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The truth about soft wood?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by CowboyAndy, Sep 19, 2008.

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  1. CowboyAndy

    CowboyAndy New Member

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    Okay, as a newbie to wood burning I hear alot of opinions... and you know what they say, opinions are like a******s... everyone's got one, and most of them stink!


    Anyways, Here is what my father in law keeps telling me about softwoods:

    -They create ALOT of creosote
    -They are smokey
    -They burn TOO hot
    -They burn too FAST

    On the property where we cut, is is ALOT of sugar maple, but there is also a great amount of white, grey and yellow birch, and this type of tree (not sure what it is), seems to grow REALLY fast and in all kinds of crazy directions. They grow BIG, too. Someone said Manitoba Maple? Anyways, I have my 7 cords for this year, ALL maple, cherry and a little bit of yellow birch.

    Can I hear some pro's and cons about uising the birch and this other unidentified tree?

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  2. Tfin

    Tfin New Member

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    If burnt properly (for the most part) any wood can be used for btu's.

    Key component is to make sure its fully seasoned. This will minimize the smoke and creosote output.

    Even well seasoned pine can be burnt without letting it get to hot. Its simply a matter of adjusting your air controls. Knowing when to shut it down and at what position the air control should be set at in order to keep a nice steady burn rate.
  3. CowboyAndy

    CowboyAndy New Member

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    So how does this come into play when using a wood FURNACE, not a regular wood stove? The draft control on ours is automatic.
  4. Tfin

    Tfin New Member

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    I didn't realize you were specifically asking about a wood furnace. We had a wood/coal furnace back when I was a kid, but that was a long time ago now and I dont' remember how the air controls worked on it.

    I do remember when that coal took off, you better hang on and take your shirts off though.
  5. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Cowboy - The coldest parts of North America have NOTHING but softwoods to burn. And they burn alot of it. Seasoning and control, thats the key. Really, the only down sides would be having to load more frequently, or bigger loads. Pound for pound, firewood has basically the same btu content from soft to hard. It just takes more splits of the softwoods to add up to the weight of the hardwoods.

    In an automatically controlled furnace, I don't see any reason not to burn it. You may want to experiment with how much you load in at a time, but it should burn up the softwoods just like the hardwoods.

    Happy burning.
  6. syd3006

    syd3006 Member

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    In the part of the country that I live in birch is one of the preferred firewoods, all of the species that you mentioned by the way are classed as hardwoods.
  7. Todd

    Todd Minister of Fire

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    All that Birch you have there is good hardwood. The Yellow and Gray will burn just as good as the Sugar Maple and the White Birch isn't too far behind. Manitoba Maple is another word for Boxelder. I like to burn Boxelder in the spring/fall when not much heat or a longer burn is necessary.
  8. smokinj

    smokinj Minister of Fire

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    I burn more soft than hard its easier to find cut and burn and works best for me early and late season.Then save the hard wood for jan.feb.
  9. rich81

    rich81 Member

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    all of the wood you have mentiones is hardwood. what type of softwood are you planning on burning?? by the way i'll take your birch if you don't want it!!!!
  10. CowboyAndy

    CowboyAndy New Member

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    Well, maybe this is where I need some more education.

    See, the only things I know about wood vurning is what my father in law tells me, and hes... well... an idiot. But, I mean that in the best way possible.


    Basiclly, the whole family is convinced that if we burn things like birch we are going to get creosote building up like crazy and have a chimney fire unless we clean the chimney twice a week, and even then we will burn through 8 cords of it in a week...


    for some reason he is TOTALLY against it.


    So, the boxelder is okay to use? how does it compare to stuff like maple/oak?
  11. savageactor7

    savageactor7 Minister of Fire

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    Cowboy you get creosote when you burn unseasoned wood or burn at low temps to stretch out your burn times. All that wood you mentioned and include poplar and willow will burn well if it's seasoned...it's a good day burning wood when your in an about the house and can tend the fire. the softer hardwoods just don't last as long.

    Oak=10, maple=7, box elder=3...no not too scientific just my 2 cents.

    I cut all my box elders and burned 'em...I consider them a nuisance tree and didn't want 'em corrupting our wood lot.
  12. caber

    caber New Member

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    we burn a lot of tulip poplar. It's seasoned well, burns hot and we get almost no smoke from it. Beautiful stuff. You could almost argue that because it dries so much faster than hardwoods, you are less likely to get creosote buildup.
  13. Highbeam

    Highbeam Minister of Fire

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    Your father in law probably learned this junk from his father in law who might have heard it from an idiot. Those qualities are myths, and pretty common among those folks that have never actually burned softwood.
  14. CowboyAndy

    CowboyAndy New Member

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    Well, ya know what is funny is that 3 years ago they burned almost ALL pine, leftover from building my sis in law's house... the harvested the timber and milled 2x4 and 2x6's themselves, and had lota of leftover scraps, about 3 or 4 cords worth. but he still swears that our house will burn to the ground if we burn white/paper birch!!!
  15. btj1031

    btj1031 New Member

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    I've got plenty of paper birch in my pile for the winter. Good wood, not the best in BTUs, but certainly worth burning. Don't listen to the old man!
  16. HearthKB

    HearthKB New Member

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    I don't have much to add to this thread because I'm new to wood burning. But I must thank you for making me crack up with that comment!!! Made my day! :)
  17. myzamboni

    myzamboni Minister of Fire

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    I have relatives in northern Minnesota that have burned paper birch for over 30 years. They've had the chimney swept once(at which time the chimneysweep informed them that it really didn't need it). It helps that the stuff is seasoned.
  18. pdboilermaker

    pdboilermaker New Member

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    If creasote is the concern, throw a handful of table salt in the fire every couple of days
  19. RedRanger

    RedRanger New Member

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    Bad idea!! Salt is corrosive. Dry wood and hot fires will keep creosote at bay. If you are still worried then maybe purchase something like supersweep made by Imperial. Comes in a one pound container and costs about 8 bucks. One or two tablespoons every couple of weeks should set your mind at ease. :)
  20. pdboilermaker

    pdboilermaker New Member

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    Pyro - I challange you to look at the ingrediants in the product that you recommend and report back on the top 3 items in the list
  21. bill*67

    bill*67 Member

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    supersweep contains trisodium phosphate, basically salt. looking it up on wikipedia says that it will corode metal. imo, just throwing something in the stove or fireplace to clean the flue is the lazy way out of actually getting the brush out and doing the job right. dont be that guy! doing regular cleanings and inspections may someday save a life, like your own!
  22. RedRanger

    RedRanger New Member

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    There doesn`t appear to be an ingredient list on the container. Under the "first aid treatment" heading it only says that it contains copper sulphate. Are you looking at the same product as I am? This product is made in Canada.

    Anyway, no ingredient list-not even in French,which I can`t read ;-P
  23. slowzuki

    slowzuki Feeling the Heat

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    Dry softwood is fine, dry low quality hardwood is even better. I consider myself lucky when I have some white birch to burn! I normally burn fir, spruce and poplar to keep warm. The bad thing about those woods is the workout. They are light so it means more trips and more filling the stove. On the plus side, you don't have to split as small and they will still dry out. In fact, split too small they will burn really fast and make you muck around with your damper. (oops, I guess your furnace will do that for you)
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