Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The ways of wood

Since we are experiencing low temperatures in the teens, the subject today is wood, specifically firewood.

One of the many skills I wanted to learn when we settled on our land is to be able to identify trees by leaf, bark and grain. I'm not there yet, but I'm getting better. I try to identify each piece I put in the stove.

Here are some thoughts on how different types of wood burn:

* poplar -- Easiest to start but burns quickly like pine. The best wood for kindling.
* ash -- burns much like poplar and probably a little hotter.
* locust -- Don't even attempt to burn this without at least six months of cure time. Burns hot, too hot for lightweight stoves.
* hickory -- One of the best overall stove woods. A piece of green hickory will burn all night.
* hackberry -- Burn all you can. The cross-grain of this wood makes it useless for anything else.
* sassafras -- Looks like locust, but doesn't burn as hot.
*oak -- I don't have any except for one enormous red oak at the top of my orchard hill. The woodcutters said it's at least 150 years old. I hope to care for it so it can live another 150.
* walnut and cherry -- I hate to burn this wood because of its beautiful grain, but I do have some in my woodpile. The smoke from walnut and cherry is a sacrament to the heavens.

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