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Is 5 gallons of ash a week excessive from 24/7 burning

Posted by loger (My Page) on
Sat, Mar 2, 13 at 20:41

Is 5 gallons of ash a week excessive from 24/7 burning 1 yr seasoned Live Oak, Red Oak and Pecan? My goal is a mild fire during the day and a good load of wood before bedtime (w/o any choking except closed plate glass doors and 75-90 % closed damper in the 14” ID dia pipe). I seem to be shoveling seasoned wood in and ash out “daily” vs getting a good bed of coals.

My goal at bedtime is to have coal the next morning that is not always with 10” dia, 1 yr seasoned wood. I tried some less than 1 yr seasoned wood (6 mo with cracks vs time) this week (for better coals) to see it took more seasoned wood to burn the wood. 1. How often do you add wood? 2. Do you get a good bed of coal to hold with 1 yr old seasoned wood? 3. Could this be a regional matter due to North TX heat vs Northern climates?


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Is 5 gallons of ash a week excessive from 24/7 burning

Loger, perhaps I misunderstand your setup. I had always assumed that someone so serious about all aspects of wood burning would have a modern epa approved fireplace/wood-stove. However, your comment about 14" pipe and glass doors make me believe that you have an inefficient fireplace. That would certainly explain difficulty maintaining morning coals. The modern EPA approved fireplaces are admittedly small, but they generate more heat with far less wood that can be damped so even a small firebox can maintain morning coals.

Admittedly, I almost never bothered since I lived near San Francisco with mild climate like yours. The modern fireplace also generates almost no smoke either. I used to have a Franklin fireplace that can put out tons of heat but can't be banked at all and is very inefficient. I scrounged a nice epa woodstove that was like night and day better. fortunately it came with a lot of insulated flue. that is the most expensive part.

By the way, I never considered measuring my ash and wouldn't have thought to measure it in gallons so I'm guessing that you aren't using an unusual amount. Perhaps you have optimized your system beyond my theory.


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RE: Is 5 gallons of ash a week excessive from 24/7 burning

  • Posted by baymee LehighValleyPA (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 3, 13 at 6:32

If you're getting all ash in the morning, it's because you're completely burning up all your wood. If you want coals, you have to slow your burn rate down. Coals are nothing more than unburned chunks of wood.

5 gallons of ash isn't much for a week, but I wouldn't worry about the amount of ash as much as it is fully burned wood and therefore your heat either heated the house or went up the flue.


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RE: Is 5 gallons of ash a week excessive from 24/7 burning

I am pleased with the modified fireplace’s heat output. The confusion is the lack of good coals from one year old seasoned Live Oak, Red Oak and Pecan. I tried to correct that by using 6 mo to 1 yr seasoned wood mixed at bedtime to have coal the next morning. Will over seasoned wood burn without making a coal?

I admit our fireplace was or is a Hog on wood. Initially it was open to two sides which required the 14’ ID dia pipe installed in the mid 70s. If I had known then what I know now, a stove would have been installed in the same opening exposed to both areas.

My solution has been:
1. To add a plate steel back, with 7 stainless tubes above the fire (open to plate side), with a steel pan holding the heat on them before working up.
2. The floor has 2 SS 2” tubs as a grate (elevated 1.5”- 0” back to front and 6”steel back-stick elevated 1.5”, all 3 in the coals open to the plate back side.
3. The flu 90% closed at all times and the plate glass doors closed when unattended (with ducked intake air). I consider it compatible to a stove.

 photo fireplacesinsertbacksidesignsofredhotheat.jpg

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 photo BuringUnseasonedWoodDamper90Closed2_zps870080cb.jpg

 photo BurningUnseasonedWood5_zps0e4761b9.jpg

 photo CleanedChimney_zpsf543b28f.jpg


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RE: Is 5 gallons of ash a week excessive from 24/7 burning

  • Posted by baymee LehighValleyPA (My Page) on
    Sun, Mar 3, 13 at 20:52

The coals you are looking for are merely charcoalized wood that hasn't completely burned up.

Look at it like this: When your fire has burned for two hours, you have a nice bed of coals. If you threw a fireproof blanket over that and allowed a small amount of air to feed, you'd keep those coals for days or until they turned into charcoal. Look up the history of making charcoal in our Colonial days.

