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Wow! The difference in fuel!

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by Backwoods Savage, Nov 20, 2010.

  1. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    As most folks on this forum know, we are accustomed to burning wood that has been in the stack 6-7 years so you might say we burn dry wood. We don't check it with a moisture meter as that would get us nowhere; we simply do not have to be concerned about moisture content. A natural benefit of this is lack of any creosote problems. We have cleaned our chimney one time with 3 full winters of heating 100% with wood.

    So, perhaps I goofed recently when we helped a couple folks out. The last one had absolutely no wood put up for the winter and was really in a jam. So, I had a fairly large wood pile yet but wanted it moved anyway. So then, I put 2 and 2 together and came up with twenty-two. They needed help. We needed wood moved. What a coincidence! They now have that entire wood pile all stacked neatly in their back yard and we put up a new shed where the pile had previously been.

    But the downside is that we only had about a cord of well seasoned wood left and we burn 3 cords per winter. No problem. The wood I cut over the last two winters has been almost all dead or dieing white ash which is very low moisture wood to begin with and even lower when it is no longer living. So here is the wood we cut in 2008-2009. It was split in early April of 2009 which means it has had two full summers to dry.

    [​IMG]

    So, how does it burn?

    Although it does burn fairly well, we can definitely tell the difference. A big difference. After it gets going good there is no problem but where we see the difference is in start-up and reload. The last two days we have burned mostly this newer wood just to see the difference and it is a nice comparison. We'll get by with no problems for sure but I just wanted to let you guys know we can tell the difference between 2 years in the stack vs. six or seven years in the stack. And no, the 6-7 year old wood is not too dry. It burns really great.

    In the above picture, I have taken 3 cords (which means there are still 2 years worth of wood in those stacks. More in a different area.) and moved it into the new shed for this winter. We won't use all of that because we still have some of the older wood. I'll probably mix the rest.

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  2. Shari

    Shari Minister of Fire

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    Kudos for helping someone out! While I will probably never get as far ahead as you (lack of space to stack) I can also tell our wood is 'more seasoned' this year than last. I think the oldest seasoned wood we have here this year was cut 1/09 (silver maple) and split/stacked April-May '09 - we just started in on that 1-1/2 cord.

    My druthers so far (being a new wood burner)? I like hard maple a whole lot better than silver maple as far as amount of heat and length of burn. I can't get any where near an overnight burn with the silver maple. I could get overnighters with the hard maple. Plus I guess I have to learn to not split so small. :)

    PS Dennis. did you post pics of your new woodshed?

    Shari
  3. kenny chaos

    kenny chaos Minister of Fire

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    I have punky wood that's been stacked in a loose pile. It's going to be a sucky winter of burning.
  4. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    While I have never been 6 or 7 years ahead, I can usually tell the difference between 2 and 3 year seasoned wood if it is stored under cover. My shed holds more than a year's supply so my stacks that may have been sitting out for a year or two normally spend another year in the shed.

    I have never encountered the "too dry" phenom that some talk of. Personally, I think it is just "sour grapes" from the hand-to-mouth crowd or they have old leaky stoves.
  5. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Indeed, there is a huge difference between hard and silver maple. And yes, a few large splits are nice for overnight fires. Even a few medium sized rounds work even better.


    Shari, it is not actually a wood shed but we do have 3 cord of wood in there. Here is one picture I posted earlier.

    [​IMG]
  6. Shari

    Shari Minister of Fire

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    If only we could have a building like that here! Looks great!


    Shari
  7. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    Shari: I'm getting a painful lesson in Soft Maple vs Beech. Up until this year we burned exclusively Beech and had no problem holding an overnight burn. The soft maple is much more of a challenge. I am also noticing the dryer stuff gives me closer to the overnight burn than the stuff that is less dry. I have learned that in the future I will be much pickier about what I buy when a grapple load is delivered. I am now burning some dreaded Cottonwood (for the first time) from that load and don't know what to expect. :ahhh:
  8. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    Dennis:

    Welcome to the world of us humble wood peasants and mortals who do not have the 6 year seasoned wood. I am finally burning the two year seasoned stuff and so far still struggling a little because one of my tarps leaked :-S . I can't wait to get to the two year old stuff that was covered better. We live in the woods and are surrounded by tall hills and tall trees so sun and wind are hard to come by, making seasoning even harder. I hope you can get back ahead again like you were. One of the most frustrating things I do is struggle starting the stove before I leave for work at 4am in the morning. If I hit some less than perfect wood I end up babysitting it till it catches and lights off. My old smoke dragon did not seem to care as much about the quality of the wood. WOW I just noticed my first load of Cottonwood is burning pretty nicely, the stovetop zipped up to 450 and those are some nice secondaries! The trick now is to see how long the 1/2 load lasts, I remember you said not to load up with Cottonwood for fear of over firing. This load was only seasoned for 1 year so it may be ok to load up.
  9. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Backwoods, so what are you saying 15 to 20% wood is not good enough, I wish you had a moisture meter to tell us what the moisture content is after that long, I have 3 year old dead when cut Oak that is at 17% and I find it hard to believe it will get any better. I also have 12% green ash that IMHO is as good as it will ever be. I just dont understand why it would be that much better.
  10. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    "Two full summers to dry" could mean one and a half years, not the same as "3 year old dead when cut".
  11. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    You sorta missed my point (my fault), he is comparing 2 year year old white ash to 6 to 7 white ash and says there is a big difference, that is what I do not understand.
  12. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    I forgot to mention that the building looks good and that new trailer is kool.
  13. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    Actually he said two Summers, not two years. Of couse YMMV but our Summers are short and humid while our Winters are long and dry so I get good additional seasoning with one additional Winter.

