Another timely topic. Turns out my cousin is part owner of a
compressed log company. I had never really thought about this stuff,
but we had a "catch up" conversation a month ago (it had been several
years since we really had hung out or anything)
The Northern Idaho Energy Log company apparently ships throughout the
US and Canada. Each 8 pound log contains about 64,000 BTU and is NOT
laced with paraffin, and therefore it is MUCH better for the
environment (less soot up the chimney, hardly any ash residue in the
I got a sample log to try and it was a little hard to start, but
burned for 4 1/2 hours, and there really wasn't any ash left to speak
I have never tried pellets, but I have heard that you need to clean
your ash a couple times a week. Now ash is good for a garden, but a
winter's worth would be hard to find a home for. These logs could let
you go several weeks in between cleanings.
I am not an employee or anything, but my cousin is a stand-up guy, so
I am just passing this on.
Best of luck!
I know the bio-bricks are popular around here, and they sound much like your
compressed logs. Bio-brick is just one brand name, there are several. You
can burn them in a fireplace, and they are legal in a non-certified wood
stove. That says something about the cleanliness of them. They're much
like giant pellets anyhow.
I have to take issue with some of the comments about pellet stoves. I clean
mine out twice during the winter, and empty the ash about once every other
week. If you're doing it more often than that, you have either a
mis-adjusted stove or crummy pellets. I usually try to burn softwood
pellets from the northwest because they're the hottest. This past weekend
when it was bitterly cold and there were gale-force winds outside I burned a
couple of bags of hardwood pellets from Pennsylvania and they were
phenomenal. It actually hurt to get close to the stove. So much for
northwest softwood, eh?
In my case I don't have a lot of choices, and pellets have kept us comfy for
many years. A lot of newer model stoves will burn different fuels, such as
corn, peanut shells, etc. There is no ready supply of those things in this
area, and I haven't been able to determine the btu value except for corn,
which is far less than pellets.
Good quality pellets will burn at between 8-9000 btus per pound. Corn gives
off about 7,000, and lots more ash due to the higher moisture content, so I
stick with the pellets.
I don't suppose most people have my predicament, but around here pellets
I have a Napoleaon pellet stove that works quite well. I only use it in
spring and fall because of its easy starting and continious running all
night and variable temp control. But I has to be cleaned every month if
I use it all the time. I prefer my wood boiler from December to March.
With gravity hot water circulation it works with or without power I have
to clean it's stove pipe and boiler tubes monthly but I don't mine that.
Pellets around here are $230 to $250 a ton. Hauling a ton of pellets and
stacking it in the basement is easier than stacking 4 cords of wood.
The name of the game is 'Renewable Energy" and Wood and pellets are just
that. Propane, coal, gas, oil are dirtier and C02 contributors.
Pellets and wood are carbon neutral. If the all cost about the same I
prefer renewables even if they are a little work, something none of us
get enough of. So stay healthy and work a little.
It's not that dirty with the new efficient wood stoves. It's not like
the 19th century when everybody burned coal and your clothes on the
clothes line outside turn black from the soot. Probably your lungs too.
Due to severe wood stove pollution in various places in Australia, one
of the many laws will fine you for selling wood that isn't dry.
Biggest problems I see here are people with stoves that are too big.
You can't keep a little fire in a big stove going without it smoking a
lot. Not to mention it builds up creosote much faster with a small
smoldering fire. Get a smaller stove and run it hot. And do controlled
creosote burns every day or two. If they are done often they don't
build up and aren't dangerous. After two or three years, maybe more,
even with me burning a lot of scrap pine, the chimney sweep said I
didn't need him.
The cost of the pellets makes it not too practical. A wood burning
stove makes a lot more sense and some folks have an almost endless
supply of free wood. I added another 10" of insulation to the attic
floor over 10 years ago and that has saved me a bundle.
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