We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
Except for a supply for starter logs under the eaves, I like to keep my firewood wet and out in the weather. I go through around 4-5 cords each season (which isn't much), but it's enough to keep my home fires burning.
Dry wood makes for a dramatic, short-lived blaze, but it will not smolder and produce the slow heat and the slow burn, the popping, and the flickering flames I want.
I like to see a little steam and wet ooze from my wood, not a flash in the pan.
If your dry woods burn fast, it is probably because you are burning pine or other soft woods. Hard, dense woods burn slower, cleaner, and hotter. In my experience and of the woods that I have available, the best burning woods are oak, hickory, ash, walnut (careful here - can be toxic - need good ventilation & draw), locust (black & honey), hard maple, buckeye, and cherry.
The scotch pine, white pine, willow, sugar maple all burn fairly fast.
The piece on top looks a little like box elder (soft) or maybe spalted (moldy) maple. The end-on piece on the right (with the split) looks like oak (hard).
One of the issues I have with leaving firewood out in the weather is that wet wood tends to mold. When you burn it, the mold and its spores become airborne. I have a son with asthma and mold affects him. If the wood is dry when burning (fireplace - drafts pretty well), he doesn't have respiratory issues. If it is wet, he does. My 2 cents...
I'm actually kind of in the middle on this. I cover the wood, but only to keep the snow, melt water and rain off the top of the stack - the rest is open to wind and weather. I do split some larger pieces into smaller and keep as fire starters nice and dry, but over all the wood stays out in the weather.
I did an experiment a few years ago the results of which were interesting. I used a moisture meter from my wood shop and took readings every time I started a fire and every time I added wood to the stove. I found that hardwood at 20 to 28% moisture content burned the best and the longest with the best heat production. As I understand it that is considerable higher than recommended, but my stove pipe and chimney only need cleaning every couple of years - it burns really clean. Then again, it's a Vermont Castings stove with that fancy gas baffle that diffuses the combustion gases and allows for a better gas burn at lower temperatures.
Have you ever monitored your stack temperature to see how efficient the burn is?
If it makes smoke, I'll burn it. I am not nearly as picky as you guys. Besides, most of the trees mentioned don't grow where I live. BTW, if you keep a 1/2 gallon milk carton sized block of ice in your freezer, you can throw it on your fire in the event of a chimney fire. The steam from the ice will very probably extinguish the fire. Steam will extinguish a fire in nothing flat. As BD suggests, better to keep the chimney clean in the first place.
I keep the chimney very clean in addition to tossing in creosote destroying powder. Of course it doesn't hurt the the chimney is concrete lined. The biggest obstacle is making sure the moss is gone from the roof before the rainy season starts here in W. Oregon.
I love this blog. As soon as I read the first paragraph of the post, I knew that the comments would be full of friendly and knowledgeable content.
Today I've learned about:
- mold allergy issues of burning wet-stored wood,
- ideal moisture content of hardwood for best heat production,
- and using a half-gallon block of ice in case of a chimney fire.