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The Pressed Logs Are Here! (Part I)

Post in 'The Hearth Room - Wood Stoves and Fireplaces' started by Mo Heat, Mar 20, 2006.

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  1. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Thomas,

    I received 8 of the logs today. I think the rest will come tomorrow. The box was busted open, but all the logs were intact with only a bit of detritus in the box bottom. There were seven Cedar Starters in there, too.

    Reviewing your instructions, it appears you are suggesting using 3 logs per load. Is that correct? I wish I had a picture of the log configuration you were describing, but I think I'll just try something on my own first, just to see if I can get them going left to my own devices.

    It's cold here today, so I'll fire up a couple (maybe start with two logs to feel them out) right after lunch, Mrs. Mo Heat allowing...

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  2. Corie

    Corie Minister of Fire

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    Pictures! Pictures!!
  3. Mike Wilson

    Mike Wilson New Member

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  4. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    No camera... No camera... :(

    and... Mrs. Mo Heat is forcing me to go bowling and to drink 1/2 pitcher of Bud Select... :smirk:

    May be this evening before things start heating up, then again, I'm not sure what else Mrs. Mo Heat has in mind... :red:
  5. martel

    martel Member

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    wow, you got it rough- lol.
  6. NWfuel

    NWfuel Minister of Fire

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    Mo, Can't imagine those DHL people caring too much when they go to lift that 64lb box. DEAD WEIGHT!
    I would not user more than 3 logs at any time. The second box will have brochure from manufacturer and my sketch for starting.

    Thomas
  7. begreen

    begreen Mooderator Staff Member

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    Thomas, what local suppliers are there in the Seattle area?
  8. NWfuel

    NWfuel Minister of Fire

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    Our Seattle yard.
    15 South Spokane St. 206-622-3476

    Edmonds yard.
    425-743-1550

    Thanks for your interest!
    Thomas
  9. elkimmeg

    elkimmeg Guest

    May be this evening before things start heating up, then again, I’m not sure what else Mrs. Mo Heat has in mind… red face

    Remember this is a family forum when you say heat up ?????? Pitcher of beer? forced down by your wife?????
  10. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Initial impressions:

    I thought I'd ignore Thomas' advice on starting the compressed logs. Being what I consider an above average fire starter, I thought I'd just do my own thing and have a blaze going in short order. I put in two logs, side by side with a 3/4 inch gap between them and tried a modified top down kindle with a piece of pine in there for good measure. An hour later, with a flame that looked like two fireplace matches or a couple Popsicle sticks burning, it was time to get serious and break out the Super Cedar Fire Starters that Thomas included with the logs.

    I carefully repositioned the two smoldering logs. I put one sideways and leaned the other at a 90-degree angle on top of it, adding another log for a total of three. I was a little nervous about burning 3 logs since I'd never burned more than two compressed logs at one time. And Thomas' North Idaho Energy Logs were larger (average weight was 7.63 lbs for 4 randomly selected logs weighed on an electronic postal scale) than any I'd burned previously (5 lbs). But 3 are what Thomas recommended, so 3 it are. I've also seen my share of big fires in the Winter Warm and have quite a false sense of confidence in these matters, so I really never hesitated.

    I've learned that shrink wrapped items such as wax bound sawdust possessing little resilience need to be handled with some care, especially during transit. I believe a bit of rough handling may have occurred during the DHL trip observing the cracks and flattened edges in many of the Super Cedar pucks. The pucks looked a lot like the old Kennel Ration Burger we used to feed an old pooch, but those were a bit moister for easy swallowing. Still, the resemblance was haunting.

    I pulled, struggled with, jerked at, and eventually tore loose the tight shrink-wrap plastic from the first Super Cedar Fire Starter in what I would describe as a super explosion blasting out of my hands and raining down onto the hearth in a pile of Super Cedar pieces and powder. This was totally my fault, as my grip strength seems only slightly greater than Mother Mo Heat's these days and that shrink-wrap just let go all at once. A couple deep breathes. Gather the Super Cedar Fire Starter pieces and powder. Position them beneath the lean-to structure of the 3 compressed logs. Add fire...

