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Author Topic: Burning rotten firewood  (Read 15004 times)

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Offline bigtreesinwa

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Burning rotten firewood
« on: April 29, 2008, 02:34:41 pm »
I'm getting ready to build my dream house in Western Washington! It's been one heck of a process since our government is so restrictive on land use out here. Anyways, it's on a large timbered parcel and it makes good sense to use firewood as one of my heat sources. I'm wondering, though, how rotten can firewood be until it's not worth the effort to cut and stack it? I'm finding a lot of downed wood on my property but almost all of it seems to have at least some degree of rot.

Surely the trees that you can kick apart with your boot are too far gone to be useful, but what other guidelines do you guys go by when cutting firewood? In the softwoods, around have the of the wood appears to be sound and the remaining half looks to have some degree of rot.

Any opinions, especially from people here in Western Washington? Once I have my house complete I can do some test burning of the pieces but that won't be for at least another eighteen months. For now, I'll just pile and season as much wood as I can.

Offline stonebroke

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Re: Burning rotten firewood
« Reply #1 on: April 29, 2008, 07:37:02 pm »
If you can pick it up and get it into the stove without it falling apart burn it!!

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Offline Slabs

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Re: Burning rotten firewood
« Reply #2 on: April 29, 2008, 07:53:45 pm »
I burn a lot of wood with a little decay.  Yeah, you don't get the BTU's of good wood cut live but I don't let those dead and diseased trees go to waste.  You'll probably notice a little more ash with the "less than perfect" wood but the heat will feel the same.  And then, you may not notice more ash.  It's probably my imagination.

Almost surely my junk mail yields more ash but you cant tell the difference in the heat from that either.

Good luck and enjoy.
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Offline bigtreesinwa

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Re: Burning rotten firewood
« Reply #3 on: April 29, 2008, 08:23:19 pm »
Thanks guys!

Your answers fit with what I was thinking. My choices are to either burn it in the burn pile or burn it in the wood stove, so I think the wood stove makes the most sense to me.

I'll keep saying this, but I'm amazed at how different the forests are here compared to back home in Montana. Same tree species but very different growing conditions. Anyone else that loves the forests, I'd sure encourage you to spend some time in a different part of the country just to experience how different our forests are across the country.

Online thecfarm

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Re: Burning rotten firewood
« Reply #4 on: April 29, 2008, 08:41:25 pm »
My Father use to say,it's not the quality of the wood but the quantity of it.We use to burn a lot of rotten,dead wood.I burn alot of it now too.I just put in a outdoor furnace.Now I can really get rid of that so called bad wood.All the mess of it stays outside now too.That's the worse part about dead wood.Also you need twice as much of it too.No since in walking by the dead stuff to cut alive tree.
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Offline Warbird

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Re: Burning rotten firewood
« Reply #5 on: April 29, 2008, 09:49:17 pm »
The thing I notice about burning rotten wood is shorter burn times per BTU.  That's about it.  Haven't really noticed any more or less ash, nor any more or less creosote build up.  So I say burn it! 

Offline ohsoloco

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Re: Burning rotten firewood
« Reply #6 on: April 29, 2008, 10:39:07 pm »
I don't hesitate to cut dead oaks that are in my woods that have the sapwood rotted off of them, the hearwood is usually still sound.  Ash is another story, that stuff turns punky real quick  :(  The first winter I was in my house I threw some punky firewood in the woodstove, thinking it would just burn up quicker.  It actually seemed to take longer, cuz it just sat in there and smouldered  ::)  All the punky wood stays in the woods or ends up in the bonfire.

Offline little Bark

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Re: Burning rotten firewood
« Reply #7 on: April 30, 2008, 08:31:55 am »
What I have found when burning, the rotten wood will draw the the moisture in and hold it for a long time. So you need a good hot stove when you throw that stuff in if it is not completly dry.  I try to mix it in with good dry wood.  You will have a very long burning season if you try to burn all damp rotten wood.
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Offline rebocardo

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Re: Burning rotten firewood
« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2008, 12:18:22 am »
When punky/rotted wood is seasoned, it burns just like any other wood, except faster and it weighs less. Just my experience.


Offline Modat22

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Re: Burning rotten firewood
« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2008, 09:22:17 am »
The only problem I have with rotten wood are the critters I bring in the house with it. I'll keep a pile of good wood in the house and rotten outside under shelter. I usually end up burning up the good wood do to laziness of not wanting to walk outside for the rotten stuff.
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Offline beenthere

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Re: Burning rotten firewood
« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2008, 11:02:11 am »
I leave the rotten wood lay in the woods....don't bother with the effort to move it from where it is at.

If the day comes I'm just needing more exercise....then I might consider moving it... ;D ;D

I will move what is sound and solid....and oak, hickory, or ash (occasional elm when one dies).
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Offline Engineer

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Re: Burning rotten firewood
« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2008, 01:13:33 pm »
I've got a lot of cut firewood that's been sitting for several years, much of it is rotten or about to be rotten.  I'm finding out quickly what local species can sit in a pile for years and what can't.  I find that cherry and white oak is good for years on the forest floor, as the heartwood stays solid.  Black locust is good for decades, it seems.   Once an ash or birch is on the ground it's not worth taking at all.

I'll go through the woods and make test cuts on trees that are laying dead on the ground.  If the heart is solid I'll harvest it; if not it stays there for the bugs.    I've been burning some real junk lately, chunks of rotten box elder, some chunks of old stumps, pallets and pine slabs.  The things I've noticed that are different from "normal" firewood is that I get a shorter burn time, more ash, a hotter firebox temperature once the damper closes, and more ash.  Even if it's punky and wet, though, it will still burn. 

Offline woodmills1

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Re: Burning rotten firewood
« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2008, 08:22:22 pm »
On my end I burn everything I can't get someone else to take. ;)
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