3. Wood Info and Burning Hazards

                              JANUARY 15th, 2015 UPDATE: 

I am pleased to announce that we are now an ACCREDITED BUSINESS under the Nova Scotia Better Business Bureau as well as an ACTIVE MEMBER under the Firewood Vendor's Association of Nova Scotia also found under Access Nova Scotia.

Please check out what consumers say about my business and way I do things under the Nova Scotia Better Business Bureau under Customer/Consumer Reviews

WOOD ISSUE UPDATE May 28th, 2015. This noted below is very important to read. And once you do, take heed and DO THE MATH!

After receiving several calls this week about companies; and in general, wood sellers, some registered with the Registry of Firewood Vendors in Halifax and surrounding areas, and then after a conversation with Measurement Canada referencing the same, I am appalled at the response on the matter. Classified as being sold as a 'UNIT', this so called practice is way less than a proper cord by MEASUREMENT CANADA STANDARDS and Measurement Canada informs me that this is LEGAL, even though it is not a proper cord based on a STACKED CORD of 128 cubic feet. When I look at this, I see TWO STANDARDS here and sadly, YOU, THE CONSUMER, you are the ones being SCREWED ONCE MORE by the way of Government. We need CONTROLS - not people being allowed to change the rules or say, 'it is legal as long as the customer is told it is a UNIT or some other wording letting them know it is NOT a PROPER CORD, all in all, being sold 'LEGALLY LESS' than a cord and in the process of that, not using the words 'CORD or STACKED CORD' What the hell is wrong with people? And here I thought Measurement Canada wanted to make this an even playing field.

Having ONCE AGAIN checked Measurement Canada's site on Firewood, the following ARE NOT CONSIDERED AS LEGAL MEASUREMENTS pertaining to FIREWOOD. (Short Cord, Face Cord, Thrown Cord, Processed Cord (for which a UNIT CORD TRULY IS coming in between 85 to maybe 100 cubic feet), apartment cord and other amounts not listed and are TOTALLY ILLEGAL MEASUREMENTS in CANADA. So, my question is, why suddenly is Measurement Canada in Nova Scotia allowing this? In my books, it is allowing others a path to SCREW the consumer. So, be on your toes, always insist on a 'PROPER STACKED CORD AMOUNT, and above all, get your calculator out and do the math before ordering short cords as 'UNITS' or any other method of description. Remember, a guaranteed cord is 128 cubic feet. On a $300.00 cord, based on 128 cubic feet, that literally works out at $2.43 a cubic foot. On a 'UNIT'  sold, that becomes anywhere from $3.17 to $3.52 per cubic feet. So, WELCOME TO THE WORLD OF DOUBLE STANDARDS and GOVERNMENT. 


*****************************************************************                                #3 Wood information and Burning Hazards                 

               I SELL Tri-Maple Mix Hardwood cut & split @ $     .00 per cord

NOTE: 

AVOID BUYING ANY FIREWOOD IN WINTER. MOISTURE IN WOOD BECOMES FROZEN AND WILL APPEAR AS SOMEWHAT SEASONED. WHEN, AND IF YOU CONSIDER BUYING WOOD AFTER NOVEMBER 15TH OF ANY YEAR, INSIST ON THE WOOD BEING MOISTURE PROBED IN YOUR PRESENCE TO AVOID BEING SCAMMED ON SOMEONE MAKING THE CLAIMS THEIR WOOD IS SEASONED. IF THEY CANNOT PRODUCE A WOOD MOISTURE PROBE AT THE TIME OF DELIVERY,  AVOID BUYING WOOD AND SAVE YOUR MONEY BECAUSE 9 TIMES OUT OF 10 THE WOOD WILL BE WET OR GREEN.


If you have read the above notation pertaining to buying wood and/or using wood in WINTER that may or could possibly have FROZEN MOISTURE CONTENT, please refer to section #2 for a more detailed description of the problem encountered when issues of frozen or crystallized moisture is present in wood. It is very important and should not be taken lightly. 
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In life there are NO easy solutions. We try counteracting this by making intelligent choices by, and based on the facts that we get proper and clear direction in our search for the proper answers. As for what is right, and for what is wrong for the Property Owner, it is he, or she, who should be the one that is in charge of making the correct decision in life as by what his, and her family needs are.


Summary of #3 Section

(1) Tips on getting that firewood dry enough safely to burn
(2) What are the general affects and concern on water in firewood
(3) Addressing the drying stage of firewood
(4) Learning and using a Firewood Moisture Probe Meter
(5) Wood weight chart for green and seasoned wood
(6) Ways to avoid getting scammed
(7) What is fair to you, the consumer
(8) Learning to compare the different hardwoods sold for firewood
(9) Specialized Cutting of firewood
(10) Some of the tricks Cutters pull in selling firewood
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Summary of #3 Section

 Wood Burning Hazards/the do's and dont's

(1) How hazards affect you and your family
(2) Avoiding mishaps and problems
(3) Getting the best out of your heat without problems
(4) Safe process of discarding ashes
(5) Things using wood that can contribute to breathing and health disorders
(6) CREOSOTE
(7) Liquid tar created from low heat burning
(8) Chimney structure and ratings
(9) Dangerous Situations/what to burn and not
(10) Comparing creosote to Cholesterol
(11) Insects and larvae in your wood  
(12) Infestations and Larvae in general
(13) Avoid the bulls-eye targeting
(14) Avoiding infestations and larvae
(15) Affects of using wood on the environment 
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LEARNING ABOUT FIREWOOD AND BURNING HAZARDS USING WOOD.
(1) Tips on getting that firewood dry enough to burn safely!
It is essential to understand that no one should be burning wood with a core moisture content of over 40%. Sadly, many do. Wood at a moisture level of 30% is usable  but not categorized as a proper and acceptable level when it comes to moisture. This is unsafe. It creates creosote build up. Considering the sizzle on burning wood with too much moisture (even tho some may think it sounds cool) for one aspect, the flu temperature and burn temperature will be too low to safely burn. Hot burn temperatures are required to properly dispose of the small amounts of moisture that could be in the wood. Keep in mind that acceptable and safe levels of moisture vary between 14 to 24 tops. Choosing to ignore these levels are dangerous as we will later find out in this section. Remember, you have to have and maintain certain burn temperatures to clearly ignite wood properly and burn it properly without incidents. Many of these will also be covered in the next section.

Here at my house, my goal is to have moisture content in wood that I burn in around the 12 to 18% range. Anything usually lower than 12 creates a dryness within my home in the air. It will without a doubt burn hot if it is lower, but ideally, the wood also disappears quicker. It is important to understand that the more moisture content you get out of the wood, the better it will burn and the heat content realized with be benefiting you by utilizing your wood to the fullest. 


(2)HOW DOES WATER THAT IS IN WOOD AFFECT ME, MY FAMILY, MY STOVE and HOME?

What is Bound Water and/or Restrictive Water in Wood?:
It is important to understand the actual make-up of how and why water is in the wood. Actually, water in the wood itself it comes in two forms. One is classified as a NON-RESTRICTIVE substance or as many people view it, 'FREE MOVING WATER' which is defined as water contained in and within the sap content. The tree, as in anything, needs water to grow. The water within the tree is free to move and mingle about within the fibres or rings of the wood unrestricted. Can you see it? Yes, but more-so in wood that is GREEN, LEAF or SAP CUT. Can you smell the moisture once split? Yes. Again, it is Green Cut, Sap and Leaf Cut that is the easiest.  Remember, this cut form of wood can, and will take up to two years to safely dry for burning.  

The other form of water, even tho it is the same type of water, is commonly known as RESTRICTIVE WATER or MOISTURE, or as some define it, 'BOUND WATER or MOISTURE.' Not really different in nature, it adheres the wood differently as by being found within the cells and inner rings of the wood, and is more difficult to remove within and during the drying process. On average; and even tho 'Sap Cut, Green Cut or Leaf Cut' wood from the current season is cut and offered for sale in many ways, the moisture now found within the cells of the wood becomes more difficult to remove. Excess splitting will help. However, the down side is that the smaller you cut and split the wood, (reminds me of Kitchen cut - previous section) the quicker the wood will burn and the less mileage in terms of energy released that you will receive from your investment. 

