Seriously thinking about giving up on burning wood

Am I expecting too much from kiln dried logs?

  • Yes

    Votes: 4 25.0%
  • No

    Votes: 12 75.0%

  • Total voters
    16
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JA600L

Minister of Fire
Nov 30, 2013
1,270
Lancaster Pennsylvania
Once the load of wood reaches your property, how is it handled and stored from there? Have you tried keeping a weeks worth of wood in the stove room? Maybe you could store some indoors with a dehumidifier running. ..
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
Jul 12, 2006
7,299
Schenectady, NY
Pallets got me through my first year. Do you have a source of shipping pallets that can be cut up easily and burnt? Their small size makes them dry quickly.

Storing wood in the stove room is a great idea as it will help keep humidity up in the house. Splitting the dried wood smaller will also help it dry faster as now you have a lot more surface area to dry from.

Do you have any furniture factories around you? They undoubtedly have scraps of kiln dried lumber. There are a few places that have a pile of cut offs around here that people pick up.

Are you expecting too much from kiln dried logs? No, I don't think you are.
 

branchburner

Minister of Fire
Sep 27, 2008
2,755
southern NH
to ask HETAS about the discrepancy between their recommended MC for firewood and what stove manufacturers recommend
I did send them an email... interestingly, a quick search reveals a UK Forestry Commission publication recommending 20% MC even as HETAS suggests 25%. That publication has "Biomass Energy Centre" on the heading, which I gather is associated with HETAS. You would think they would be on the same page, and specify the same MC number.
 

electrathon

Minister of Fire
Sep 17, 2015
545
Gresham, OR
...And Yes, heating cost is a factor, but it's less about money for me and more about preferring not to go back to burning oil or coal because I want to do my bit for the planet in as many ways as possible. It goes without saying how important that is.
If your goal is to pollute the planet less, wood is not the answer. Yes, a modern wood stove is going to pollute less than an old wood stove. But a modern oil furnace will polute far less than a modern wood stove. Also if you are burning wet wood the difference in polution is even greater.

If you want wood heat because you like it, great. But if you want wood heat to save the planet you are seriously going in the wrong direction.
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
Jul 12, 2006
7,299
Schenectady, NY
I don't know if I believe that. The particulates ejected will settle and fertilize the land. The ash left in your stove can be put to use fertilizing also. Most of mine goes on my compost heap. Some straight onto the garden.
 
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electrathon

Minister of Fire
Sep 17, 2015
545
Gresham, OR
I don't know if I believe that. The particulates ejected will settle and fertilize the land. The ash left in your stove can be put to use fertilizing also. Most of mine goes on my compost heap. Some straight onto the garden.
Hmm, this is a great Pollyanna attitude, but the facts are far from it. This article is pretty well written, there are more too about the health affects of wood burning and its affects on people. https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/publications/documents/91br023.pdf
 

Poindexter

Minister of Fire
Jun 28, 2014
2,146
Fairbanks, Alaska
I finally understood wet basis v- dry basis the day a forester handed me a split that weighed exactly five pounds and told me with absolute certainty it contains four pounds of wood and one pound of water.

Dry basis, 1 pound of water divided by 4 pounds of dry wood, dry basis MC is 25%.

Wet basis, 1 pound of water divided by 5 pounds of wet wood, wet basis MC is 20%.

I wonder if HETAS means 25% dry basis and the kiln operators are selling at 25% wet basis. In general consumer grade moisture meters with the two pins and a battery measure wet basis.

25% wet basis means a four pound piece of wet wood, with one of those four pounds being water right?

1 pound of water divided by 4 pounds of wet wood = 25% MC wet basis - - but that means dry basis 1 pound of water divided by 3 pounds of dry wood, 33% MC dry basis, wood barely seasoned to the fiber saturation point.

I don't know anybody in the US getting good results out of a wood stove burning wood that wet.

Fiona, can you buy green wood that isn't "kiln dried"? Given our similar climates you can get green wood, at least some species, down to the fiber saturation point in about 14 sunny days from standing sap up live healthy timber, no kiln required - but only during May and June.
 

