Firewood & Woodburning Tips (Takes time to "season" wood.) : LUSENET : TimeBomb 2000 (Y2000) : One Thread

Finally decided I better start storing up firewood, so there's adequate time to get it seasoned. Since this is the first time I was buying on my own, I thought I'd better check to see if there were certain things I had to consider. A few people have given me some advice already. But, before I placed my order I thought I'd see if there was anything else I had to think about.

I came upon this site, which is very helpful. I'm opting for Madrone - a mix of seasoned and green.

Woods burn differently. From what I hear hardwoods are best, and Madrone & Oak are two of the top woods to get.

-- Cheryl (, June 01, 1999



Some thoughts

keep the wood off the ground (get junk pallets?)

Throw a tarp over and tie lose.

Make sure you get what you paid for. one cord 4x4x8

Oak - hardwoods burns hot, helps keeps the pipes cleaner

A trick I have for an Airtight, put sheet metal over the wood that is burning keeps the heat down. This is really important in cold climates and makes a remarkable differance in the morning but burns more wood.

Have a bit of cedar for kindling, go to your local building supply and see if they have cut offs in the scrap wood bin.

I used to get those flyers and free magazines (home sales ect.) and burn a couple just to get the draft going if the stove is cold. If done everyday it helps keep the pipes clean.

Use Red Devil flue cleaner, the most important thing with burning wood is maintaince of the pipes.

Get your chimney cleaned out. Get a brush and learn to do it yourself in a rural area.

If you are installing a stove check with the bylaws, if there is a fire you will not be covered by insurance.

Get The Woodburners Encyclopedia - Vermont Crossroads Press What a good book!

Well there are some thoughts on wood and stoves.

-- Brian (, June 01, 1999.

We have heated our 6 bedroom, 2 story house for 5 years with 100% wood heat. We have a wood furnace in the basement and a freestanding stove in the living room.

I agree hardwood is the best to burn, but mixing green into it has its pros and cons. Green wood does not have the heat dry wood can produce, green wood will strech a load of dry wood to burn at a slower pace, green wood will produce more cre-a-suit(sp). Seasoned hard wood burn hotter and keeps your chiminey hotter (that is a good thing). You want your chiminey to stay at about 400*.

*** You can save $ if you live in a fairly rual area and have the means to get your own wood. We buy scrap wood from local saw mills. Usually they have them cut to length, we split it ourselves. We also get firewood from a railroad track manifactuer. They make the railroad ties you see people landscape with. We get the ends and scraps BEFORE it gets creasuited. Its all hard wood and pre-seasoned, in the summer when other people dont want it, its free.

It cost us very little to heat our huge old house.


-- bulldog (, June 01, 1999.

Airflow is really critical. For best results, I keep it as low as possible and still keep the wood burning. Too much airflow and all the heat goes right up the chimney, drawing in cold air from outside.

Get some magnetic stove thermometers. I've found that keeping a big (700 lb) block of cast iron at 400-500F doesn't take much wood, and can heat quite a large area.

Keep the inside temperature up as much as possible. If the fire goes out for a few days (if you're not there), it takes a *long* time to heat it back up - figure 12 hours and a *lot* of wood.

Along those same lines, bear in mind that you're dealing with BIG latencies. Unlike poking the thermostat and getting results in minutes, a wood stove takes quite a while. I figured 1-2 hours was the usual latency for me. This meant if it was too cold and I made the fire very hot, it was necessary to bank it back while the house was *still* too cold (not much indoor temperature change at all), and an hour or two later it would be where I wanted it. And if I left it real hot until comfortable before banking it back, then I'd roast for hours afterward (and have wasted wood).

Keep some fairly thick unsplit wood for nightime. That way, you don't have to get up and stoke it in the middle of the night. Also, keep some fairly green wood on hand for warm spells. If the outside temperature rises into the 40's, green wood burns much slower and the indoor temperature is easier to regulate.

Put ashes in a metal can (we have some 6-gallon trash cans for this), and keep those cans OFF the carpet - they stay very hot for few days. Keep them on brick, concrete, ceramic tiles, etc. And clean out most of the ashes at least every 3 days, or you have airflow problems. It's not hard to keep the fire going while you do this. No need to hurry - that cast iron will stay nice and hot for a long time.

