Does Sappy Wood Equal Unseasoned Wood?

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turbocruiser

Feeling the Heat
Jun 10, 2011
321
Rocky Mountains Majesty
I'm wondering whether sappy wood equals unseasoned wood or if those two things are unrelated? I'm currently burning some big splits of Lodge Pole Pine which was standing dead for a full two years, cut into 16 inch lengths for a full year and then split and stacked this summer. My moisture meter reads between 6% and 8% even after splitting a split again and measuring so I'm assuming I'm alright with the wood's moisture level but should the sap itself also be all gone? Thanks as always.

EDIT: I should also add another obersvation which is while the sap isn't so obvious when splitting, stacking, etc, it "sweats" out of the split throughout the first few minutes of burning.
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
83,481
South Puget Sound, WA
No, doug fir holds it's sticky, oily sap for years too. It burns very well. Sounds like your wood is tinder dry, almost too dry.
 

Agent

Member
Oct 5, 2011
173
Waupaca, Wi
For the most part, you shouldn't see too much sap in well dried pine.
However, I've been noticing that when cutting standing dead Ponderosa's, that the bottom 2-6' is chock full of pitch. They feel like they are wetter than wet, but boy do they BURN!!!!
Just watch out with those pitch filled ones, as they like to turn the glass black in a hurry.
 

curber

Feeling the Heat
Oct 6, 2011
294
south east idaho
My lodge pole pine does the same. Only small amounts of sap on the occasional split. Pat
 

eclecticcottage

Minister of Fire
Dec 7, 2011
1,803
WNY
Agent said:
However, I've been noticing that when cutting standing dead Ponderosa's, that the bottom 2-6' is chock full of pitch. They feel like they are wetter than wet, but boy do they BURN!!!!
Betcha that's what fatwood is...
 

rwhite

Minister of Fire
Nov 8, 2011
1,612
North Central Idaho
All depends on the lodgepole. I am assuming that standing dead probably means bug kill which is a whole different sap problem. I burn alot of bug kill pine. All the sap is on the outside from leakage. It does create some problems burning it and you have to be careful with it as it gets HOT. You almost have to burn all the sap from the bark before you can close the air or the chimney will smoke. You have to watch it close or it will get to hot and when you go to close the air you'll overfire. I don't use mine for overnight burns or fill the stove full of it. Just a few splits and be happy with the 3-4 hr burn times.
 

Wood Duck

Minister of Fire
Feb 26, 2009
4,790
Central PA
I think you answered your own question - apparently wood can be dry but sappy. I wonder if Pitch Pine or Virginia Pines can be the same way. We don't have Lodgepole Pine here. Sappy lodgepole sounds like great kindling.
 

remkel

Minister of Fire
Jan 21, 2010
1,459
Southwest NH
Sappy wood- sounds like the wood is crying...:)
 

rwhite

Minister of Fire
Nov 8, 2011
1,612
North Central Idaho
Remkel said:
Sappy wood- sounds like the wood is crying...:)
It actually is if it was beetle kill. They bore so many holes in it that it just weeps sap everywhere. Dries up good and not real sticky like Ponderosa but it does burn hot until it's off.
 

pteubel

Feeling the Heat
Dec 23, 2008
310
Fitzwilliam, NH
turbocruiser said:
EDIT: I should also add another observation which is while the sap isn't so obvious when splitting, stacking, etc, it "sweats" out of the split throughout the first few minutes of burning.
No surprise there. The dried sap re-liquifies when the temps rise. In the lumber industry, drying pine usually includes "setting the sap". This means the lumber is brought up to a higher temperature during the last stages of kiln drying to dry up (or "set") as much sap as possible. Bring that lumber to a HIGHER temp in use, it'll bleed sap again. My log house is 24 yrs old and when it get REALLY hot outside with full sun, I still have sap running from a few logs.

In fact, there is a ceiling fixture in my basement that I recently replaced. It was one of those close-to-the-ceiling fixtures and had regular incandescent bulbs in it. The temps within got hot enough to bleed some sap from the t&g ceiling paneling. Looked like a stalactite hanging there.
 

snowleopard

Minister of Fire
Dec 9, 2009
1,495
I've got some spruce that was fire-killed, and it died with the sap in it--lots of it. It crystalized, and it's like throwing a huge sparkler on the fire sometimes. Burns very hot. I also have some beetle-killed spruce that was cut standing-dead, and it's pretty sappy-weepy. I've been getting the same results as described above, burning hot and yet throwing off some soot in the process. Thanks for the thread, learned a few things.
 

turbocruiser

Feeling the Heat
Jun 10, 2011
321
Rocky Mountains Majesty
Thanks folks for all the advice! I'll try to address these things one by one.