JA600L

Minister of Fire
Nov 30, 2013
1,270
Lancaster Pennsylvania
Hmm, this is a great Pollyanna attitude, but the facts are far from it. This article is pretty well written, there are more too about the health affects of wood burning and its affects on people. https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/publications/documents/91br023.pdf
Particulate emissions comes up in many different forms. The particulate matter that is generated from all the refinery equipment plus the delivery trucks far outweighs the lil bit of particulate coming from the wood stove when its operating correctly. If you are near any traffic and you probably don't realize how much diesel particulate matter there is in the air you breathe. Another thought is when there is oil truck spill. Think of the damage that does to the environment versus a load of wood falling off a truck.
 

EatenByLimestone

Minister of Fire
Jul 12, 2006
7,299
Schenectady, NY
Hmm, this is a great Pollyanna attitude, but the facts are far from it. This article is pretty well written, there are more too about the health affects of wood burning and its affects on people. https://fortress.wa.gov/ecy/publications/documents/91br023.pdf


Call it what you'd like. Firewood will contaminate much less than an oil spill. I've never seen a superfund firewood processing site.

As for the publication, I don't spend much time with my head downwind of a campfire. To each their own though. I'm not going to fault anybody who does. My stoves operate a bit different than a camp fire. However, it is just as enjoyable to sit in front of one with a beverage of choice... Well, except for the Englander, which sits in the basement. The only time I'm down there is when I load it. There really isn't any enjoyment of huffing 3 cubic feet of dense hardwood down the stairs come March.
 

FionaD

Feeling the Heat
Dec 20, 2013
363
Scotland
Wow.. that is a great way of getting wet or dry basis across! Given that HETAS accreditation requires them to test samples I guess whether they mean wet or dry basis is a moot point: I suspect the samples that companies send to the testers are their 'Sunday best' wood... I bet none of those samples were 45% mid split!

With regard to storing and drying my own green wood, oh belive me, I 'wood' if I could. I have no room... I do appreciate that's hard for folk in that great big American continent to believe. Like most folk here I buy wood by the 'builders bag' - that's a one cubic metre, loose-filled bag. Two of those will last me around one month if I'm lighting up every morning and burning all day.. I have no space to store much more than that, so drying a whole burning season's worth, whilst working from another stack of this year's ready wood, is just not possible for many folk here; if you have that sort of spare space over here it usually means you've got money - or you're a farmer.

Someone asked about peat. Yes, I thought about that too.. but peat shouldn't be burned in a wood stove, it's seriously oily. Anyway, it's more expensive than wood to buy and when it's cut on an industrial basis its not a good thing at all for the bogland habitats. If I lived in the Hebrides I'd cut my own (everyone has their own wee family peat cutting plots there) and I'd burn it in the old-style, on an open fire in the middle of the floor!

Wood burning vs oil? All I keep hearing is that wood is a carbon neutral fuel... At least it is if it isn't being imported from the Baltic States :( For that reason finding a local source is important to me. I don't experience it as a serious local pollutant/irritant - there's probably only about five wood stoves in the five square miles around me and most folk burn evenings only, when they get in from work. I read the WA woodsmoke publication link above... and my understanding is that's what happens in the air around households that aren't burning correctly. Burning correctly is important to me, which is why I want decent MC wood. I suppose all any of us can do is find out as best we can what's the best thing to do and act on that. That's what I'm trying to do.

Thanks for all the thoughts you've all offered. I really do appreciate it, but I've 'thunk' them all to death over the past year and my course is set - it's eco bricks for now.... and the continuing quest for that elusive 'lost cord' of decent wood. I will phone the folks over the hill tomorrow tho; who knows, if they're new at kiln drying, I might be able to convert them to the wonderful world of less than 25% right to the core!

Branchburner.... Do let me know if you hear back from HETAS. FYI, the people who actually test the wood for HETAS are www.woodsure.co.uk I plan to speak with both of them again.
 
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Poindexter

Minister of Fire
Jun 28, 2014
2,146
Fairbanks, Alaska
I wonder if the folks over the hill might let you season green wood on their land for a reasonable fee?

Birches and evergreens canbe dried easily in one summer.
 

Simonkenton

Minister of Fire
Feb 27, 2014
1,554
Marshall NC
IMG_0996_zpsy4kv2akd.jpg

Build a woodshed like mine and you will get your firewood below 20 percent moisture content, and it won't take three years, either. This simple woodshed is a solar-powered firewood drying kiln.
 
