Thursday, April 27, 2017

Burning questions often asked...

1.  Is it safe to burn painted wood in your fireplace or stove?

Answer:  That is a very bad idea!

Burning treated lumber, petroleum products,  painted wood, trash, and such, releases toxic chemicals into the atmosphere (including your home!), and could cause other damage, as well.

For example, a catalytic combustor in a wood stove can be destroyed by certain chemical agents found in these items.

Fireplaces and stoves aren't designed as incinerators, and it is neither safe nor environmentally sound to use them as such.

Stick with seasoned dried firewood for your heating needs. This way you will be protecting your health, and your neighbor’s health as well. 

2.  Should I burn wood with termites in it?

Answer:  I wouldn't choose it over nice dry clean wood.

Wood with termites in it is more likely to be either rotten or moist, having been outside for long enough to attract the critters.

As such, it will not be a good source of heat and will likely not burn well.

In addition, if you are storing termite riddled wood near your house (and I assume you do keep your firewood within easy reach of your fireplace or woodstove...) you are running the risk of introducing them to your house itself.... need I say more?

3.  Can I burn particle board in my catalytic stove?

Answer:  Not a good idea!

Particle board and press board have bonding agents that can poison the catalytic combustor over a period of time and cut back on the combustor's efficiency.   

4.  Can I use fire starters to get my fire going?

Answer:  I can only speak for the combustor in a catalytic appliance. Remember this, the by-pass is in the open position for 20 to 30 minutes when initially building a fire in the firebox.  This means nothing is going to the combustor but heat to light it off. When it's time to close the by-pass the fire starter should be completely used up and nothing harmful will be directed to or through the combustor. Check with the stove's manufacturer to be on the safe side. 




Monday, April 24, 2017

What's the best firewood to burn to get the best efficiency?

Answer:  Oak (season dried) is the best all around firewood.

Any dry hardwood will work well, but for keeping your chimney clean stay away from pine or other pine type trees that have a heavy pitch/sap content.

Oak is a favorite because it is a very dense hot burning firewood, that cuts and splits easily.

Birch also burns well, but because it is a less dense wood will burn faster (a good fire starter). Where efficiency is concerned any hard wood that is dry and you can get it cheap or free, that's what you might want to go for.

Elm and Box Elder are good, but they are hard to cut and split. They burn fine once you get it dry though.

Local saw mills will sell their trimmings (slab wood) quite cheap and it only needs to be cut to length.

So you have to factor in what your expenses are (truck, trailer, chain saw, splitter), cost of the wood, delivery, the system your using to burn it and of course your time and availability.

Catalytic wood burning stoves will deliver a longer more efficient burn, while cutting back on fuel consumption. (More heat output for less money)

Thursday, April 20, 2017

What is the worst type of wood to burn?

What is the worst type of wood to burn?


Unseasoned wood and wood that has high sap content are not advisable to burn in any sort of fireplace or wood stove. 

As for the "types", it is kind of a hard thing to nail down, since all types of wood have representatives that are good and representatives that are bad.

Cottonwood is not very good stove wood.  I have hear, that burning cottonwood has draw backs like, having to clean the chimney cap about once a month to prevent it from becoming obstructed by soot and creosote. 

Monday, April 17, 2017

Burning softwood

If softwoods are your only choice, your best options are:

Yellow Pine, Douglas Fir, and any of the Cedars.

Yellow Poplar is a poor wood for fire fuel. Though it burns and splits easily, it emits some heavy smoke and many sparks.

Southern Yellow Pine easily burns at varying heat levels and is easy to split. It emits some smoke and sparks but makes a relatively good firewood.

Douglas Fir is easy to burn and burns at a high heat level. It is easy to split and doesn't throw many sparks, but because of its smokiness Douglas Fir is just rated as a good source of fire fuel.

Cypress and Redwood are fair softwood sources of fuel. They are both somewhat easy to burn and burn at medium heat levels with some smoke and no sparks.

White Cedar or Western and Eastern Red Cedar all burn at low heat but are very easy to burn. They are easy to split, however they emit some heavy smoke and lots of sparks.

White Pine, Sugar Pine and Ponderosa Pine all easy to burn and burn at low heat levels. They are easy to burn and easy to split though they smoke some and spark a small amount.