    I cannot comment on seasoning time of Oak versus White Ash as I have neither. My anecdotal observation between two and three year seasoned wood is with Black Ash and varieties of Birch.
  14. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    I dont think wood drys that much in the winter (some people think other wise) and his weather is some what like mine so summer is the heart of the drying season. White ash drys fairly quickly so two summers is gonna get it to about 15% or so for me.
  15. fire_man

    fire_man Minister of Fire

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    I agree - wood does not dry nearly as much in winter. I am going to try to run a test and prove this and hope to post results some day but from what I have experienced you are correct.
  16. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Tony, I'm sure you've learned now that cottonwood can indeed burn hot but it will also burn fast. Probably faster than the soft maple. Also the cottonwood and soft maple should speed the fire along in the mornings.

    We too live in the woods but don't have your sized hills to contend with. As for getting ahead again on the wood, please realize that we still have almost 5 years of wood already split and stacked. No, we're not hurting in that area.
  17. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    oldspark, I can not comment on the moisture content of the wood simply because I've never owned nor used a moisture meter. Therefore I can only go by experience. That experience tells me there is a difference. So, how does your 12% ash compare with my 6 year old ash? I have no idea.


    EDIT: Thanks for the compliment on the shed and trailer. Both new this year but so far working out great.

    I'm not sure of the drying during winter but tend to think it does fairly well unless it is too cold so that water is solid. And you are correct about us having close to the same climate. You tend to be a bit warmer but it does depend upon your location. I notice you are in NW Iowa so you should be a bit drier than us.
  18. Dune

    Dune Minister of Fire

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    This year I am burning 2 plus year seasoned pine. Most of it comes already bucked. I use a top load stove, so I have to recut 18" or longer peices. I have a bunch of chunks 9-11" long. These peices are much dryer than the 15-18''pieces. Point being that even after 2 1/2 years, this stuff could be dryer. As I slowly creep ahead on wood inventory I will likely season 3 or more years.
  19. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Wood gets so dry and then stops losing moisture so what do you gain by the extra time, that is allowing for the slower drying times for more dense wood.
  20. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    Don't know. Only know what happens in the stove.
  21. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    I hear ya on that one.
  22. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Not being a smart a$$ but it might be the way you stack your wood, so your older wood is much dryer than the 2 year old stuff.
  23. flyingcow

    flyingcow Minister of Fire

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    Dennis,
    Seems like you're always helping out people with wood. Good of you to do that. Nice looking shed.

    I've been lucky to find a wood supplier that sells me rock maple with a little beech mixed in. All tree length and a good price. Been about $90 a cord. I've had people trying to sell me "mixed hardwood". Which means soft maple and white birch. Nice wood to work with, but big diff in the btu department.

    just starting to get into 2 plus yrs of split/seasoned wood. Noticing my tank heats up on a little less wood. Got to like that. I'm almost 2yrs ahead on wood. Will get another 11 or 12 cord(by weight) this feb/march. By next april/may should be split and piled on pallets which will push me over 3yrs of wood. I'll never catch up to you Dennis, but we do burn between 6 and 7 cords a yr.
  24. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    We used to burn that much before we got the Fireview. I still cut more than we need; not sure if it is out of habit or just need the exercise, but probably more like it that I like to do it.
  25. LLigetfa

    LLigetfa Minister of Fire

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    Back in my youth I would measure seasoning time in weeks, not months, and certainly not years. Even as recently as a decade ago, I've burned wood seasoned only for months, not years. I don't think anyone is saying you have to wait 3 years, only that the difference is noticeable. The way I built my woodshed, it is first in/last out so there are times that I have older wood trapped in behind and when I finally get to it, I can notice the difference. Keep in mind that wood is crammed into my shed so it doesn't season like it would out in the open in single rows. I see Dennis ranks his wood up 3 rows deep which is how I used to do mine before I built the shed. Now my outdoor stacks are 2 rows deep ranked on pallets which probably isn't as good as ranked in single rows but I'm far enough ahead that it doesn't matter.

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