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Starstuff

Member
Dec 9, 2013
99
MD
I think many of us yanks are incredulous that you have absolutely no place to put your wood, but having passed through many a Scottish town, I can understand the issue with space.

Are there other wood burners in your area? If they're facing similar problems, you might be able to all work together to solve your issues. Perhaps it might be possible to create a wood burning co-operative if someone (say, a farmer) had the land to store lots of wood and you have the means to pick up wood when needed.

Also, not sure how much space you have, but maybe you could designate half of it for wood and half for the bricks and then let the wood season. You'd have to replenish your eco bricks more often but at least every other year you could burn the seasoned wood and then supplement with eco bricks.
 

Poindexter

Minister of Fire
Jun 28, 2014
2,146
Fairbanks, Alaska
Incredulous indeed. I have never been to the home islands, just Bermuda and the Bahamas, but I too am incredulous. Getting late for you in Scotland tonight Fiona, I hope you don't see this until Monday AM.

I have lifted and uploaded the following image from this link to the woodsure website: http://woodsure.co.uk/producer-benefits/

image:
woodsurecordwood.jpg

I would accept delivery of this wood above as green rounds only at $250 per cord, my local going rate. If the seller insisted I take the wood and kept my money for a seasoned burnable cord I would be on the phone with every newspaper and TV station in town within minutes. I would also create a new orifice for the seller on both Craigslist and Facebook as soon as I was off the phone.

This is from my wood pile, today, less than 15 minutes ago. I had green logs delivered October 2014, bucked and split over the winter, seasoned summer of 2015 only in open air. When I bring some in from the cold, warm them up to +70dF that my meter is calibrated for this wood averages 18% MC wet basis with my consumer grade meter:

18%wb.JPG

I do have sold mold problems this year, my stacks kinda sagged so we are looking at the wet end of each split that got rained on repeatedly. See those beads of dried sap near the bark edge on the spruce split? Do you see any dried beads of sap on the cordwood from woodsure that looks to have been seasoned with two cycle chainsaw exhaust and bar oil, this morning? How about end cracking?

For what it is worth I find my woodpile this year at 18% wet basis MC to be barely usable compared to the really good stuff. 18%MC wet basis = 21.95% dry basis, according to Purdue University. Purdue is not known for sports, though they often have a respectable football team. However, if you look up the resume's of all the humans who have set foot on the moon you might reasonably conclude Purdue engineers can do math very very well. https://engineering.purdue.edu/~abe305/moisture/html/page10.htm

It is abundantly clear to me woodsure is using dry basis to come up to 25%. To wit at this link: http://woodsure.co.uk/how-the-assurance-works/ you will find this picture:

woodsuredrybasis.jpg

What that lab tech has done is pulled a sample out of a hot oven. She has a precise scale, a data sheet and an ink pen. Sooner or later she will pull that sample out of the oven, weigh it again and find the same weight as she had two hours ago.

To find dry basis MC you weigh the wet sample, and then put it in an oven hot enough to boil off the water, but not hot enough to ignite the wood. In Farenheit, greater than 212 degrees but less than 600 degrees, usually about 250-275dF on the lab reports I have seen here. In C I think that would be 125-140C, with wood igniting around maybe 360C. So you weigh it wet, stick it in the oven for a while, weigh it again, back in the oven, weigh it, back in the oven, eventually all the water is driven out, the sample weighs the same as it did two hours ago, there is no water left in it, now you know the dry weight of the wood and can calculate what the dry basis MC of the sample was before you stuck it in the oven.

If I was a smart alec I might be inclined to ask if woodsure goes to the market and buys wood bags just like any other customer, or do the producers bring samples to woodsure? Not sure how that works in the UK what with the first ammendment being an American innovation from having been governed by the crown previously.

Best wishes. My first passive solar kiln designs will be posted here as free ware to anyone who wants to build their own in about 2 months, but I won't have results until September 2016. And I might be a Labrador retriever drooling on the computer keyboard while my owner is at work, just luck that I can spell and all.
 
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brad wilton

Feeling the Heat
Oct 13, 2014
472
quebec
Hi fiona,i assume you live in a rowhouse?by chance do you space out back with a alley where you can have it delivered and stack it.mmaybe run it along the perimeter of yard like a second fence?
 

