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Author Topic: Is elm a good firewood  (Read 32044 times)

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Offline Robert R

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Is elm a good firewood
« on: November 08, 2005, 11:01:15 pm »
My brother in law has asked me to help remove a huge dead elm from a friend of his wife's mother's yard.  Does elm burn well.  If so, it should finish out my firewood need for the season and I can start on getting wood to sell.  I have never burned elm and don't know if it is worthwhile or not.  Either way, if it will burn, I'll run it through the boiler.  I am just trying to guestimate if it will carry me through the rest of the season.  How about splitting.  Seems like I remember hearing somewhere elm is stringy and hard to split.  Is that true?
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Offline dail_h

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Re: Is elm a good firewood
« Reply #1 on: November 08, 2005, 11:19:59 pm »
   Robert,
   Elm makes ok firewood,not the best,but definately worth the effort. Doesn't split at all hardly without a splitter,no problem with one. Keep it dry,it soaks up water bad,and will rot quick if let get wet. Doesn't smell very good either. Used to be used for wagon hubs,so a splitter is a must have
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Offline Deadwood

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Re: Is elm a good firewood
« Reply #2 on: November 09, 2005, 03:38:12 am »
I agree with what Dail_H says, but I will add this. Elm makes for some very beautiful lumber as well. A bit hard to work, but that is the case with all good woods.

Offline mike_van

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Re: Is elm a good firewood
« Reply #3 on: November 09, 2005, 05:40:23 am »
I used to burn a lot of Elm, it's not that bad. It splits best if you work around the outsides [on big chunks] first. Also splits better when it's bitter cold, doesn't seem as stringy then.  Used to be used here for horse barn floors, the horse pee didn't eat it away.
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Offline RSteiner

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Re: Is elm a good firewood
« Reply #4 on: November 09, 2005, 07:54:52 am »
I remember helping a friend years ago cut and split 10 to 12 cords of elm a year to heat an house built in 1799 that didn't have any insulation added to it other than what it was built with.

Back then the dutch elm diease was killing many of the stately elms that lined roads and fields.  We cut these dead trees for many years.  Elm has a vey characteristic smell and is a tough wood.  I learned to split wood by hand on elm, my friends grandfather taught me the tricks he had learned over the years of how to read a piece of wood.

As firewood it was okay, not as much heat value as oak or maple but for free you couldn't beat the price and most people wouldn't mess with it because they didn't know how to split the stuff.  Cold weather was one trick and working around the edges was another working around branches or knots the right way was also important.

A couple of years ago the woman across the road had a dead one she asked me to remove, it was like a walk down memory lane smelling elm once again.

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Offline Gary_C

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Re: Is elm a good firewood
« Reply #5 on: November 09, 2005, 10:01:08 am »
I agree with the others, elm is average firewood. I will add that it splits very easy, it's getting the split parts separated that is hard. Helps to have a sharp axe to cut the strings.
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Offline Coon

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Re: Is elm a good firewood
« Reply #6 on: November 09, 2005, 10:18:44 am »
Make DanG sure that you check your state/provincial laws before hand.  Many areas govern against transporting elm in any way, shape or form.  Dutch elm disease is present in many areas and is very hard to control.  In Saskatchewan we are not allowed to transport it at all.
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Offline David_c

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Re: Is elm a good firewood
« Reply #7 on: November 09, 2005, 10:22:22 am »
here is a link you might find useful.

http://ianrpubs.unl.edu/forestry/g881.htm

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Re: Is elm a good firewood
« Reply #8 on: November 09, 2005, 04:59:05 pm »
Make DanG sure that you check your state/provincial laws before hand.  Many areas govern against transporting elm in any way, shape or form.  Dutch elm disease is present in many areas and is very hard to control.  In Saskatchewan we are not allowed to transport it at all.

As Coon suggests, check your state and local regs.

American Elm regulations in Canada

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Offline Frickman

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Re: Is elm a good firewood
« Reply #9 on: November 09, 2005, 09:58:17 pm »
Elm burns like a churchyard mold,

With a blue flame and just as cold.


I have to be real desperate to burn elm. I'd sooner use tulip poplar than elm, the poplar burns up quick, but at least it gives heat. Anytime we cut elm timber we leave the firewood in the woods, as in our area we can't even give it away. Well maybe this year, but not most.
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Offline maple flats

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Re: Is elm a good firewood
« Reply #10 on: November 09, 2005, 10:12:09 pm »
I found that if the bark has fallen off the tree while still standing and you cut it, you will literally see sparks off the chain as you saw, it gets really hard, but if the bark stays on it might even be punky all thru under that bark. But it burns OK at best. Also, check those regs!
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Offline pigman

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Re: Is elm a good firewood
« Reply #11 on: November 09, 2005, 10:13:44 pm »
I can put a big chunk of green elm in my stove in the fall and it will still be there the next spring. Well it is not quite that bad. Elm that drys standing after the tree dies makes good firewood. If I cut alive tree and leave it on the ground, it will rot before it drys.
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Offline Max sawdust

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Re: Is elm a good firewood
« Reply #12 on: November 10, 2005, 07:17:44 am »
I grew up on burning elm, father still pretty much only heats the house with elm.  Stuff that has been dead staning with the bark off for many years burns OK.  It's not Oak or Hickory but a heck of a lot better than soft maple like box elder.

