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livingchoice's avatar

How do I identify wood for use in a wood stove?

Asked by livingchoice (553points) December 14th, 2011

So I bought a wood stove and now I need some wood to burn. I wanted to scavenge in my back yard, about 5 acres, for some wood to use. But what should I look for. I know that not all wood are created equal and are not good for burning but I don’t know how to identify the good ones. I see a lot of birch trees, are those any good? Is there a good reference you can recommend, what type of wood you use in your wood stove?

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8 Answers

JilltheTooth's avatar

I use hardwoods, from deciduous (leafed) trees because it burns longer and better. Make sure the wood is seasoned (dry) or it gunks up the flue and the chimney and won’t start without a huge effort. Sending this to someone who heats exclusively with wood…

chyna's avatar

Hardwoods as @JilltheTooth says. Oak is good. Throw a few apple tree limbs in for a great smell. I understand pine wood can gunk up your chiminey and possibly start a chiminey fire.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

If I recall correctly birch trees suck for producing heat. Hardwoods are good, apple is good, and make sure it’s well seasoned. Avoid anything with a lot of resins. Too much creosote.

bkcunningham's avatar

Properly seasoned wood, regardless of the type, is what you need. This information is pretty much consistent from about six websites I looked at and from my own experience.

LuckyGuy's avatar

This subject is near and dear to my heart. I heat with wood.
Sure, different woods have different merits and demerits. But the absolute best wood to burn is…. dry seasoned wood you have already.
Before I give further advice I need to know what kind of stove you have. It will be one of three types:
1) Old style air tight box with a simple, single baffle
2) Modern type with a bypass and catalytic converter
3) Modern type with a bypass and reburner tubes.

I have the last one. It is efficient (72.8%), burns anything and does a great job with no creosote build up in the flue. I burn: locust, pine, black walnut, beech, maple, basswood, pizza boxes, chicken bones, (a little used motor oil, newspapers, cardboard, banana peels…. and the thing stays spotless right up to the tippy top. There is some smoke when I start it but once it gets up to temp and I close the bypass, there is no smoke whatsoever.

I am so proud of you by the way. You are making a difference. Congratulations.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Ok. I just downloaded the manual and looked at the parts list. This is a conventional stove with a single baffle. The basic air tight that has been around for 40 years. . Usually that type is about 40–45% efficient. You will need to burn seasoned, dry wood. You don’t want to have creosote buildup. I know about where you live from a previous discussion and you do not have the cold temperatures we have. That stove should work fine. But, you will have to clean the flue – or at least check it. Don’t make a fire that smolders all night. That will cause build-up. A rule of thumb is if your glass stays clean you are burning it right. If the class gets all dirty that means you have lots of particulates and creosote throughout the system. I would burn it off with a hotter fire. Buy a magnetic thermometer by Condar. Better yet, get two. Pit one on the flue and one on the top of the stove. You will learn the right temperature to operate.

Once you get a wood burning stove you will never look at junk mail the same way again. It is all BTUs.

LuckyGuy's avatar

If you can, try to store a few days worth of wood in the same room as the stove. It brings humidity into the house and dries it out faster than sitting outside. It really helps.

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