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Is there any way to burn wet wood?  RSS feed

 
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So I'm done laying all the cob down for my first rocket mass heater but I have a pretty big problem. Two days ago I had the cover over my nice dry seasoned wood break off and had it get rained on all night long. I tried burning to start drying out the cob but it all started smoking back badly. The only way I was able to stop the smoke is to place a cinder block over the opening and let the secondary air intake do all the work. This worked but not to well the fire burned kind of slow and I only got a low rumble not the big roar the rocket should give. I am going to be building a new storage area for my wood next spring but obviously this doesn't help me now. Is there anything I can do to still make this wood work? I was thinking about supplementing with some wood pellets but not sure if that would help.
 
gardener
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Mark ; Give that wood a week or so and the moisture content will come back down. It would take more than a night of hard rain to get seasoned wood really wet. Sounds like you're still drying your mass out ? If so then even dry wood fights to get up to temp. It will take weeks for a good size mass to totally dry out and heat up. while my mass was drying, I kept a small electric fan nearby to blow down the feed tube and force feed air to the dragon to make it roar. Using a brick to reduce the feed tube also helps increase the velocity of the incoming air. Try to find some dryer wood to get things going ,then start adding your wood in nice small pieces . Preheat (dry) them on the barrel for a moment just before adding to the feed tube. If you have built your rmh to spec (by the BOOK ) then it won't take long before you start seeing improvement in how well it draws and how even the far end of your mass will start heating up.
 
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Well in the old days it was common to have small wood storage in the house near the stove.
It was not just so you did not have to go get wood all the time. It was also a place to make sure the wood was good and dry before burning.
A good wood storage area was warm, and allowed air circulation around the wood. I have seen some mass stoves with such storage areas.
If you are burning green wood you want smaller pieces (more surface area for drying without bark) and more indoor drying time before use.
 
Mark Kansburg
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I tried out the fan idea today. It worked pretty good for the first 15 minutes but then the fire started spreading up the wood while still burning sideways at the bottom and thus cause it to start smoking again. Am I doing something wrong? I can't keep letting my house get filled with smoke every day. By the way my entire system did heat up, I could feel it on the clean out cap at the far end, and my exhaust was around 90-100 degrees. Also I am using a dragon heater 8" core with their heat riser and I added 2-4" of clay slip/perlite around the core but not the heat riser for extra insulation. My transition has a CSA of around 120 sq in and I am using half barrels for my ducting, just thought I'd add some more background info.
 
pollinator
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Location: Northern New York Zone4-5 the OUTER 'RONDACs percip 36''
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Mark Kansburg : Oh ! Now the other shoe drops ! To be strictly fair, you owe it to the Good people at Dragon Heaters to Take your problem to them!
And to give them the 1st shot at solving your problem! counter-intuitively using a fan will cause an increase of radiant energy striking the metal part
of the Feed Tubes Mouth raising the temperature of that metal and creating a stronger chimney !

As an old oil burner Technician, I personally do not recommend the use of a fan except as a last resort ! We always felt it was a crutch to help
treat an undiagnosed problem ! Here it proved to be a bad choice !


Your problem is wet wood, You already know the solution, Small, fine split, very dry wood, with more wood showing than bark !

I am not sure about the use of 1/2 barrels with the Dragon heater, or the correct type of Thermal battery for the model you have selected, but again
try to use the Dragon Heater as intended, and if you have any further problems Do contact the people at Dragon heaters 1st !

For the Good of the Craft ! Big AL


 
Mark Kansburg
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Hi Al,

Thanks for the insight. I didn't know that about the fan creating a stronger chimney. As for contacting dragon heaters I did after I posted here as I found a major problem. The gasket between the barrel and the barrel cap that they sell is not working and is letting smoke out. I didn't notice this during the hotter burning because it was able to perform the secondary combustion so it must have been nearly clear but as I was letting it die out o boy did I notice the smoke start to billow out from between the barrel and the barrel cap. So I called right away and honestly did not receive the greatest customer service claiming that I needed to cut the width of the gasket before installing it. I'm sorry but I was already put of slightly by receiving a product with absolutely zero instructions but now I am told that I had to trim the gasket? Why sell a product of it isn't even the correct width for its use? I will be calling again tomorrow when everyone else is in at the company and asking to speak to someone in charge because this is very disappointing so far.
 
Mark Kansburg
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Did some more trouble shooting and got the barrel cap to fit better. Did a small test fire with just newspaper and found out that I must have shifted the barrel around too much while trying to seat the barrel cap so the cob around the barrel moved and I'm getting a bit of smoke from there. Also the cap on my ducting for my clean out apparently isn't holding a tight deal cause I am getting smoke from there as well and I have no way of accessing that until the cob dries because I put up a temporary wall to keep the cob flush with the front. Gonna trying jamming some cob over that and picking it away later. Hopefully this fixes my draw issues
 
pollinator
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Location: Vermont, off grid for 24 years!
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Mark, have you resolved this problem? Can you post some pics? I'm interested in their 6" core.
 