Even in the worst scenario with you buying Green, Sap or Leaf Cut wood, if in the early part of the season on average from -Mid-May to Mid-August- piled correctly with the wood aimed at the CORRECT direction to obtain the best from the wind and sun, most moisture levels can be brought down to and on average in the area of 30 to 40%. Remember tho, Sap Cut, Green Cut and Leaf Cut wood have a general moisture content of between 70 to as much as 80%. In some cases, and depending when and where the wood has been cut, this level could travel upwards as much as to 100%. However, it is also important to grasp the reality here and that is simple - to properly dry this wood and to lower the moisture content to 14 to 24%, you are looking at basically 2 years. So, just how good was that deal? Also keep in mind that moisture levels above 25% will create more smoke during the burning process and will lower the burn rate at the core of the stove and chimney therefore creating creosote.

If you have a concern toward moisture caused by wet weather or in general a poor place where the wood is stored or the forces of 'Mother Nature', learn to store and cover it properly. However, if piled properly, and believe it or not, wood will actually dry during the winter if the rain and any forms of night moisture is kept off of it. Remember this, gravity will take over with any form of moisture. what may appear to be dry or seasoned on top, will quickly change as you lower the pile with use. Melting snow, rain and night moisture will ad moisture content. However, on average this will add surface water. Nonetheless, if improperly covered or stored and you allow a continual barrage of it, this can and will enter the wood through the drying cracks and create a mold under the bark that will eliminate a sour smell as it burns. Remember, leaving a truckload of wood as it is dumped is literally being stupid. IT  WILL NOT DRY more than a foot or two from the top. Again, gravity and the Forces of Nature will take priority. 


(3) Properly Addressing the Drying Stage and SEASONING of Your Firewood:

NOTE: Section #6 is dedicated to the Seasoning of wood:

Different from most fuels, and as long as the drying process and storage process is done properly, firewood can be stored for long periods from 3 to as much as 7 years. Nonetheless, keep in mind that the longer you store it, the lesser the quality in dryness and life of the wood. An average window is classified as 3 to 5 years in the correct storage conditions. 

It is important to understand that once the wood is cut, split and delivered, the quicker you should get it stacked. However, here is the downside that no one tells you about. If you are buying wood from a seller or cutter, it is imperative to learn and know when this wood was cut, split and processed. Many sellers; legal names or not, become part of the 95% of people who process wood cut it from the stump, cut and split it before you get it. Sadly, and for their  convenience, they allow it to lay in WIND-ROWS or partially processed HEAPS until it is sold. The down side is the section directly above this one. Done this way, not only does gravity deal with the issue of moisture, so does Mother Nature, the rain and moisture in general. If you are buying the top of the pile, good for you. However, if you are getting the loading process from top to bottom and through the pile, you are getting all kinds of crap from loose wet bark, moisture ladened wood suffocating for air, wind, sun and airing. This creates many issues as infestation of bugs and larvae  not to mention surface and end rot. This is found and defined later on. I have watched this process just a few miles up the road from me from someone who sells wood. He cut and split hundreds of cords of Mixed Firewood cut in April/May and allowed to lay in heaps all summer. This is disastrous to the unaware caring buyer. I have seen a load he delivered this fall and honestly, I will be amazed if the people do not end up having their house go up in smoke. It is a stupid practice and again, Government Controls are needed to control actions and crap like this. 

It is important to choose the correct place to store wood. It is necessary to have a spot convenient as for carrying it into the house. But, remember that it is also a breeding place for rodents wanting to have a place to live for the winter. Field mice, ground moles, voles, squirrels, bugs, millipedes, centipedes and many other forms of pests will fall in love with your wood. However, the drier it is, the less you will have in bugs and larvae that promote life due to moisture and wetness.  

Where I live, and in Nova Scotia, the general rule of thumb by experience is that 95% of the people SELLING WOOD, sell FRESH CUT WOOD being cut within any season. There is no particular  plan or method of cutting. Sadly, it becomes advertised on Kijiji and other places as nothing more than a combination of lies promoting everything but the truth. Adding Mixed Firewood to the mix is another serious concern when it comes to drying. As for me, I buy (sadly - I do pay more) strictly WINTER CUT WOOD and ONLY MAPLE. I DO NOT SELL MIXED COMBINATIONS OF WOOD AND FROWN ON IT because it is a waste of money from where the consumer stands.  Having one type and burning one type of wood is better and more concise in getting the best value for your money. Buying WINTER CUT from someone who is honest and deals with only one type of wood is more expensive. It is the same with Kiln Dried wood and that should be the only process used if it is necessary to have dry wood in an emergency or prolonged state. On the other side of the coin, it produces better heat, lasts longer, creates less in ashes, soot and smoke, and allows you to have an even burn rate if properly dried.

For those who want to buy GREEN WOOD - remember that it takes ONE to TWO YEARS to properly dry Sap, Leaf, Green or as we all it- Fresh Cut Wood if vented, piled and stored properly. A word to the wise is invest in your wood over a pre-buying period of two years if you want to have a regular wood drying and safe burning practice. As for piling, you should always get into the habit of piling your wood toward the South. This will in turn trap the sun for the longer period and all piles should be piled so that the sun is facing broad side of the piles. Any form of shade or overhanging limbs, or building eaves should be taken out of the picture. It will trap moisture, create shade and interfere with the drying process. Using a back wall as a barrier to keep weather from the wood is fine in one sense. However, by doing this, air CANNOT circulate around and through the wood properly. Shelter from the rain and elements caused by night dew and moisture is another concern when it comes to drying and seasoning wood. Night moisture later in the fall becomes yet another concern because of the density of the water involved. Always pile wood elevated at least 3 to 4 inches off of the ground. Any covering should be elevated so that water runs off rather than be allowed to lay on top or seep through and down onto the wood. 

Drainage UNDER the wood pile is also essential whereas trapped moisture will go up through the wood and cause mildew, mold and rot. Thus, welcome the bugs and inferior little creatures wanting to thank you for a home. It is important to remember that when wood comes in contact with the ground, sawdust, or any other forms of wet sources, the cut, split and processed firewood becomes like a sponge, and does, and will soak up moisture like crazy. NEVER pile wood on top of PLASTIC or any other non-porous form. It will trap moisture and create a sweating process that will create mildew. Wood is like anything. It needed to have ventilation from top to bottom and from side to side.

This is one of the most important factors and we touched on earlier. When someone is offering to sell you wood, ask them to present a MOISTURE PROBE on delivery and DO INSIST on NOT buying ANY WOOD if the content is over 40% unless you are prepared to sit on it for two years to dry and season. Most meters or probes are in the reasonable price category of $30.00 to $75.00 and are an essential tool in controlling wood moisture for the home pertaining to burning wood, and more-so important when buying wood. 

In my opinion, NO ONE should allow themselves to become the victim of any seller offering wood well over the 40% moisture mark. The same goes for wood left out in the Forces of Nature after being cut and split. Under the 40% mark, the wood can safely be dried to acceptable levels to burn within that year if delivery was tendered in time for you to have at least 18 to 24 weeks of good drying time. As for selling green cut, leaf or sap cut wood, it should be sold for and negotiated for the lowest possible price. Since most people in the trade sell it roadside at stump price  cut daily of $30.00 per cord roadside pick-up, or - plus freight, one should actually consider the costs and mark-ups involved. As to the consumer, no matter what the price is being offered at, if you are paying more than $125.00 to $150.00 per cord cut, split and delivered for GREEN WOOD, you literally are being SCREWED and SCAMMED by someone much craftier and smarter than you. BEWARE OF THE WOOD YOU ARE BUYING, and do take the necessary steps to protect yourself and your investment. Your investment is your family, your home and your LIFE, not to mention theirs. You only have one life, as do they, so if you are indulging in wood for heat or otherwise, use it wisely.

(4) Moisture Probing Wood for moisture content:

If the wood offered and being advertised is classified as dry, seasoned, a combination of several types, DO HAVE A MOISTURE PROBE in your hand on delivery. NO ONE in the PROVINCE of Nova Scotia sells properly seasoned wood. They say they do, but trust me, put a moisture probe in it and you will see what is actually the total truth and nothing more. Properly seasoned wood should have a minimal moisture level of less than 20% and nothing more. If you buy and are being sold wood as seasoned and it is not less than this, welcome to the contract of being sold 'A Bill of Goods' again from someone smarter and craftier than you.

