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Burning green wood, cardboard in outdoor wood stove  RSS feed

 
Fredy Perlman
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After my move to the Pacific Northwest, I have a lot of damp cardboard to get rid of. Boxes are useless for storage in 95% humidity. I set up the woodstove outside, and after priming it with a good deal of dry firewood to get a bed of embers, started feeding it green alder (smells great!) and cardboard. I care about the stove but not the exhaust pipe, about 6 feet of which is steel, and the rest of which is galvanized. It's all salvage.

I noticed that the prevailing winds carry the smoke and steam over the garden area. It made me wonder what kind of chemicals are in cardboard, and a search here did not yield any results. Anybody know? Thanks!
 
Travis Johnson
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A lot of chlorine bleach.

Generally speaking white paper is made out of hardwoods, and brown paper is made out of softwoods. That being the case, softwoods are prone to rot which shows up as reddish, half decomposed wood. To rid the paper of this unsightly red discoloration, a lot of bleach is used. There is a lot of other nasty stuff that goes into making paper like to though, like hydrocloric acid. There are other issues too like all the liqueurs, such as black, and green liqueurs, but I have to be honest with you, I am not sure how much makes it into the paper itself and what type of paper uses what. It takes a whole different process to break down hardwood and softwood to get the pulp. It has been a long time since I was welding inside a paper mill boiler, but I remember one safety video showing black liqueur I believe, coming into contact with water and exploding. It is nasty stuff.

What you do NOT want to do in any stove you value, is burn plastic. It has acids that eat away at the steel as many people with big outdoor wood boilers found out. Burning green wood...fine, but those same doors that allow a huge bag of trash to be burned...not so good. It even eats away at stainless steel. Oh and there is that nasty byproducts in the air thing too.
 
Roberto pokachinni
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I have a lot of damp cardboard to get rid of. Boxes are useless for storage in 95% humidity.
  I remove tape and staples from boxes, and lay them down flat to turn sod into worm food.  The worms seem to approve, and if they can handle turning the cardboard into garden soil, then I think it's pretty safe to do so.  Some people fear Boron being concentrated since it is also used to bleach the wood pulp.  You get way more BTU's burning dry wood then green wood or wet cardboard.  Sure it will burn, but there is a massive loss of energy in the process of drying it before it ignites efficiently.
 
Fredy Perlman
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Thank you both. I think other applications for this square yardage of cardboard could be sheet mulching, mushroom spawn sandwiching, and you're right, worm food. I burned all the mold-contaminated stuff after pulling the staples and tape, but won't do that again...the fumes were yucky, and now the rainwater can't be harvested until at least a couple hours of hard rain.

This will probably be news to no one, but I found that it helps a lot to split the green wood and dry it atop the stove before burning. I still have to start the fire with a few good embers from kiln-dried wood, but it chugs along on green after that.

 
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