1. Great to know that sap isn't somehow associated with "trapped moisture".
2. If 6% to 8% moisture is too dry then what could I or should I do to correct that?
3. Yes this standing dead stuff was all attacked by Beetles. I have a few older friends with lots and lots of trees on their property that need to be cut up and carried away. I can go and get trailer load after trailer load for free as long as I do the work that is necessary! There are areas of these trees where sap sites are all over on the bark and then areas without sap sites. It makes perfect sense then why the sap wouldn't be so obvious on split interior sections but much more obvious on outside surfaces.
4. Yes this stuff burns super hot and has all sorts of special effects too!

Thanks again for all the advice.
 

JotulOwner

Feeling the Heat
Oct 29, 2007
354
Long Island, New York
Agent said:
For the most part, you shouldn't see too much sap in well dried pine.
However, I've been noticing that when cutting standing dead Ponderosa's, that the bottom 2-6' is chock full of pitch. They feel like they are wetter than wet, but boy do they BURN!!!!
Just watch out with those pitch filled ones, as they like to turn the glass black in a hurry.
Yeah, I think that is how Fatwood became a popular fire starter.

http://www.fatwood.com/what-is-fatwood/
 

SteveKG

Minister of Fire
Jun 23, 2009
700
Colorado Rockies
I've likely got a few chunks of odd-shaped wood lying around outdoors with areas of pitch, lots of pitch. It would not surprise me to find a few that have been out there for 20 years. Quite seasoned. Still full ofpitch.

The beetle-killed lodgepole and Ponderosa and even some of the blue spruce around here are pitchy and leave deposits on my pants and workgloves and chainsaws. The trees make more sap in an effort to kill the beetles. I have some I bucked and split two yr. ago and they are still heavier than "dry" wood. Just the way it is. And I'm not talking about the pitch deposits that dripped from the bore holes of the beetles in the trunk. This is pitch spread throughout the round. Some of them are even a bit sticky to the touch, the interior areas exposed when split. Not all the trees are this way, but plenty of them are. And we have thousands of beetle kills here so it will be this way for years to come.

The wood burns fine.

The reason I have a few old chunks around is that I don't want to burn them, they are so dense with pitch. I have found that those will produce a lot of soot and make a mess.
 

Nixon

Minister of Fire
Aug 6, 2008
698
West Sunbury ,Pa.
I do framing for a living , occasionally You get a piece or two of kiln dried lumber with pitch on it . So, I'd say that pitch doesn't indicate the moisture content of the wood .
 

NH_Wood

Minister of Fire
Dec 24, 2009
2,602
southern NH
Big difference here between 'sap' and 'resin' or 'pitch'. Sap is mainly water with dissolved sugars, minerals, etc., which moves up and down the xylem and phloem of the inner edge of the bark of trees. The water of the sap will evaporate with much of the other water in the plant tissue when you split and stack the wood. Get rid of as much 'sap' moisture as possible before burning. Resin or pitch is a different beast. It is composed of volatile organic and inorganic compounds and when it dries becomes almost glassy. Once heated, the glassy dry resin melts, liquifies, and burns baby! A well-seasoned split, then, can have low moisture, but high resin content. Great to burn, but watch for some hot moments! Cheers!
 

rwhite

Minister of Fire
Nov 8, 2011
1,612
North Central Idaho
Still don't discount it as it is a great wood and if it's free and easy all the better. It's almost a joy to cut and split. If I load a cold stove and shut it down at the right time I can still get up to 4-5 hour burns. I like it.
 

turbocruiser

Feeling the Heat
Jun 10, 2011
321
Rocky Mountains Majesty
rwhite said:
Still don't discount it as it is a great wood and if it's free and easy all the better. It's almost a joy to cut and split. If I load a cold stove and shut it down at the right time I can still get up to 4-5 hour burns. I like it.
Yes, and not to sound too sappy haha, but I also like that with my particular method I'm helping some friends with manual labor that they couldn't do (or shouldn't do let's say), I'm able to "supply" them with the small supply they want (they barely burn any wood!) and I'm able from time to time to even help out other friends by dumping off 1/2 a trailer load or so of longer cut logs as I'm "coming down the mountain". It's really good all around and I also really like that I only ever cut standing dead trees that are extremely easy to identify and that I think should be removed from the forest anyway. Still, I've always tried to source an equal amount of hardwood which unfortunately doesn't come as easily or as cheaply; currently a cord of hardwood averages around $200 here so between "as much as I want for free" with the pines and $200 a cord with the hardwoods, "an equal amount" has never happened really.
 

rwhite

Minister of Fire
Nov 8, 2011
1,612
North Central Idaho
Know what you mean about the hardwoods. None in my cutting areas. I scrounge some maple,apple etc. but it's from around town. I try and haul back a load of pine everytime I head out to the woods. If I cut in logs I can can have a load in 1/2 hr or so and be on my way hunting.
 
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