Hardwood not hard, softwood not soft! (necessarily)

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Well you learn something everyday and I sure learned something interesting awhile ago. Seems that the terms hardwood and softwood have nothing to do with the "hardness" of the wood!
From the link below...
"The terms softwood and hardwood are used to reference the taxonomical division that separates a species and have little to do with the actual hardness of the wood."
"Hardwood trees have broad leaves and are deciduous - they lose their leaves at the end of the growing season. Hardwoods are angiosperms - using flowers to pollinate for seed reproduction. Oaks, maples, birches and fruit trees are examples of hardwood trees."
"Softwood trees are conifers (evergreens), have needles or scale-like foliage and are not deciduous. Softwoods are gymnosperms, meaning they do not have flowers and use cones for seed reproduction. Examples of softwoods include pines, spruces, firs and hemlocks."
Wood Identification for Hardwood and Softwood Species... http://www.utextension.utk.edu/publications/pbfiles/PB1692.pdf
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Commercially available softwood may be mostly conifers, but there are plenty of softwoods that are not conifers. Take the magnolia for example. It's so soft that you couldn't build ANYthing with it. And hardwoods are definitely harder than softwoods. Just cut any hardwood with a handsaw and you'll see it takes longer than cutting any softwood. The truth I have discovered is that softwoods grow faster and less dense and hardwoods grow slower and denser, and thus the hardness and softness. -BAM

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Magnolia is a hardwood. I think you missed the point of the post.
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snipped-for-privacy@nc.rr.com says...
BAM please reread the OP.

WRONG. Balsa is classified as a hardwood and is very soft, easy to cut and light.

WRONG. Balsa is classified as a hardwood. In 6 to 10 years it can grow up to 90 feet tall and 45 inches in diameter.
http://www.mat.uc.pt/~pedro/ncientificos/artigos/techbal.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Balsa_wood
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"MikeP" wrote in message

OK, now I'm REALLY learning something today! This is getting interesting...
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snipped-for-privacy@noyb.com (MikeP) says...

Poplar is a hardwood too.
--
http://home.teleport.com/~larryc

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plenty of softwoods that are harder than hardwoods and vice versa. Take Southern Yellow Pine for instance....softwood but is pretty darned hard. Likewise, balsa wood is a hardwood....hmmm, that's pretty easy to cut actually. The distinction has nothing to do with the wood's actual hardness but as the OP quoted, with the way the tree grows (conifer, deciduous, etc...). Cheers, cc
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All you need to know is that hardwoods are better to burn in your woodstove. I don't burn softwoods at all, just let them rot when they fall...
James "Cubby" Culbertson wrote:

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If your hardwood is not hard, I suggest you get some viagra !!! Take a couple pills and your woody will get real hard... :)

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"Rob" wrote in message

Well now we are getting to the crux of the matter here, and the main reason I was learning about this to begin with...
For burning wood in a woodstove, I have read that "hardwoods" are better (seasoned of course). Now with my new understanding that there can be "hard" or dense "hardwoods" or soft (not dense) hardwoods and hard or soft softwoods...
-Is it correct to say that it is best to use a seasoned "hard" or "dense" hardwood *or* a seasoned "hard" or "dense" softwood for burning in a woodstove?
-Or is it correct to say that it is best to use a seasoned "hardwood" in a woodstove be it hard (dense) or soft (not dense), and not a "softwood"?
-Or is it correct to say that it is best to use a seasoned "hardwood" in a woodstove that is hard (dense), but not a soft (not dense) hardwood, and not a softwood?
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Bill wrote:

I burn a lot of wood, but I don't claim to be a universal expert on wood burning. Where I live the forests are 95%+ hardwoods and hardwoods are known by us in this region to be the better trees to burn largely because they do not create the creosote that softwoods do. I know people on this board who live in regions where the forests are primarily softwoods will say that they do fine burning softwoods.
The native and/or common softwoods we have here in Pennsylvania such as Hemlock, various pines, Juniper (comnmonly called cedar here), or varieties of spruce or firs planted by people, and others are never burned in a woodstove or fireplace by anyone I know.
The woods I have in my woods, shown in my preference for burning are as follows:
1) Oak of any type 2) Ash (not as high BTUs as oak, but a good burner and easy to split) 3) Sassafras (burns nice and warm in a stove, not great for a fireplace because it will send burning embers across the room) 4) Maple of any type 5) Various other less used species such as Hickory, Aspen, and others
I almost never burn some "softer" hardwoods such as sweet gum, willow of any variety or poplar.
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Rob wrote:

Other than the creosote problem which is grossly over hyped the rule of thumb is:
The best heat value comes from the densest wood. That will generally by some type of hardwood in your area. There are exceptions to everything though. For example, black walnut is fairly dense but I find it to not be a desireable firewood.
There are great areas where the only readily available wood is softwood and it burns just fine. Maybe an extra chimney cleaning is required but that is about it. The real problem with softwood is that most of it is not very dense (compared to the average hardwood) so you burn more of it.
Harry K
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Harry K wrote:

My point is: if you live in an area filled with hardwoods, it is not worth it to burn softwoods that create extra creosote problems in my opinion. I agree with you though on Black Walnut. It just does not seem to burn well no matter if it is very well seasoned or not. Elm seems to be somewhat similar, although not as bad as Walnut.
Rob
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Here is a very handy website I came across when I was looking into getting wood for my woodstove. It has a chart with many woods and how good they are for a fire.
http://ianrpubs.unl.edu/forestry/g881.htm
Regards,
Gideon
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wrote:

No. Softwoods should not be burned in a fireplace or woodstove if hardwoods are available to you. Most softwoods contain resins that cause creosote buildup in the chimney or flue, which increases the risk of chimney fires. If you must burn softwoods, make sure to have your chimney cleaned frequently. Please note that some hardwoods, notably beech, *also* present this risk.

Yes.
Well, that too. The denser the wood, the higher its fuel value in a given volume. A hundred pounds of wood has the same fuel value, whether it's a hundred pounds of hickory or yellow-poplar. Of course, the latter is a much larger pile than the former, and you'll have to stoke your stove much more often. Also, the denser hardwoods (hickory, white oak, sugar maple) tend to burn to coals, while most of the less-dense hardwoods (poplar, sycamore, silver maple) burn to ashes. Coals make a longer-lasting, hotter fire.

--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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Many people do burn softwoods as they are readily available. One trick is to burn a smaller, hotter fire rather than a big pile of near smoldering wood.
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Bill wrote:

The best rule of thumb is "the more a cubic foot of it weighs when completely dry, the better it is for firewood".
If you are burning round sticks, the ones with the tightest growth rings last longest, all else equal.
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Thank you. I understand it now - the resin, etc. (I thought it was wood which was soft (not dense) which made it less desirable for burning.)
"Doug Miller" wrote in message

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wrote:

Well, that too: wood is typically sold by volume, not by weight, so the denser it is, the more wood you're getting in a given volume. Of course, the seller usually factors that into the price, too: a rick of poplar or silver maple *should* be much cheaper than a rick of hickory or white oak.
--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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plenty of softwoods that are harder than hardwoods and vice versa. Take Southern Yellow Pine for instance....softwood but is pretty darned hard. Likewise, balsa wood is a hardwood....hmmm, that's pretty easy to cut actually. The distinction has nothing to do with the wood's actual hardness but as the OP quoted, with the way the tree grows (conifer, deciduous, etc...). Cheers, cc
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