Burning Bark?

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StacksCT

Member
Sep 29, 2012
19
South Central CT
Longtime reader, new member -- have valued the comments and information.

We installed a BK Princess Insert this fall and have been enjoying the wood heat plus the reduced need for oil (good news with oil at $3.79 a gallon here in South Central CT). I have this forum to thank for motivating us to move to the woodstove.

Question about burning bark on its own. Seems basically OK, because most of our splits have bark on them, so we are burning bark to some extent daily. However, I remember reading some posts raising a concern about bark and increased creosote.

Had lots of bark fall right off some sugar maple (I think) scrounge and oak during the splitting process. I have a decent pile of just bark, and was wondering if I should put to the spoils pile, or get off the ground to season and burn in a year or two. Would appreciate your thoughts. Thanks.
 

pen

There are some who call me...mod.
Staff member
Aug 2, 2007
7,958
N.E. Penna
For my taste, saving bark to burn is a waste of time. It, by itself, does not burn as a piece of wood does. That said, I just keep a pile of bark by the wood piles as I am stacking them (or unstacking them), and after a few loads of wood, load the bark into the wheel barrow, head to the woods, and make a deposit.

Now, if I didn't have a place to dump the bark, I'd probably consider letting it dry out, and throwing it in the stove a bit with each reload just to make disposal easier.

pen
 

DBoon

Minister of Fire
Jan 14, 2009
1,253
Central NY
I save the bark when it falls off my seasoned logs. It will put off a surprising amount of heat, but does produce more ash than logs. I find a load of bark to be a good way to get an hour or so of good heat if I don't need too much additional heat at the end of a burn cycle or if I don't want to start another full burn cycle.
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
I've burnt it, used it to cover my stacks (it keeps the water off the wood, just like it does on the tree), and I've used it for mulch around the pile so I don't have to bang into it with the lawn mower. Don't let it go to waste!

Matt
 

BIGDADDY

Feeling the Heat
May 17, 2012
416
It can be useful in starting a fire. I see nothing wrong with burning it.
 

bogydave

Minister of Fire
Dec 4, 2009
8,426
So Cent ALASKA
It's BTUs
Not long burning & low in BTUs but nothing wrong with burning it.
Dry bark shouldn't create any more creosote than dry wood.
Creosote comes from burning unseasoned wood slow & at low temperatures.
If the bark is 20% or less moisture, no problem ;)
 
N

nate379

Guest
I just chuck it in my burn barrel, but just because I don't want the mess in the house.
My folks heated with wood for almost 30 years (now use coal). We would just put the bark in boxes or pails and put them in the basement along with the firewood. Every time wood went in the stove, an ash shovel or two of bark hot tossed in as well.
 

red oak

Minister of Fire
Sep 7, 2011
1,294
northwest Virginia
I use it for kindling or the outdoor campfire circle. Easy to get because as the wood is seasoned the bark just comes right off.
 

StacksCT

Member
Sep 29, 2012
19
South Central CT
Thanks for the feedback. I plan to get it off the ground, let it dry, and throw some on each reload. Have a great weekend.
 

onetracker

Minister of Fire
Aug 11, 2011
606
rondout valley ny
last year i had so much bark that i built a bin to throw it in. i burned all of it over the winter but took it down cuz i needed that space to stack splits. this year i'll probably just leave the bark where i split.

in short:
sure, burn all the bark you feel like messing with.
 

Realstone

Lord of Fire
It's BTUs
Not long burning & low in BTUs but nothing wrong with burning it.
Dry bark shouldn't create any more creosote than dry wood.
Creosote comes from burning unseasoned wood slow & at low temperatures.
If the bark is 20% or less moisture, no problem ;)
If >60% of my firewood was birch, I'd be leaving it on too just for the quick starts and the pyrotechnic show :)
My folks heated with wood for almost 30 years (now use coal).
Is there local coal in Alaska?
 

bogydave

Minister of Fire
Dec 4, 2009
8,426
So Cent ALASKA
If >60% of my firewood was birch, I'd be leaving it on too just for the quick starts and the pyrotechnic show :)

I agree, it sure starts a hot fire fast.
On re-loads, I lay the wood by the door, open & quickly load the stove. I have a raging fire in no time ;)
 
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Backwoods Savage

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2007
27,811
Michigan
Welcome to the forum StacksCT.

As you can tell, some do use it as kindling. If wood is short, this could help but not by much.

