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Author Topic: Burning dry wood  (Read 2408 times)

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Offline Wood Shed

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Burning dry wood
« on: December 07, 2018, 10:06:23 AM »
Have started burning various stages of dry firewood since building a wood shed.  Everyone knows it burns faster, now I know it also is more efficient at producing usable heat (hot water).  Also burning some wet, straight from the woods wood for obvious reasons.  While working in the woods yesterday I loaded with wet wood on an active established coal (ember) bed and noticed it took for ever to show any increase in boiler temp.  Today after reload with dry dead ash I accurately observed a one degree rise in boiler temp in two minutes as well as the sounds of activity in the boiler jacket.  At season start up with little heat demand on the boiler I also noticed this rapid heat rise and what I thought was a slight boil over and posted about it previously .  Now I aim to blend the two processes to achieve not only efficiency but also longer burn times while maintaining a 160-180 degree heat range .  

Being recently retired from over forty years of laboratory science I guess I can not stop testing, tweaking , monitoring , controlling, questioning and proving data.   What have you learned or noticed that could be used by other OWB owners?



 
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Offline hedgerow

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Re: Burning dry wood
« Reply #1 on: December 07, 2018, 10:46:24 AM »
Woodshed
I run a Garn so I burn full out and store the heat. I split and stack in dump trailers most old straight trucks or old dump trucks made into trailers and most hold 3 to 4 cord. I burn 10-15 a year and run year around. A couple years back I logged a section on my one farm that had a lot of big locust. I logged them in the summer and we bucked and split them in the fall after harvest and field work. They were wet when we worked them. Trailers are stored in pole buildings. A year later those loads made there way to the Garn barn to be burned. The outside of the loads were dry but when you got to the middle it was still wet. We were in our cold part of the year Jan and it was neg zero that winter the Garn would burn it and no build up in the exhaust but the amount of wood I was feeding to get the same amount of heat I would normally get with dry wood was almost double. After about a cord into that load I finally backed a dry load of hedge next to it and mixed the two and then it worked fine. I had four loads that was like that and I just mixed and it was ok then. 

Offline ButchC

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Re: Burning dry wood
« Reply #2 on: December 07, 2018, 11:14:54 AM »
I have had 13 years to monkey with my Wood Master and  have managed to cut my wood usage by at least 1/3 and at times one half by simply burning dry split wood and managing the air intake of the furnace. My experience has been that an OWB is no different than an indoor stove in that dry wood will provide the most BTUs for least amount of wood burned  IF (big if) the draft is properly set up for burning dry split wood, not big chunks of wet and  snow covered.  Our OWB firewood is suitable for burning in any wood stove. At least 2 years old, stacked and covered.  

Unless it is below 10 degrees we only have to load the furnace once a day and we heat a very large 19th century farm house that sits on hill with few trees around to block the wind. Funny you would bring up this subject  as just last week, as a test I opened things up to full draft, just as  the stove was delivered and usage immediately went from going 24 hours and a bit of wood left to less than  16 hours and furnace temps dropping.

Because the old school furnaces all share similar principles I would guess that any owner of such can lower usage by same means as me?  
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Offline brianJ

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Re: Burning dry wood
« Reply #3 on: December 07, 2018, 11:39:29 AM »
@hedgerow   I finally backed a dry load of hedge next to it and mixed the two and then it worked fine.   

Are you saying by using some (half) of the dry wood with the wet locust your usage went all the way back to what it was when using only dry?    

Offline TKehl

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Re: Burning dry wood
« Reply #4 on: December 07, 2018, 12:26:42 PM »
Only trouble with dry wood and outdoor furnaces (mine is outdoor forced air, not a boiler) is some can bite off more than they can chew.  The fireboxes are big enough that they can hold more BTU in the firebox than they can move, especially if there are any air leaks, causing the stove to get too hot.  (Slept with a window open half the night Saturday as it was 80F + in the house and the damper was all the way shut.  :()  The water jacket on boilers helps, but the big bite can still be an issue.
 
Of course, some designs are better than others.
 