    Wow! No lack of flames now! The Super Cedar was providing super flames. I suspect the conflagration will be a bit less super intense when the puck is not broken into pieces and powder. I noted on the wrapper that it contained cedar and wax. The wax explained the massive blaze I witnessed. A good blaze, though. I made a mental note to be sure and let the Super Cedar Starter burn away fully (along with the wax) before engaging the cat. As it turned out, this would not be a problem. The Super Cedar was long gone before the compressed logs really got rolling.

    (continued in next post...)
  11. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Here's a blow by blow after returning from the bowling alley yesterday. I bowled a 160 BTW. Times are approximate from mental notes taken during the burn.

    5 pm: Begin futile attempt to light compressed logs. An hour wasted.
    6 pm: Start over, following instructions this time.

    7 pm: Logs nearly covered with flames. Super Cedar gone.
    7:15 pm: Logs covered with flames. Super Cedar long gone.
    7:45 pm: Man, those logs are burning big. Maybe I should have just used two? Took a chance and engaged the cat. Flame on!
    7:50 pm: Cat at 700*F
    7:55 pm: Cat at 1,200*F
    8 pm: Cat at 1,700*F
    8:15 pm: Cat at 1,300*F
    8:30 pm: Cat at 900*F
    8:45 pm: Cat at 600*F. Time for another compressed log. Pushed the two top logs off the front log. I expected the coals to come apart, but they all maintained their integrity with only one 6 inch piece separating. I placed the fresh new compressed log on top of these monster pellet coals (looked like gigantic cigarette coals or something) expecting them to be crushed into smaller pieces. Nope. They all remained intact so the new log sat up tall and proud above all the rest. I IMMEDIATELY reengaged the cat. Hey, there's no water in these suckers and the cat temp was below 600*F by now! Not a BTU wasted. I wondered how long it would take for that new log to get going after my fruitless initial attempt to light them up. I didn't have to wait long.
    9 pm: New log begins to burn on bottom.
    9:15 pm: new log is rolling good. Cat temps are rising.
    9:30 pm: cat levels off at 1,200*F and basically stays there until...
    10:45 pm: Ready for a new log, but Mrs. Mo Heat has other ideas.

    Summary of initial impressions:

    Next burn I'll use the Super Cedar Fire Starters straight away, but I'll try to start with just two logs in the 90-degree lean-to configuration. If they light okay, I think there will be plenty of heat with just two logs during normal burning (after stove attains operating temperature). In fact, there was plenty of heat with just one log during normal burning. It will be interesting to see of 2 logs is enough to reach the cat light off temperature.

    I enjoyed burning these logs. They are really dense and take longer than you might think to be covered in flames. There was very little ash the morning after. In fact, I wasn't sure there was any additional ash from what was there to begin with. There was no hint of the monster pellet shape of the coals I had seen the night before. There was mucho plenty of heat with three logs burning at once, and they easily got the cat fired off, but they burned out pretty quick and three logs is one more than two logs. It's nice to have a really big 3 log fire, and it was somewhat spectacular without over heating anything (this surprised me, too), but normally I'd want to conserve my fuel. Considering I only have 16 of these logs total, I think I'll be using a more conservative approach on the next burn. Seems no reason to burn up 3 logs at once if the cat will light off with just two and if burning only one log at a time provides all the heat I want after the stove has reached its operating temperature (plus the presence of the remaining monster coals from the initial fire) and the cat temperatures hover around 1,000*F.

    More to come...
  12. NWfuel

    NWfuel Minister of Fire

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    Mo, Thank you for your detailed summary of your FIREST use of my Super Cedar. May I suggest cutting the wrapper to make it easier to open.

    On the 3 log formation you're concerned about may I ask if you shut your air supply down further then you would with firewood? It sounds like they did not burn at least 8 hours.

    Also did the second box show with the liturature yet?
    Thomas
  13. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    Hi Thomas,

    The second box showed up today. I read all the lit. Interesting and informative.

