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if it burns hot enough why not burn cedar and pine?  RSS feed

 
Posts: 15
Location: durham nc
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here in north carolina got lots of oak but it is hard to get perfectly dry oak at the last minute even a dead standing tree seems to wick moisture

a cedar log with some wetish oak can tip the balance on a sluggish fire. so far i have burned a 8'x1.5' cedar shaft mostly supplementing less than perfectly dried oak

been burning daily since october havent had a reason to break my clean out seal


 
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Hi derek,

This misconception about conifers is predominantly something of the current "new age" and resurgence of wood burning. This view also seems to be more of an "east coast" concept. I grew up in parts of the south west Arizona...we burnt conifer, and nothing else. One of the hottest burning (and depending on age of tree harvested...reasonably long) is Pinyon Pine, of all the wood species. Conifers, through the ages and still in much of the world, are the dominate choice of wood burning species. Masonry heaters and the burning of "fagot bundles" is best achieve with hot, fast and intense fires...This is best achieve with Conifers. Wood burning in less efficient stoves, or stoves that are too often "banked down" can build up creosote...yet...all that means when burning conifers in such wood burning devices is they have to be cleaned more often...not that you can't burn conifers. RMH are a very efficient form of "masonry heater" there should be no reason you can't burn conifer, yet the fires should be fast and intense, plus I would suggest cleaning at least twice a burn season.

Regards, and Good Luck!

j

 
gardener
Posts: 1290
Location: latitude 47 N.W. montana zone 6A
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Derek; No reason not to burn other wood. Cedar burns very hot, but very fast, it would be a fine wood to add to not seasoned hardwood. Pine works as well but not as hot and some can be pitchy. It just takes more softwood than hardwood to hold a hot fire. Seasoned dry hardwood is of course the best wood to use (i'm planting black locust ) but any wood that is dry will work . If your wood has moisture then you're losing btu's drying it out so it can burn. Remember ALL wood has water content, you just need to strive to burn the dryest available. Start as early as you can in the spring putting up wood ,hopefully split . Keep it covered let it dry . Do that for a few years and before you know it you will be burning wood you cut several years before!
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Hi derek,

Thomas's post gave me some inspiration in how you may think about this more clearly...

Hard or Soft there really isn't a "better"...just different. Like I wrote before...most of the world, and through the ages...Conifers have been a big part of heating and hardwoods for cooking...

Another way to think of this is "octane." Hardwoods are the "diesels" of the wood burning fuels...they provide endurance and torque; while Conifers are "gas" they burn fast and hot...some are almost like "nitrous oxide" they burn super hot!

As for pitch, perhaps I could add or adjust that view a bit. Conifers in general are a naturally "dry wood" there is very little (especially after splitting) drying to them to have to do, especially to some of the cedars, redwoods and white pines, et al. In some cases even days will render very burnable material...As for pitch, that is "pure fuel!." Pitch pine, Pinyon Pine and related resines woods (also called "lighter wood") can actually burn "too hot" and must not be overloaded in many "combustion cores" as they can reach super high tempers too fast and too intensely. I have even seen refractory crack/spalled and soapstone "pit" when an entire load is of "lighter wood." This stuff is what you save to start fires or to "intensify" the burn of "less than dry" or lesser quality woods like aspen, poplar, etc..

Again long slow, and cooking fires are best done with hardwoods, for fast, hot intenses fires, you can't beat many conifers.

Regards,

j
 
Posts: 39
Location: Western Montana
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Interesting...the idea of burning hardwood is almost completely foreign to me lol. Around here oak is almost unheard of...there's some maples in town, but out where I live it's all pine...with some fir and aspen mixed in. And the occasional random apple tree. If you run into a piece of oak, it's probably part of a piece of furniture . Everything I've run though the rocket stove so far has probably been some variety of pine...not knowing what a piece of hardwood burns like, I guess I don't know what I'm missing lol. It does burn pretty fast, but what the heck...all my wood so far has been free, so I can't really complain about how fast it burns. It's hot and clean too...inside of the heat riser is nice and white.
 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Great post Scott, and it really speaks to this topic...

I have lived in both "east and west" coast mindsets of burning wood...My view is I would rather burn Conifers (especially with a masonry heater type wood burning device)...and only have hard woods for cooking...My grandmother, even being from the Ozarks, preferred Pine and Cedars for heating...and hardwoods for cooking.