We have a lot of bark laying around now because so much falls off the white ash after the damage done by the emerald ash borer. I don't use it but sometimes I'll gather up some and put it in some of the low spots on the trails in our woods.
 
I leave it in the driveway for a few sunny afternoons to let it dry out then either dump a bucket of it on some hot coals or if it is really dry (like some from hickory I split in July) then I use it for kindling and it works great. Its wood, so as long as you can get it dry it will create some BTU's for yah. Good luck! As others said it does leave more ash but oh well....
 

JOHN BOY

Minister of Fire
Sep 20, 2012
532
Western Mountains ,NC
I use it for compost and toss most of mine in the woods were we live Keeps the weeds down and add's nutrients in the ground with the dead leaves
 

rideau

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2012
2,168
southern ontario
I always used to burn a good amount of my bark. Then I decided it probably wasn't a good idea and started dumping it on the property. Then I read this here earlier this Autumn that it was fine to burn, so felt stupid I had wasted good wood burning during the shoulder when I could have been burning all the maple bark that came off my trees....then I recently read that the bark in trees produces most of the creosote, and that the bark burning process emits toxic fumes and that of the seven elements of concern in bark (Ni, Pb, Cd, Cr, Mn, Se and Zn), all but Ni and Se are present as significant emmissions in the burning of bark. So it is back to dumping the bark on the property for me. Keep that stuff out of the air, and away from the water supply.
 

pen

There are some who call me...mod.
Staff member
Aug 2, 2007
7,958
N.E. Penna
and that the bark burning process emits toxic fumes and that of the seven elements of concern in bark (Ni, Pb, Cd, Cr, Mn, Se and Zn), all but Ni and Se are present as significant emmissions in the burning of bark. So it is back to dumping the bark on the property for me. Keep that stuff out of the air, and away from the water supply.

Where did that info come from? While I dislike burning bark because of the PIA factor, I'll make a point: Unless there is some process going on inside of your wood stove that physicists are unaware of, if those elements are found in the emissions of burning bark, they will also be found on the ground in the woods beneath where they decay (highway to the water supply). Burning does not create elements, it creates compounds.

In addition, what about the bark that is still stuck to the wood? Do you strip it all off or is that not of concern?

pen
 

rideau

Minister of Fire
Jan 12, 2012
2,168
southern ontario
Where did that info come from? While I dislike burning bark because of the PIA factor, I'll make a point: Unless there is some process going on inside of your wood stove that physicists are unaware of, if those elements are found in the emissions of burning bark, they will also be found on the ground in the woods beneath where they decay (highway to the water supply). Burning does not create elements, it creates compounds.

In addition, what about the bark that is still stuck to the wood? Do you strip it all off or is that not of concern?

pen

I've seen it two places in the last few days. Just looked for it quickly before posting, found one of the two by looking up "burning bark" on Bing. Bunch of British chemists did a research project; the other site was a professional wood burning site, I was looking up info on various woods, BTU etc...I could probably find it if I took the time.

Yes, of course the elements will decompose and go back into the soil, and eventually work their way down, and trees will continue to pull the elements up with their feeder roots...but that doesn't mean we have to put more of the fumes of the elements into the air for everyone to breath. I'm not ridiculous. I'm not going to obsess about bark on my firewood. I'll burn it when it's firmly attached. Remove it when it is loose. I always remove it when it is loose anyway to keep more bugs out of the piles. But why make an effort to burn it, when it may have a negative effect on air quality? And removing the loose bark when stacking saves space in my piles for higher BTU content. Have been removing any bark that has become loose while drying before taking wood into the house, again to minimize bugs and to keep the house cleaner. Used the loose bark as covering on the top of the piles if large enough, or tossed in the woods. For a short while this Autumn I burned it again, because someone suggested it made good shoulder season BTUs. I'm just going to stop the practice again. I'd prefer not to take the chance of polluting unnecessarily. I have plenty of good, dry firewood.
 

timusp40

Feeling the Heat
Feb 3, 2010
266
Lake Orion, Michigan
If it falls off while splitting, I toss it aside. When I have a big enough pile, it goes into the Kemp and then the compost pule.
Take care,
Tim
 
P

Pallet Pete

Guest
I have found that putting it in the stove is really a lot of work because it goes so fast you don't get much heat out of it. We keep a small stack of it so that we can put it on the bottom of a cold load in order to catch the ash and keep it from falling through the grate. This gets the stove going a little faster. The rest goes to the fire pit which is usually going while I am splitting.

Pete
 
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