Any reason not to burn cedar?

Warm_in_NH Posted By Warm_in_NH, Mar 18, 2015 at 9:02 PM

  1. Warm_in_NH

    Warm_in_NH
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    There's a shoe tree company down the road from me and one of their more ambitious employees sells red cedar scraps for short change.

    I know a couple of guys that burn it regularly, but they burn anything and everything anyway. It's all kiln dried chunks from baseball size to actual shoe trees.

    Aside from having pay attention to not over fire the stove with this kiln dried stuff, any reason anyone can come up with not to burn it? I know it's oily, but I'm test running it tonight and it burns great with decent coals and good heat.

    Thoughts. ...
     
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  2. claydogg84

    claydogg84
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    A lot of the guys on this site say it makes great kindling. I haven't had the opportunity to use it myself though.
     
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  3. jotul8e2

    jotul8e2
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    I have always felt like the main difference between burning cedar and gasoline is that it does not slosh as much.

    Eastern cedar will have less than half the btu value of most hardwood per unit of volume. It had a reputation for burning uncontrollably in the older stoves with poor air control. I suppose (but just suppose, mind you!) that you could keep it from melting down a modern EPA stove. It does make terrific kindling.
     
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  4. Fastdonzi

    Fastdonzi
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    I have burned a lot of it in my Non Cat stove without any issues. I too am interested in the answer for use in newer Cat or SB (secondary burn) stoves... It grows rampant here...
     
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  5. begreen

    begreen
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    Just be mindful that cedar is high in oil content and the wood is going to be dry. The pieces sound small. I would not burn it alone, especially not in large loads. But mixed with hardwood it could be ok.
     
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  6. Calentarse

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    Smells nice and definitely burns hot. It also sparks heavily, so it can be unnerving to hot reload when you've got some in a dampered down stove.

    Aside from those points and the ones others have made, I'd burn it if it were free and going to go to waste already. Around here, the policy we abide by regarding the acquisition of wood is as follows: never cut anything when one has access to free, downed wood. We take from the side of the road, offer to free people of trees they need removed, etc. So if it's already cut and otherwise going to go to waste, I say Burn It!
     
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  7. iluvjazznjava

    iluvjazznjava
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    I have burned some cedar exactly like that. It will burn hot and fast - any kiln dried wood will burn that way. If it was me, I would try and mix it in with other types of wood.
     
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  8. jatoxico

    jatoxico
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    I like cedar. Had maybe a 1/4 cord last year and use it mainly the way I use pine. That is; get the firebox up to temp on cold starts and/or a few med/sm mix in splits for shoulder season burning. I do a lot of cold starts so the quick burst of heat is a big plus for me. If you're more of a 24/7 burner maybe less useful especially if it's all small bits.
     
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  9. Warm_in_NH

    Warm_in_NH
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    My primary concern was the oils in it, and if they'd affect the pipe or stove, but that doesn't appear to be an issue.

    I burned half a bag (40 lb onion bag 18" across, 30" tall) of small stuff last night by itself. Just fed a little at a time, stacked them in tight to each other, maybe a 10" square by 6" tall. I had to cut the air very quickly, but they burned really nice and hot. Definitely not good for 24/7 burning like I'm doing now, as it needs a lot of attention, but I think it'll be great for a quick shoulder season fire.

    Bonus is that the house smells great with that big bag of cedar sitting by the wood stack.
     
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  10. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake
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    Excellent for kindling or a quick, hot fire . . . not the type of wood you want to rely on in middle of January.
     
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  11. Highbeam

    Highbeam
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    We have the western red cedar trees here in the PNW and they get really big. When one comes down I am not going to waste that wood. I've CSS'd many cords of the red cedar and treated it like any other tree for firewood. It burns great in a non-cat, I've never tried it in my cat stove, just like any other wood. It doesn't spark as much when it is in firewood sized pieces. The oils in the cedar are no more corrosive or harmful than the oils in any other evergreen.

    I'm currently burning a mixture of doug fir and juniper/cypress which is pretty much cedar in my cat stove. No worries at all. Yes, it is less dense than other woods but that just means you burn more of it. No big deal when the price is right.
     
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  12. begreen

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    Our neighbor burned cedar firewood, split into 6-8" pieces in his Spectrum without issue too. The oils make it a bit more volatile, not corrosive that I know of. Pine, fir, even eucalyptus have this characteristic. The big difference being for the OP is that the cedar pieces are small and kiln dried. Large firewood sized splits slows down the burn a lot. Small pieces, kiln dried are going to burn more like cabinetry and construction lumber scraps. They'll burn, but will need mindfulness.
     
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  13. Warm_in_NH

    Warm_in_NH
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    I've got a lot of experience with the kiln dried part. Make a living cutting it into pieces and usually give it out to everyone and anyone who burns wood in the fall for kindling.