Tamarack or Larch both burn at medium heat levels, are easy to burn and split but they both smoke and spark. They are fair sources of fire fuel, but not the best of the softwoods.

Spruce is a poor source of fire fuel because it burns at low heat, it smokes somewhat heavily and sparks considerably. Spruce wood is easy to burn and split but is not the best choice for firewood.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Where to find hard wood trees in the United States.

For a handy reference to the best-known hardwood trees, here is a compiled list showing the general areas in the United States where they may be found.
Most deciduous trees are hardwoods with broad leaves which are shed in the fall. These trees remain dormant during the winter and they provide the best woods for a fire. Hardwoods burn clean and slowly and leave lots of good hot coals.

Deciduous Trees:

Alder, red-Pacific coast

 Apple-east; central; northern; southern

 Ash-east; central; southern

 Aspen-Rocky Mountain; northern


 Beech-east; central; northern

 Birch- northern

 Chestnut-east; central

Cottonwood-Pacific coast; Rocky Mountains; east, central, southern

 Dogwood-east; central

 Elm-east; central

 Gum, black-east, central, southern

 Gum, red-east; central; southern

 Hickory-east; central

 Locust-east; central


 Mahogany, mountain-Rocky Mountain


 Maple, big leaf-pacific coast

 Maple, red-east; central; northern

 Maple, sugar-northern

 Oak-east; central; northern; southern


 Poplar-east; central; southern

 Sycamore-east; central

 Tulip-east; central

 Walnut-east; central



Monday, April 10, 2017

Where most soft woods are found in the United States.

For a handy reference to the best-known softwood trees, here is a compiled list showing the general areas in the United States where they may be found.
Most conifers are evergreens, or softwoods, and they produce seeds within cones. Conifers usually have needles which they shed, but not all at once, and they remain green throughout the year. Softwoods light easily and make a good fire, but they burn fast and leave few coals.

Coniferous Trees:

Cedar, incense-Pacific coast; Rocky Mountain

Cedar, red-Pacific coast; Rocky Mountain; east; central

Cedar, white-northern


Fir, balsam-Pacific coast; northern

Fir, Douglas-Pacific coast; Rocky Mountain

Fir, white-Rocky Mountain; northern


Hemlock, western-Pacific Coast

Larch, western-Rocky Mountain


Pine, jack-northern

Pine, longleaf-southern

Pine, lodgepole-Rocky Mountain

Pine, ponderosa-Rocky Mountain

Pine, red-northern

Pine, shortleaf-east; central; southern

Pine, slash-southern

Pine, sugar-Pacific coast; Rocky Mountain

Pine, Virginia-east; central

Pine, white-Rocky Mountain; east; central; northern

Redwood-Pacific coast

Thursday, April 6, 2017

How to measure a cord of firewood.

A one cord wood stack measures 48" x 24" x 192".

Divide 192" by 1,728 = 128 cubic feet.

(1,728 is the number of cubic inches in one cubic foot)

Monday, April 3, 2017

Things to watch for when buying firewood.

Many people, including myself, love buying a rack of firewood, fueling fireplaces with firewood and gladly accept the challenges involved. Fueling a fireplace or wood burning stove can be a lot of work and time spent if you do it yourself. On the other hand, firewood can cost you way too much if volumes and values are not known.

In many states firewood transaction laws have been enabled to protect the purchaser from being ripped off when purchasing firewood.

Most states are concerned that if you buy a "cord" of wood you actually get a cord.

Terms like "rick", "rank", "pickup load", "pile", "face cord", and "fractions" of a cord make determining firewood values a nightmare. Here are a few tips and rules of thumb to help you determine fair market value of a load of wood and get what you pay for:

 A cord is a lot of wood - sometimes. It is usually your state's legal unit of measure for wood. You are buying a unit of wood based on 128 cubic feet of condensed, stacked round wood including bark and some air confined to an area 4 feet by 4 feet by 8 feet. Solid wood with no air or bark has a volume of from 85 to 110 depending on many variables.

Be aware that wood received in 4 or 8 foot lengths will occupy less space when it is cut and split for firewood but the total amount of wood will not change. In other words, a cord of wood split and tightly stacked in 16" lengths contains considerably more energy (less air space) than a cord of wood stacked and racked in eight-foot lengths.