CT Burner

New Member
Jun 23, 2014
44
New England
Lot of ink spilled here for what's a pretty obvious problem. If you're only able to store 1-2 months of wood at a time, you will never be able to store enough wood. Most people here are storing 18 months of wood at a time or more. So you leave about 10% of the storage you need. People suggesting solar kilns and wood sheds don't seem to be reading what's been posted. The OP has no room for such things.

Thus your only hope for burning dry wood is to buy it dry two months at a time. You've seemingly exhausted your local suppliers, and they cannot supply you the quality you need.

Therefore, you need a different fuel. Bricks or coal are options, both burn well. Neither has the storage problem of wood. You don't want to burn coal. So your only option is to burn bricks.

So go burn bricks.
 

BlueRidgeMark

Feeling the Heat
Oct 8, 2015
262
Virginia
Two of those will last me around one month if I'm lighting up every morning and burning all day.. I have no space to store much more than that,
I have to agree with CT Burner. This was not a well-thought out venture. You have no chance of drying your own wood, and if you cannot buy it ready to burn, you need a plan B that does not involve burning wood.

That's it.
 

FionaD

Feeling the Heat
Dec 20, 2013
363
Scotland
Yes folks. it is my plan now to burn bricks, as i said in my first post. My surprise is that I trusted that it would be possible to buy kiln dried wood that was ... well... dry enough to burn. As that is the point of kiln dried wood, isn't it? My purpose in posting here was to share my surprise and disappointment.. Nothing else.

I did not buy a stove on the misguided assumption that I would somehow be able CSS all my own wood.. Few people in the UK are in a position to do that, it is the norm to buy a few weeks of wood at a time over here.

However, If it is not 'a well thought out venture' on my part for believing that it would be possible to buy kiln dried wood that was the %MC advertised then I do indeed stand guilty as charged... Silly me,...
 

begreen

Mooderator
Staff member
Nov 18, 2005
81,893
South Puget Sound, WA
I'm surprised that the local clean air folks have not challenged that 25% moisture standard.
 

spirilis

Minister of Fire
Sep 8, 2009
921
Frederick, MD
Yeah, the real story here is how outright corrupt the "kiln-dried wood" market is over there. Disgusting.
 

FionaD

Feeling the Heat
Dec 20, 2013
363
Scotland
I'm surprised that the local clean air folks have not challenged that 25% moisture standard.
Ach... Begreen... I'm surprised by the whole sorry mess. :rolleyes:

.. But in relation to air quality.... in the countryside it's not seen as a problem so it isn't policed there.. And very very few people burn logs in towns where regulations are tight. But I do admit I feel increasingly frustrated - and also curious -about the ignorance about what constitutes decent wood over here, given the effort the government have been putting into actively encouraging people to move to heating with wood, it's a serious omission to not follow though by encouraging the provision of properly regulated fuel. My best guess is that very few people over here know they're not burning their stoves optimally or even know about the importance of moisture content, so few people complain about their bought wood. Stoves are such a relatively new thing here, and for many folk they're more of a trendy, designer thing than a serious means of heating the home. Most folks will light up for a little while on slightly chillier evenings and weekends, really just to add atmosphere... I guess if you're burning for those reasons it doesn't matter much to you if the MC is dodgy.

On a more positive note... I had a great conversation with the folk over the hill I mentioned a few posts back - and they seem really keen and interested to make their new kiln drying venture all that it could and should be and I plan to encourage them all I can.
 

FionaD

Feeling the Heat
Dec 20, 2013
363
Scotland
Yeah, the real story here is how outright corrupt the "kiln-dried wood" market is over there. Disgusting.
Agreed.

... Oh.. And did I even mention the guy I met last year who advertised his wood as 'kiln dried' based on the fact he piled his green wood in front of the window in his wooden garden shed for a week before selling it!! Now why don't we all learn from such genius?!?!_g
 
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branchburner

Minister of Fire
Sep 27, 2008
2,755
southern NH
A I feel increasingly frustrated - and also curious -about the ignorance about what constitutes decent wood over here, given the effort the government have been putting into actively encouraging people to move to heating with wood, it's a serious omission to not follow though by encouraging the provision of properly regulated fuel.

