dry Douglas Fir that sizzles?

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bcarp

Member
Jan 19, 2021
39
BC Interior
Hello All,

This summer I fell a handful of dead standing douglas fir. When I was splitting them I would periodically check MC with a meter and certainly a couple of the trees were above 20% and the others were between 16-20% when checked on fresh splits along the grain. Needless to say I put the above 20% and below 20% in 2 different piles and I am burning the below 20% stuff right now and saving the wetter stuff for next year. Despite that, it seems like in every load I get 1 log that will have some bubbling and sizzling out the end, it seems to show up in pockets.

I definitely did not check every piece for MC% but thought I did a pretty good job isolating the trees that were less dry and still checking the ones that were below 20% as I stacked. The wood still burns fine and I don't seem to be having a creosote issue.

My question is does anyone else experience this with "dry" douglas fir, are these pitch pockets that would still show up in dry wood? or could my meter be reading low.

Thanks for any info
 

EbS-P

Minister of Fire
Jan 19, 2019
4,876
SE North Carolina
Was it stacked or piled when after it was split? Were you checking heart wood and sap wood from the same rounds?
 

ericm979

Feeling the Heat
Nov 2, 2018
401
California
When I burn Doug fir with a lot of pitch I get some black sooty smoke, especially if the fire is just starting. Sometimes pitch bubbles and drips out. But not much sizzling.
 

bcarp

Member
Jan 19, 2021
39
BC Interior
Was it stacked or piled when after it was split? Were you checking heart wood and sap wood from the same rounds?
Yes, stacked and covered.

You may be onto something with the difference between heart and sap wood. I will do some investigating there. I suppose I wasn't diligently monitoring whether it was heart or sap wood, as it was already split and due to the rounds being quite large it wasn't always easy to tell what piece of the tree you had...unless it had bark on it.
 

Highbeam

Minister of Fire
Dec 28, 2006
20,537
Mt. Rainier Foothills, WA
Hello All,

This summer I fell a handful of dead standing douglas fir. When I was splitting them I would periodically check MC with a meter and certainly a couple of the trees were above 20% and the others were between 16-20% when checked on fresh splits along the grain. Needless to say I put the above 20% and below 20% in 2 different piles and I am burning the below 20% stuff right now and saving the wetter stuff for next year. Despite that, it seems like in every load I get 1 log that will have some bubbling and sizzling out the end, it seems to show up in pockets.

I definitely did not check every piece for MC% but thought I did a pretty good job isolating the trees that were less dry and still checking the ones that were below 20% as I stacked. The wood still burns fine and I don't seem to be having a creosote issue.

My question is does anyone else experience this with "dry" douglas fir, are these pitch pockets that would still show up in dry wood? or could my meter be reading low.

Thanks for any info
I definitely get sizzling that looks a lot like wet wood from pitch when starting the 12% Doug fir that’s been in a wood shed for 2-3 years. It’s not water. You can hit the bubbly sizzling spot with the torch and it flares up.
 

bcarp

Member
Jan 19, 2021
39
BC Interior
I definitely get sizzling that looks a lot like wet wood from pitch when starting the 12% Doug fir that’s been in a wood shed for 2-3 years. It’s not water. You can hit the bubbly sizzling spot with the torch and it flares up.
Thanks for the reply Highbeam. I've been watching this a lot lately and checking mc% on sap and heart wood, and I have come to the same conclusion that is just pitch. What I found most interesting is that the sap wood is reading quite a bit "dryer" than the heart wood, I would have expected the opposite considering heart wood is essentially dead even when the tree is living and sap wood, well carries the sap!

Anyways, all good here wood is doing it's job, despite the fact we hit -41C yesterday morning and -39C this morning. Good thing this fir and some birch are keeping it toasty inside.

bcarp
 
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Woody Stover

Minister of Fire
Dec 25, 2010
13,121
Southern IN
I've run into some slight hissing or moisture spots with Black Cherry. It always seems to be at the edge of the split, even if there's no sapwood on it. I don't know if that specie's wood structure just absorbs a bit of moisture sometimes, or what is going on.,?
 

CentralVAWoodHeat

Minister of Fire
Nov 7, 2015
703
Virginia
Even if your split has 20% moisture, that still means 1/5 of the piece of wood is water. Even at 15%, there is still a good bit of water present that must evaporate out. Most of the wood I burn is between 12-20% moisture and I routinely see some fluid bubble out the ends during startup.
 

bcarp

Member
Jan 19, 2021
39
BC Interior
Even if your split has 20% moisture, that still means 1/5 of the piece of wood is water. Even at 15%, there is still a good bit of water present that must evaporate out. Most of the wood I burn is between 12-20% moisture and I routinely see some fluid bubble out the ends during startup.
Good point! I haven't really looked at it that way as most of the 12-18% pine, spruce and birch I burn does not have these wet spots so it was new for me to see that, but totally makes sense when you consider the percentage factor.

PS. if you're wondering why I burn mostly softwood is because that's what's easily sourced around here, can find it dead and standing in a dry enough state to burn. If I have time I might snag the odd birch and let it season for a year or 2, but hard to justify when you can cut a load of wood (standing dead pine/spruce) in the morning and burn it in the afternoon.

Don't get the heat value of the hardwoods, but my Summit still has enough heat to relight in the am after 9-10 hours so that's good enough for me.
 

CentralVAWoodHeat

Minister of Fire
Nov 7, 2015
703
Virginia
Good point! I haven't really looked at it that way as most of the 12-18% pine, spruce and birch I burn does not have these wet spots so it was new for me to see that, but totally makes sense when you consider the percentage factor.

PS. if you're wondering why I burn mostly softwood is because that's what's easily sourced around here, can find it dead and standing in a dry enough state to burn. If I have time I might snag the odd birch and let it season for a year or 2, but hard to justify when you can cut a load of wood (standing dead pine/spruce) in the morning and burn it in the afternoon.

Don't get the heat value of the hardwoods, but my Summit still has enough heat to relight in the am after 9-10 hours so that's good enough for me.
I will burn softwood too, as often as it is conveniently available. Most pine trees that end up in our road or come down as a result of storms eventually end up in my wood stove after being thoroughly dried. I don’t pack the stove with a full load of pine but it certainly gets mixed in with the hardwood splits.