has great air flow.

    Even though its very wet when green, it seems to dry totally within a year and maybe faster[/size]

    its pretty light when dry - about like red - well, maybe a little lighter than red maple - maybe like silver maple

    burns very well when dry, my dad actually likes it pretty well. I’d put it in the same group as soft maple. Better than like Tulip poplar.[/size]
  23. JeffRey30747

    JeffRey30747 Member

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    I cut down four small sweetgums from my yard Saturday. I bucked up the larger pieces for firewood. Hopefully, very few of them will need to be split. I usually don't expend much effort trying to hand split sweetgum before taking it to the hydraulic splitter. The hydraulic splitter doesn't really split it either. It just tears and shears through the rounds. It is by no means primo firewood but I will burn it if it is available and I don't have to go out of my way. My front yard has quite a few in it and between the gum balls, the scraggly appearance and their tendency to die and rot at the top of the tree, I don't like them and have a master plan to cut them all out. At the rate I'm going, it will take a while but it will produce a little extra firewood too. It doesn't take too long to season but will rot easily and does have a tendency to mold more than most other species. I just burn the mold too if it occurs.

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