Tough to split, so maybe that is why has such a bad reputation.

I looked up a few heat index's for firewood oak and hickory are 30-32 mm BTU/cord elm and maple are 21-26 mm BTU per cord according to one source.
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Offline woodmills1

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Re: Is elm a good firewood
« Reply #13 on: November 10, 2005, 07:48:05 am »
I would say elm burns like a misty day.  Way back when I lived in Chelmsford mass my ex inlaws lived on what was once called the 4 elm farm.  Deeded from the King of Sweden to the ex mother in laws family it had been pared down to 3.5 acres, a 17 hundreds something house and one of the 4 elms.  It got the disease and they tried every thing to save it, even injecting chemicals using air pressure.  No help so finally they had it cut down. It was 6 foot across at the cut.

Now the exes mom was as cheap as they come(she used to steal all the sugar, butter, and rolls from resturants)  so she talked me into cutting the thing for firewood so she didnt have to pay for removal.  Well I cut and I cut from both sides with a 24 inch bar and then I tried to split............... :othen I let them freeze and I tried to split.............. :o then I recut them to 8" and tried to split.........and then I tried to stay warm all winter while it almost burned...........most of it went to a stump dump.

I saved a few of the 2 foot rounds to use as jack stands and they lasted for years :D :D :D
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Re: Is elm a good firewood
« Reply #14 on: November 10, 2005, 08:04:49 am »
Some folks will use the elm tops for kitchen stove wood. But, unless your new to using wood fuel for heating your home you won't except or buy it. American elm heat doesn't compare to rock (sugar) maple heat, beech is even better and white oak and hickory are even better. It's ok if you just can't see it go to waste (for some reason) in the field. It would be the wood of last resort in most cases. I've seen people burn alders, so what do I know. ;D

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Offline RSteiner

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Re: Is elm a good firewood
« Reply #15 on: November 10, 2005, 08:59:48 am »
Woodmills1 story remined me of an elm tree that I was asked to cut down.  It was a road side tree that had died.  One large leader hung out over the road and the rest of the tree favored the parking lot of a church we attended.  We checked with the power company to see if they would knock it down because the roadside leader would hit the power lines if it broke off.  They told us they would not remove the tree just because of one branch.

I climbed the tree and tied a rope to the leader and then notched it so it could be pulled into the parking lot.  After that was removed I notched it and started the back cut but did not have enough bar length to get through it.  Figuring that to begin with I had a 6 foot two man saw with me.  We had about 8" of push and pull but managed to get through.  With several wedges to help with pushing it over it started to move.  What a tremendous sound that made when it hit the ground.

There were 4 of 5 helpers with saws who each got a good pickup load.  Many were warmed several times cutting and splitting that tree.  I would much rather see these majestic tree alive, it was like a mighty warrior falling.

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Offline beenthere

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Re: Is elm a good firewood
« Reply #16 on: November 10, 2005, 10:56:46 am »
Trying to burn elm when it isn't dry (air dry at least two years, IMO) won't get much but a 'smoldering' fire at best. But when dry, it burns well and makes for some interesting colors as well as interesting coals.  But I don't shy away from burning it, and use a wood splitter to split it up.
Maul splitting, as mentioned, can be done but it takes some very careful planning and location of the maul to do it, and a lot of 'repeat' blows. The chainsaw splitting technique rebocardo uses to get 'sawn' firewood instead of 'split' firewood works best if a splitter isn't available.
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Offline Robert R

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Re: Is elm a good firewood
« Reply #17 on: November 10, 2005, 05:14:57 pm »
Gosh, elm opinions are kind of like asking if Husky makes decent saw!?!  Thanks for all the input.  Guess I'll have to get it here and figure out for myself.  I run an outdoor boiler with a pretty large box so at the least, I can mix it with my other woods if I don't like the way it burns.  Thanks again.
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Re: Is elm a good firewood
« Reply #18 on: November 10, 2005, 05:26:20 pm »
Gosh, elm opinions are kind of like asking if Husky makes decent saw!?! ......  Guess I'll have to get it here and figure out for myself.

:D :D :D :D :D :D yup

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Offline SAW MILLER

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Re: Is elm a good firewood
« Reply #19 on: November 10, 2005, 05:45:28 pm »
Personally,I like elm. It dies and the bark all falls off and it will stand there for a couple of years and dry out purdy good.It is clean and when dry it will start easy cause all of the fuzzy strings that  the splitter sheared  it up.It burns hot but won't hold fire too long....I'm talkin about red elm  or slippery elm ....sometimes called pith elm.I have some thats been on the ground for a few years and it is still sound. I just hate all them stringy fibers you have to chop loose. ;D ;D
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