Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Tips on What Type Wood to Burn

Hardwoods or Softwoods?

Softwoods like fir, spruce, and pine are less expensive than hardwoods. Softwoods are easier to ignite and burn rapidly with a hot flame.
If you want a quick-warming fire that will burn quickly, softwoods are your best choice.

However, if you’re a serious wood burner using a catalytic wood burning stove, hardwoods are the best choice.
Hardwoods such as oak and birch provide a longer-lasting fire with a shorter flame.

A mixture of softwoods and hardwoods can be used for easy starts and long lasting burns.
All woods should be season dried before burning in order to provide the cheapest, cleanest, and safest fire.

Note: Never burn rubbish, chemically treated wood such as discarded railroad ties, utility poles, and old yard fences. All emit poisonous fumes and could add to those materials that collect in the chimney, increasing the possibility of a chimney fire.

Note: Never burn coal in your catalytic stove. Never burn artificial or manufactured logs, which are composites of sawdust, chips, colorful chemicals, starch binders, and wax. They might do harm to the catalytic combustor.
“Burn only season dried wood”


Dale said...

"might" do damage?

What about starting the fire with small pieces of wood and candle wax or maybe soy oil?

Do you have any evidence that the combustor will for sure be damaged? Thanks, Dale

Tim Cork said...

Hi Dale,
Thanks for the questions.
Over the years, I have seen combustors destroyed by consumers burning different things. Usually it was burning things when the by-pass was closed,
like railroad ties (creosote),
oil soaked corn cobs (petroleum) and drift wood (sodium).
However, starting a fire with fire starters (wax and sawdust) or small amounts of something to get it going probably won't hurt the combustor.
Why? Because when starting a fire the by-pass should be left open for 20 to 30 minutes. During this time the fire starters should be completely burnt up and the fire burning on its own.
In other words, nothing has passed through the combustor while the by-pass was open to allow any damage to the combustor.
Burning with the by-pass closed-
Wax will blanket the cell walls with residue and deny catalytic activity.
Petroleum products will poison the combustor over a period of time of continual use and the efficiency of the combustor will keep dropping.
I hope I've explained well enough to make some sense out of my answers.
Thanks again.

Dale said...

Unfortunately my old stove's by-pass doors won't seal tightly unless I fasten them permanently so they can no longer be opened. Hence I start my fires with the by-pass doors closed and the cold smoke containing whatever fire starter I use is routed through the combustor.

I have tried several methods of starting the fire but the easiest one uses commercial "Lightning Nuggets" that contain mostly sawdust with only a small amount of wax. So I will carefully watch the combustor making sure it still glows red hot and clean it with a solution of vinegar and water from time to time. Also I have ordered a new one from you so I can compare my old one with a new one. The combustor on my stove is easy to remove and re-install.

Thanks for the help Tim. Your Blog is helpful to us that are using renewable energy in the most responsible way.