Burning Cottonwood -Yes/No?

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jadm

New Member
Dec 31, 2007
918
colorado
Planning on ordering wood next week and subject of cottonwood as firewood has surfaced.

Two schools of thought:

1. It's wood. Burn it. (From the school of 'If it is wood - don't matter what kind it is - burn anything.'

2. Don't burn cottonwood. (From the school of 'Be selective. If it is stinky, dirty and doesn't give off much heat turn it into something else other than firewood.)

Would love to hear what you all think on the subject.
 

johnsopi

Minister of Fire
Nov 1, 2006
696
MD near DE&PA;
If it free burn it. I would not bother going to get,cut and split it nor would I pay for it.
 
I have tried cotton wood. There is a large cotton wood tree about a block away, when it gets cut for a condo complex, I won't be asking for it.

When freshly cut, it is very heavy.

When trying to split it is very stringy and hard to split.

When burning it stinks and tends to smoke.

When burning it seems to burn fast.
 
bebopin said:
http://www.ianrpubs.unl.edu/epublic/live/g1554/build/g1554.pdf

This is a good reference for wood type and how well it burns.
Used it several times and keep a print out of it available.

I like it because it is one of the few that include Osage Orange in its listing.
 

jadm

New Member
Dec 31, 2007
918
colorado
Bebopin-

Thanks for the web site. I copied and filed the information. Know what to ask for now and why.

Probably won't be paying for cottonwood.
 

RedRanger

New Member
Nov 19, 2007
1,428
British Columbia
FYI the cottonwood around these parts can`t even begin to burn till it has been stacked and dried for at least 3 years. It is the worst of the worst!! Even desperate people won`t touch it.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
17,500
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
Sorry sonny, total BS and a bad wive's tale. I have been burning 100% NW cottonwood since about the first of the year for 24/7 burning. It's burning right now smoke free and stink free after seasoning in a well placed 5 cord row for less than one year. It has less BTUs than most other wood so yes, you need more. It dries just as quickly as any other wood. It splits just fine in a hydraulic splitter when green and by axe when dry. It is no dirtier than any other wood. It is heavier when green and lighter when dry than most any other wood. It does have a different smell when it burns during light up and reload but I would not compare it with urine or stench, just a smell.

I would compare this to the pine burning myth. Just plain false and almost always based on what someone's pappy said.

After burning the last 1.5 cords of the cottonwood I would gladly take it for free. I would prefer doug fir of course.
 

jtp10181

Minister of Fire
Feb 26, 2007
3,734
Madison, WI
I was at a guys house working on his 7100FP and I said "lets make a small fire". So... he puts two medium sized logs E/W, then a GIANT piece of cotton wood E/S on top. He had to JAM it in the fireplace. Was prob 12" thick at the largest point. Anyway.... he said it burns like paper and he uses it all the time. The stuff he had burned like CRAP because it was so large and probably soaking wet.
 

gary

New Member
Oct 29, 2006
70
St. George, KS
I don't know that I would use it exclusively, but I've never had a problem with it (splitting or burning). It works great as a start up wood.
 

RedRanger

New Member
Nov 19, 2007
1,428
British Columbia
Highbeam said:
Sorry sonny, total BS and a bad wive's tale. I have been burning 100% NW cottonwood since about the first of the year for 24/7 burning. It's burning right now smoke free and stink free after seasoning in a well placed 5 cord row for less than one year. It has less BTUs than most other wood so yes, you need more. It dries just as quickly as any other wood. It splits just fine in a hydraulic splitter when green and by axe when dry. It is no dirtier than any other wood. It is heavier when green and lighter when dry than most any other wood. It does have a different smell when it burns during light up and reload but I would not compare it with urine or stench, just a smell.

I would compare this to the pine burning myth. Just plain false and almost always based on what someone's pappy said.

