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Author Topic: Hottest burning?  (Read 1860 times)

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Offline Sauna freak

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Hottest burning?
« on: March 07, 2021, 07:01:26 PM »
Got to wondering this weekend, which burn the hottest?  Not talking about maximum btu, but most heat output per unit of time. Obviously there will variability based on size, shape and stove type. Assuming 3" split, good air dry and a high draft reburn sauna stove, what does the hive mind think?  My options are black spruce, balsam fir, jack pine, quaking aspen, tamarack, paper birch. Also some buckthorn and tag alder.  My gut says jack pine. Any thoughts?
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Re: Hottest burning?
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2021, 07:28:53 PM »
Do you have any oaks in your example for comparison? Or hickory? Definitely not Sweet Gum. Maybe some Ash.

Or does your question only pertain to your examples? If so... I dont know anything about Buckthorn, never crossed path with it.
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Offline brianJ

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Re: Hottest burning?
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2021, 07:46:46 PM »
Got to wondering this weekend, which burn the hottest?  Not talking about maximum btu, but most heat output per unit of time. Obviously there will variability based on size, shape and stove type. Assuming 3" split, good air dry and a high draft reburn sauna stove, what does the hive mind think?  My options are black spruce, balsam fir, jack pine, quaking aspen, tamarack, paper birch. Also some buckthorn and tag alder.  My gut says jack pine. Any thoughts?
Seems you are asking not what burns hottest but what gives off the most BTU's per unit of time.      That is actually more a function of how much air you can get to the fire.

Offline Edvantage

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Re: Hottest burning?
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2021, 07:58:13 PM »
It all depends how often you want to feed the fire. My kids do the sauna fires and hate feeding the fire steady with the softwoodsThey love ash splits easy and burns hot. Of your choices listed I vote birch. If I remember correctly the saunas I took in Finland where mostly burning birch.

Online cutterboy

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Re: Hottest burning?
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2021, 08:04:56 PM »
Of your options I only have experience with aspen and birch, both of witch burn hot in a wood stove. However, when I used to make maple syrup I wanted white pine for a hot fire in the evaporator.

Offline Ianab

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Re: Hottest burning?
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2021, 11:15:18 PM »
Surface area also matters. If you want a hotter / faster burning fire, go with a dense high BTU wood, and split it smaller. 

I gave some woodworking off cuts to friend to use as kindling, and it was mostly Casuarina, iron wood is another name for it. Very hard a dense, but mostly 3/4 boards, and bone dry. Anyway it was a cold night and they loaded up the big cast iron stove with these off-cuts. About 15 mins later the flue was starting to glow a dull red, and they had to open the doors to cool the house down.  :D Being smaller pieces it burnt down fairly quickly. 

The pine and other softwoods will certainly burn hot enough, but not last very long in a hot fire. But a denser and smaller split hardwood can burn hot for longer. Buckthorn is an invasive "kill on sight" species here, so I haven't burnt it. But it's quite dense wood, high BTU etc, so it might be worth experimenting with. Especially if you use some pine or birch to get a hot fire going quickly first. 
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Offline Corley5

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Re: Hottest burning?
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2021, 11:23:28 PM »
Jack pine with pitchy knots burns pretty hot ;) :)
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Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Hottest burning?
« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2021, 05:06:07 AM »
Tamarak burns hot fast, aspen and fir are fast and hot to. I heat the house with it and only need morning and evening fires. I get 1-1/2 cord of hard maple for the real cold nights, and place a couple sticks in with the lesser dense wood. 2900 sq feet, including basement, forced air furnace. Never been cold, in fact on sunny days, no fire during daylight, a window is usually up, all day. Solar heat from windows. ;D I usually cut 8 cords, but I burn wood 9 months to, not 2 months. ;) Plus I love killing two birds with one stone, thinning the woodlot and heating my house, $2400 stays in my pocket. I win on all fronts. ;D
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Online Don P

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Re: Hottest burning?
« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2021, 07:38:09 AM »
Charcoal made of any of them?
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Online barbender

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Re: Hottest burning?
« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2021, 08:26:59 AM »
Tamarack used to be notorious among the old timers for burning stoves out, it burned so hot. That would get my vote.
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Offline hedgerow

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Re: Hottest burning?
« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2021, 10:59:10 AM »
Sauna Freak
Don't have the ones you listed in my area. The two that come to mind around here that has ruin a fair amount of stoves is locust and hedge {Osage Orange}. Split some hedge down to small pieces and load a stove up and things start glowing. There is not a ton of hedge in my area but I have a farm that is loaded with it and that's mostly what I burn in my Garn. 

Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Hottest burning?
« Reply #11 on: March 08, 2021, 11:17:18 AM »
Charcoal made of any of them?
Definitely not charcoal wood. Fast hot fire, yes.
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Offline Sauna freak

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Re: Hottest burning?
« Reply #12 on: March 08, 2021, 07:16:16 PM »
Well, for next season, I will have the usual birch + slabwood of all the above species used to build the sauna + Red Pine (forgot to add that one, but it's not a normal firewood option for me), at the cabin, so I guess we shall experiment.  So far, the fastest I've gotten the home sauna to 175F was with a mix of jack pine and birch fine split.  That's usually the point where I stock the water, damp the fire a bit, and we get into our "sauna clothes."  Surprisingly, that one beat fine split Northern Red/Pin oak.  Surprisingly some sort of urban cultivar willow with twisty trunks that I took down for a friend came really close to the record.