    Overall, the small chunks of cedar seem to burn a little hotter than pine, but no big benefit, I can get it super cheap, but it's still not really worth it since I can essentially just burn my own scraps that I get for free if I want to burn small loads and feed the stove every 45 minutes. I was hoping I tapped into a secret wood source gold mine, but not so much.

    Does smell nice though.
     
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  14. iamlucky13

    iamlucky13
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    I'm pretty sure once the fire is hot the oils burn up just like the rest of the wood.

    I've always used western red cedar for kindling. It's near the bottom of the charts for BTU's, but thumb-sized splits can be pretty easily lit with a match (I still use newspaper to get the draft started, however). Right now I've got 5-6 cubic feet on hand. The neighbor also just scrapped an unstained fence where the bottoms of the slats have a moderate amount of rot, but the tops are in fine condition. I'm going to collect a bunch of that from him, too.

    I've never tried it for anything other than kindling, though, because it burns up so fast. That doesn't mean an eastern variety of cedar will be the same.

    I've got about a cord of Port Orford cedar that I haven't tried yet, but I'm told burns much more like pine. I keep meaning to throw one or two splits in just to see what it does. I've got some older stuff to finish up before I start burning the Port Orford in earnest.

    Splitting it is just about euphoric because of the smell. I've always loved the smell of western red cedar, but Port Orford adds a ginger note that's almost a drug to me.
     
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  15. begreen

    begreen
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    I wince when I hear of Port Oroford cedar being burned. That is a valuable and exceptional cedar wood. It's highly prized in the marine industry.
     
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  16. mstoelton

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    Cedar makes Great Kindling.
     
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  17. iamlucky13

    iamlucky13
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    I figured it was - wonderfully straight and even grain - and felt kind of bad about it, but the guy I got it from said he had to take it down after a second top fell and barely missed his neighbor's house. The tree service apparently didn't have any customers for the wood, and left it in his yard bucked to 18" rounds.

    Whoever beat me to the rest of the tree took the smaller rounds, so I got all the big, beautifully clear, if heavy lower sections.
     
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  18. Dix

    Dix
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    I lucked into some free cedar this season, bucked for a tleast a year. I split it in June, single stacked, and added it to the arsenal this winter.

    I was glad I had it, as I dipped into some less than marginal oak that was close to the house, I couldn't get to some of the stacks that I planned on using this year ( That's going to change, big time, this coming heating season !!!) .



     
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  19. Poindexter

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    I would take it and make room for it somewhere to keep it dry until next season. I would plan to rake my coals forward, fill the bottom back of the firebox to level with cedar chunks, and then load full sized splits on the level surface, and get the cat engaged pretty darn quick on reloads. How many truckloads can I have delivered to zip 99701 please?
     
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  20. dotman17

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    Well, I had 3 large western cedar trees cut down in my back yard. Turns out, as expected, they were rotting on the inside. So not only did I save my roof by having them cut down, I also probably saved my house. But the benefit is I have all this free firewood and this is the first year I'm burning it. I gave 2 of those trees away to my friend last year and he burned the entire season with it. Trick is simply to be sure you burn hot fires. It's not, as someone above mentioned, the type of wood you want to use to burn over night. The stuff literally burns and leaves little residue. So the only thing I can think of that would be a concern is creosote buildup in the flue. But that's why you want to burn hot fires. My friend never had any problem after burning all year -- and I plan on burning all year with this stuff. I'll be sure to let you all know if there is, but so far this stuff is a joy to burn. Smells great and who doesn't enjoy the snap, crackle, pop? I think all this bad cedar talk it's all a bunch of misinformation. Folks in the PNW and Canada have been burning it for years.

    One of the better articles I've read about it can be found here:

    https://www.wildflower.org/expert/show.php?id=10655

    If you plan on giving away your cedar, please give it to me. I'll burn it.
     
  21. Highbeam

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    I’m currently burning 100% western red cedar in my cat stove. It works great. Easy to light and very controllable. Nice long burns. 12 hours from 4-5 big splits. The cat easily keeps up with the smoke. Very well behaved wood despite the reputation of being explosive!
     
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  22. dotman17

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    That's been my personal experience so far. The other great thing is it's a joy to split and stack.
     
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  23. Dieselhead

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    I have some ready for the short ‘n hots (As I call em) aka shoulder season fires.
     
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  24. dotman17

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    This makes sense particularly if you live in a more harsher climate. But out here in the PNW, I think they're good for all times of the year. I assume you think they are better for the shoulder season because they don't put out the BTUs or last as long? You are not the only one I've read on the Internet that has stated this position. I know that cedar burns up quicker and the coals don't linger. It's probably not a good over night burner. But if you don't mind shoving it more frequently into your stove's 'wood hole', I think it's a solid.
     
  25. Highbeam

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    There are some very cold parts of the country that burn only cottonwood or only pine. People stay plenty warm with whatever they have. Sure, I would love to burn super dense woods but it all works.
     
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