So, if the firewood is cut to fit a stove or fireplace and is split and tightly stacked, the space occupying the wood is reduced.

You have less air. If it is haphazardly piled, the air to wood volume ratio is increased and you have less energy per cord. You need to insist on neat and tight stacking but remember that every processing step adds to the cost of the wood.

Tip one: Try to avoid buying firewood that is not sold in cords or fractions of a cord. A cord is a legal unit that a seller can be held to if there is some question.

Tip two:  Insist that your wood be cut to burning length, split, uniformly stacked and not randomly scattered in a pile. This processing may ad an extra cost but will insure a better volume estimation and beneficial in the stacking and seasoning process.

Tip three:  Be prepared to either haul your own wood or pay extra for handling and delivery. Also, firewood value is totally and completely driven by location and availability. Cordwood prices for mixed hardwood can range from $50 to more than $100 but that may not include processing, transport and handling costs.  Getting wood to your fireplace and at the correct size is a major part of the expense of firewood.

REMEMBER:  A "truck load" of firewood can mean anything from a loaded light-weight short-bed pickup (1/5 of a cord) to a pulpwood truck (4 cords). You need to determine the hauling capacity in cubic feet of any truck used to hold the wood and insure that the stacking is relatively tight and orderly.

Tip four:  Pickup trucks generally hold from a fifth to a half of a cord of tightly spaced and orderly split, stacked wood. That is quite a broad range. You can (and should) actually measure your (or the seller's) transport bed to determine volume.

Tip five:  Multiply the bed length X bed width X bed height to get the gross volume in cubic feet; then divide by 128. Take that number (probably a fraction) and multiply it by the price per cord to get your wood's value.

Example:  You have a pickup bed that measures 6 feet long, 2 feet deep and 4 feet wide. You multiply 6'x 2'x 4' which equals 48 cubic feet. Convert to cords by dividing 48 cubic feet by 128 cubic feet (one split and neatly stacked standard cord) which equals to .38 cords. If processed firewood is selling for $150 per processed cord, multiply that by .38 cords. You will have a truck bed full of firewood valued at $57.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Need a replacement catalytic combustor?


Contact Applied Ceramics for fast and courteous service.

Applied Ceramics Inc. is the world's leading manufacturer of catalytic combustors for wood burning appliances.

See the information on the side bar for complete information on how to purchase any size combustor for any model stove.

Check the catalytic combustor in your stove and if you have used it for more than six burning seasons, I would suggest you replace it for better efficiency and reduced fuel costs. 

Don't wait until the next burning season.

Monday, March 27, 2017

FIRECAT Catalytic Combustor Warranty

All Versagrid FIRECAT catalytic combustor, used as a component part of a newly manufactured EPA-certified catalytic wood burning stove, are warranted in writing.

It is spelled out in the U.S. Federal Register this way:

If the affected facility is a catalytic wood heater, the warranty for the catalytic combustor shall include the replacement of the combustor and any prior replacement of the combustor without charge to the consumer for:

(1) 2 years from the date the consumer purchased the heater for any defects in workmanship or materials that prevent the combustor from functioning when installed and operated properly in the wood heater.

(2) 3 years from the date the consumer purchased the heater for thermal crumbling or disintegration of the substrate material for heaters manufactured after July 1, 1990.

All combustors sold as a component of an EPA-certified wood burning appliance must be EPA approved.

Versagrid FIRECAT catalytic combustors are approved by the U.S. EPA.

Versagrid FIRECAT catalytic combustors from Applied Ceramics Inc. carry a six year prorated Limited Lifetime Warranty.

You are given a limited lifetime warranty from Applied Ceramics which states, Applied Ceramics warrants to the consumer who purchases a Versagrid catalytic converter as a component in an E.P.A. certified solid fuel appliance, to replace at no charge to the consumer the Versagrid catalytic converter that ceases to function within three (3) years from the date of purchase by the original consumer, providing they receive a dated copy of the original bill of sale for the stove, along with the original Versagrid catalytic converter.

