My 'seasoned' wood won't burn

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cshama

New Member
Mar 3, 2009
15
ny
I just bought 4 cords of seasoned wood- mixed hardwoods that I had been told had been seasoned for a year. The guy I bought it from has a good rep.

Anyway my stove is coming in a month and i tried to bu=rn a log or 2 in my fireplace. No luck at all to burn even after using a whole disc of super ceder and a lot of kindling. I did a moisture meter reading on the split wood and I got 15-20%.

Any ideas as to what is going on?
 

fossil

Accidental Moderator
Sep 30, 2007
10,568
Bend, OR
You might need to re-split some of it. Building a fire from scratch requires more than just a starter (tinder), kindling and a "log". Some smaller splits help to get a nice coal bed established before loading the big stuff. The moisture sounds OK, could just be the technique. Dunno, just a thought. Rick
 

Duetech

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2008
1,436
S/W MI
The first question that comes to mind is the size of the split. With that moisture reading you should be doing fine but is the reading from the outside of the split or did you re-split the wood to take the reading from the fresh split face? A suggestion would be to make some kindling from your wood it self, like two or three logs worth, work your way up to your split log size let it develope a coal bed. Even partially seasoned wood will respond to that method. Otherwise your meter is disfunctional and/or your dealer has a time association value appreciation maladjustment.
 

gzecc

Minister of Fire
Sep 24, 2008
4,612
NNJ
Wow, you need to post where you got this 15-20% wood. Thats a gold mine for some.
 

pistonslap

Burning Hunk
Oct 7, 2006
219
southwestern Pa.
I agree with fossil and the other guy. Split it smaller and maybe try some other wood to build a coal bed first. Oak and locust burn great with an established fire, but are pretty hard to start a fire with. I do a fair amount of woodworking and remodeling so I always have some kiln dried lumber to get my fires started. Cut up pallets are another good fire starter. Also, I usually cut at least one birch tree a year as they are excellent for starter wood.
 

gyrfalcon

Minister of Fire
Dec 25, 2007
1,837
Champlain Valley, Vermont
cshama said:
I just bought 4 cords of seasoned wood- mixed hardwoods that I had been told had been seasoned for a year. The guy I bought it from has a good rep.

Anyway my stove is coming in a month and i tried to bu=rn a log or 2 in my fireplace. No luck at all to burn even after using a whole disc of super ceder and a lot of kindling. I did a moisture meter reading on the split wood and I got 15-20%.

Any ideas as to what is going on?
Did you split the wood and do the reading on the insid, or just test the outside? Actual seasoned wood for sale is incredibly rare. If you found some, my hat's off to you. Around here, "seasoned for a year" just means the tree was cut down a year ago and left in the woods where it fell, and wood doesn't actually season that way.

If it really is that dry when you split a split and measure it, then your problem is almost certainly just that you're using splits that are too large at the beginning, as Fossil says. Until the heat gets built up inside the stove, you need to stick with smaller splits, 2 or 3 inches measured at the widest place. Those burn readily even if they're not all that dry, and once you get the heat up and a good hot coal bed established, then you can start putting larger pieces in.

Um, also are you sure you opened the chimney damper? Was it cold enough outside to get a good draft going?
 

Backwoods Savage

Minister of Fire
Feb 14, 2007
27,812
Michigan
Building a fire in a fireplace is much the same as building a fire outdoors. To get a fire going, you need at least 3 logs or splits; never less. I don't know the scientific reason for this but experience has taught that it is true.
 

Gunks

Member
Oct 27, 2009
219
Ulster Cty, NY
cshama said:
I just bought 4 cords of seasoned wood- mixed hardwoods that I had been told had been seasoned for a year.
I am interested to know where in NY are you located to get 15-20% wood at this time of the year.
 

cshama

New Member
Mar 3, 2009
15
ny
Gunks said:
cshama said:
I just bought 4 cords of seasoned wood- mixed hardwoods that I had been told had been seasoned for a year.
I am interested to know where in NY are you located to get 15-20% wood at this time of the year.
Westchester- I tried to buy another 2 cords but he was out
 

DAKSY

Patriot Guard Rider Moderator
Staff member
cshama said:
I just bought 4 cords of seasoned wood- mixed hardwoods that I had been told had been seasoned for a year. The guy I bought it from has a good rep.