    As far as 'burning' 8 hours. We'd need to define 'burn' I guess. I didn't wait up to see how long the coals lasted. They may well have lasted 8 hours. I know when I went to bed around midnight, all three of the logs I'd started with were still looking only slightly less than full sized. They didn't get rolling good until 7 pm, so that is at least 5 hours with log-sized coals remaining. I could see those coals easily lasting 8 hours, probably longer. But the distillates were definitely spent and no flame or smoke was present. The smoke creates the flame and also feeds the cat.

    It looks like the logs last right around 2 hours with fully opened air, and unimpeded burn, when burning a single log (atop the previous coals), based on the last log I put in by itself when the stove was at operating temperature and all the previous logs coals remained to get it going quickly. This is just about what I expected, too. After two hours, the cat dropped below operating temperature (observed cat temp was 600*F, operating cat temp is 750*F upwards) so more fuel was needed to keep things burning normally and producing the heat I am accustomed to getting from cordwood.

    The primary air on my stove is almost always full open, except when there is excitement and intervention is required, but that is rare these days as I don't load the thing full of cordwood anymore. I put in only enough fuel to get the burn and heat I want with the air full open. With your logs, just one log seems to do the trick. Cat temp quickly rises to around 1000*F - 1200*F and there's lots of nice radiant heat coming from the ample flames being produced. Those flames were very pleasant in appearance and lasted right around 2 hours. All the logs' coals remained, but the cat must be fed to maintain enough warmth for comfort.

    I'm about to fire up another batch...

    Oh, and I'll definitely razor the next Super Cedar open to avoid another explosion. :)
  14. NWfuel

    NWfuel Minister of Fire

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    Mo, I will change my wording from burning to heating for 8-10 hours.
    Did you read the Sud Chemie results?

    Also, why would one want to engage a cat if it is not needed? Seems like a clean burn with the air shut down to where the logs flicker with flame. Or does this not heat enough?
    Thomas
  15. Mo Heat

    Mo Heat Mod Emeritus

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    I read the Sud Chemie literature. It made reference to being safe for their cats "when following all of the proper burning and fire starting guidelines assisted by the Super Cedar Fire Starter". Aside from this, there was only the MDE lab report comparing the Durflame and Fat Wood starters and the North Idaho brochure, interesting all. The wording of the Sud Chemie lit seems to imply more detailed and cat specific instruction, and makes me wonder if the brief instruction copy on the Super Cedar puck is augmented by additional 'guidelines'. The word 'guidelines' brings to mind so much more than the simple instructions on the Super Cedar puck packaging.

    As an informed and aware cat owner, I can tell you that I'd like to see something cat specific on the wrapper. "Burn at least one hour before engaging cat" or "Burn completely before engaging cat". But I can also understand that it might just set off unecessary alarms in some cat owners.

    The fact seems to be that by the time the compressed logs are covered in flames, about a half hour has passed. It takes at least another half hour to heat the stove and the cat up to light off temp when the cat would get engaged. So now the Super Cedar has been burning for an hour (at a minimum - this could easily be up to an hour and a half in reality). The MDE report shows a 53 minute burn until the Super Cedar is smoldering. I'd assume all the wax is gone by then, otherwise, it would still be flaming like a candle does.

    Like most things that deal with catalytic stoves, deduction and assumption seem always required. I guess it's not surprising that Super Cedar Fire Starters are not an exception.

    The actual packaging on the Super Cedars only includes these directions, as you likely already know: "Open wrapper and light edge. Once ignited do not disturb. Each starter contains cedar sawdust & wax." Nothing about cat operation here. Is there something else that comes with a full box of these things?

    The cat is always needed until all the distillable volitiles are driven from the wood, or wood product in our case. Otherwise, BTU's go up in smoke. Once the flames stop, theoretically you don't gain anything from cat combustion, not much anyway, but in practice, the smoke (and heat) path is lengthened by passing through the cat area, and baffles in the cat path continue to conduct heat into the stove and the room that would otherwise be lost quickly up the chimney if the bypass is open.
  16. NWfuel

    NWfuel Minister of Fire

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    Mo, The Sud Chemie lit. also should state the cat will kick 20% faster using the Super Cedar vs. without the Super Cedar. This tells me it heats the cat to temp quicker which in turn is cleaner for the cat. They tell me it prolongs the life.

    Thomas
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