When cleaning ashes or loading logs, wear at least elbow-length thick fireproof gloves. You'd be amazed how easy it is to bang your elbow or forearm on some part of that stove while cleaning or stoking, and how seriously you get burned when this happens.

Be prepared to dust a lot.

We've had much better luck with the type of smoke detector that checks for optical clarity, rather than ionization. The ionization detectors don't like wood stoves, and go off a lot.

-- Flint (, June 01, 1999.

Flint said, "Along those same lines, bear in mind that you're dealing with BIG latencies."

OK, Flint, now I AM convinced that you're an engineer. Only an engineer would use the word "latency" about WOOD! Sheesh.

I also agree about the smoke alarms. We heat our entire house with wood and have to turn off the stupid alarm (which a previous owner had wired into the house electrical system). Yes, I know, what about when the utilities go off ..... it's one of those last prep items (we do have fire equipment).

-- BigDog (, June 01, 1999.

You may need to get a permit for installing a woodstove. We needed one. The store where we bought the stove got the permit for us and installed the stove. It passed county inspection with flying colors. Cut our electric bill in half over the winter. (electric house) We have our own source of wood, so wood cost not a factor.

The new stoves are very energy efficient and almost smoke free.

-- sally strackbein (, June 01, 1999.


Thanks for the good advice. Your words are seasoned with experience.

In rainy weather one could stay inside and still catch the flue.

-- dinosaur (, June 01, 1999.

Cheryl It is possible to hasten the drying of green wood by stacking some at a SAFE distance from the stove if that is all you have. We survived a severe Michigan winter this way. Had to cut it one week and burn it the next. Also, split wood dries faster than full rounds.

-- Lumber Jack (, June 02, 1999.

Cheryl It is possible to hasten the drying of green wood by stacking some at a SAFE distance from the stove if that is all you have. We survived a severe Michigan winter this way. Had to cut it one week and burn it the next. Also, split wood dries faster than full rounds. We are now living in Georgia. Thank you Yeshua!

-- Lumber Jack (, June 02, 1999.

I am reminded of a true story of an "oldtimer" here in our remote valley. He built the floor of his cabin of concrete and located his giant fireplace directly across from an outside door. He never cut wood. Just kept feeding those logs into the fireplace foot by foot.

-- marsh (, June 02, 1999.

Two additional comments: 1) Make sure your wood, when cut, fits in the woodstove! 24" logs are problematic in 20" width stoves. 2) Our local building supply carries "fire putter outers" that look like a road flare, and light in same manner. If you have a chimney fire, light device, throw in woodstove, and close door to chemically sufficate fire. Says used by fire departments. New to me, but I'm going to get a couple.

-- A. Hambley (, June 02, 1999.

You guys are giving me GREAT advice. I can't get all seasoned hardwood right now. So, I'm getting a mix. I've heard that sometimes you get ripped off with size of cords and type of wood. So, to be safe I'm buying 2 cords from one guy ... and 2 cords from another guy.

I don't have a woodstove (unfortunately). But do have a fireplace with insert.

About how long do you think 4 cords would last?

-- Cheryl (, June 02, 1999.

Cheryl - I was "burned" on my first load - there was so much variation in length, that at least a third of it was too long to fit into my wood stove. My second load virtually all fits, but many pieces are now much shorter than they need to be. So..., you may or may not really have 4 cords... With luck, you'll have less variation in your delivery.

(BTW, I gave the longer pieces to a DGI neighbor, with the comment that next winter I won't be sharing any of the wood I have stacked, so if he wanted any, he had to take it now. I think he got the message that free, well-seasoned wood was not to be spurned, and I hope it is a start at convincing him that I am not his fallback plan.)

As far as estimates of how much wood you will need, I have heard ballmarks of 1 cord/month or 16 pieces/day. (I haven't had my stoves long enough to figure that one out yet.) Do you anticipate running the insert 24/7 to keep the pipes from freezing? (Inserts don't work nearly as well without blowers, which tend to be electric.) Assuming you don't need the wood until rollover, I would think 4 cords is enough to last through the rest of the winter.

-- Brooks (, June 02, 1999.

Cheryl, A cord (sometimes called a federal cord) is a stack which is 4 ft. high x 8 ft. wide x 8 ft. long. A face cord (called a rick locally) is a stack 4 ft. high x 8 ft. wide x "stove length" which renders this designation virtually meaningless. Also, if your cord is mainly large rounds it will stack leaving large 'air holes' or spaces which translates into less actual wood per cord. Living in Georgia now. Thank you Yeshua. Not cold any more.