Applied Ceramics also offers special prorated prices on the converter for the 4th, 5th and 6th years of the stove's life if ever needed.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Why a FIRECAT catalytic combustor is the best you can buy.

Over the years, I have talked to thousands of consumers that have had FIRECAT catalytic combustors lasting for up to 10 years or more and the units were still working on the day they called me.

Easy to see why FIRECAT combustors are offered to consumers with a 6 year prorated warranty from the date they buy a new catalytic appliance.


 1. FIRECAT catalytic combustors are made of high temperature, honeycomb ceramic and will take up to 2400 degrees F. before they reach, what I call a glazing point. Naturally, the stove will never reach this kind of operating temperature to destroy the combustor. They are durable and hold up well under proper operating methods.

 Flame impingement and thermal shock, not normal operating methods, can be another story altogether. This will be addressed in later postings.

 2. FIRECAT combustors are coated with noble metals that act as the catalyst. They never go away or wear out. Only ageing, abuse or improper operating of the stove will stop them from doing their job.

 3. FIRECAT combustors can save the stove owner a lot of money over the years.

 Consider fuel costs alone. (as much as 1 less cord out of every 3)

By burning low, they will save on fuel costs and best of all with no sacrifice of BTU output.

The FIRECAT combustor will produce temperatures that are at least twice that of the firebox. Therefore, they don't need high flames in the firebox to produce heat to keep warm. In other words, the catalytic combustor is your heat source.

When looking to buy a new wood burning stove, check out the catalytic stove's for their efficiency and do some comparing before you buy.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Shop around before you buy.

As a consumer myself, I don't like being ripped off nor do I like a vendor giving me a lot of hype about their product. I write this article because this is exactly what I see happening to you when your shopping for a replacement catalytic combustor for your wood burning stove. Trust me, I know because I have sold catalytic combustors for 20 years to stove manufacturers, dealers, and consumers. I also know what they should sell for at reasonable prices.

I'm not talking about quality of the product, I strictly talking price. All catalytic combustors for wood burning appliances are EPA approved and have basically the same noble metal coatings. Therefore, I am not promoting any manufactures product. I just want you to beware of the so called "sale price" and other hype you see when trying to buy a replacement catalytic combustor for your wood burning appliance.

Here are just a few examples that I ran across on-line:

1. I noticed on e-Bay a seller offering combustors for a so called "special price". They say, the retail price is $163.79 and are telling the consumers they will save $45.69. I take this to mean the consumer pays $118.10. However, the manufacturer sells the same product and combustor size for $109.51.

I ask, is this a marketing tactic, hype or rip off?

2. I found a dealer advertising a big combustor sale. "Prices slashed".

So what's wrong with that?

As I studied this "big sale", I noticed they advertised only by stove model and not by combustor size. Since many combustors are the same size and interchangeable with other stoves and models, I feel the combustors should be sold for the same price.

These combustors are sold to dealers by part number and sizes, not by the stove they are used in. In other words the same size combustor should be sold for the same price. Sale or no sale.

What this store was doing, was putting special prices on their home page to lure you in, but offering deals only on combustors for stove models that don't sell and probably never will.

In fact, the stove companies these combustors were once used in, have been out of business for over 20 years.

The catch is, combustors of the same size and used in other stoves still made today, were priced at their regular price.

Don't be fooled, shop and compare before you buy. If you have a story to tell or need advise on buying a catalytic combustor for you stove, please let me know. Email- or call Applied Ceramics for honest answers.

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Important information about the Catalytic Combustor

Most catalytic combustors used in manufacturing catalytic stoves today are made of a high temperature, honeycomb patterned ceramic substrate.

They are coated with special noble metals like palladium and/or platinum.

The honeycomb pattern gives the combustor surface area for the catalytic coatings.

Note:  I would like to point out that cell density (16 or 25 cpsi) plus the combustor dimensions are both very important to the stove’s operation.  The stove was designed and certified for best efficiency using a catalytic combustor having these features.

1. Open frontal area of the combustor is designed to receive the flow rate of the gases coming from the firebox.

 2. The combustor’s size and cell density will control the residence time needed for the gases to burn within the combustor.

 Always replace the stove’s combustor, when needed, with the original OEM combustor size and cell density for best efficiency and performance of the stove.