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when is wood too old?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by bostock, Oct 31, 2012.

  1. bostock

    bostock Member

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    old stacked wood pile that was here when i moved in, i'm guessing it's at least 6-8 years old. Cut, but not split. Most likely it's black walnut, possibly some hackberry. some of the logs on the ground show very early stages of rot. Biggest clue for me is - it doesn't weigh much, it's very light and makes me think it's lost a lot of mass over the (uncounted) seasons. The ends are quite dark/aged.....any rules-of-thumb for determining if I should just let it go and move on? follow-up question - is there a downside to burning near-rotten wood in the stove?

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  2. firewoodjunky

    firewoodjunky Member

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    Logs in contact with the ground is not a good start. Large diameter rounds that are not split are also a problem.

    Stacked off of the ground, wood will keep for a very, very long time.

    If they are really punky you will get reduced burn time/heat output, good for early or late shoulder season. Just watch the moisture intake from rain, they soak it up and take a while to dry out.

    I would try splitting a few and see how they look. Maybe post a picture.
    Backwoods Savage likes this.
  3. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    I've burnt 90 year old framing. It's pretty old, but was kept dry. Since the wood on the ground was starting to rot, those pieces might be lost. How about the stuff that was off the ground?

    Matt
  4. bogydave

    bogydave Minister of Fire

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    +1
    Near rotten wood is hard to get dry, but if dry , should burn fine.
    Just not as much heat form it.
  5. Wood Duck

    Wood Duck Minister of Fire

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    Try splitting the wood that is near rotten. If it splits then burn it, if it sort of crumbles then it probably isn't worth saving. Anything solid is worth keeping.
    zzr7ky likes this.
  6. dougand3

    dougand3 Minister of Fire

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    When I have split wood that is half punked, I'll stack it near the stove for 3 days. Then check Moisture Content. It can start at 30% and then be 15% after 3 days near all day stove fires. As guys stated above - not as many BTUs because nature has absconded with some!
    albert1029 likes this.
  7. PapaDave

    PapaDave Minister of Fire

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    If it's still solid, it's firewood......if it crumbles, it's mulch.
    Nixon, StihlHead and Backwoods Savage like this.
  8. Cluttermagnet

    Cluttermagnet Minister of Fire

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    My experience (this applies to Red Oak mainly) is that punky wood can be worked with and may be worth saving. It all comes down to whether or not you have enough of a solid core intact. Some wouldn't bother, but I have chipped off a lot of punky wood from Red Oak and Cherry using a small camp axe. To me, personally, it was worth it. OTOH there are some wood types that go completely punky, and pretty fast at that. Those are about worthless.

    I think Black Walnut is one of those types that go bad sooner. Try splitting a couple of rounds. If you can easily run a knife blade into the wood, it's a little too soft and probably shouldn't be bothered with.
  9. woodchip

    woodchip Minister of Fire

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    The punkiest wood I have ever burned (cherry) was so bad one side it was breaking down into earth on the outside. Just got a spade, sliced the worst off and left it in the greenhouse for a year.

    The middle was fine, you'd never have known that an inch away it had totally rotted.

    It did need a quick brush down before bringing indoors to burn, but it burned fine.

    Any wood that burns is good wood round here........;)
    CatieG likes this.
  10. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    Amen. Like my brother says... The stove doesn't give a crap what the wood looks like.
    zzr7ky likes this.
  11. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    Yeah, if it's not covered the sapwood on that Cherry goes to crap pretty quickly.
  12. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

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    Wood that is too old =

    Attached Files:

    bluedogz, Nixon, StihlHead and 4 others like this.
  13. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Just guessing but it sounds like the wood was just stacked on the ground and forgot about. Chances are it is not worth monkeying with. As others have stated, you can try to split some and that will tell you much. If it crumbles, throw it away as it is not worth even the effort to take it into the house. If it is solid, get it split and stack it up off the ground and it will dry nicely.
  14. JOHN BOY

    JOHN BOY Minister of Fire

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    Run your saw thru a few rounds or the logs. If its nothing but sawdust and no chips , its probably not worth saving .
  15. StihlHead

    StihlHead Guest

    Ditto on the cherry... I got a load of free cherry last year and it was pretty punky. I rumaged through the pile at a home that was in foreclosure and the bank wanted gone. I got what was fairly solid and left the sawdust behind. It was also buggy, full of ants and termites. I dried it out last summer and burned it last fall. It was light and burned fast. If I had to do it again, I would likely pass on it. Cherry is now on my 'maybe' list. Oak on the ground here rots really fast as well for some reason. Favorite buffet woods for bugs?

    Might want to just toss it onto a burn pile, or use it as garden mulch. If any is solid try burning it. Likely not much heat value there though.
  16. Jeff S

    Jeff S Feeling the Heat

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    Black walnut is more rot resistant than a lot of woods so there is a good chance you have only lost the bottom row.
  17. ohlongarm

    ohlongarm Minister of Fire

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    Depends how its stored ,off the ground 4in minimum top covered no more than 1 foot down sides will last a long time,have wood that was split in 2004 that's absolutely perfect ,oak,cherry,ash,hickory,it's the first stacks I had when I got my first woodstove in 2004 guess I'll burn it someday,NOT a bad piece in a 2 cord stack.
    bostock likes this.
  18. nate379

    nate379 Guest

    If you can cut and split it, burn it. Might not be the best wood, but it's still free heat right?
    bostock likes this.
  19. gerry100

    gerry100 Minister of Fire

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    it's all about water, gray color means nothing axcept that it's been out side.

    Wood rots when it gets wet and can't dry, such as when it is in the soil.

    Unsplit rounds will rot from the outside in because of the moisture under the bark. I've got 3 yo oak in log lengths that is punky under the bark but solid and underseasoned in the center.

    If water pools in the stack somewhere that will rot also.

    I'd split the rounds and restack using the rotted pieces as the bottom row to keep the best ones up.

    Some of the splits you could prbably burn now or burn them all next season.
    bostock likes this.
  20. tcassavaugh

    tcassavaugh Minister of Fire

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    .......i like that attitude. good rule of thumb to abide by.

    cass

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