 Here in Nova Scotia you have no protection from the lies, the fraudulent paths created by the scammers, the liars, the cheaters operating under many unregistered names, many operating without names, and you will virtually have no recourse against them. Why? This is simple, because the system  and GOVERNMENT SLACKNESS PROTECTS THEM, and not you, the CONSUMER. We need laws and Government Regulation here. This is an energy source and forestry product. They are both monitored and regulated elsewhere. However, do you see this on ANY GOVERNMENT WEB-SITE? For what is there, is any of it enforced? NO! It is because in the Government's eyes you, the consumer is unimportant. I have tried now for going on 6 months to have regulations brought into law on this matter. Still, they protect the Scammer, Liars and Cheaters.

 Remember that it will take on average with the correct stacking, airing and drying conditions, a minimum of  6 months because of the Restricted and Non-Restricted (Free or Bound moisture levels) in the wood. Hell, most of the people selling wood on Kijiji  Craig's list, or other forms of advertisement, have no idea what 1% of this information means and they count on you not knowing either. If you are not prepared to do the work to correctly preserve the wood properly, I do suggest buying oil, gas or electric heat. When it comes time to bitch about being screwed or scammed, remember the most important lesson here, 'You and only you are the one making that final decision as to buy or not.' Simply put, your lack of education in the matter of energy, BTU's, process of wood, sellers, methods of selling, cording, quality and so on, only allows the craftier and smarter SCAMMER to be the winner in the end. Sadly, you will have no one to blame but yourself.


(5) Wood Weight Chart below to clearly indicate wood weights:

The following is not in any special order, and therefore must be compared by you. PLEASE REMEMBER - Other than Green weight, all ratings are based on SEASONED WOOD. It is important to remember the SEASONED WEIGHT, and not be mislead by the GREEN WEIGHT unless you are burning improperly seasoned and green wood.

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WOOD  |RATING | HEAT | BURN | SPLIT | SMOKE | SPARKS | BTU'S in| GREEN | SEASONED                                                                   
                                 RATE   RATE    RATE     RATE                        Millions     Weight     Weight
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Yellow   |  Good to |med-Hi | EASY |  HARD|  LIGHT  |      not      |   24.6 av- | 5,340 lbs |  3,650 lbs
Birch       Excellent                                                            normally  |to 26.7 av
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On White Birch, it is important to understand where it grows for accurate info. Low growth W/B will have more moisture and less BTU rates. With Hill Top or Mountain Birch, less water will be found in a stronger growth of wood and a much higher Burn Rate in BTU's will apply to the below variance. Both Birch Wood burns well together.
White     | Fair to    | medium| EASY |  HARD| LIGHT   |      not 
 Birch      Medium                                                            normally   |19.6-26.0  | 4,790 lbs |  2,792 lbs
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Alder     | Poor to   | medium| FAST |  HARD| Medium  | YES!!!!    |14.2-15.2| 4,270 lbs |  2,460 lbs
                Fair
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Green   |  Poor       | LOW   | FAST |Medium| Medium  | YES!        |14.7-15.3| 3,780 lbs |  2,960 lbs
Poplar
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Yellow |  Poor       | LOW   | FAST |Medium| Medium  |  YES!       |16.0-16.7| 3,910 lbs |  3,170 lbs
Poplar
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White  |   Fair        | LOW   | EASY |Medium| Medium  | Not          |15.9-16.8 | 3,940 lbs |  3,210 lbs
Poplar                                                                            normally
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Black                                                                                              |20.1-21.4 | 4,440lbs  |  3,620 lbs
Poplar |  Good     | Med-Hi|Medium|Medium| Medium  | Not
                                                                                      normally
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Silver     |  Good to | HIGH   |  EASY | HARD | LIGHT   |    NO!      |27.1-27.7| 5,250 lbs | 3,750 lbs
Maple      Excellent
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Hard
Maple    | Excellent | HIGH   |  EASY | HARD  | LIGHT  |   NO!       |30.1-30.7| 5,760 lbs | 3,910 lbs
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Rock
Maple    | Excellent  | HIGH   |  EASY | HARD  | LIGHT  |   NO!       |31.1-31.7| 5,890 lbs | 3,970 lbs
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Hack-
matak     | Medium   |  GOOD |Medium| HARD  | LIGHT  | SOME     |20.2 -20.8| 5,140 lbs | 3,520 lbs
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Elm        |   FAIR    | Medium |Medium| HARD  |Medium  | SOME     |  23.8 av    | 5,740 lbs  | 3,730 lbs
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White
Oak       |Excellent  | HIGH    | EASY  | HARD | Light       | FEW       |  26.5 av    | 5,760 lbs   | 3,840 lbs
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Hemlock|  POOR   | FAIR     | EASY |Medium | Light       | Definitely |  15.9 av    | 3,940 lbs   | 2,640 lbs
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Apple    | GOOD    | GOOD  |Medium| HARD  | Light      |  YES!     |17.6-21.4 | 5,440 lbs   | 3,440 lbs
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This category pertaining to softwoods in general is so close that I have rounded the average as an idea.
Spruce
Fir/Pine
Sftwood| POOR     |  LOW   |  FAST  |Medium| YES!      | Definitely | 15.9 av      |  5,050      | 3,075 lbs
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When you end up comparing the different wood weights,  it will give you an idea of how much moisture, or water in this case, is in green wood and the different kinds. BTU's are based on SEASONED WOOD. The above chart and facts clearly demonstrates the picture based on ONE PARTICULAR WOOD by itself. However, when you mix any, or all of these, one MUST calculate the averages in WEIGHT, and, both BTU rating to see just how much you loose by, and, also through burning MIXED WOOD. In the process, it is important to remember a few simple things. The most important is what GOOD FIREWOOD COSTS in comparison to MIXED FIREWOOD or GARBAGE WOOD costs. When you compare that to MIXED WOOD, and some garbage woods sold in the process of making a MIXED CORDED LOAD, you must consider BTU loss. BTU loss equals HEAT LOSS. BURNING ONE TYPE OF WOOD, will calculate out as being a more stable source of heat in the long run when compared to the cost of oil and other forms. As discussed in this site, you will have to contact your supplier pertaining to the the other forms of heat sources. Those compared are Propane, Electricity and Natural Gas to get a proper BTU rating from them.

It is important to remember that the above ratings through laboratory tests ARE NOT BASED ON MIXED WOOD. When it comes to the point that one uses MIXED WOOD, these calculations will be lowered by as much as 25%, to 40%, or even possibly more - depending on the wood make up of the cord. What that relates to is both HEAT LOSS, ENERGY LOSS and BTU LOSS when it comes to your HEATING BILL for the season. That relates to WASTED DOLLARS-----and yours at that. 

                                              
I have began this quest on a 168 Cubic foot cord in June of 2011, because people screwed me over when I bought wood many years ago. I learned. You need to. SADLY, the amount of crooked business going on with a few of the people selling wood in and thru the HRM, Brookfield, Prospect, Peggy's Cove, Terrance Bay, and general areas of the Mainland Nova Scotia is outrageous. The amount of names being used is even worse since the biggest instigator of Crooked Practices emanates from his TRUE LOCATION on Bissett Road in the HRM District who does make this Industry look bad for everyone. Remember: on average - it takes 165 to 168 cubic feet loose loaded cord to make up a 128 standard ground cord of wood when piled.  You will find a complete scale of truck and trailer sizes that will CLEARLY tell you how much wood can be loose loaded and therefore piled from a delivered load based on the size of the unit. Also, the scale to calculate will also be included. 


TRUCK AND TRAILER SIZES = LENGTH MULTIPLIED IN FEET BY WIDTH BY DEPTH = CUBIC VOLUME. 

For more on the line directly above this sentence dealing with CUBES and TRUCK SIZES, please refer to section #4.


(6) WAYS TO AVOID GETTING SCAMMED BY IMPROPER DELIVERY METHODS and MODES OF TRANSPORTATION USED:
It is important to notice the difference of a simple measurement being a foot in length, width or height, can make a vast difference on a loose loaded unit carrying wood. What appears to be a lot, is not always the case. Also remember, the smaller the wood is cut or staggered in cuts, the less you will receive in wood because of the EXTRA space it will occupy. With the rapid pace that smaller cut wood will burn, you will also lose as much as 25% of the BTU rating and burn time of the smaller wood in comparison to larger wood of one kind.