Mark Kansburg
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Hi CJ,

Sorry my wife said I had to finish my son's new room first before I could keep working on the RMH. His room is done now so today I plan to make the extra cob I need to fill everywhere that's smoking and then I'll try again with a quick newspaper only fire and see how it goes. Hopefully I won't have any other smoke leaks in the system. I'll try to post some pictures this weekend but I'll do that in a new thread
 
Mark Kansburg
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Success!!! I got everything going and burning properly. Still not as much of a roar as I have seen on other successful RMH's but none the less. It took a bit to get going but once it did I had no smoke back and all the wood burned sideways like it should have. I only had a short fire, about an hour and a half, because it started doing too good of a job and got the house a little too warm. It looks like the main issue really was just getting a proper seal on everything to get a good draft going through the system. The interesting thing though is that my exhaust temps didn't go above 90 and I still had success.
 
allen lumley
pollinator
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Mark Kansburg : Glad that everything is working well, About your recorded Temperatures, ether a surface mounted thermometer, or a UV
Scanning thermometer read only the temperature of the stove pipes skin, Due to a condition called laminar flow ( I think the term should be called
laminar no-flow) So you were probably not measuring the hottest and fastest part of the hot exhaust stream which was probably closer to 150dF,
and much lower than the minimum 500dF required by the EPA for new wood stoves! For the Good of the Craft ! Big Al
 
Mark Kansburg
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Still getting succesful burns overall but I am still having some slight problems with the fire going up the wood and eventually leading to some smoke going into the house. Much better then before but still something I'd like to eliminate. I am able to control it though by pushing some of the pieces down into the horizontal part of the unit. I know my wood is not dry enough because I can hear the moisture sizzle off some of the pieces, plus my mass is still very much wet, but is there anything else I can do to prevent this?
 
allen lumley
pollinator
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Mark Kansburg : Try cruising behind the buildings at the Strip malls and scoring some hardwood pallets, they should look rough cut and not
painted

There are places on u-tube to learn several ways to pull the nails out ! With no bark on them they burn better and dry faster!

Putting wood down in the horizontal Burn Tunnel will come back to bit you as your fire burns out try stacking your fine split wood tighter together
and cap off a little of your Feed Tubes top to help channel the air more directly through the wood that you are burning ! You WILL hear an increase
in your rockets roar when you have it just right ! When you have most of Your RMH dried out the amount of wood you burn will drop! and when
you have short, very dry fine split pieces to burn, the amount of wood that you need to burn will drop again!

Running a RMH is definitely a question of ''playing it by ear'', you are doing it the hard way right now but in the future you will know what adjust-
ments to make, and will Auto - Magically make the right adjustments with no more thought than you take to adjust reading glasses !Big AL

 
Mark Kansburg
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So I tried splitting some of the wood even smaller and stacking it pretty tight together like you mentioned. It worked as the fire was in the front of the bundle (front being towards the heat riser) but as soon as it spread towards the middle it started burning up again and pretty serious too. So I tried to think this over and here are the possible reasons I can come up with:
I need to do more of a primer fire to get the temp in the heat riser up to create more of a draft
My wood is too wet and not seasoned enough to burn hot enough to create a good draft
At the bottom of my chimney on the outside of my house there is a clean out but the door is broken and all I have over it is a rough piece of slate
My burn tunnel is too long (doubt it but still) I have 4 half barrels on an 8" system
My COB is still too wet and is sucking up too much heat to prevent getting a good draft at the exhaust, along with any of the above.

This could also be a combination of any of these issues but this is just what I came up with so far. Any ideas or comments would be greatly appreciated.
 
Mark Kansburg
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Same issue still continuing. I bought some kiln dried wood to test my wet wood theory and have been burning for almost two hours now. I still end up needing to push it into the horizontal part past the feed tube to prevent smoke back. I finally installed my probe thermometer on the barrel and although it's not measuring the hottest temps which are in the center it is still staying between 900-1000 degrees since it got up to temp.

If anyone has any insight or any idea what else could be the problem please I really want to fix this
 
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My COB is still too wet and is sucking up too much heat to prevent getting a good draft at the exhaust, along with any of the above. - bad!

At the bottom of my chimney on the outside of my house there is a clean out but the door is broken and all I have over it is a rough piece of slate - very bad!!
 
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I think your number one priority should be sealing up the leak at the bottom of the chimney. If any air is entering the chimney through that leak, that is air that should be pulling through the feed, but isn't.
 
master steward
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This video addresses the use of green or wet wood.

 
Getting married means "We're in love, so let's tell the police!" - and invite this tiny ad to the wedding:
What makes you excited about rocket ovens?
https://permies.com/t/90100/excited-rocket-ovens
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