I have a small pile of saplings, cut to 2-4 feet, mostly 1-2 inches thick, that have been drying for about 10 months. For about 8 months they were uncovered, stacked vertically against a tree. I am now experimenting with burning them in my Liberator rocket stove. Results are disappointing: they burn, but not robustly, and are not smokeless.
I am comparing them to kiln-dried oak kindling, which seems to be the ultimate fuel, but is costly.
Realistically, what can I expect from saplings? Do I need to season them longer, like a couple of years? Are they not as energy-dense as full-grown hardwoods? Do I need to somehow split them, de-bark them, or cut them shorter, before seasoning? Which species are inferior/worthless at the sapling stage?
Yeah, I think they need to dry out some more. I've got some 12 month old tree trimmings of that size which are still not acceptably dry for burning yet. Even the twigs are still a bit green! It's a sycamore (also called a sycamore maple).
To be honest, I burn mostly "junk" wood in my rocket: elder, willow, alder mostly and these are all small diameter wood such as coppice wood or saplings. I also burn some of my ornamental and fruit tree prunings: rose, berberis, laurel, apple, etc. Depending on diameter, these dry out a bit quicker than the tree wood, I think. Maybe not the berberis or laurel.
Stacked vertically against a tree = one end on the ground soaking up moisture. I would not be surprised that those are not fully dry. I think you need to stack them in a cradle off the ground, with both ends exposed to moving air and a cover to keep rain off. Then they should dry and be good fuel next winter. Splitting also has a great effect on drying time; water escapes from exposed grain, not as fast as from end grain, but in a long stick it would make a real difference.
Location: Wellington, New Zealand
posted 1 month ago
Stacking vertically is great for growing mushrooms though as it keeps the wood moist.
When cutting regular firewood I leave the smaller branches unsplit. Unfortunately they take much longer to dry than the split wood. I'm thinking they'd be properly dry after about 3 years in my climate. Splitting would take it down to a year-ish.
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posted 1 day ago
Graham Chiu wrote:I'd get a kindling cracker and split them again. The smaller they are the quicker they'll dry out. Once you split them you'll see how moist they still are inside.
Thanks; I had never heard of this device. Now I'm using it.
posted 1 day ago
Glenn Herbert wrote:Stacked vertically against a tree = one end on the ground soaking up moisture. I would not be surprised that those are not fully dry.
Yep, now that I've split these I can see how the moisture/rot has been moving straight up the interior.
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