There is nothing wrong with all your wood turning to ash overnight. The greener your wood, the slower it will burn and the more creosote you'll make. I have burned wood exclusively since '77 and most of it was pallet wood. Every morning for the last 35 years I built a fire with homemade firestarters made of planer shavings and candle wax. It literally takes 2 minutes. It's on its own before the microwave heats my coffee up. I burned about 2-3 cords a year. The last few years I've switched to coal for the Winter. I got away with free wood heat for 35 years and now it costs about $300 for the entire winter using coal.


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RE: Is 5 gallons of ash a week excessive from 24/7 burning

Thanks baymee!

Will over seasoned wood burn without making a coal? I have 1 yr old seasoned Red Oak that appears to burn to ash without burning to a nice bed of coal first. One year seasoned Live oak and Pecan holds better with a coal.

My concern is probably due to burning less dia wood since I have gone to new limits, “LOL”. I promised my body I would work/use 6-8” dia wood max (round or split) period and at bedtime (vs my past 12” back-stick to have coal the next morning). The two smaller sticks actually burn each other faster than the past wood.


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RE: Is 5 gallons of ash a week excessive from 24/7 burning

Remember the 2011 Texas Drought? Maybe there's no moisture in the wood if it came from trees that died or were damaged by the drought.

Here is a link that might be useful: texas drought 2011


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RE: Is 5 gallons of ash a week excessive from 24/7 burning

Thanks txtom50! This explains a lot that I had not related to vs the affect on fishing and other matters. Except, I felt the extreme heat was affecting the uncovered stored wood related to seasoning. Plus, this matter has fluctuated over the years.


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RE: Is 5 gallons of ash a week excessive from 24/7 burning

  • Posted by baymee LehighValleyPA (My Page) on
    Mon, Mar 4, 13 at 15:57

There is no thing as overseasoned wood unless you mean left in the weather to dryrot or get beetle infested. All hardwoods will air dry down to about 11% moisture content (MC) and can be further dried down to about 8% or less in a controlled environment such as a kiln or air conditioning. Once your wood reaches its air dried MC, it won't go down much lower and won't go up much higher as long as you keep it dry. Perfectly preserved wood has survived since the Pharoah's tombs. It doesn't matter if you store your wood at 11% for the next 1000 years, it will produce the same bed of coals as if it was one year old.

If you want a bed of coals, you'll have to add more wood every 2 hours because unless you're making charcoal, that's the only way you'll get a bed of coals.

Another tip: A single piece of wood cannot burn long. It takes a minimum of two pieces of wood to burn and they have to stay within 1" or less of each other the entire time. You need three pieces of wood in close contact to build a lasting fire. Down in South America a woman can take three sticks and place them with their 3 points in a pie-shaped design, equidistant from each other in a circle. By moving the lighted tips closer or apart from each other, she can vary the heat perfectly and cook a meal.


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RE: Is 5 gallons of ash a week excessive from 24/7 burning

I thought gases were in seasoned firewood that is lost with too much age. I can not find info to support that. If this is not true, I guess it was moisture that appeared to be spewing and burning (from some woods). I had some Post Oak rotted too bad to burn in the 80s in 4-5 yrs due to being out of sight.

I knew of others that burned their stacks that got too rotted due to the surplus of free wood (North TX 80s Building Boom). My stacks are at least 12” off the ground, metal racks, on the very bottom and possibly holding too much moister (open). I have seen oak stacks left in the woods rotted top to bottom. Dry Rott !

I was enjoying burning the Post Oak stumps (2-3 trailer loads) the reason I was caught off guard. They were less work due to cutters cutting at ground level and the Dozer cutting them about 16” deep. With little or no axe trimming vs a saw they would hold all night Plus. All of my rotted Oak has been Post Oak which is strange “To Me”, because many use the straight wood as fence post.


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RE: Is 5 gallons of ash a week excessive from 24/7 burning

  • Posted by baymee LehighValleyPA (My Page) on
    Mon, Mar 4, 13 at 19:36

I had a cubic block of stacked wood, mostly black ash, which was about 6' tall and 10' x 10'. I kept it covered with a tarp for a good many years. Needless to say, the rain went through the holes in the tarp and much of the wood was soaked for much of the time.

The time came when I wanted to get rid of that pile, so I started dismantling it and moving it to my covered sheds. The wood was super saturated and weighed about twice the normal dry weight. After it had dried over the Summer, the dry wood was featherweight and burned up like cardboard. Touching it made it fall apart. This is what happens to old wooden ships that are brought up from the sea and aren't treated properly. They turn to dust.


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