Regards,

j
 
derek dihoff
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Location: durham nc
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for the last several years i have had a long vertical run of stove pipe in my chimney i would have to clean 3 to 4 times a season with smoke plenty of smoke in a home made wood fired boiler. having oak every where round here never burned pine inside was pretty much raised with a fire place not to burn pine unless some pine cones to start a fire with becuase of the soot. now with the rsmh the cedar really makes it go. our pine is mostly a loblolly pine it dosent really burn that great all the tree guys ditch it where they can



 
Jay C. White Cloud
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Seasoned Loblolly Pine is a wonderful heating wood, and a fine example for even Rumfords, yet a screen may be warranted for part of the burn as some "lighter knots" within can "pop."
 
gardener
Posts: 2014
Location: Central Oklahoma (zone 7a)
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Growing up in the taiga (aka boreal forest) we burned a whole lot of firewood (one memorable winter about 24 cords) and there wasn't a stick of hardwood among it. Birch was the closest thing, when we could get it; white spruce was next in order of preference, but the abundant tree was black spruce and we burned a lot of that also. (Black spruce is the tree that gives some of that region its Inuit handle of "land of the little sticks.") Thus I laughed long and hard the first time I met someone with the bizarre notion that you shouldn't burn conifers for firewood.

It is true that if you burn green (or even frozen) spruce in a heavily-dampered stove rather than in a good roaring fire with lots of oxygen, it puts a lot of creosote in your chimney that needs to be cleaned or managed with controlled burnouts before there is so much that you'll set your house on fire. But that's just something you deal with.

I knew one old man who burned cottonwood in the summer to boil his coffee; he said it put so little heat into his cabin that it was more comfortable for cooking with. He called it "air conditioning wood."
 
Scott Clark
Posts: 39
Location: Western Montana
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Jay C. White Cloud wrote:Great post Scott, and it really speaks to this topic...

I have lived in both "east and west" coast mindsets of burning wood...My view is I would rather burn Conifers (especially with a masonry heater type wood burning device)...and only have hard woods for cooking...My grandmother, even being from the Ozarks, preferred Pine and Cedars for heating...and hardwoods for cooking.

Regards,

j



Yea, it's really interesting to see the different perspectives people have just based on where they live... I'm going to try and clear my 5 acres of all the deadfall in the spring/summer and process it for rocket fuel, which has an added bonus--fuel reduction across the property in case of a forest fire. In 2012 the Sawtooth Fire came within a mile of my house (it was in the evacuation zone). I've got Ponderosas all over the place, and at least two dead ones I need to cut down (and make into fire wood). rocket stove should love all of it.
This will probably make some of the folks back east laugh... In this big pile of scrap wood I got for free, there was a single oak plank...it was grey and weathered and I didn't recognize it until I cut it. I handed it to my kids so they could see what a fresh cut piece of oak smelled like...they all wanted to keep a piece like it was something exotic from some foreign land lol. I have about 25 pallets out back I need to dismantle, and in them I found a single one made entirely out of oak...I put it in the woodshed, and I'm going to take it apart and use the wood for something other than fuel. The beams are these nice thick pieces, which seem like they should be useful for *something*. Maybe carve wooden swords or something. Next summer I promised my kids we'd try and make a Viking shield (we do some nerdy projects like that)...we'll forge the boss from a piece of steel in our pit forge, and I figured the oak planks from that pallet would work just dandy for the rest of it. So much better than pine .
 
thomas rubino
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Location: latitude 47 N.W. montana zone 6A
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Hi scott; I live apx 130 miles nw of the bitteroot valley , near the idaho panhandle. Here we have predominantly douglas (red) fir and tamarack with some pine. Myself I shy away from the ponderosa as it splits hard and has many large branches. The red fir is mainly what I burn in the rocket stove , it is classed a soft wood and it can have pitch seams and lots of branches but it is my wood of choice. tamarack is better as there is less branches and thin bark , it is also classed a soft wood but harder to find . White birch does grow here and it is classed as a hard wood but must be cut green and dried to get sound wood. What does grow all over western mt is vine maple also known as mountain maple. This is a true hardwood and if you look it will be not to far away from your location. Growing in clumps these maples will have 3-6" dia. ,bone dry, split to the heart barkless trunks mixed in with the new growth, and NOBODY is cutting them! For me in my rmh Nothing burns as hot or as long as that maple! If I had the time to get enough of it , I would burn nothing else. I plan on planting black locust , as another fast growing source of hardwood that is right here on the ranch. I grew up in new england surrounded by hardwood and we had a fireplace that we burned pine in , as it threw more heat out in the room (sparks also) than the hardwood's did. So my earlier post where i called dry hardwood the "best wood" to burn is only in reference to my RMH in the greenhouse and my personal experience with soft and hardwood being burned in it. I highly recommend that you keep an eye out for some and try it. By the way , great use for the oak pallet boards, great project for your kids !
 
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