Anyway my stove is coming in a month and i tried to bu=rn a log or 2 in my fireplace. No luck at all to burn even after using a whole disc of super ceder and a lot of kindling. I did a moisture meter reading on the split wood and I got 15-20%.

Any ideas as to what is going on?
Rule of thumb, ok, rule of finger...
Use kindling no bigger in diameter than your middle finger. (Don't go there...)
Use starter logs (aka splits) no larger than your forearms...
 

Hurricane

Minister of Fire
Feb 18, 2009
565
Central NJ
cshama,

Most of us want to know how you measured the moisture content of the wood.
Did you just pick up a piece he delivered and measure the moisture on the outside or did you pick up a piece he delivered and split it in half and measure the moisture on the inside of the center freshly split piece? The second will give you the true moisture content.
Did the wood sizzle when you tried to burn it ?
Many good suggestions above, a lot of times people have these types of issues because the wood is not dry enough.
 

cshama

New Member
Mar 3, 2009
15
ny
Hurricane said:
cshama,

Most of us want to know how you measured the moisture content of the wood.
Did you just pick up a piece he delivered and measure the moisture on the outside or did you pick up a piece he delivered and split it in half and measure the moisture on the inside of the center freshly split piece? The second will give you the true moisture content.
Did the wood sizzle when you tried to burn it ?
Many good suggestions above, a lot of times people have these types of issues because the wood is not dry enough.
I just measure a piece he delivered- not a newly split piece.

But I was also using 7 or 8 inch diameter logs as starter logs- that may be the problem. Also I think I have oak which may not help. Not hearing any sizzling which is good I guess
 

red450

Member
Oct 27, 2009
31
Indiana
cshama said:
I just measure a piece he delivered- not a newly split piece.

But I was also using 7 or 8 inch diameter logs as starter logs- that may be the problem. Also I think I have oak which may not help. Not hearing any sizzling which is good I guess
I did the same thing when I first got my stove last month. I tried to start a fire with too large of a split. Take the advice on starting small for a coal bed, works well for me. You might pick up a box of "Fatwood" from Lowe's, it's not as impressive as "Super Cedar" but still good stuff.
 

gyrfalcon

Minister of Fire
Dec 25, 2007
1,837
Champlain Valley, Vermont
cshama said:
I just measure a piece he delivered- not a newly split piece.

But I was also using 7 or 8 inch diameter logs as starter logs- that may be the problem. Also I think I have oak which may not help. Not hearing any sizzling which is good I guess
Gotta split first, then measure the inside. The outer layer of the wood can be bone dry while the center is still wet. (Think about a piece of steak on the grill, charred on the outside but it's still bloody red inside.)

Also 7 or 8-inch is no good for a cold start, and pieces that big take much, much longer to season anyway. Get yourself a maul and split some of those babies way down so you have some 2-inch splits to work with to get the fire going.

And call up your supplier and find out what kind of wood he sold you. Or collect a few different splits from your pile, take them to him and ask him to tell you what they are. If it's oak, forget about it and save it for next year.
 

Valhalla

Minister of Fire
We use lots of natural kindling. All branches and such from what I cut and also wind falls.
Fillup at least 8+ cardboard boxes, that I keep in the shed.
Ready in a month or so. Fill up again the empties. Let them dry out.
Everytime we take a walk, I bring in another branch, large or small.

This and some newspaper is all that is needed for kindlin'.
 

CowboyAndy

New Member
Feb 29, 2008
744
Chateaugay, NY
DAKSY said:
cshama said:
I just bought 4 cords of seasoned wood- mixed hardwoods that I had been told had been seasoned for a year. The guy I bought it from has a good rep.

Anyway my stove is coming in a month and i tried to bu=rn a log or 2 in my fireplace. No luck at all to burn even after using a whole disc of super ceder and a lot of kindling. I did a moisture meter reading on the split wood and I got 15-20%.

Any ideas as to what is going on?
Rule of thumb, ok, rule of finger...
Use kindling no bigger in diameter than your middle finger. (Don't go there...)
Use starter logs (aka splits) no larger than your forearms...
every situation is different though. you wouldnt want to build a fire that way in an OWB... or a furnace in my case.

my kindling is the size of my forearm (2x4's)


to the OP, try a top down or middle fire starting method.
 
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