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Wood drying experiment

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by iskiatomic, Dec 24, 2008.

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  1. iskiatomic

    iskiatomic Minister of Fire

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    Well being a newbie to the sight, and doing alot of reading and viewing. I am working on a little test myself. After acquiring some very large red oak that was cut about four weeks ago and then processed in the past few weeks, I decided to try and "speed dry" a very good size split. On 12-15 I brought in this piece of red oak measuring about 6x8x24, weighing in at 35 pounds, put it close to the stove and rotate it twice a day. Today on 12-23 this split weighs 28 pounds. I figure in 10 days or so it should be ready to burn. Anyone else ever try this?


    KC

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  2. kd460

    kd460 Feeling the Heat

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    Yes, I have heard of this being a fairly common practice, especially in days of old. Heck it may be more common than I think. However, I have also heard of house fires being started this way as well. Personally, I would never leave it unattended.

    I prefer to plan ahead and many here have wood stashed for 2 or 3 years (or more) in advance. But, if your just starting out, or used more wood than planned and now you are short, you gotta do what you gotta do. Just gotta think safety.

    I do have to say that it does appear based on what you have measured that it does dry faster than I would have anticipated. KD
  3. cmonSTART

    cmonSTART Minister of Fire

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    I keep my wood rack as close as I safely can to my stove. It helps, especially they've gotten rained on.
  4. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    My mother used to keep a few pieces in the oven of her cookstove to drive a bit of damp off.
  5. hoot gibson

    hoot gibson New Member

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    i load about 15 truck loads in the basement , it can even be green . run the dehumidifier for about 2 monthes or less and its dry ready to burn . h
  6. chad3

    chad3 Feeling the Heat

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    2 days worth, one on each side of the stove. After the first day is done, transfer over the the "burn" side. Reload the drying side. Seems to work for me. If I get out of this routine, the wood seems to be harder to start. The wood is already seasoned, but cold and maybe "wet, or damp" from being outside. Feel it is very good for me.
  7. Beanscoot

    Beanscoot Member

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    I have also dried wood in the past right next to the woodstove. But it would seem that this would have to consume heat from the stove, since liquid water is being turned into vapour. But at least it doesn' t cause creosote formation in the stove.

    As for drying the wood in the basement with a dehumidifier, this is an interesting situation. The water evaporates out of the wood, which consumes heat. But then it is recondensed in the dehumidifier which releases that heat. Therefore the wood drying should be heat neutral. However the dehumidifier will consume a lot of power for the couple months of use. But then that ends up as waste heat, so in effect the dehumidifier is simply acting as a space heater for the duration of the drying time. This really isn't a waste since it is desireable to heat the basement in the winter, I imagine.
  8. MrEd

    MrEd New Member

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    I actually keep stacks of firewood on top of my Hearthstone Heritage when it is running full-bore. Even though my wood is dry enough to burn, it gets it really dry and it burns even better. It sometimes scorches the wood a bit, but I have no fear that a piece of wood will burst into flames - even if it did, I only do this when I am home (and awake).

    Because I burn 99% maple, it gives all a real nice maple syrup smell into the house - very subtle, but very pleasant.
  9. cityevader

    cityevader New Member

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    I stood some Oak rounds in front of my jotul 450 once, maybe a foot away. Fell asleep and maybe 3 hours later wake up smelling popcorn. Thought the roomate was cooking some up. Wait a minute....She moved out last month! Ran downstairs and there was a 2inch spot of glowing red embers smoldering away. Likely 20 minutes before it woulda burst into flames. Now I only lay them down in front of it.
  10. iskiatomic

    iskiatomic Minister of Fire

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    I would say placing them a foot away you are looking for trouble.

    Weight update, after three and a half weeks the 35 pound split now weighs 24.5 pounds.


    KC
  11. cityevader

    cityevader New Member

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    Absolutley dangerous. They were "dry" rounds that were rain soaked, and at first I was rotating them, then fell asleep.
    When wood starts smoking like it was, ignition wasn't far behind!
    Now I have wood for 2 years away, and starting on third so I don't get caught without adequate supply and have to do desparate things....that is the root cause of many things.
  12. mjbrown

    mjbrown Feeling the Heat

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    i know a guy who used to have a small green house . when he stopped growing or selling , he kept the green house up and functional and started stacking wood in it.he claimed it dried and was usable much faster...was he just pulling my leg or does this sound like a viable solution to drying green or semi green wood?
  13. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    Greenhouses generally have elaborate venting so it is plausible to get better drying from the convection induced air movement.
  14. iceman

    iceman Minister of Fire

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    are the ends cracked ? bark getting loose? to lose 10+ lbs in weight seems like its def burnable but who has enough space or wants to let wood sit for 3 weeks in the house... but if you split it in half i bet it dries even faster say 1 week
  15. SAABMaven

    SAABMaven New Member

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    Split 'seasoned' hardwood in Vermont is priced to equal or exceed what it would cost to use electric space heaters, $250 the cord, according to my calculations. Boutique prices for the politically correct. Wood here is so waterlogged at time of delivery (dumped in the driveway) that it takes a couple of days to dry it in front of the stove to the point where it will actually burn. I also need to place lots of newspapers to catch the drips, else it forms a puddle.