On a more positive note... I had a great conversation with the folk over the hill I mentioned a few posts back - and they seem really keen and interested to make their new kiln drying venture all that it could and should be and I plan to encourage them all I can.
Your last paragraph IS encouraging, because the first thing that comes to mind is that if one or two suppliers focused on producing and marketing truly dry wood, they might tap into and exploit the huge market potential that exists. Once such a producer was up and running, it wouldn't seem too hard to get green-hungry media outlets to report and thus promote their efforts. If the gov't is going to fail in educating the public, it is going to be up to new/reformed (low MC) wood suppliers, stove merchants, and burners like you to take up the cause, and hopefully get it reported by local newspapers, TV stations and bloggers.

BTW, I never got a response to my email to HETAS.
 

electrathon

Minister of Fire
Sep 17, 2015
545
Gresham, OR
Stoves are such a relatively new thing here, and for many folk they're more of a trendy, designer thing than a serious means of heating the home. Most folks will light up for a little while on slightly chillier evenings and weekends, really just to add atmosphere... I guess if you're burning for those reasons it doesn't matter much to you if the MC is dodgy.
This may be the saving grace. If everyone was burning wood you would have a huge, huge pollution issue. The main reason why wood pollution is not an issue is that most of the people do not use it. Modern furnaces burn pretty clean, wood stoves burn pretty clean, sometimes.
 
This will be my third winter since I got my first wood stove. I still love my stove and really want to love burning wood.

I am unable to CSS enough wood for myself, partly due to lack of space and partly because it's pretty tough to do anyway in a country that rains horizontally as much as Scotland! So I need to buy most of my wood. Kiln dried is very popular over here... probably partly because it's possible to get wood dry that way. It's expensive, (you guys would freak at the price!) but still way cheaper than heating oil. But what I have discovered, much to my disappointment, is that I have been unable to find a supplier of kiln dried logs whose product is a decently low MC.

I have tried well over 10 different suppliers in the last two years and the very best of them sell logs that average between 25 -27% on a freshly split face... Often much higher - I've measured some 'kiln dried' splits up to 45% at their core!

Our government body that monitors the quality of fire wood and pellets - HETAS - allow suppliers to indicate on their websites If their product has attained their standard and is accredited by them. So I decided to study their info on their website and also call them and ask exactly how they monitor firewood... and here!s what I discovered when I spoke to them - what they consider to be acceptable firewood is wood that has an 'average MC of 25%'.

By 'average' they mean, for instance, if the outside of a split is, say, 18%, it's quite fine for the inside of the same split to be 32%, because the 'average' MC would indeed be 25%. So I guess I have discovered why all the wood Suppliers I've complained to say I'm too fussy - because HETAS would back them up.

The only wood I have been able to buy that is 20% or less right through is kiln dried birch exported from the Baltic States. It was a joy to burn, and I was grateful to have the chance to see what my stove can do when it's given a decent chance, but I have never bought it again because a great part of my reason for burning wood is about reducing my carbon footprint.

So I am probably going to be saying goodbye to logs and moving over to Eco bricks, as they check all the boxes, including the environmental ones, as some great ones are made pretty locally.

I'm sad though, becuase there's just something about actual logs that Eco bricks don't do for me. But heck, they're waaaay cheaper than logs over here and they burn great.

So in sharing all of this here partly because I'd need some sympathy :( - but mostly because I'd welcome some feedback about HETAS's official view of good fire wood!

I will probably never stop looking for decent firewood though... But it's starting to feel like searching for the Holy Grail or the Lost Chord...

Sorry this post is so long.. Just getting it off my chest.
That sounds like a real bummer with being so hard getting wood and all. My question is how do they monitor moisture percentage for each household? If you were to burn too wet of wood, what would the consequences be? Do you have the ability to cut your own wood instead of purchasing? Over here in the States we are under attack on environmental issues (Global Warming and such) and wood burning being banned like us here in Oregon. A few local towns have just passed laws only allowing burn days only certain days of the week. (get this, "Unless" you are considered poverty income bracket). Not quit sure how they plan to enforce these new regulations, but if Hetas hasn't started to give any sign of banning wood burning in your part of the world, I think you may be better off than us :)
 
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