Any units transporting wood in smaller amounts again can be calculated by and on this scale. Simple trailers, trucks or half tons of smaller sizes can be done the same way. HOWEVER, a warning clear to the CONSUMER is to 'NEVER BUY WOOD' off of, or from the back of a half ton truck because of the wheel wheels. The ONLY WAY this scale will differ on ANY MODE OF TRANSPORTATION is if the wood is properly piled in the box tightly so it can be seen, measured before dumping and clearly viewed to make sure no tricks have been done to thwart the purchaser. Beat the cons and scammers by doing your homework by meeting them with a tape measure, calculator and clear idea of what buying a cord of wood is all about. Again, remember this; that if a cord of UNPROCESSED wood measuring 4 feet long by 4 feet high by 8 wide by any of these measurements before cutting is 128 cubic inches.  ONCE IT IS CUT AND LOADED, IT IS NOT the same cord anymore and will be approximately 65 to 68%  of the real cord. This is why it takes 168 cubic feet to make up the differential because of air pocketing and loose loading. On my trucks and units, all the cord measurements are marked inside of the box for viewing and calculations.

If you have doubts from who you are buying, make it clear that you will both supervise the unloading procedure and measure out the truck box for cubic feet BEFORE PAYMENT IS MADE. The big important lesson is NEVER PAY FOR THE WOOD UNTIL IT IS ON THE  GROUND or YOU ARE SATISFIED YOU ARE GETTING YOUR MONIES WORTH. If the delivery person insists on payment first, you should be pointing him toward the road. I have had people offer me money before delivery is made. My comment is simple to this. 'I want you to trust me and until my wood is delivered and you are satisfied, you should not be offering to pay me before you see what is being really delivered.' Many have been surprised. as for me, I am somewhat shocked that this is considered as the norm in the HRM area. PEOPLE, YOU NEED TO ADDRESS THINGS DIFFERENTLY and DO NOT PAY UNTIL YOU ARE SURE YOU HAVE GOTTEN WHAT YOU AGREED TO BUY and BE SOLD.

(7) WHAT IS FAIR TO YOU, AND FOR YOU , THE CONSUMER?:
On the other hand, fair is fair. If the wood is delivered as agreed upon, please pay the man. He earned your trust and honesty if he was truthful and honest with you in all respects. If it is not what was agreed upon, in all fairness----do help him, or make arrangements for someone to help load it back on the truck for a fee and get it out of your yard.  If not, it could easily become a police matter. And in this day and age-----lawyers are the only winners because they get paid first with NO GUARANTEES on the OUTCOME. Keep in mind that the Government is slack and on the whole, DO NOT CARE about YOUR RIGHTS as a CONSUMER. Call them beforehand and ask what your options are. Trust me, you will be astonished at the lack of proper responses that have credence relating to protection for you. Remember this, on tendering delivery to your property, once the delivery is made (delivered and dumped on your property) the law will be on his side. Based on the situation, it could be one of several embarrassing moments, charges or worse. NEVER ORDER WOOD IF YOU CANNOT AFFORD TO PAY FOR IT WHEN SERVICES ARE TENDERED.

NOTICE TO READER:
Further to any of the above; YOU MUST NOT calculate and use any of the scales above, and through this site, if you are dealing with both MIXED WOOD and GREEN WOOD. If you choose to, you will have to determine how much of a reduction there is and just what that 'GREAT DEAL' on the wood is worth that you are buying. It is important to remember that this is not complicated if you follow the scale with one type of wood. If it is mixed wood --- good luck. There are no laboratory tests or facts available. This is all about good wood being a wood of ONE SPECIES, and not MIXED WOOD when it comes to any of the information gathered, and herein enclosed.


    (8) LEARNING THE DIFFERENT TYPES OF WOOD.
 BELOW; NOTE THE DIFFERENT COMPARISONS  OF HARDWOODS  IN GENERAL:

It is important to familiarize yourself with the bark and textures of wood to avoid being scammer on wood appearing to look like Maple. also, in the Poplar family around Nova Scotia, there are approximately five of the Poplar family being sold off as good winter firewood. BE ON YOUR TOES and LEARN WHAT CERTAIN TYPES OF WOOD LOOK LIKE. Remember, this is all about DENSITY in wood and nothing more.



The picture directly on the left is called 'Green Poplar', as referred to by many as 'thin skinned Poplar. Note the greenish and yellowish tinge on the smooth bark. Unfortunately, when this is cut, the appearance will change somewhat as it dries. This does make it easier for anyone to sell by being mixed in and portrayed as a good hardwood. On a scale of 1 to 10, a fair rating would be about a 4 to 5 on the hardwood scale. It is what many call a garbage wood like the White Birch. The next time you drive on the highways and roadways of this province, note the trees and scrub trees on side of the highways growing in clumps. In winter it is just as easy.  The White Birch clearly stands out. It is the same with the thin skinned Poplar since they too become bare. The Green and Yellow Poplar; along with the White Birch will be found almost everywhere and has been many a nightmare for phone and power companies being more the one responsible for downed phone and power lines. The two trees in comparison are very soft and WILL NOT take the forces of Mother Nature due to the soft and fast growth they endure. 

The picture in the middle is Yellow Poplar (some refer to it as grey poplar) which many confuse as White Poplar. These two breeds have a very different texture to the bark, but almost identical leaves making it harder to distinguish when dry. This is also passed off as a good hardwood in comparison to Maple by many when IT IS NOT. These two Poplar breeds will dry quickly and in many cases do a fast burn leaving a very fine powdery residue or ash base. On a scale of 1 to 10, I would rate it as about a 4 to maybe a 5 on the winter heat scale. The heat is very hot. It will not last due to the speed it burns. Can you slow the burn? Hardly----unless you practically smother it and then you will be burning at less that 250F and will draw you closer to a CREOSOTE issue. This is a cheap wood that many processors and sellers mix with other forms of hardwood labelling them as 'Firewood'. There is little market for these two woods other than wood shingles, pasture fencing, wall board, strawberry boxes and a few other uses. That being said, like anything----what the heck----the opinion is, 'sell it to someone since there are a lot of suckers out there with bulls eyes painted on the center of their forehead.' ARE YOU ONE? 

The picture on the right is my favourite of the Poplar family. This is the texture and bark of a growing Black Poplar tree. Unfortunately, there are many who pass off several of these types of the Poplar Family as Maple and Beech. Remember, the POPLAR FAMILY is the ONLY tree that is basically thin skinned and when green, it can be scraped by a fingernail to reveal its true colour in and under the thin bark. It is very important to notice the widened and deep growing grooves of the Black Poplar as the bark becomes thicker with each passing year. It will resemble Maple and sadly, it is passed as Maple. 

You can really notice the difference in density and bark in the photos below of the 10 cord sitting piled on the side of my yard. Older trees will gather moss much in the way older lobster gather barnacles on their shells saying, 'leave me be----I am an old one.' Some of these Black Poplar trees have been scaled and aged to as much as 135 years old and can grow as much as two meters on the base. The leaves, when present, are different from the rest of the Poplar family having both a different texture and jagged edges compared to the small smooth surface of the other Poplar family. As some people may say, the leaf is raindrop or somewhat heart-shaped with what appears to be very fine, but jagged edges on the outline of the leaf. The colour of the leaf is a very dark green. In the fall is when the noticeable change comes about in the leaves. They will turn black. Because of the colour change, the tree is known as Black Poplar and by many is classified in the 'Populus Balsamifera' family. In the spring, the buds are resinous and quite aromatic. The flowers (yes-----it actually blooms in a sense of speaking) mature in usually late April and May and is considered as one of the quicker leafing trees. The wood itself is remarkable housing a nearly white textured colour to grayish and /or reddish brown.

 I love this wood for burning. It helps keep me on top of the CREOSOTE issue. It is great for a fast hot burning in the mornings after a slow night burn. For me personally; and having used it for years, I would clearly rate it as an 8 to a 9 on a burn scale and definitely higher for heat quality.  On the other hand, if there was no quality, why would it be used for plywood for kitchen cabinets, flooring and so on? Given a good air tight stove with bricks on the sides and bottom, this wood will perform and burn to 87 to 90% or better in comparison to the Maple family. I sold this to one customer and her husband and from one of the letters I received, they just love the way it performs. Hey----- best ask them if you don't believe me. 

        Green Poplar                          Yellow Poplar                                    Black Poplar

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Below on the left is a good picture of what Hard Maple looks like in comparison to the center picture being that of the Black Poplar. You can see in many ways how this can easily be passed off as Maple if you look closely. BEWARE! If you are buying MAPLE, make sure it is Maple that you are getting and not the shaft from the mine on this one. Close up and on the ends, it is quite easy to distinguish the different characteristics. Hard Maple is just that. It is hard to saw, split and will definitely hold the heat due to the density of the wood. Should you want to check on the age of a tree or wood delivered, ask for a few pieces to be delivered whole. Look at the center of the rings on the largest piece. Each ring from the center out will count as a growing year and therefore help you in determining how old the tree is. Remember, the older the Maple is, the more density it has. As for the picture in the middle, it is merely to show you the comparison of the Maple verses the Black Poplar. As for the burning quality of Hard Maple, it will burn as one of the best winter hardwood firewoods we have in this province. Oh true; Apple tree wood and Oak are harder. However; it takes two years for them to cure and season. As for a burn rating, it is definitely a 9 plus and close to a 10 in my books.But, that is if seasoned properly to get the best that it offers.