Can be overcome with proper feeding of course.  Smaller bites more often.  But it takes a little practice and requires keeping the wife out of the pile of Hedge.   :D  

Offline hedgerow

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Re: Burning dry wood
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2018, 01:40:10 PM »
@hedgerow   I finally backed a dry load of hedge next to it and mixed the two and then it worked fine.  

Are you saying by using some (half) of the dry wood with the wet locust your usage went all the way back to what it was when using only dry?    
No it didn't get all the way back to what I would call normal but the hedge I was using to blend was very dry and it made my wood usage more what I will expect in that kind of weather.I knew if this load of locust had a fair amount of wet wood in it so did the loads coming up to burn did too as about 20 cord had been worked all at the same time period. We just finished bucking and splitting the last of the largest of those logs that came out of that area this fall before harvest and that locust was still wet in log form. 

Online Don P

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Re: Burning dry wood
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2018, 06:07:35 PM »
You can use the btu's to dry the firewood or heat the house. While the fire is drying the firewood its hard for the firebox to get much above the boiling point of water.
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Offline thecfarm

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Re: Burning dry wood
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2018, 09:04:41 PM »
I have the old style OWB,I have burned all types of wood,I have 170 acres to choice from,and in all stages of dryness and wetness. ;D I have cut white maple in the dead of winter and an hour later fed the OWB with it. That was not too bad,but did notice I burnt more wood. I cut eastern white pine in the dead of winter and an hour later fed the OWB with it. I almost had to hire another person to cut and split the wood because I could not keep up with the feeding of the OWB. While it was not that bad,but close. I went through some white pine that winter. I had a bunch of scrub pine,all pulp, that I wanted to get rid of. It worked. I must of burned 20 cords of wood that winter. Or it felt like I did. I have better burn times on dead standing white pine.And that takes me to the dead wood. Anything dead goes into the OWB. Be it fir,white pine,cedar. That is why I got the OWB. I needed a place to get rid of my dead wood. I also was clearing off an old pasture. I needed a place to get rid of the softwood. A OWB is just that place. I seem to have a lot of fir that dies. I come to a fir,I might as well cut it and let something else grow. I did dry some wood,the first year I had the OWB. Or so called dry it,no shed to put it in.Sitting around for 2 years,outside in the weather,covered with tarps in the winter. I feel the dead wood is just about as good as white maple. But I don't get the coals from the dead wood.
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Offline Kwill

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Re: Burning dry wood
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2018, 09:28:51 PM »
I like to cut the standing dead red oaks and mix with green and seasoned wood. I get the best heat with those out of my forced air owb. I built mine myself and it works great. Mixing the wood seemed to work the best for me. If I use all dead wood it burns up to fast but does produce a lot of heat. Earlier this year I had a air leak and couldn't get it to shut down .Like the other guy posted i had the house up to 85 and had to open up windows and ended up smothering the fire out to get it to shut down. Good that fixed since and haven't had any trouble.
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Offline maple flats

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Re: Burning dry wood
« Reply #9 on: December 08, 2018, 12:15:35 PM »
Have started burning various stages of dry firewood since building a wood shed.  Everyone knows it burns faster, now I know it also is more efficient at producing usable heat (hot water).  Also burning some wet, straight from the woods wood for obvious reasons.  While working in the woods yesterday I loaded with wet wood on an active established coal (ember) bed and noticed it took for ever to show any increase in boiler temp.  Today after reload with dry dead ash I accurately observed a one degree rise in boiler temp in two minutes as well as the sounds of activity in the boiler jacket.  At season start up with little heat demand on the boiler I also noticed this rapid heat rise and what I thought was a slight boil over and posted about it previously .  Now I aim to blend the two processes to achieve not only efficiency but also longer burn times while maintaining a 160-180 degree heat range .  

Being recently retired from over forty years of laboratory science I guess I can not stop testing, tweaking , monitoring , controlling, questioning and proving data.   What have you learned or noticed that could be used by other OWB owners?


(Image hidden from quote, click to view.)

