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You guys aren't kidding about oak and moisture retention!

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by lukem, Mar 14, 2011.

  1. lukem

    lukem Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jan 12, 2010
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    Indiana
    I'm scrapping the bottom of this year's wood pile. Yesterday I needed a small fire in the evening so I went out and collected an ash bucket full of red/white oak junk leftover from splitting up about 6 cord back in November. It was some thin slab split, notch cut chunks, and general odds and ends. Nothing was thicker than 1" and had been sitting on the top of the stack for 4 1/2 months.

    I added it to a few small coals. About 10 minutes later I opened the door on the stove and it was hissing. I thought for sure this would be pretty dry as small as it was. I should have went with my gut and raided next year's pile (the oak won't be burned for 2-3 more years) but then I thought "how bad could it really be"? Bad.

    Unrelated ramble:

    After Tuesday night, I may be done burning for the season. It was this week last year I quit too. Forecast looks pretty good (as of now) and I don't mind the house a little on the cool side...65 feels better than 78. I'm sure there will be a few nights where I'll build a small fire, but 24x7 ends this week. After burning almost 5 cord this winter I'm ready to be done.

    This Saturday I'm returning to the woods to get started on '12/13 wood. Pretty excited about it. This winter has been a hard one and I need some outdoor stimuli. I'm also really looking forward to using the new (to me) 361 for more than cleaning up branches. My goal is to c/s/s 3 cord this spring and 3 cord this fall. Last year I processed 17 cord...so 6 in 6 months should be a cake walk.

    '11/12 stack - 5 cord (mixed bag of oak, ash, elm, cherry, maple, hackberry, box elder, etc.) c/s/s March/April 2010 and October/November 2010
    '12/13 stack - empty
    '12/13 stack - 5 cord of 100% red/white oak c/s/s November 2010
    '13/14 stack - 2.5 cord of 100% red/white oak c/s/s November 2010 - needs some more to top it off...but I've got some time on that

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  2. Backwoods Savage

    Backwoods Savage Minister of Fire

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    27,816
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    Michigan
    Lukem, welcome to the wonderful world of burning oak! You found out exactly why we recommend 2-3 years on the oak. You had some very small thin pieces so imagine what a large split would be like. Nope. Not good to burn just yet. lol

    I do see the forecast says several days in the 50 degree range. That will mean less burning for sure but we certainly will not be putting the stove to bed yet. March can turn cold really fast and so can April. We still have plenty of snow here and while I was working outdoors this morning I was surprised at how cold I got. It felt great at first but then I got cold. Also saw several flocks of geese and some more sandhill cranes. Still no robins here but some neighbors have seen some.

    You'll be starting to cut more and I am hoping to cut some too. But hey, I like your listing of the wood you have on hand. Sounds like you have it together and doing a great job. Keep up the good work.
  3. Black Jaque Janaviac

    Black Jaque Janaviac Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Dec 17, 2009
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    Loc:
    Ouisconsin
    I hope the winter of '12/13 is too severe, looks like you're gonna be cold.

    Actually you're way ahead of me. . .
  4. dave11

    dave11 Minister of Fire

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    May 25, 2008
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    604
    Loc:
    Western PA
    I've been burning some red oak that has been two full years in the sun/wind. Seemed to burn okay, even in my picky stove, but I had a reason to open the door mid-burn, and it was hissing....

    My jaw dropped.

    Three years for red oak, from now on.
  5. iskiatomic

    iskiatomic Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 15, 2008
    Messages:
    725
    Loc:
    Central CT
    I as well have a lot of oak. Just got to the three year stag with it. Damn! It's like coal

    You just need to be 2-3 years ahead at all times. Sounds simple, but yes you need

    the space, time and beer. Then it all comes together and then it's happy burning time.


    KC
  6. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    Southern IN
    I've been burning some Shingle Oak from a 12" limb that had to be trimmed from a live tree. It was split small and stacked in June. With the help of a dry summer it's actually burning OK now, with minimal hissing. I have to believe that different Oak species dry at different rates. I wouldn't know for sure because for all these years, my wood's never been seasoned for more than six months. :red:
  7. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    Oak is very stingy with its cellular moisture. It simply doesn't give it up until the cell walls have a partial break down (think crack). Combine that with its inherent density and you have a perfect storm for it to hold on to water. So - no kidding, 2+ years is the best.
  8. CJRages

    CJRages Member

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    Oct 20, 2009
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    Loc:
    Mid Missouri
    I'm with you. Also have some Shingle Oak that was cut green in June/July 2010. It is burning much better now than the green Ash I got in late summer 2010. Amazing dry time variability among the species.
  9. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    Southern IN
    I have available a big White Oak trunk that has been down for several years. The sap wood is rotted but still on the trunk. I wonder if a very slight decomposition has taken place in the heart wood, and if so would that break down the cell walls and help speed drying once I split it (small?) I would love to burn some White Oak next year. I split some like this once but I can't remember how it ended up burning. What I do remember is that the smell of it was wonderfully sweet. It took me three times as long to split it because I would split a few, then I'd have to stop and smell a fresh split. :lol:
  10. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    It "can", depending on the environment. If sitting on the ground, I wouldn't plan on that stuff being dry anytime soon. Split it up and get it stacked, give it some time and test. It really is the only way you will "know" how its going.
  11. Woody Stover

    Woody Stover Minister of Fire

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    The tree blew over and the root ball is holding the trunk up off the ground. We shall see...
  12. Jags

    Jags Moderate Moderator Staff Member

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    That is a good thing. Be aware that root balls are known to "stand back up" when the trunk is cut free. Be cautious.

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