On the far right is the Yellow Birch. Standing close up, it does have a yellowish/light green tinge  (WITH NO WHITE ON THE BARK) which makes it stand out from other trees. This is the best quality Birch you will find if burning by itself. It is an all around wood and will come close to comparing to the Maple family. The under bark is thick and can be anywhere from 1/4 inch to as much and more than 1/2 inch thick. On this wood, there is no way to fool anyone on seasoning, just like the Maple. Since it has a density very comparable to the Hard Maple, the bark when seasoned will lift in two sections being the top layer will EASILY peel away from the lower darkened brown bark. The lower bark when dry will peel and will normally break away in dry sections. If it doesn't-------you best be asking lots of questions and the seller should be prepared for good answers. As a firewood, bugs, worms and larvae tend to stay away from it when it comes to a food source and laying eggs. It is one of the best woods for avoiding infestation due to the thickness and hardness of the bark.

As for comparison to the Black Poplar, it will compare to about a 90% burn rate. As to Maple, they will burn very close coming in at about 90 to 95%. In the Maple family, it is more suited to be compared to the Silver or Sugar Maple for quality. I definitely would rate it on an 8.5 to 9.5  scale based on quality and BTU's, if BURNED by itself and properly seasoned. Remember this; MIXED WOOD does not give you the best in QUALITY, HEAT and BTU'S. However; ask Mr. Smith if MIXED WOOD and POOR QUALITY WOOD can give you headaches.
  Hard Maple                                    Black Poplar                               Yellow Birch

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Below on the center is a small stand of the White Birch. I call this garbage wood. It does have a decent heating value and peeling the bark makes great kindling. It will burn quick due to mainly the size, the quick growth and the fact it will grow on anything and anywhere. Again, this is found easily along the highways and more prevalent to where there is a vast moisture or ground content of water. You will find it growing near ditches, swampy areas and practically anywhere you look. It is easy to distinguish because of the white bark and scraggly limps. It is more of a nuisance wood  (that I compare with the Alder bush or tree wood) that ends up in many a wood pile because of the fact it is a hardwood tree. It is a good quality hardwood? No!!!! This is one that you will find in many mixed hardwood loads as some of the other wood discussed on this site. What would be a fair burn rating? In my opinion and under the circumstances; and since I do find the odd piece in loads from time to time, (or shall I say I used to) I burn it myself and DON'T sell it.  As for performance; it burns quick if seasoned and will burn about the same as the Green and Yellow Poplar. What is the heat value? It is quick and does not last well. On a scale to 1 to 10 I would rate it as about a 5 to a 6 for a seasoned hardwood. When you have ratings under 8 on any wood for winter burning, you are dropping down on the scale of quality and BTU performance. When buying from anyone, their price should be reflected to the value of the wood as far as output of BTU's and quality. It you like the idea of tossing your money away, then by all means DO BUY MIXED FIREWOOD. 
                                                         
The first picture below is a stand of White Birch mixed with some spruce softwood and green poplar in the background. It is funny that I should take notice of the white birch. I have it here on my property and in the house for burning. But---- I don't and won't sell it. As a quality wood, it is low. However, in a neat test yesterday I wanted to be 100% sure on what I wrote. I took two pieces of round White Birch, two equal pieces of round Black Poplar and two pieces of small round Maple. I burned them all together. There was no surprise to me. The White Birch was the quickest to disappear in the stove. It was also the lightest with the least amount of density from seasoning. The Black Poplar held on about 5 minutes or so, less than the Maple, but about 12 minutes longer than the White Birch. As for the coals, there were multiples where the White Birch was. The Black Poplar was more of a powder form. And the Maple, it was still burning and producing heat.




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Below left is the White Birch from above. In the middle is what is called Soft or Silver Maple, or some call Sugar Maple. This is the Maple Wood that was burned with the Black Poplar (on the right) and White Birch yesterday the 24th of December/2011 in this test. Again, this clearly proves the differentials in heating with mixed wood when seasoned. As for the Hard and Rock Maple-----I had none that was round this size. 




White Birch                             Silver Maple                          Black Poplar
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(9) UNDERSTANDING SPECIALIZED CUTTING AND WHY IT IS USED:
This is a process of going thru acreage and taking out only what is ordered. Not many people will do this. Not many wood-lot owners want this. However; for a higher price off the stump, many will. I buy only specialized cut wood. I sell one type per order or truckload and will not indulge in mixed wood. I do pay a extra for that service and wood,. In turn, I offer a straight load of one particular wood to the public. This way you are assured of not only the best wood, but the best quality, and in turn, you are getting the best burning BTU's available, since it IS NOT MIXED WOOD. Being straight Maple, Black Poplar, Yellow Birch or Hackmatac wood, it gives you better quality, better burning and better control in what and how you buy it. Remember; mixed wood is cheaper in the long run to the producer because he takes all the garbage with it and is much less work in the long term. While doing this, he just mixes it all together and summarizes it as Hardwood or Winter Firewood. I do not do that. In a way, it is like a Paper Mill. They will specify one or two types of wood and stick with it. The more variation of wood you use, the more problematic issues you can end up having through a maze of confused burning.

Picture on the left of Hard Maple.   The center is Soft/Sugar Maple. The right is of Rock Maple. 
If you are buying MAPLE HARDWOOD, it is important to note the texture and growth density between  all three. Also keep in mind, Sugar/Soft and Silver Maple is essentially the same tree and will grow with similar density and quality. The heating BTU's are quite comparable with as little as 10 to 15% differential between them. The Rock and Hard Maple is easily distinguished by the rough and ragged texture on the bark on the right.


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The direct picture below is that of Yellow Birch. This is the one that will burn closest to the Maple family. It is easily distinguished from the White Birch by the Silvery Yellow/Green bark.

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This is the Black Poplar below. Note the closeness in texture to some of the Maple family. In many cases it is passed off , and is sold as Soft and Silver Maple because it is so close. However, one of the things to look for is the curvature and depth of the bark. On the Black Poplar the bark will be 2 to as much as 4 times thicker than the Maple with deeper end grooves on the cut.



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I consider these products above as some of the best Winter  Hardwood used as a Winter Firewood if properly chosen and seasoned for any stove or firewood burning method. 
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When you look at clear cutting, spot cutting, mixed wood, volume, cordage and how it is calculated, it is important to understand what a piled cord is. What is determined as a loose cord, and what Mixed Wood is are questions you need to ponder. We have covered most of all of these throughout and in one of the other sections. However; I will simplify this by merely pointing out that in this business there are two forms of cording wood. On the other side of the coin, it is like having two kinds of wood, being good winter wood and bad winter wood. For anyone buying and burning wood, it is essential to know wood quite well if you do not know your supplier and what he sells. It is also extra helpful to learn how to cube wood, and fully understand the difference between a 128 Cubic foot cord verses a 168 Cubic foot cord. On top of that, learn how to be wood wise, to tell the differentials being sold and delivered to you. I am sure if you spoke to Mr. Smith, his views now would hit home hard. 

(10) THE THINGS THAT SOME CUTTERS and SELLERS WILL DO TO MAKE SALES:
This brings forth a sort of sad, but yet story people should read. I contracted cordage of Black Poplar from a cutter just 20 miles from New Minas in September. I went and looked at the stand. He was clearing a roadway to make room for a housing development road. I was happy with the price negotiated between him and myself, the agreement, and the wood. Come a month later he called me, telling me the wood was ready. It it wasn't the 35 to 40 cord we agreed upon. I was disappointed. I told him to send it anyway. The next day the owner of the truck called me and asked me if I had seen the wood. I told him only when it was standing. He clearly stated that he didn't want to have to load it and have to return it if I wasn't satisfied. He described what his driver told him about the wood. He did suggest I drive out to see it. I did. I was flabbergasted to find top limb cuts and about 60% of the load way under the size I use, and make available for sale. I rough scaled the load and instead of the 14 cord the cutter advised me was there, it scaled less than 12 cord. Considering the size, it would have scaled out to somewhere about 8 cord. Most was actually too small to have any BTU value. I shook my head and just walked away.

