Monday, January 21, 2008

Firewood piles are building and the fireplace is going

Since we have been cutting down some small trees before they fall, or if they obstruct views, or if they are crowded, we have built up some nice piles of firewood that I was hoping would be ready for this winter and the fireplace. We were successful in that the wood we cut early in the spring last year seems to burn perfectly well for this summer. I have kept it covered waiting for the tell tale splits that would tell me it was dry enough to split myself. My patience paid off.

Let me say now that I will never split wood by hand (a maul) again since I have purchased an electric log splitter (others love hand log splitting). I was looking at some manual hydraulic splitters (foot and hand), but they looked cheap and looked like they were too much manual labor. The gas splitters were far larger than what I would need and I am not a small gas engine fan since they tend to be inefficient and picky to maintain. The electric one I purchased was right in the middle. I had some misgivings until I put the first 10" diameter, 20" log on there. Split right up. A whole full firewood circle later I declared my purchase to be well worth the price it saved my back from my poor manual splitting technique. All that wood to the left is from our yard.

The only official measurement for firewood amount is the full cord, which is 4ft X 4ft X 8ft or 128 cubic feet. It is key to realize that this is a volume measurement and that different tree species have different densities. Hard wood is denser, soft wood is less dense. All wood has the same heat value/lb, about 6944 BTU/lb by my calculations from the table, but varying amounts of heat/cord due to density. The best wood for heat/cord is Osage Orange at 33 million BTUs/Cord but that is because that is the densest wood in the list. I suppose that since the space the wood takes up is important so that is why BTUs/cord are important.

So Osage Orange (brown bar below) stands out in a graph of the species BTUs/cord. (click on the plot for a bigger picture)

But not in a graph of BTUs/lb. Note that I have greatly expanded the axis for the BTUs/lb, they are all between 6900 and 6980 BTU/lb. (click on the chart for a bigger readable picture)

The firewood information came from this .pdf link at the University of Nebraska Extension Forestry publications, referred by (or Osage Orange or incorrectly Monkey Ball trees), because exploding aardvark noted that this guy's car was damaged and he filed a police report because a hedgeapple did $300 damage to the plastic trim on his car and he wanted the police to arrest it. Isn't hyperlinking fun. In a printed page only world I never would have bothered to find or been able to find or follow all of that so quickly.


Anonymous said...

Their worm shall not die, and their fire shall not be quenched

Richard Koehler said...

Relating the heat value of wood to the unquenchable fire of hell is a theological activity akin to the number of angels on the head of a pin. Oft-quoted but useless.

Did anyone find the information in this post useful? Will you cut certain trees or plant certain ones because of the information in this post?