brush pile starter

Granite Statah Posted By Granite Statah, Mar 8, 2019 at 12:35 PM

  1. Granite Statah

    Granite Statah
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    Dec 22, 2015
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    I feel like a fool even asking, but....
    I've got a year-old (at least) brush pile, roughly 20' in dia and maybe 10' high at the peak. It's a decent mix of hemlock, beech, pine, a little maple, with nothing over 3" dia. A lot of small stuff, and looks to be pretty dry.
    If I burn while there's 3" of snow on the ground, I don't need a permit. No problem there. Still have a couple feet in the woods.
    Last weekend I made a few attempts to get it lit, using some paper, cardboard, kindling from my stacks, but nothing seemed to work. I didn't use any accelerants, mainly because I used my last bit of diesel in the tractor. And I do know that gasoline is sort of a no-no.

    Does anyone have any tried-and-true methods for getting this thing rolling? I do have a few gallons of ATF from my last fluids change in the tractor, would this be helpful? Someone mentioned diesel? Thanks.
     
  2. SuperSpy

    SuperSpy
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    Oct 12, 2017
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    Diesel or kerosene is probably your best bet for a good mix between easy lighting and safe slow burning. Use a plumbers torch to light it as diesel especially doesn't ignite easily and it will take a bit for it to take off, as it has to get hot enough to vaporize before it will burn.

    Especially with kerosene, if you let the wood soak for like a 15-30m before lighting it will burn more steadily which will allow the fire to really get going.

    Paper is generally a poor way to start a fire unless you are either using a bunch of it, or just using it to transfer a match flame to something a bit bigger, as it burns away long before the wood around it gets hot enough to ignite.

    My go-to has always been 2x4 scraps split as tiny as I can, combined with a plumbing torch to get things started.
     
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  3. tadmaz

    tadmaz
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  4. Kevin Weis

    Kevin Weis
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    Mar 3, 2018
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    go out and get some K1 or the #2 kerosene.
     
  5. Montanalocal

    Montanalocal
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    Dec 22, 2014
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    I used to mix gas and diesel half and half. The gas got the diesel going, and the diesel lasted long enough to get the wood going.
     
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  6. David.Ervin

    David.Ervin
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    Jan 17, 2014
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    The trick to getting a brush pile of stuff that may be a little damp (you said it snowed) is to keep pushing it down into the flaming parts so it stays hot enough to eventually be self-sustaining. Figure out what side the wind is coming from, start there. Set something heavy on top of the stack so it squashes that side down, put some newspaper in a good sized paper box, stuff it in there and light it up. If you need accelerants to get it going, a gas / oil combo in 1:4 ratio works wonders and won't "woosh" on you.
     
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  7. GadDummit

    GadDummit
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    May 27, 2017
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    Just pretend you're in the cub scouts again. Break off some small sticks, put them over some paper. Then add bigger sticks, and bigger, etc. until you have a good fire going in a corner of the pile. It'll take 20 minutes but you'll get it going.

    Or you could do it like we do out here in the hills. Pour 2 cups of gasoline on a thick tangle of the branches, leave a small trail out to where you'll stand, and light the trail. Poof, up it goes, and eyelashes are safe.
     
  8. blades

    blades
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    I have a propane touch about 250,000 btu -that is exactly the type of thing it was designed for. A few minutes of that monster and its good to go. Fact is a friend borrowed yesterday just to use it for his pile.
     
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  9. Granite Statah

    Granite Statah
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    Dec 22, 2015
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    Thanks fellas. I'm digging that propane torch flamethrower. I used a handheld MAPP gas torch last time, but it's got a very focused flame for soldering pipes and didn't really help. Harbor Freight literally just opened in an old Staples store, I guess this is my excuse to check it out, and grab a fresh tarp or two for the stacks. Might try some of that diesel/gas cocktail as well. Shaken of course.
     
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  10. Woody5506

    Woody5506
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    last fire i had in my backyard with snow on the ground I just used part of a super cedar firestarter and got some scrap kiln dried wood, lit it with the butane torch. took a little while to get going but it was roaring in 10 mins or less
     
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  11. Bad LP

    Bad LP
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    Nov 28, 2014
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    Next time plan a little better. Make a cave out of some pallets and pile the brush on top. A good dry kindling fire will have that puppy ripping in no time. Add a mix of waste oil and diesel if you want.

    Also a good blower like a hand held or back pack style can be a very good friend getting that draft going.
     
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  12. peakbagger

    peakbagger
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    The standard totally non politically correct environmentally nasty approach that works incredibly well are a tire or two lit off with some flammable liquid. A leaf blower with an extension on the end of the chute is big plus. You need a very hot fire in one part of the pile to generate enough heat to melt off the ice and snow. If you dont use tires then you need a large pile of dry softwood to get a hot fire going and then use the blower to move the heat around. There is usually a critical point where the fire gets burning hot enough that it takes off. These fires are best done after dark as they throw out a pile of black smoke even if no tires are used. If done during the day call up the local fire department let them know in advance even if you dont need a permit otherwise you have high chance of visit from fire truck..
     
