When do I have to split Birch to keep it from rotting?

WiscWoody

Minister of Fire
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I’m wandering when I should split my Birch rounds to keep them from rotting, I had once heard that if they are small enough then I can just buck them and stack them. I’d think anything 4” or less would be ok but maybe some of you out there knows for certain what size is good to go unsplit..? I cut my rounds at 14-16” long.
 

johneh

Minister of Fire
Dec 19, 2009
2,625
Eastern Ontario
Even at that size it will rot very fast
split the bark down to the wood and peel back
will dry fast
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,133
Northern NH
Split as small as you can. Ideally if the wood is straight run the saw down the length of the wood that you cant split. I dont see a need to manually peel back the bark, as the wood dries it will do so naturally.
 
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Easy Livin’ 3000

Minister of Fire
Dec 23, 2015
2,663
SEPA
View attachment 201592 I’m wandering when I should split my Birch rounds to keep them from rotting, I had once heard that if they are small enough then I can just buck them and stack them. I’d think anything 4” or less would be ok but maybe some of you out there knows for certain what size is good to go unsplit..? I cut my rounds at 14-16” long.
Well stop wandering, and start splitting! I've lost many a BTU of white birch, before I realized how fast it rots. That white birch bark is water impermiable, and the bugs and bacteria don't like anything better than the wood.

Not all who wander are lost...
 
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maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
10,381
Nova Scotia
What Ed said.

I split down to maybe 3".

If it's in long lengths you can score (unzip) it pretty easy. That stuff starts rotting almost as soon as it hits the ground.
 

peakbagger

Minister of Fire
Jul 11, 2008
5,133
Northern NH
I expect many folks start with trees that were already starting to rot despite that they were standing. Birches are somewhat infamous for rotting while standing and will even display a crown. I expect many folks cut a birch that already has die back in the crown and even though the rot inst apparent it has already gotten into the wood. If the branches arent green and had active leaves, they should be treated as suspect and it may not be worth the time to cut them up. Best thing is to make a few exploratory cuts and see where the good wood is and then split that while leaving the rest in the woods. If its on the ground it usually will be rotted and part fo the duff withing a year. Once they get split-able size then it may be worth splitting it and keeping the solid wood. I usually scope out the canopy after leaf drop and if I cant see buds for next year on significant sections of the crown its a candidate for firewood.

I also am of the opinion that sawing through the bark lengthwise also reduces the amount of work to make the first split on bigger rounds. The bark creates some compressive strength on the round and that first split can be difficult without the sawcut. I usually just slab off a piece perpendicular to the saw cut and from there the rest of the splits are easy.
 

Poindexter

Minister of Fire
Jun 28, 2014
2,146
Fairbanks, Alaska
Good advice here. I usually scoe the bark on the while trunk and split asap down to about 3" diameter.

The smaller diameter stuff, down to 1.5 inches or so can have the bark zipped or striped while still attached to the crown, cut to length in the woods and will season in one summer off the ground and top covered.
 

WiscWoody

Minister of Fire
Yes I’ve learned some here, thanks everyone! And Peakbagger nailed it when he said the Birch I’ve cut has been dead for a short period and the crown has some rot to them already but most of the rest of the tree is good hard wood yet- if I get on it soon enough. There’s lots of Birch up here in NW Wisconsin even after they took a hard hit from a drought in 2007. Some call them the suicide tree because when they’re stressed they have a certain odor that attracts Emerald Birch Borers that come to finish them off. I have another dead Birch on my lot here that I see but it has one shelf growing on it so I’m too late for that tree I’m sure. After Birch has rotted on the ground for a few years I often harvest the bark for kindling, it fires up fast and gets the stove going good.
 
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Easy Livin’ 3000

Minister of Fire
Dec 23, 2015
2,663
SEPA
Yes I’ve learned some here, thanks everyone! And Peakbagger nailed it when he said the Birch I’ve cut has been dead for a short period and the crown has some rot to them already but most of the rest of the tree is good hard wood yet- if I get on it soon enough. There’s lots of Birch up here in NW Wisconsin even after they took a hard hit from a drought in 2007. Some call them the suicide tree because when they’re stressed they have a certain odor that attracts Emerald Birch Borers that come to finish them off. I have another dead Birch on my lot here that I see but it has one shelf growing on it so I’m too late for that tree I’m sure. After Birch has rotted on the ground for a few years I often harvest the bark for kindling, it fires up fast and gets the stove going good.
I just did the same thing with the bark on a pile of rotted birch. It has something in it that burns real well, no better (free) firestarter!
 

Firewood Bandit

Minister of Fire
Jan 3, 2014
533
Western WIsconsin
It has to be split or it will rot. Birch has very tight bark.
 

maple1

Minister of Fire
Sep 15, 2011
10,381
Nova Scotia
It's the worst of the worst.

Had some cut down around the edge of a field here, this past April. It was sound & solid & very much alive, although not really that big. Some got left in long lengths, some got cut up quickly into 3' lengths. I forgot about it, and went back to it a couple nights ago to cut it all up & get it ready for splitting before winter. Some of it is halfway gone already. I will still go thru it & split it all since it is still BTUs, but some might not make it to my stack.