Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by kobudo, Nov 12, 2008.
I was just screwin with ya
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I guess I won't bother to pull off the bark any longer. I was concerned about the oil in the bark posing a problem with the pipe. We do have a lot of paper birch on our lake lot so I am good to go.
I don't mind birch (and I have a Sh%T load of oak). It actually burns very well, and makes a good base for some harder wood. Downside, if you don't split it it will rot on you while in the round. It goes quick as a whole. Make sure you split it quick and you will like it.
Everyone in Interior Alaska burns birch; some wood snobs burn nothing but. Peel? Never heard of that for any species. When I get to burning, everything will have bark. Birch goes for $225 a cord, + or -.
Thought I'd follow up on a previous post with some pix of some of the birch on my property. As I mentioned, I took down 3 sick birches recently. I've included pix of some of the rot. A pic of some nasty larvae I found when splitting and finally a pic of a standing birch that will be the next tree to meet my chainsaw.
Any thoughts on what the larvae is whose home I wrecked? Do you think that these bugs were the cause of the birch's ills -or- did they just find a nice home in an already diseased tree?
Not sure I would've cared about all this a year ago... just part of my new found hearth/firewood obsession, I guess.
I have a fair amount of black birch in my mixed hardwood c/d/s cords, and it's quickly becoming one of my favorites. Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but it appears to be harder and longer-burning than paper (white) birch, and I think it resists rotting better. Of all the split stuff I stacked out in sun and wind in late April/early May, it's dried the best and is most reliable about burning nicely. I like it a lot, though the bark isn't as pretty. It's dark gray, thin and doesn't peel. If I have a split I'm not real sure of, I make sure to put one of the black birch in with it to make it behave.
If you just cut them down, unless you have some ideal drying conditions and peel off most of the bark, it won't be ready for next winter. More like the winter after next.
When I say next winter, I really mean the 2009-2010 burning season. I've got about 5 seasoned cords left for the 2008-9 season. Or are you trying to tell me that I need 2 summers to season the birch? I thought this would be fine to burn next season.
It's been so darn cold here the last week, it already feels like winter
24 months unless you have ideal drying conditions. I had a two year supply of Birch and the one year old stuff stored out of the weather in my woodshed with bark removed was not nearly as good as the two year old stuff.
Two years for black birch split and stacked outside? Boy, that sure wasn't my experience this year. Split not too big, admittedly, but six months outside and it's burning beautifully.
There are 4 birches that are native here in the Northeast, grey, white, black, and yellow. Grey and white look a lot alike. Some people refer to paper birch and white birch as seperate species but they actually are the same tree. Grey is mediocre to good fire wood, white is good fire wood, and black and yellow are really good fire wood with BTU's per cord close to the oaks. All the birches have lots of volitile oils in their bark which make them both exceptionally water resistant and also quite combustible. Black and yellow birch are both rich in oil of wintergreen which you can distinctively taste by chewing on young twigs. Native Americans used teas made from the different birches for a wide variety of medicinal purposes.
Interesting. Thanks for the info. I had never even heard of black birch until I moved here to Vermont and started dealing with firewood.
Where does what's called River Birch fit into that? Is that just another name for one of the four?
Also, do you know anything about the comparative longevity of those four species? I know paper or white birch is supposed to be quite short-lived, as trees go. Are all of them?
well... since I won't have 24 months... I guess I'll have to go with smaller splits.
however, I am going to stack the wood in one of those miraculous holzhaufen's... so they should be fully seasoned in like 3 days or so ;-)
Hey guys, I have some wood. Should I burn it? I'm not sure what will happen...
In America, river birch (Betula nigra) looks a lot like white birch, sometimes called paper birch (B. papyrifera). In lots of places, white birch is a common name used for all kinds of birches.
River birch peels a reddish/tan color. Often peels thicker than white birch.
Not sure on how it stacks up BTU wise, but both white and gray 20.3 million BTU/cord. Yellow is 23.6 and black is 26.8 according to Mr. Chimney Sweeps cool BTU page.
I think most people consider 20 MBTUs in the medium BTU range. 23 is high and above 25 is the good stuff.
As for the rotting birch and the bugs inside: I don't know what the grubs are, but, apparently, ALL of our birch rots from within. (Mostly white birch.) Every one I have cut that is over 12-14" or so a foot off the ground has signs of going bad. A landscaper who buys logs and turns them for paneling will not buy them much over 8-10" at the base, because of bad interiors. However, I have never heard of anyone giving a FRA about size when they burn them, and I have never heard of anyone peeling them, either. Drying time, everyone tells me, is one year, sometimes less, like if you have sapped the trees in the spring. Burn and enjoy. j
Oh yeah! River Birch. Growing up in NJ it grew wild along the brook in front of our house. My dad, a landscape architect, was always enamored with it. I thought it was ugly. The clumps of it growing bank side, always caught all the flotsam and jetsam from the brook flood stages and so it generally looked ratty. Doesn’t grow wild around here but the ornamental varieties have become one of my favorite trees, unique and beautiful in all seasons. Funny how I keep coming around to my Dad’s perspectives. I’ve never burned it but imagine it would be at least as good as white birch. I’ll post a thread and see if anyone does burn it. As far as longevity, paper birch is a tree that takes over open spaces quickly but then looses out to other species in the long run and tends to be short lived. Same with grey. Yellow and Black, however hold there own and can get to be 150-200 years old though that's not typical as in oak. I'd imagine river birch is relatively short lived as well since it seldom, (at least in the central Atlantic) gets very large. I understand it can achieve decent size further south.
Regarding the grubs posted earlier: I just got this info from a prof bug killer and Ph D entomologist in Washington. I've heard of root rot (a few of my teeth have had the same....), but never knew it was apparently related to the core of the birches. FWIW: "These are beetle larvae, probably long horned beetles. They almost always are secondary pests of trees that are already sick. Your rot problems are probably a disease like Phytopthera root rot, the beetles follow the rot and can help kill the trees. Root rot is usually related to poor conditions for root growth." BTW: I have heard that if you squeeze those grubs to remove most of the feces, then boil them for 2 minutes, you can pop them right into stir fry and have some good protein for almost free. Let us know how they are.
Thanks for the info on root rot and the beetle larvae.
The finances are tight, but I don't think I'm ready to squeeze out the larvae poop just yet.
Cheerokee`s also made paper to write on. aka, my ancestor`s from about 200 years ago.
Now, don`t go calling me a "savage",, I am now dilluted to 1/8. Sadly.
Anyway, round these parts it is considered "hardwood" and is highly prized.
Birch by definition is a "hardwood" as it is a deciduous tree - one that sheds it's leaves in the winter. I've never understood why people wouldn't want to burn it, as most varieties do pretty well on the BTU/cord scale. Maybe not as good as some of the oaks and other "super" woods, but definitely respectable and worth stuffing in the firebox... I don't burn a lot of it, but only because I don't get much, not because I have any problems with it.
(IOW, If I can scrounge it, I grab it...)
Black Birch has higher BTU ratings than white oak on a few pages I looked through. I have a lot of them on my property but have not burned any yet.
Im not even sure why people ask "should I burn XXX" questions. If you have wood, and dont want to burn it, drop it by my bouse.
I'm becoming a big fan of black birch. A fair amount of the c/d/s firewood I got this spring was black birch, and it turns out to season quickly and burn both easily and long. Good stuff.
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