    I don't dry wood unattended. I could not dream of doing this if I didn't work at home a lot... I wonder what others do?
  16. cityevader

    cityevader New Member

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    10 pounds of water is well over a gallon! 8-some pounds per gallon is water's weight.
  17. woodconvert

    woodconvert Minister of Fire

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    Kinda sorda been doing it for years...the kinda sorda is that i've not done it with fresh cut. I usually do it with wood that is at the bottom of the stack and not seasoned the way I like it. However, there was a thread on this awhile back where I took a split that was laying on the ground for who knows how long, waterlogged and covered in snow. It was heavy and obviously nowhere near acceptable for burning. I weighed it (don't recall what it weighed), set it in front of the stove for a day and re-weighed it and it dropped something like 3 or 4 lbs. After the second day it stopped losing weight so I through it in. Burnt great, no his, no wet core that smoldered.

    My wife works at home so we always have wood around the stove. If it's something damp or wet i'll put it a foot or so from the stove with no issues. Once you start smelling the "burnt popcorn" it's time to move it back a bit.

    Yeah, in the other thread I was basically called a liar, that this couldn't be done...but i've been doing it for years and i'm not the only one.
  18. renewablejohn

    renewablejohn Member

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    We dry wood commercially this way in dry polytunnels. What would normally take 2 years to season can be dried in 3 months during the summer or 6 months in winter.
  19. iceman

    iceman Minister of Fire

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    could you explain your tunnel?? is it possible to make a small one?
  20. gyrfalcon

    gyrfalcon Minister of Fire

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    Mmmm, not in all of Vermont. Don't know where you are, but I'm paying a good deal less than that-- $165 for green, $180-$200 for supposedly "seasoned," which of course it's not, actually. I've also not had a problem with waterlogged wood. Maybe you need to look for a different supplier or buy your wood earlier in the year so it has a chance to dry out?

    I did have one load dropped by my house at dusk just as one of last winter's bigger storms was starting, and though I hastily threw some tarps over it, most of it ended up snow-packed by the time I brought it inside. Didn't take very long to dry out-- half a day around the edge of the hearth or a couple days loosely stacked in the LR. I got some terrific long plastic boot trays from Gardeners Supply that are just right for holding the firewood indoors. Initially, they were great for catching (and evaporating) the drips from the melting snow and ice, but I still use them because they also keep most of the debris that wood sheds in one place.
  21. Cedrusdeodara

    Cedrusdeodara Member

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    Hi renewablejohn,

    Could you elaborate on your polytunnel? I have access to coldframes/hoop houses and clear and white poly. Do you keep the ends open or do you have one open and one end partially closed with an exhaust fan, to draw a vacuum through the pile? Do you fill the entire crosssection or leave a path through the middle? My mind is now spinning with ideas for next year.

    Brian
  22. rcollman

    rcollman Member

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    Translation Poly tunnel: Plastic or metal hoops that support plastic sheets. Range in size from some that cover strawberries to full greenhouses etc. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poly_tunnel :)

    Interesting idea. Solar cooking with a good vent system instead of wind to "boil" off the water. Like Brian, I would like to learn more myself how the commercial size do it.

    With all due respect, I am not sure about the math over there on the other side of the CT river :). My official US DOE fuel calculator spreadsheet says $13.4 cent a kwh will cost $42 per delivered 1 million BTUs @ 100% eff. My old SunRay at 45% eff with $250 per yuppie cord would be $25 per mil BTUs. And the Solo 40 should be about $14 per mil BTUs using the higher priced wood. Indeed, some the locals wood dealers started at $225 in May and I heard tell of $275 a cord around September. Bless my VT farmer who delivered 6 cords over the summer for $200 each.

    I would have to pay over $400 a cord and use my SunRay before matching what PSNH.com says it will cost per KWH for baseboard heat. Or put another way, the $250 in my old SunRay would have to average 7.5 cents a kwh to be equal. Of course the Solo 40 could match electricity baseboard heat at $750 per cord.

    Perhaps you are really talking about geothermal. DOE says that is 330% eff. But the payback is tough :)
  23. renewablejohn

    renewablejohn Member

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    Brief description of our polytunnels

    Tunnel is 6 yds wide by 3 yds high with hoops every 3 yds. Longest tunnel 45 yds on a gentle slope 1/2 yard difference in height from one end to the other.Will work with shorter lengths started drying wood in tunnel 6yds as experiment. Cover is clear plastic. Doors either end 2yds high by 3 yds wide covered in fine mesh plastic windbreak material only opened when carting wood in our out the polytunnel. Tunnel is aligned in the same direction as the prevailing wind and natural slope of tunnel ridge creates air flow even on a still day. Can be 5C difference in temperature between low end and high end.
    Original experiment for small scale consisted of builders trestles with black tin sheets placed on top to form a bench 1yd off the floor on which the timber was stacked.The benches were down either side of the tunnel with two more rows down the centre of the tunnel.
    The floor is concrete but covered with the black plastic matting you can get for stopping the weeds.
    Commercially we now just throw the logs into IBC containers with nets on the side and stack them in the polytunnel.
  24. gerry100

    gerry100 Minister of Fire

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    Just remember, there is no free lunch .... or BTU.

    Energy radiated off of the stove that is used to dry wood is not used to heat your house
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