I like to stoke it hot and fast, then put in something a little heavier and open the air a bit to build the last heat before we start, then run 'er hot and drafty while we're in there.  Lose a lot of heat when we get some sauna virgins that are in and out the door a lot.
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Offline Nathan4104

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Re: Hottest burning?
« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2021, 08:45:47 PM »
Sauna, sounds like you cant be far from me, your list of wood is what we have here!   Id go with the Tamarack for the most heat in the time.  Jack pine likely a close second.  If your Birch is good and dry, I mean like 2-3 years under cover dry and the bark all fallen off dry, it will also be pretty hot burning. I have a wood fired pizza oven and primarily use birch in it, but use some jack pine in it at the start.  However even dry, the pine is dirty burning, lots of creosote (compared to the birch) 
Ive only been told that Red Pine makes not great firewood.  Not sure why, as it seems closer to jack pine than White Pine IMO.  You should do an experiment and time your stove getting to temp with different woods and let us know! 

Offline Sauna freak

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Re: Hottest burning?
« Reply #14 on: March 08, 2021, 09:03:03 PM »
Sauna, sounds like you cant be far from me, your list of wood is what we have here!   Id go with the Tamarack for the most heat in the time.  Jack pine likely a close second.  If your Birch is good and dry, I mean like 2-3 years under cover dry and the bark all fallen off dry, it will also be pretty hot burning. I have a wood fired pizza oven and primarily use birch in it, but use some jack pine in it at the start.  However even dry, the pine is dirty burning, lots of creosote (compared to the birch)
Ive only been told that Red Pine makes not great firewood.  Not sure why, as it seems closer to jack pine than White Pine IMO.  You should do an experiment and time your stove getting to temp with different woods and let us know!
Yeah, we're in the same forest zone.  I'm about 25 miles as the crow flies south of the border, about 60 road miles from I-falls.
I've actually had good luck with red pine, but it is pitchy and needs a hot fire to burn cleanly.  Big chunks will make coals like hardwood.  I don't get a lot of waste RP, so don't use it often.  I'm presently removing remnant trees as they show signs of poor health and using them onsite for building projects and selling some high value specialty wood when they get a little grey and some borer holes in the sapwood.  I'm milling so close to the bark for the products I'm selling that it's really only kindling and sawdust left when I get done.
An experiment would be fun, but there are probably too many variables with materials temperature, heat loss, external temperature to control with any sort of scientific conclusion.  I'll be happy to share opinions though!  Haven't burnt much tamarack before, but have heard the old tales about melted stoves so we'll see.
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Online barbender

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Re: Hottest burning?
« Reply #15 on: March 08, 2021, 09:18:37 PM »
I don't think it melted the stoves so much as corroded them, kinda like a hot magnum cartridge in a rifle- hard on barrels.

Red pine burns hot if it's dry, but just like most other dry softwoods it doesn't last long. Green is another matter, it has so much water in it you'll have trouble burning it even in a forced draft outdoor boiler.
Too many irons in the fire

Offline KEC

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Re: Hottest burning?
« Reply #16 on: March 08, 2021, 10:21:40 PM »
Not sure how well you'd like buckthorn the way you're running your stove. For normal heating the house buckthorn is a real decent wood. You wouldn't want to try and put up a lot of buckthorn firewood as there is so much brush and thorns to deal with. I've cut it here with the emphasis on getting rid of it and the firewood I get is just a welcome by-product for my effort. Birds will eat the berries which stay on the trees well into winter, though some say that those berries are not as nutritious as native berries. I have shaken buckthorn trees to shake down the berries and the next day there are turkey tracks in the snow and the berries are gone.

Offline SwampDonkey

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Re: Hottest burning?
« Reply #17 on: March 09, 2021, 02:40:56 AM »
Well, for next season, I will have the usual birch + slabwood of all the above species used to build the sauna + Red Pine (forgot to add that one, but it's not a normal firewood option for me), at the cabin, so I guess we shall experiment.  
Red pine will be similar to red maple, it's a heavy softwood. Used some 3 winters ago, burns nice and hot. Can't split the stuff by axe too easy, but neither is spruce or tamarack easy to split.
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Offline Technoid

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Re: Hottest burning?
« Reply #18 on: March 09, 2021, 06:25:18 AM »
I think oak, cherry, and maple burn the best. But I caution against burning soft woods in stoves that have full outside chimneys. Cresode build up from soft woods can cause a chimney fire. I had one this past winter. It sounds like a jet engine in your chimney. Extremely hot!! I was able to slow it down by closing off the air. Then letting it go out. Cleaning all the pipes and chimney. No more soft woods in my stove. Also keep wood dry! Wet or green firewood makes creosote.

Offline Nathan4104

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Re: Hottest burning?
« Reply #19 on: March 09, 2021, 08:43:38 AM »
I think oak, cherry, and maple
Some of us lust for species like that on a -40 night when the wind is blowing!!!!
But rather, we are blessed with an abundance of spruce, fir and Aspen/poplar!!! 


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