The reason you saw no improvement when you added the "wet " wood, is because all of the energy was going to evaporation of the excess moisture.
Anytime you add new wood, if it is not dry enough to burn well right away, it is because the existing heat is vaporizing the moisture. If you ever burn an open fire, like a campfire or burn wood in a glass doored wood stove, you will see bubbling coming out of the end grain until that piece of wood is dry, then it will burn
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Offline Al_Smith

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Re: Burning dry wood
« Reply #10 on: December 08, 2018, 05:56:08 PM »
I've got eab killed ash that's been stacked I know 5 or 6 years .The outside will get a little punky by maybe a 1/4" and  it acts like sponge ,rain you know .I thought I could get it burned but since the temps got into the teens ,not so good .I've got freshly cut dead ash in it now doing much better .If and when it drops into single digits the hickory and oak come out .
You might burn wet wood in an outside burner with a forced draft but  with a natural draft stove it just doesn't do good .Ash doesn't "coal up " like oak so that's a factor too .


Offline mike_belben

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Re: Burning dry wood
« Reply #11 on: December 09, 2018, 08:26:45 AM »
I am currently getting acquainted with a huge new to me freebie stove i had to put into our tiny cabin recently.  We are poor for now so picking and choosing isnt an option.

Im burning oak, red maple and black gum, split and piled in the open in spring 2018.  I light it with "dry" wood i keep inside by piling some smaller pieces, then a few handfulls of sawdust in front of the wood with 2 squirts of red diesel into the sawdust and 1flick of the lighter. Works great.  Once that dry pile is flame and coal i cannot add any more than a piece or two of dry wood at a time or it'll runaway into the upper 80s and i worry about the wall igniting. This is a pain because if i miss it the coals burn to powder and i have to start over. Meanwhile the temps drop inside rapidly due to no insulation.

 If i need to leave for a few hours or at last fill say about 10pm, i go outside to get soaking wet big blocky pieces to half fill the stove then completely choke intake air off to delay the drying and igniting as much as possible.  This sizzling and steaming that was completely unacceptable up in the frigid north where any stove struggled to keep up the minimum temp, is a neccesity downsouth where its pretty easy for any stove to cook you out in an initial flash that eats up all the wood then goes out early in the night and lets the house get quite cold.

So surprisingly, im on the other side of the fence now. wet green wood for me has become MORE efficient of my time and wood consumption.  Its how im tuning the heat output down in temp and extending the output duration for a more stable interior temperature using less volume of wood.  Seasoning for years would be a waste, as id be soaking wood in a bucket right now if it were that dry.
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Offline Al_Smith

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Re: Burning dry wood
« Reply #12 on: December 09, 2018, 10:22:16 AM »
It's none of my business what anybody burns or how much of it .They could burn green swamp willow for all I care .I will just say and take it for what it's worth .You have to keep the stack temperature up to about 300 degrees or it will form creosote,the gooey kind like road tar which burns hot if it ignites .You do not want a flue fire . :o

Online Don P

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Re: Burning dry wood
« Reply #13 on: December 09, 2018, 11:39:37 AM »
As I sit here oxygen starved, we just got 10" of snow off the high tunnel while trying not to step on the rows of greens inside.
I've thrown another armload of dry 4-6" split slabwood into the stove, some walnut for a quick flash and some white oak for coals. The 1500sf house is pretty well insulated, the steady heat is a monitor, when we are home the woodstove is running, a little Jotul that I've bored and polished, it is free air burning, there is no throttling it. Although modified from its first EPA type build I'd put it up alongside of stock.  Burning like that there is no visible smoke within a very few minutes after startup or reload. Clean, complete combustion. We'll go through about 3 cords in a winter, this is not the far north. The monitor ran through the night intermittently after the stove went out probably around midnight- 2am. At 22 outside the stove has been running for about 4 hours and the monitor has been off. There is about 150 gallons in the tank and that is enough for the rest of the winter, we've been as much as 3 years on a 275 gallon tank. So when we are home the little stove is a tended thing, an armload every hour or two. Combustion is pretty complete, it burns clean which means quite a bit to me personally. I've worked all day around smoggy burns, cold, wet, incomplete combustion. It is certainly not ideal.

