Fast Firewood

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Luigi Z. responds:

Trimmings, limbs, etc. are abundant. I could probably visit a logging site tomorrow and come away with 2-3 cords of wood for the cutting, all of it 6" in diameter or less. And sometimes there's not much choice, when the inside of a huge old oak is rotted away and it comes down in a storm--I heated for nearly two winters with an oak that had been about 42" in diameter and I have no idea how tall--80' at least. Between the limbs and the outer 1' of that trunk, I had myself an immense wood pile. I once cut a standing dead hickory, too. Talk about hard! I didn't think it would ever fall, and then it was nearly impossible to split...only about 12" in diameter, with center rot for some reason.
It isn't necessary to cut lumber woods. Got a friend who just the other day decided to clear his yard of some bigleaf maple stumps. Cut them to ground level, started splitting and liked the spalted lumber that was in several of them. He now has a stash of short (18" or so) narrow spalted maple boards, along with a few chunks for turning. No waste there.
Charlie Self "I think we agree, the past is over." George W. Bush
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Luigi Zanasi wrote:

I'm with you Luigi. I can barely part with the smallest piece of milled hardwood. Most of the silver maple and birch I have burned was reaction wood (limbs) up to 10" diameter. Still I feel bad about burning any of it.
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On 08 Feb 2005 09:03:48 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.comnotforme (Charlie Self) wrote:

I hate to argue with Charlie, but in this case all the people weighing in on the firewood debate seem to be from areas where hardwoods reign. The truth is that if it will burn, it will heat. Dryer is better, and some woods work better than others, but essentially anything you can cram in the stove or fireplace will make heat.
For most of my life I've heated with wood. The ones I've used the most are fir, spruce, pine and alder. The alder was occasionally mixed with madrone and was when I lived in the Puget Sound area of Washington state. *All* of these woods produced plenty of heat and, if well dried, had no particular creosote problems. When I burned a lot of pine I would run the stove wide open for a half hour or so twice a day to burn off any build-up. Only once had to clean the chimney in 11 years in that house - and we heated 2500 square feet of uninsulated farm house in NE Washington state solely with wood for those years.
If you want fast firewood alder, poplar, aspen or cottonwood all will work. They will need to be well dried to approach efficiency, and will take more cords than some of the "better" woods, but they *will* work. During my time in the Puget Sound area a local forester suggested that if you had a reasonably efficient stove and an insulated house you could supply yourself perpetually with wood *in that climate* from one acre of ground, properly managed. The primary source of wood would have been aspen, because they would grow 5-10 feet per year and add an inch or more in diameter each year.
All the OP needs is a fast-growing tree that will produce wood. Yes, fast-growing means probably at least 10 years to firewood production, but if you plant heavily you can begin thinning at 5 years and be getting at least part of your wood after that. Constant re-planting and careful management should result in a perpetual firewood supply thereafter.
Tim Douglass
http://www.DouglassClan.com
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Well, yes, of course -- but the point is that some woods do a better job of making heat than others. I hope you don't mean to suggest that aspen and cottonwood make just as good firewood as hickory and white oak.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
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On Tue, 08 Feb 2005 18:32:21 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote:

Of course not, but the original post was about quick growing firewood trees, and the general response was that oak and hickory grow to slowly to be considered quick-growing - as though there weren't any other options if you are interested in firewood soon as opposed to the best firewood possible. I have never burned either oak or hickory except as the result of some unfortunate breakdown in woodworking skills, so I can't even make a useful comparison, I simply point out that if you want to grow trees to make heat there are a lot of fast-growing options that will do the job.
Tim Douglass
http://www.DouglassClan.com
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With all due respect ... you're talking nonsense. There is NO species of tree that grows fast enough that you can plant one (as the OP was asking) and get firewood, good *or* bad, quickly -- even the rapid-growing hybrid poplars take ten years before they reach firewood thickness (and they'll never be firewood quality). The *only* way to get quick firewood is from trees that have already been growing for a number of years. Anyone who thinks he can plant and grow his own firewood is dreaming.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
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Would a tree that grows to 35' with a 30" trunk in 10 years be fast enough? I had a Chinese Tallow taken out in March that I have been burning all this winter. 2, 7 to 9" diameter logs typically burned hot and all evening. These trees grow wild in the Gulf Coast states.
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On Tue, 08 Feb 2005 23:39:54 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote:

The OP never specified what he considered a "short amount of time". When talking about growing trees I consider 10-15 years a short amount of time, so that is the framework I'm using. I know many people who are cutting trees for firewood that they have planted - I even know loggers who are cutting timber on ground that they clear cut before in their career. So it is not a dream that you can plant and grow your own firewood, it just takes a few years. If I had 5 acres in a temperate and wet climate (like the Puget Sound basin) I could easily start with bare ground and within 5 years be getting enough small thinnings off of the trees I planted to at least provide a substantial percentage of my firewood needs. From 10 years on I could cut all the wood I needed and never run short - forever. Yeah, the wood would be alder, but I heated a house with it for a lot of years and it does the job.
Tim Douglass
http://www.DouglassClan.com
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There is a way to do this, if you have acreage and water and nutrients. Plant trees and prune occasionally to promote growth of lower branches. Once they are big enough, around 6" or so, harvest the branches but leave the trunk and roots to grow another crop of branches. The roots are the engine for growth; the trunk just holds up the branches and provides transport for nutrients. It takes a while, at least 10 years, for the first crop of branches, but after that you can get sustained yield of fire wood, given enough producing trees. "Enough" depends on a number of factors. I don't have the links, but there are sustained forestry sites that explain.
Steve
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(Charlie Self)