-- Lumber Jack (, June 02, 1999.

Ha!! I knew it!! Lumberjack, thank you.

Around here, the west side of Northern New York, I have yet to find ANY wood seller who will admit that a 4 x 4 x stovelength is NOT A FULL CORD! (sorry to yell, but I was starting to think that there was a new, '90s kind of cord measurements. I seem to remember hearing the term "face cord" used for what the folks 'round here want to call a cord of wood.

Any suggestions about haggling, or should I give up and modify my mental dictionary?


-- Arewyn (, June 02, 1999.


Four real cords lasted me one Alabama winter, from early November until late April. Not a bad winter either, temperature in the 20's at night and 30's in the daytime. I also kept a 2500 sq. ft. house at 80 degrees the whole time.

I can assure you that your mileage will vary WIDELY depending on many critical factors -- outdoor temperature, air circulation in your house, insulation, location of stove.

-- Flint (, June 02, 1999.

Cheryl -

Here in western Washington a full cord is 4 X 4 X 8 and you can complain to the BBB if they tell you it's a cord and it's not. Face cords are usually 4 X 8 by whatever width but the seller has to tell you that on the receipt he gives you (ask before you buy!).

Madrona is an excellent firewood. If you get it now and stack it, it should be ready for this winter. Before we built our slatted wood shed, we put an old sheet of plywood on the stack and then the tarp over it when fall came and it started to rain. To quote my Dad, "air circulation is your friend" - sheesh :-) - but he's right. The more air circulation you get, the faster your wood will dry. By the way, up in this neck of the woods, be sure they don't sell you cottonwood. It's terrible - might as well burn paper, not hot and burns up faster than you can load it! If you talk like you know what you're talking about - the wood dealers are more likely to give you good wood. By the way, don't discount fir (nice hot fire), maple or alder (maple is better). Up here madrona (the best) runs $135 to $150 a cord. Fir maple mix is abount $110 to $120 a cord (delivered). I have a Lopi "heat" stove and a Stanley by Waterford wood cook stove and we use all wood heat - about 4 cords when mild and 5 when the winter is a little colder (house is about 3000 sq. ft) Hope this helps.

-- Valkyrie (, June 03, 1999.

A cord of firewood is 4' x 4' x 8'= 128 cubic feet. I know firewood dealers who routinely attempt to pass off 98 cubic feet, also called a fireplace cord or face cord, as an actual full cord of firewood.

Wrong, wrong, wrong!

Check with your state's division of weights & measures. Check Webster's Dictionary for that matter. 1 cord = 128 cubic feet.

Yours in warmth,

-- Bingo1 (, June 03, 1999.

For those in the SF Bay Area - Try not to buy eucalyptus. It smell rank when it burns. I mean really really rank. I live in an oak/mixed conifer forest. We use cedar for kindling, fir or pine to get it started, then oak. The oak burns hotter and longer as it has a higher density, but will sometimes go to mere embers and flame out in our insert. (Does better in our woodstove.)

You can get a heat powered fan that sits on the stove for a blower, but they're expensive. You can also get a 12 volt battery operated fan with minimal wattage. I think I will divide the room with a blanket and keep the smaller area really warm if electricity goes out. Otherwise, have to use a kerosene heater at other end of the room to keep main upstairs comfortable.

-- marsh (, June 03, 1999.


>> He never cut wood. Just kept feeding those logs into the fireplace foot by foot. >>

Thats pretty bush eh?


You are in a warmer climate but brick fireplaces are a waste of time for wood heat. You will go through alot more wood than would be worth while. Inserts are a bit better. It really would not take to much to make an "air tight" or just buy a cheap tin stove and feed the pipe up the chimney. This has its risks but properly managed they are small. The most important thing about any wood stove is the lack of availability of stuff that burns around a stove, be safe. Next is the exhaust, keeping it clean. And you must have a good draft. Go look around for extended stoves from a fireplace. They are out there and would be well worth the money if you have wood around you.

Good luck


PS For the stove nuts, I can get a monster stove for free..... but it needs a crane *VBG*

-- Brian (, June 03, 1999.

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