Later that evening he called me in a huff. In the process of the conversation, he did volunteer that there had been bigger wood. He ended up selling that to a friend who wanted all of the larger wood for a project he was into. My response to him was simple. 'If I wanted to purchase toothpicks for elephants, I would have ordered toothpicks for elephants.' He quickly retorted, 'who the hell am I going to sell this to? I need the money. I had to hire someone to help me cut it.' Without thinking my response was simple: 'You got the wood for the cost of cutting it. You made an agreement with me on supply. You reneged on that deal----not me. I suggest your friend who bought the other wood should take the balance and solve your little problem.' To that he simply replied; 'it was too small for his needs.' I simply wished him good luck and hung up. We were talking about a week ago----being two months after the first conversation. I asked if he still had the wood. He replied that he did, but was filling an order with some White Birch and some other wood to go with it. Let this be a lesson on how cutters dispose of what they don't want and cannot sell. Some poor sucker will buy this and get stuck with one heck of a load of trash hoping to get a good deal, save money and end up with some good wood to burn. This is a prime example----and yes people----this does happen in the process called 'A Deal'. I suppose one could compare this to what happened to Mr. Smith in the end.

In September I bought 42 cords of wood from another supplier from New Ross. This was an experience that ended up being far from good. The wood arrived. The first load arrived in 16 foot lengths. There is too much lost in the cutting and splitting in 16 foot wood. This was refused and turned away. A couple of days later what I ordered arrived. It was somewhat decent. Aside from looking like it made its way through a wet dirt war with a thousand buxom women mud wrestlers, it was Maple with a bit of Yellow Birch Mixed in. However; it was supposed to be strictly Maple. It must have been a screw up on the operator's part or he didn't know the difference on trees. Perhaps he dug the wood up out of the ground instead of cutting it from the earth. On top of that, there were more limbs on the wood than I think some of the trees actually had. And this wood went through a wood processor or harvester???? Whoa! Was the operator asleep at the wheel? A word to the wise-----BE ON YOUR TOES when buying 8, 12 & 16 foot loads. The second and third arrived in the days and week following. More dirt and mud covered much of the wood? Do we want to talk about more women mud wrestlers? Man-----this wood was worst than the first. Nonetheless-----I needed the wood. However; it is tough when you literally have to pressure wash the wood off before processing it. By the time I had gotten through the first two loads, I pulled out THREE CORDS of Rotten Center Wood that in my opinion was literally was nothing more than dropped trash or fallen trees. (Actually, I am posting the pictures of the crap below this section that arrived. It was unloaded here, picked through and finally sent back.) 

On the third load in, the driver and I had words. I definitely think it must have upset him, since it took him nearly two hours to get out of the mess he managed to get himself into in my yard with the truck. Let's not go there. Aside from that, I was informed by the driver that if they had to do this extra work on loading wood for me and picking through wood to get me what I wanted, things would be different than originally agreed upon. I was confused. Did I miss something here? He told me that they would be looking at a jump in the price by at least $10.00 or more a cord. HELLO???? He told me this was what he was instructed by head office to charge. He told me since they had to do extra work to get me the wood I wanted there would be the extra charge. Shall I be polite and say words were had again between me, the truck driver and through him; his dispatch office. They were told in clear words by me, 'if this is the crap you do with people and to customers who give you money, get it all out of my yard and give me the money back that I already paid.' They quickly dismissed that option. In the end, it was established they had multiple pricing format for different customers. HELLO-----did they really think I fell off of a turnip truck bound for glory? Is this what you deem as someone good to buy from? I think not. Shall we just say the relationship ended there. In the process of this, I spoke to the trucking firm owner on the cell phone who was also the owner of the wood. I even kept the Emails back and forth, including the pictures that were sent to them should there be any arguments on this one.))) The trash below in the third set of pictures was loaded back on the truck and returned. It was also deducted from the current and final load delivered. For me, this was a lot of extra work in weeding out the junk from the good wood.

These were 2 loads of the 3 being delivered behind the Black Poplar. Notice the rotten and decayed pieces that we ended up picking through the pile to send back on the next load. Imagine; the owner selling this junk felt that this was good wood because no other people complained.
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Below is the other side of the two piles that were delivered and we were expected to keep. If you look at or bring the load up in size you can clearly see the decayed wood throughout the pile.
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When I spoke to the owner on the phone, he clearly stated, 'I have been selling wood like this for 30 years or more, and you are the first to complain. What makes you any better than my other customers? Why should you require pick and choose wood? If you want that, there will be at least a $10.00 surcharge per cord.' I simply responded; 'because this is my money and I am the customer. I do expect to buy good quality wood. When I sell wood, I want my customers to know they received wood that I would use and back myself. The one lesson I have learned here is simple, this trash is not good wood and I don't want crap like this in my yard. My customers deserve better than this.' What is so funny about this whole thing is that this is the same business who stated two weeks earlier and I quote; 'perhaps Frank you shouldn't be buying from the smaller cutters and processors. It is obvious they can't meet your demand. It is more than quite obvious that they cannot get the job done as quickly and supply wood as we can.' Hello! The simple truth is, I now will be buying from the SMALL CUTTERS and clearly know what I will be getting.

This was a lesson to me about the bigger businesses who  make their claims by thinking they can dump whatever crap out there they want and call it good wood. The lesson here is simple. Whether you are a processor like me, or an individual buying 8, 12 or 16 foot wood to cut for yourself; be on your toes. Get the best wood you can for your money. Remember this; rotten wood, small wood, garbage wood, mixed wood, dirty wood and people's leftovers should be refused and sent back. You are the one in charge of your money. How you spend it, and what you spend it for should be based on quality. For your money, you do deserve the best you can afford.

THIS WAS PART OF THE WOOD DELIVERED TO US AND RETURNED. NOTICE THE              ROT and DECAYED INSIDES. WOOD LIKE THIS IS A PRIME HOME FOR RODENTS AND INFESTATION. This was just 1/4 of it that was returned.
                          
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On the other side of the coin, I will be carrying Black Poplar ONLY from the Poplar family. Black Poplar has a very similar textured bark to the Rock Maple. It is just lighter grey in colour and not as hard. It is important  to remember NOT TO COMPARE the two types of wood. They are designed for different forms of heat. However; the bark is a mid to dark grey and very thick as opposed to the rest of the Poplar family. In some cases and on the larger trees, it has been known to reach 1/2 inch in thickness. Upon seasoning, it too houses a fantastic quality in the bark being used as kindling or for starting fires. It will burn and heat to about 87 to 90% of the general Maple family if it is seasoned and used properly. Understand, anyone can burn wood. Nonetheless; the key is thinking about it and utilizing your wood by the best means possible.


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ABOVE PILE IS A FRONT VIEW OF THE BLACK POPLAR AND GOOD SIZES. This is an excellent cutting of the wood in general and does offer many different heat options.
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BELOW IS A FRONT/SIDE VIEW OF THE SAME PILE CLEARLY SHOWING VERY  LITTLE DIFFERENCE IN BARK FROM THE ORDINARY  SOFT AND SILVER MAPLE.

NOTE THE CLOSENESS IN COMPARISON TO SOME OF THE MAPLE FAMILY. 
WHEN BUYING MAPLE, MAKE SURE IT IS MAPLE AND NOT BLACK POPLAR. 
THE FRONT OF THE PILE WILL GIVE YOU A GOOD VIEW OF THE DIFFERENCE IN DENSITY BEING A BIT SOFTER AND MORE POROUS THAN THE MAPLE FAMILY.


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PLEASE NOTE THE PICTURES OF THE SAME BLACK POPLAR ON THE BOTTOM.  THE TEXTURE OF BARK IN COMPARISON TO THE MAPLE FAMILY VIEWED LARGER. 
THEY ARE VERY CLOSE AND SOME PEOPLE DO SELL IT AS MAPLE HARDWOOD. ONE OF THE THINGS HERE THAT I PRIDE MYSELF ON IS THAT ALL WOOD DELIVERED IS SKIDDED AND KEPT OFF OF THE GROUND.


The BELOW left picture is Black Poplar standing uncut in my yard. 

The CENTER cut is the log cut or tree showing the years of growth after one has been cut. You can tell the age counting the rings from the center outward to the bark. Note the thickness of the bark that I mentioned above.


