Tried some Envi Blocks

pen Posted By pen, Dec 5, 2011 at 3:10 AM

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  1. pen

    There are some who call me...mod. 2.
    Staff Member

    Aug 2, 2007
    N.E. Penna
    Back at the Woodstock open house, Gamma was nice enough to give me 6 of her envi blocks to play with.

    I often do small (3-4 med-large splits) fires in the shoulder season. First envi block I tried was one block on top of 2 pieces of wood. Everything burned just like it was straight wood in the stove.

    Next time, I tried 2 envi blocks on the bottom and a piece of wood on the top of the (upside down V formation). Wasn't that impressed w/ the burn as it didn't take off very evenly, but it was from a cold start and it was a clean burn through the duration, just took a bit more fidgeting around than normal.

    This time, I came home tonight to a house that didn't need much heat and had just enough coals left to start a fire w/out kindling. Figured I'd try my last 3 envi blocks together in an upside down V.

    When loaded on the ash / coal bed, I had about 1 inch inbetween the bottom 2, and 2 inches of headspace to the burn tubes. About 15 mins into the fire I spread the bottom 2 about another 1.5 inches apart (I wanted the dog house air to shoot between them) and they still expanded so much that they nearly filled the gap. Gap to the burn tubes dropped to 3/4 of an inch when fully engulfed.

    Here are some pics of what I saw tonight. It's 2.25 hours into the burn and the stove top is down to 450°F . Max temp of about 635 was achieved 1.25 hours into the burn.

    3 of these things in the big 30 looked pitiful. I was defiantly impressed w/ the max temp for such a small amount of fuel in the stove. But things seem to be dropping off quickly. I ran the air settings pretty much the same as I would have for wood. W/ 3 med-large pieces I should have enough to start the fire tomorrow morning from coals, I'll be interested to see what I have left from these blocks. Right now, even though the temps are dropping quickly, the blocks are still holding their form quite well.

    Here's what I saw.

    3 split fire loaded at 6:30 this morning, there is what is left of the coals at about 7:40 pm w/ the blocks loaded on them, no kindling.


    7:50 pm Blocks weren't lighting but there was smoke in the stove, pulled out the aluminum arrow shaft and gave 1/2 a breath through it on the coals and things took off.


    Another 5 mins gone by.


    Things progressing, about 40 mins after reload, air about 40% open. Closed it down to 20% after the pic.


    About 75 mins into the burn, air about 20% open. Been that way for about 35 mins.


    This shot was taken at about 75 mins into the burn


    About 120 mins into the burn, stove top down to 500.


    As I finish this, it's about 2.5 hours into the burn and the stove is down to 400.
    ETA: 3 hours in, and down to 300.

    Conclusion. I could see a MAX of 7 bricks fitting into the stove. 2 stacked in the back EW, 3 across the front evenly spaced NS, 2 on top of that. However, w/ the way these things peak and outgas, I'd bet things would get pretty darn hot for a while. I'd guess that about 5 would be the normal recommended load for this stove.

    It's not like I've burned through a pallet of these things, but for the 2 packs I played with I can definitely see why they could be useful to someone who does not have ideal wood. They burn clean, they light easily, they get the stove hot, and they generally act more like real wood than I would have guessed. They do peak for a shorter and more furious time than hardwoods generally do for me, and they do expand a lot.

    In the end, I'll play with some more for the fun of it as it was a decent experience. For someone where fuel is often delivered sub-prime, storage is an issue, an occasional burner, or trying to work w/ sub-par wood, I see these as a viable aide.

    However, after playing I have trouble believing this claim even more now:

    Thanks for the fun Gamma!

  2. SolarBrian

    Member 2.

    Feb 18, 2010
    Central MA
    Thanks for the great write up. Just bought 15 of these to try, of course I don't have a stove yet ;) That gets installed Thursday.
  3. bogydave

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Dec 4, 2009
    So Cent ALASKA
    nice fire
    Move back; you are blocking the heat & gonna burn the camera :)
    The claim may be for one cord of poplar or cottonwood, about 2,000 lbs per cord (dry)
    Good demo & write up.
  4. begreen

    Mooderator 2.
    Staff Member

    Nov 18, 2005
    South Puget Sound, WA
    I had the same experience with locally made Tacoma bricks. The are just rectangular versions of the low compressed logs. They expand a lot and burn up too quickly.
  5. kingquad

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Nov 17, 2010
    Are these the bricks they sell at Tractor supply? I had a similar experience with them as well. I may pick some up for the wife to use to warm the basement up when I'm not home. She likes the heat, but is afraid to operate the stove. A few of these and a chunk of super cedar would probably be easier then having her try to build a fire.

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Jan 16, 2011
    The ones they sell at TSC are the Eco bricks.....I have been experimenting with them as well.
    They may be good for your wife to use....they start a fire very easily with a piece of super cedar.
  7. fredarm

    Minister of Fire 2.

    Aug 28, 2008
    Eastern Mass
    I've been burning the Eco Bricks from TSC mixed with hardwood and love them. Two bricks N-S on the bottom with a quarter Supercedar and some scrap wood between them. 2 or 3 splits E-W on top with another split diagonally on top of them if it will fit. The bricks really help get things going quickly and eliminate the need for much kindling. They seem to hold a good long burn too. When I go to reload, the wood is mostly gone, but the bricks are mostly still there glowing and light off the next load. I've been doing a lot of cold starts lately (too warm to burn all day) and it's really painless with the bricks.
  8. agartner

    Feeling the Heat 2.

    Dec 9, 2009
    Southern NH
    I've played with the Envi's too (found a few at my local Aubuchon) and liked them. Unfortunately, I couldn't find them in bulk. I've got 4 pallets of BioBricks in the garage, and I love 'em. They burn great, really low ash, and lots of heat output. No muss, no fuss, and no trudging out to the wood pile in 3 feet of snow. I disagree with the 1 ton not equaling a cord though. If I was punching through "real" cordwood, I'd easily eat anywhere from 3 to 4 cords. The 4 pallets of bricks (at 1 ton per) in the garage will get me through the winter.
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