After burning the last 1.5 cords of the cottonwood I would gladly take it for free. I would prefer doug fir of course.
Well, thanks a lot Highbeam,hell, got 2 of those huge suckers that someone has been nagging about falling or getting rid of. Now that you have dispelled that myth, what choice do I have but to fall those beasts? :) Actually I do have a choice, cause she never reads this forum. Okay, just kidding, will do my due dilligence and fall and buck. And stack under cover for at least 2 years-lol
 

Backwoods Savage

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2007
27,812
Michigan
Cottonwood does burn once it is dry and it burns very hot...and quick. Actually, if you can get it burning green it also will burn hot and fast. We used to burn slabwood at the sawmill and when we cut cottonwood we just burned the slabs; no problem once you got it going.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
17,500
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
I'm sorry for coming off like a jackalope sunny. I think you need to pay particular attention to seasoning to get rapid drying of cottonwood. If the wood isn't dry then it will be an unpleasant burning experience, even more so than other species when green. The ends crack radially and the color turns grey just like most woods. The soapstone stove that I burn may be one of the reaasons that the cottonwood works so well for me since it is able to store and release the rapid heat produced by the cottonwood.

Here's my cotton stack back in about May of last year. Less than halfway burned down. 5 cords, in a 60' long stack that was two rows deep oriented east-west in full sunlight. I had cut and split the cotton in March/April.
 

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whphel

New Member
Dec 18, 2007
76
Lake Stevens, WA
Highbeam said:
Sorry sonny, total BS and a bad wive's tale. I have been burning 100% NW cottonwood since about the first of the year for 24/7 burning. It's burning right now smoke free and stink free after seasoning in a well placed 5 cord row for less than one year. It has less BTUs than most other wood so yes, you need more. It dries just as quickly as any other wood. It splits just fine in a hydraulic splitter when green and by axe when dry. It is no dirtier than any other wood. It is heavier when green and lighter when dry than most any other wood. It does have a different smell when it burns during light up and reload but I would not compare it with urine or stench, just a smell.

I would compare this to the pine burning myth. Just plain false and almost always based on what someone's pappy said.

After burning the last 1.5 cords of the cottonwood I would gladly take it for free. I would prefer doug fir of course.
I agree with all of what you said. Cotton wood, is all I have been burning since September with the exception of 1/2 cord of nice dry maple I got from my cousin (far better than cottonwood). If it isnt dry though dont even bother to try and burn it unless you have a good bed of coals and split it small.
 

whphel

New Member
Dec 18, 2007
76
Lake Stevens, WA
sonnyinbc said:
Highbeam said:
Sorry sonny, total BS and a bad wive's tale. I have been burning 100% NW cottonwood since about the first of the year for 24/7 burning. It's burning right now smoke free and stink free after seasoning in a well placed 5 cord row for less than one year. It has less BTUs than most other wood so yes, you need more. It dries just as quickly as any other wood. It splits just fine in a hydraulic splitter when green and by axe when dry. It is no dirtier than any other wood. It is heavier when green and lighter when dry than most any other wood. It does have a different smell when it burns during light up and reload but I would not compare it with urine or stench, just a smell.

I would compare this to the pine burning myth. Just plain false and almost always based on what someone's pappy said.

After burning the last 1.5 cords of the cottonwood I would gladly take it for free. I would prefer doug fir of course.
Well, thanks a lot Highbeam,hell, got 2 of those huge suckers that someone has been nagging about falling or getting rid of. Now that you have dispelled that myth, what choice do I have but to fall those beasts? :) Actually I do have a choice, cause she never reads this forum. Okay, just kidding, will do my due dilligence and fall and buck. And stack under cover for at least 2 years-lol
Split and stack but dont cover until Sept or Oct let it breath and let the sun shine through and the wind blow.
 

bcnu

New Member
Dec 1, 2006
495
So, do I buy some heating oil or take the free cottonwood tree that's already down at the neighbors place. ..no need to reply as I'll be out getting the chainsaw ready!
 
bcnu said:
So, do I buy some heating oil or take the free cottonwood tree that's already down at the neighbors place. ..no need to reply as I'll be out getting the chainsaw ready!
Good luck, hope that tree fell a while ago. Watch the chimney even if you have an EPA Stove.

It is ok in a pinch, but must be seasoned.
 

Biglumber

Member
Jan 19, 2008
74
Colorado
Its wood. Burn it.

I don't pay for it nor cut and split it as it isn't worth it. Have in the past though.

Cottonwood is more than plentiful here which makes it tempting. Season it preferably 3 years.
 

d.n.f.

New Member
Dec 14, 2007
504
Nelson BC
I burned two cords of it. Takes a long time to season. Even though it is cracked it still has lots of moisture.

Burns good, but not tons of heat. Also lots of ash.

People out here will pay you to take it away. I would burn it again if/when I get a stove.
 
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