The picture on the FAR RIGHT is of the same pile as above. It is BLACK POPLAR. It is important to understand that all of this wood and pictures are of the SAME PRODUCT. What is interesting is that many people pass this product off as a form of the Maple Family and sell it as Maple.  In simple terms; BEWARE OF WHAT YOU ARE BUYING IF YOU WANT GOOD WOOD AND VALUE!
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If you are in the woods and tree seeking or searching, (so to speak) the leaves of the Black Poplar are much different from the rest of the Aspen (Poplar) family trees. It has a staggered edge and clearly is different by having a rough edged leaf. Considering there is white, yellow and green Poplar in the Aspen family in these areas just to mention a few, I choose to stay away from these whereas they are just poor types of wood for any long term heat. They will also perform with less BTU output. However; anyone wanting a quick burn, camp fire, or wood that is almost creosote free, those three Poplar wood species will do the trick.  You can even burn these three green. All in all; I don't suggest you do it. The best news is that Black Poplar will season quicker than Maple, Yellow Birch and some of the softwood family. Black Poplar will cut down on Creosote deposits. If the burn is hot from time to time, it can help in cleaning chimney deposits caused by Creosote. When you look at Black Poplar this way, it too becomes more popular than other wood types classified and used in the Winter Firewood Family. Still, its best value is to be burned by itself and not in conjunction with other wood. If  you want to get the best bang for your buck, stick with one type of wood at a time and move away from MIXED WOOD.
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SECTION #3 Continued:

(1) WOOD BURNING HAZARDS and how it can affect you and your family:

There can be be many hazards involved in wood burning. However, as in any fuel----this is true. As a matter of fact,  for any form of energy used for heat, should negligence, lack of understanding toward any heating system, or inexperience come into the mix; problems will be encountered. This is a PRIME CONCERN when it comes to unlicensed people selling wood and selling a product that they themselves do not understand and care about.  This is an area where I will not pick on wood alone. Many fires are caused by other issues such as poor electrical wiring. There are also issues with electric overload on the wires and fuse panels, propane being used without proper and regular maintenance by someone certified. As in oil, again, the same will apply. Problems usually arise from short cuts and the need to try and save money. The interesting issue here is that GOVERNMENT has seen fit to install strict controls on how these products are sold, dispersed and utilized. So, why is wood and wood sellers different? It sure bests the hell out of me.

The most important issue to consider is a clean source of energy that produces good BTU benefit. In the case of wood, and any related wood products; and whereas it is a more hands on process, considerations should be given to many of the following points. Carbon Monoxide poisoning, health hazards and issues, creosote build up, indoor air pollution, the lack of proper and improper oxygen flow and ventilation, the lack of experience or education in using and burning wood for a heat source are just a few. Funny though, if you are installing a wood stove, between the Government and Insurance Company there are strict controls. So, why is wood and wood sellers different? Again, it sure beats the hell out of me.

The biggest problems are negligence and just plain ignorance to the fact of what some people will do in saving a buck by the cheapest methods possible. The cheaters and Scammers count on you for this. I must admit and say in all fairness, 'over the years I have been guilty of trying to cut corners and save a buck. Nonetheless, once riding myself of the burden oil the cost of oil, things took a change for the better.' This notation that I bring forth next was difficult. I had several to choose from, but this one I remember clearly and just gnawed at me for a multiple of reasons. It is a very sad story for many reasons. You have to understand the importance of why I refer to certain things as the 'Silent Killer'  and emphasize some more than others on this site.

Do you remember the British youth located in Morton, near Dorchester, Dorset, England-----(Declan Oliver 19 years of age) who died of Carbon Monoxide poisoning in May of 2010? This was due to an improper installed wood stove? Who was responsible and why----- is not the issue. Whether or not the purchaser was sold, or given the proper items by the store clerk, again, is not the issue. What apparently wasn't sold was the Carbon Monoxide warning device. This is all about using common sense and knowing both your wood products, stove, required need, the moisture content of the wood, the type of wood you burn, and mostly, all of the protection necessary in the way of devices, education and accessories that should be used together when it comes to safety for you and your family.

 The issue is, that sadly----it happened. IT HAPPENS from time to time and in more ways than one.  Sadly, there are hundreds of these incidents that DO NOT make the grade when it comes to news, awareness and education. Incidents as these can be avoided if common sense is used. On the other hand, it can happen from ANY HEAT SOURCE if not installed correctly and maintained properly. There have been other incidents where heating devices were installed properly, and again----things happened that resulted in death. I do believe in Nova Scotia last year alone there were several. The key is simple. Get a licensed wet installer to do the job. Just because he says he is licensed, be tough. Ask to see his license card. Why should ANYONE selling wood, making wood available be treated differently. Well, in Nova Scotia it is simple. The politicians don't care about much unless it is gouging the consumer, padding their pensions and making things better for themselves hoping they won't get caught as a few of the crooked ones did last year. WOW! The lesson this spells out is simple. 'Do it until you get caught.' Sadly, the CONSUMER is getting caught daily because of the Government and Politician's ignorance to do what is right. 

However, as for the Wet Installer License, all in this Province to be qualified must carry one. So, what about the wood seller and why is he different and left off of the hook? Yes, I am one and I have been fighting for regulations to protect the unsuspecting consumer. And like me later in this section, 'Take nothing for granted because even the best laid plans can have faults with the possibility of mistakes and failure.' The whole idea here should be about Safety for YOUR FAMILY, PROTECTION TOWARD YOUR HOME------ no matter what the heating source may be and how it is dispersed. WE FRIGGIN' NEED CONTROLS.

Did you know that wood heat will definitely keep you warmer than other forms of energy? We have been using it for centuries. However, like anything, it comes with a price tag. Considering that you could have an undiagnosed health condition; keeping this in mind, and that if so; and if one is diagnosed, people with the following problems can be at risk. Some of these are; Persons with heart or lung disease. While others include angina, emphysema, asthma, COPD and CHF. In older adults there is a strong possibility of them possibly suffering from overall chronic health conditions such as, and including, respiratory infections associated with pneumonia, and overall breathing difficulties. And then there are the children whom we usually don't consider. Did you ever wonder what affect that any of these hazards, if any, may have on a child whose lungs are still in the developmental stages? Did you know and consider that they breathe more air in based on their per pound body weight than that of an adult? That is just the tip of the iceberg on health issues. And let me guess----you never pondered any of these for consideration. These are issues that are allowed to progress forward because of many reasons that include the quality of wood, proper installations of fire burning utensils, moisture content, mixed wood, people burning pallets and treated wood....and the list continues. 

Nonetheless; the worst enemies in wood are ignorance to the fact, cheaters, liars, scammers, negligence, creosote, improper stove installation, burning garbage wood, poor wood, mixed combinations of make-up wood, and the lack of proper maintenance.Why is it that I place the word of ignorance in print? Sadly; many people turn to wood because there are so many different forms of it available and in a lot of cases-----FREE!

In many areas, items like free pallets and construction wood are a bonus. I am not sure why. Many of them contain things as house paint, contamination, enamels, arsenic and glues that inhibit them. They normally don't come that way. It happens because they are used and with the contaminations that become the arch enemy because of the lack of controls, serve little safe purpose. More of these include free construction wood, which again house toxic components such as glue, oils, caulking, and who knows what. Then there is discarded and left over firewood wood beyond its practical stages and life span. The Government never helped us there by enforcing fees to rid ourselves of this burden when it comes to taking contaminated products to the dump. Sadly, many can't afford it so they burn it not knowing how dangerous it really is.

From there we jump into the fire with chemicialized wood pieces such as wall-board, aspenite, melamine, old used pressure treated decking, painted shingles. Oh---let's not forget forget treated lumber used as kindling, plywood, painted trim wood, and the list goes on. Then we turn to the dropped trees and limbs that have been saturated with years of rot and decay.  Have you been guilty of any of this? I was a few times until I learned how stupid and ignorant I was. Perhaps it was the FREE word for the taking that made me overenthusiastic.

These forms of wood are toxic giving off such chemicals as Copper, Chromate and Arsenic as well as the glued components. Why is simple! This is what some of them are treated with. The key word here is treated. On top of that, we then have painted wood products, glued products and other products made from a mixture of wood, plastics and who knows what. Hell, is there any wonder why they don't want this stuff in the dump? Ahhhh, let's burn it. It is wood. We can save money. WOW......who thought this would be stupid? Simply put; you are literally playing with both FIRE and LIFE. Did you know that a piece of wood that is pressure treated; let us use a piece of 8 foot, 2 inch, by 4 inch spruce, can be treated with with over 1/2 ounce of inorganic arsenic, and in sensible terms we can all understand, if this amount was to be released, it would be enough arsenic poisoning to kill over 100 PEOPLE at any given time.