My way of burning requires tending which is also not ideal, it works for us but certainly not for everyone. The only way to burn wood cleanly is wide open throttle and dry wood. Working outside in the smoke of my partners greenwood burning OWB isn't fun or healthy. The need to burn them choked down is because they flash through and waste heat burning dry wood. They are storing the heat mostly as a mass of smoldering damp wood ready to be called on and fed enough air in bursts to only then produce a clean burn.

We've talked about putting a large water storage tank in his basement that the owb feeds. That tank then feeds the radiant tubing, furnace A coil, and baseboards as needed. Burn dry wood in a couple of shorter bursts each day. The heat making is short, fast, clean burns. The storage is in the tank under the house. I'm not even sure we want to start with an insulated tank, just let the mass cool into the basement, heating it. That is uncontrolled so play with that. Sort of the same concept as a mass stove, instead of the pile of hot masonry the mass is a big bucket of water. Shoulder seasons cut the big tank off and run short burns right to the baseboards or A coil so the house doesn't overheat during midday. Anyway just more thoughts.
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Offline petefrom bearswamp

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Re: Burning dry wood
« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2018, 11:43:24 AM »
The discussion of green (wet) vs dry wood has been beaten to death on here so Im putting my whip away
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Offline hedgerow

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Re: Burning dry wood
« Reply #15 on: December 09, 2018, 09:41:16 PM »
Don P 
That's what I like about my Garn is that burn full out and store the heat. I like it well enough I added another 3,000 insulated tank for storage. 

Offline Al_Smith

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Re: Burning dry wood
« Reply #16 on: December 10, 2018, 07:07:58 AM »
Trying to compare an outside burner to a conventional stove/insert is almost like apples to oranges .My insert if I fire right doesn't belch smoke .My neighbors outside burner with a short stack and big pieces of half green oak really puts out the smoke and really goes through the wood .If it's cold I burn about 1 face cord a week .I'd almost bet he goes through three times that amount .I've got a little over  2,000 square feet,he about 2,400 .
The difference is ,from my observation he only loads it up about once a day while I have to tend the fire although I can load it up if I want to .He has the mess outside I have the mess inside  .I do however own ash buckets,brooms , mops and a very nice Shark vacuum cleaner .It's not that bad .

Offline ButchC

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Re: Burning dry wood
« Reply #17 on: December 10, 2018, 12:57:34 PM »
.If it's cold I burn about 1 face cord a week .I'd almost bet he goes through three times that amount
Ya, that's more than possible. I know several people who burn a cord a week when it get down in the single digits or below. All it takes is some combination of a drafty old house, a low buck underground installation and an inefficient stove design.
5 years ago  October 1 I got a bunch of guys together to help out a family in our church who had bought a brand X OWB. While I do not know exactly how much wood we cut that day I do know when we were done we had hauled 34 thrown on pick up loads of wood, i always called that 1/2 cord? We  figured they had close to a two year supply of firewood or  17  cords. Come March the phone rang,, any chance you guys could cut some more wood?  17 cords from October 1 to March 1, cord a week, just as you said.
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Offline hedgerow

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Re: Burning dry wood
« Reply #18 on: December 11, 2018, 10:18:25 AM »
Butch C 
I think I burn a fair amount of wood at 10 to 15 cord a year in my Garn heating the house shop and my domestic water year around. I sure wouldn't want to keep these folks in wood. Not many OWB in my area no body wants to work that hard to stay warm. 

Offline ButchC

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Re: Burning dry wood
« Reply #19 on: December 12, 2018, 09:02:25 AM »
Butch C
 I sure wouldn't want to keep these folks in wood. Not many OWB in my area no body wants to work that hard to stay warm.
They still have the same set up, I told them to pile the wood out in the yard, open the windows and set the pile on fire and they would probably burn less wood :D 
Operating an OWB is work,  that's for sure. When I find myself mumbling about it I remind myself that we have no monthly heating bill. Not sure what I will do when the Woodmaster fails as the current replacement cost is quitehigh
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