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  13. Firewood Bandit

    Firewood Bandit
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    Jan 3, 2014
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    I gotta disagree with everyone, I build a lot of brush piles and burn 2 sometimes 3 times a year. The key to building a brush pile is never throw anything in that will not lay flat. Pine is easy since it is 2 dimensional. When throwing other types of brush in especially apple, (I have a 700 tree orchard) is to take the time to cut out any forks so the limbs lay flat. Save the heavy pieces and throw on top. Given enough time piles will collapse but that takes at least a year. Density is what you are striving for. Once a pile is dense, a little newspaper with a splash of 50-50 diesel fuel and used drain oil. It shouldn't take more than a quart or two.

    If the pile is too open, take a saw and cut anything that makes bridges, you want the pile to collapse on itself.

    NEVER use gas.

    See there are no forks in the brush:

    e00i8i.jpg

    This looks like pine, but it is fresh cut and green.

    34yag5z.jpg

    1z4bcj4.jpg

    wclb0y.jpg
     
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  14. peakbagger

    peakbagger
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    The key thing to realize is that there is big difference in burning a brush pile in an area that does not have snow compared to one that does. My local and state laws make burning brush piles during seasons when there is not snow on the ground far more difficult. I need a charged hose and unless the fire conditions are low they will not issue a permit unless its actively misting or raining. Looking at the conditions in the photo that looks like spring conditions where things havent greened up. About the only option that can help during snow conditions is to completely cover the pile in the fall and wait for the first significant snow fall to light it off.
     
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  15. maple1

    maple1
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    One key thing from above is light it on the side the wind is blowing against.

    I've never had a problem getting a brush pile going just with a match & newspaper & some of the brush broken or cut into kindling. Might have to hack at the place you're starting it at some with a saw first to get it to collapse some & get the air out of it. So to speak.
     
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  16. KC Matt

    KC Matt
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  17. KC Matt

    KC Matt
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    Sorry, but this is terrible advice. I've done it plenty and know how quickly it can go bad.



     
  18. iLoveWood

    iLoveWood
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    I burn lots on my 5 acres, blackberries and wood processing leftovers. My most effective way is to get a good fire started with a large propane weed torch, once things are going good I feed the fire with extra air with a blower. Not too much air, just enough to excite the fire. Think about what you do to a runaway stove fire (open the door to flood the firebox with cold air) here you want the opposite, also you risk blowing all your coals away. A rake and pitch fork to make adjustments is helpful.
     
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  19. SpaceBus

    SpaceBus
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    I ordered a 500,000 BTU propane torch on Amazon and I have several 20-30# tanks. This works amazingly well, even during last summer in NC with constant rain. It dries everything and then it ignites the pile. I've used it to clear snow from my wood stack when I forgot to cover it now that I'm in Maine.
     
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  20. Allagash350

    Allagash350
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    Leaf blower will help .
    Propane torch, I like diesel mixed with gas, sometimes I add old motor oil as well.
    One thing that helped me is buying a cheap bag of charcoal and putting it on top of the pile before you light it off .
    The charcoal keeps it going after the initial accelerant wears off .
     
  21. Sodbuster

    Sodbuster
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    I've used a huge propane torch with no success. I've had the best luck starting a small fire without propellants under the brush pile, and keep adding dry dry branches to the fire as it gets going. Eventually the fire becomes self sustaining. No gas or diesel, just smaller wood to bigger wood.
     
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  22. Firewood Bandit

    Firewood Bandit
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    Jan 3, 2014
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    As I said before guys, if your brush pile doesn't burn, you didn't stack it with enough density.
     
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  23. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake
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    Random thoughts . . .

    Don't use gas . . . about every year or two someone up here in the Spring gets burned badly by using gasoline.

    If you really, really need to use an accelerant use a 70-30 or so mix of diesel to gasoline . . . it's a bit "safer."

    That said . . . I typically have at least one brush pile a year and generally I don't need to rely on anything other than a bunch of cardboard to get it going . . . the key being I build it in the center with compacted and relatively dry brush (although I have been able to get green brush going with enough cardboard and patience.)
     
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  24. blacktail

    blacktail
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    Start it with a weed torch. Point a blower at the base of the fire and just let it idle if the fire is real stubborn. Even green, wet brush will burn with some help.
    A little dry firewood in the base of the fire helps too. 20180502_143451.jpeg 20190310_162258.jpeg
     
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  25. Medic21

    Medic21
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    I mix a gallon of diesel with a gallon of used motor oil into an old garden sprayer. Coat good and light with a torch. Works great.
     

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