I think too, that one has to consider the point of diminishing return. I normally only burn Oak and Hickory but if it only burns 30% longer and hotter than a wood that is half the price you need to draw the line some where.
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Charlie Self wrote:

You've certainly burned a lot of different woods. I also heated mostly with a wood stove for about 20 years, but I live in the west. We burn just about everything, and in contrast to most discussions of terrible woods, it all burns, some fast, some more slowly. We don't burn many hard woods; birch is about the best. Quaking aspen is suppose to be bad, but it burns ok. But the most available woods are pine (Ponderosa and lodgepole), white fir, Douglas fir, spruce, and tamarack in some places. But heck, even cedar is good for kindling and for fast fires in the early autumn and late spring.
You don't like softwoods because of creosote, my wife doesn't like maple (from decorative trees) because it burns to hot, and my inlaws don't like it because it makes too much ash.
It all burns!
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George E. Cawthon responds:

Gotta agree with that last. But my bias is a simple one: back when I was using wood for heat, I wanted to be able to load up a nearly airtight stove, shut the vents most of the way down, and get up in the morning to a reasonably warm house. Poplar, regardless of type, won't do it. Pine won't do it...pines are the softwoods I dislike most for resin content and creosote production. I've let them dry out for three or four years, though, and found them superb for quick heat.
Another point I guess none of us has made that I saw: quick heat. If you've got a large area to heat from a dead or near dead stove, poplar, pine and similar lightweight woods are great because they burn fast, produce their heat in a much shorter period than do most oaks, hickory, etc.
IMO, though, hickory (and by extension, pecan) is the best U.S. firewood. The best part of that: it's a nearly hateful wood for woodworking.
Charlie Self "I think we agree, the past is over." George W. Bush
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On 09 Feb 2005 10:04:07 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@aol.comnotforme (Charlie Self) wrote:

Well..... For eleven years on the farm I did that with a barrel stove every night all winter. I would literally go for 4 months without ever having to light the fire - it always had coals to start from. It wasn't the world's most airtight stove, and the fuel was almost entirely pine, fir and tamarack (western larch), but it did exactly what you wanted from your airtight stove every single night. I guess results can vary, huh?
Tim Douglass
http://www.DouglassClan.com
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A good firewood resource page (pretty comprehensive) is:
http://ianrpubs.unl.edu/forestry/g881.htm
Jason
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Those of us that either have burned woodstoves in the past or still do, might take exception with that comment George. Unlike the Ford and Chevy debate, wood does indeed have certain very identifiable properties when it comes to it use as firewood. Some burns fast with low heat output, some the opposite, and this is characteristic of the tree, not an individual experience. No one is going to get the BTU's and the longevity and the coals out of a nice chunk of pine that can be gotten out of a piece of maple. It's just not a subjective thing. While you last statement is true for most woods (ash being just one example of the exception), there is indeed more to the matter than whether the wood is dry. At least if you're interested in really getting heat from the stuff..
--

-Mike-
snipped-for-privacy@alltel.net
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the
true
you're
Sadly incorrect. A pound of wood is pretty much a pound of wood, though conifers generally yield a bit more per pound because of the volatiles.
The difference is in inconvenience. Poplar is not caller gofer (gopher) wood for nothing, but the heat it produces per pound is based primarily on carbon, just like hickory. The trick is to burn and capture that heat efficiently. The stoves are skewed toward convenience, not efficiency. Your gas furnace doesn't damp the flame, it just burns it in spurts. With wood you've got a big pilot light to feed.
Folks back in the old country used to sleep on the stove, which was a long brick/mortar or mud construct designed to burn grass and twigs - rapidly - which got the greatest thermal benefit out of them. The mass of the stove captured BTUs pretty well, and kept things bearable, if not toasty, through the night.
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Does
Tallow
to
him
I
split
put
http://www.answers.com/main/ntquery?s=chinese+tallow&gwp &ver=1.0.3.109&method=2
George - please ignore my other reply to you. I do believe I completely missed you point. I knew I heard this buzzing sound over my head...
--

-Mike-
snipped-for-privacy@alltel.net
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wrote:

me too! I think it was the black helicopters..
mac
Please remove splinters before emailing
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Mike Marlow wrote:

You'll probably regret that.
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Principal recommendation: abandon the idea, on two grounds.
First, the best firewood comes from slow-growing trees such as oaks, hickories, and sugar maples. The wood of fast-growing trees is inherently less dense, and hence does not make as good firewood, as the wood of slow-growing trees. Poplar specifically is not good firewood; it burns rapidly, and has little fuel value.
Second, and more important, you will not get a reasonable *quantity* of firewood "in a short amount of time" from *any* tree that you plant. That just doesn't happen. Not by _human_ standards, anyway. Thirty years *is* "a short amount of time" _to_a_tree_.
Secondary recommendation: there are ways of getting cheap firewood, as long as you're willing to work for it. If your city or state government removes a tree, you may be able to get the wood just by asking for it (as long as you're able to haul it away). If you have a chainsaw, you could offer to cut up fallen trees (or limbs) for your neighbors after a storm, in exchange for the wood. In some states, you can get firewood *very* cheaply in state-owned forests. Here in Indiana, for example, the state sells logging rights to commercial timber harvesters. The commercial guys are usually interested only in the first 30-40' of trunk, and they leave the rest on the ground. After they're done, Joe Citizen can come in and take whatever he wants for three bucks a pickup truck load.
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
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