Are there dangers in wood? Do they come with warnings such as: 'Chemicalized Product. Do not incinerate.' Not really. It is people who are dangerous. It is the Scammers, the Cheaters, the Liars who will do anything, say anything to get into your wallet. It is the lack of information available, the lack of education posted properly to protect people and educate people from these Chemicalized wood products. As for the Government Sites designed to promote safety and education, personally, they fail and are worthy of 1/4 of the useful information contained on mine. So....here we go again. WE DO NEED CONTROLS! Remember this; if you haul any of these products away from a business; whether free or not, and something happens----- it is not their problem. To them, it is out of their hands and dumping fees are saved on disposal. For them it is as simple as, 'hey boss----- we found some sucker to help us save money by taking it off of our hands. Do I get my raise now?' Therefore; in comes the ignorance factor. Did you ever see bits of oil or things you couldn't place on pallet wood? I have? I have seen oil, battery acid, grease, and other forms of contamination on pallets. Remember two things on pallets:
 (1) Many are made from garbage wood and are throw away pallets.
 (2) Many are discarded because they are unsafe. I have also seen people picking these pallets up, and the same persons actually selling the wood for kindling and burning.

This is one of the areas the law makers in Government fail us. People need to be protected since many of us will not do it ourselves. However; let something go wrong and they are the first looking to sue or find a pension. Remember; burning pressure treated wood DOES NOT KILL the arsenic. It can kill you though. Did you also know that 'Minute Particles', or 'FLY ASH', coming from Chemicalized wood can have, and generate Serious Health Problems and Concerns? There are no warning bells, whistles or lights. There is also no taste or odour. There is nothing other than the lurking monster sweeping throughout the comfortable home like a well disguised, but yet, invisible ghost, as the warmth from that unsuspecting fire challenges the health of your family and friends. Simply put.....THINK BEFORE USING OR BURNING THAT FREE WOOD. THINK ABOUT THE WOOD, THE DEAL YOU THINK YOU ARE GETTING WHEN YOU BUY WOOD FROM ONE OF THE KNOWN SCAMMERS AND CHEATERS. HELL, NOT ONLY ARE THEY CHEATING YOU, THEY ARE ALSO CHEATING THE GOVERNMENT. But wait, it has been proven that politicians in Nova Scotia cheat, lie and steal. So, perhaps this is why it is legal for the wood liars, cheaters and scammers to fraudulently misrepresent what they do and how they do it. The Government make it an easy game because there are NO CONTROLS and Tom, Dick and the Harry's grow at an ever increasing rate.  

 Do you have a working smoke detector in the house? If so, there should be more than one. Do you have a Carbon Monoxide Detector installed and working? If so, there should really be more than one. Do you have a working fire extinguisher close, or near the source of heat? If so, why not two or three? It is important to understand that they can help in saving your life should there be a problem. I know-----this is all about extra money. Then you think, 'I don't need it with oil, electricity, natural gas and propane.' Really-----and where is that written in the book of smarts? Who needs them? You do, if you heat your home with anything. Should a pellet stove, electric heater or electric stove be any different? No. Remember this, a spark, hidden or smothered flame, or anything that creates a form of energy related to, or from burning, can be a potential concern or hazard. Imagine a few strands of pet hair as a build-up on an electric heater for instance. Don't blame the animal or pet. It is part of them living as is our hair. That would be considered as our negligence since we were too busy to clean it.

Remember, on a wood fire; whether it be a stove, fireplace or fireplace insert, it is extremely important to keep flammable products such as curtains,  furniture, kindling, paper and especially, anything made of polyester as far as possible from the heat source. Children and pets SHOULD NOT be allowed to play near or by a burning stove. Many things do have different kindling temperatures. And you ask, what is kindling temperature? (In simple terms-----Kindling temperature is the lowest temperature in which anything will ignite into flame or burn.) However, it could be that trip, slip, fall, freak accident, or just something stupid that could cause a fire through upsetting a stove or knocking the stove pipe out of place. What is worse, any of these could cause a stove pipe to become dislodged from its safe position. Every day someone should be checking the stove and pipe for problems. ALWAYS THINK POSITIVE AND BE SAFE. ACCIDENTS and NEGLIGENCE go hand in hand and are just waiting for a place to happen. 

(2) ANOTHER MAJOR CONCERN IS AVOIDING A MISHAP or HAZARD!!!!
Having the stove in the proper safe place is one thing. Having the correct clearances through the wall away from studs is another. Insulation with a non-burnable substance through any wall where stove pipes go would not be a bad idea. When my kitchen stove was installed, a simple calculation error almost cost me my home by fire. Should I not have been at home and the fire going, I would have lost my home and pets. What happened was an accident, but, it surely would have ignited the wall studs whereas the stove was pipe was installed too close to a cross stud above the actual installation. I could smell something,  but couldn't not find anything burning or overheating. The wall was even cool around the pipe. At first I tossed it aside and thought it may be the new paint burning from the pipe, or inside smell of the same. Incidentally; should you choose to paint your pipes for appearance, please make sure it is fire rated paint and with the heat rating clearly displayed on the can.

 After awhile it got stronger. I tore the section of wall around the pipe to investigate. I found the heat off of the pipe rising upwards only to be stopped at the cross stud about a foot above the pipe. I put my hand over the stud and found it somewhat cool. It was slightly warm. I was actually flabbergasted when I touched the head of the nails supporting it into the upright wood support studs. The nails were actually too hot to hold onto. I immediately smothered the fire and proceeded to remove the whole back portion of the wall behind the stove. Both wooden cross studs were in the same condition being cool. It was the nail heads that were quite hot. What I quickly learned was that even though the wood stud cross pieces were cool, the heat from the pipe had caused the nails to get very warm. If left as was, and in time,  it would have made its presence known. If this would not have been detected before it was too late, there would have been a very good chance  that fire would have been the result. The kindling temperature from the nails could have caused a smouldering within the wood from the metal, and then a fire. 

This was all removed and a double thickness (two layers) of heavy 3/4 inch fire rated gyproc installed without nails or screws. The hole was made larger and a wall section of Selkirk Flue was installed from about 1 1/2 feet inside of the wall to the direct outside eliminating almost all of the inner wall heat. My clearances now around my outgoing pipe are well beyond legal tolerances. They are about 6 inches in a boxed  in wood framing covered by double thickness fire rated gyproc. This was just one hazard to look for when stoves are being installed and a good measure of protection for having a safe wood heat as a source. 

Behind my stove is a heat shield made from silver galvanize of 18 gauge placed on three inch pivots away from the wall. Even though the manufacturers tag clearly stated 18 inches, I chose to be safer. The shield is three inches from the wall. It allows a good source of cool air to flow behind the protective barrier and between the wall. If installing one of these, it is a good idea to have it up from the floor at least three to four inches. The floor being the colder of the area, the cool air avoids trapped heat that is always subjected to the wall. The air is then allowed to flow back and forth, as well as up and down without obstruction or restriction. Note the pictures showing the installation below. Another thing to keep in mind when installing stoves is to MAKE SURE that your pipe from the stove has as fewer turns in it as possible. This will help avoid Creosote gathering and formation deposits from the result of low temperature burning and draft from unseasoned wood and proper oxygen flow in the chimney. Funny though, all are based on Government Controls and Regulations. Funny thing, why is there no controls on wood sellers in this Province? 

My both stoves sit on ceramic floor. I have made a framed plywood base for both being two inches above the floor. This is to contain any ash or possibly sparks from getting onto the floor and moving about. Accidents can happen. When cleaning out ashes, it allows me closer access to the stove and keeps the hot ash from direct contact with the floor.  The one in the kitchen is ceramic covered and the other is framed with a metal base covering the structure under the stove. It extends to an the area well around the front and back of the stove. NEVER sit a stove directly on the floor, carpet or vynal tile. No matter what you have under the stove, ALWAYS MAKE SURE that it remains somewhat cool and is never allowed to get overly warm.  Make sure that all stoves are proper CSA approved and note the proper manufacturers clearances that are usually found on the rear of the stove. A good idea is to follow them and NOT CUT CORNERS. 

There were no corners cut here, but a simple error in judgement through checking the upper wall and how it was structured could have caused a fire. As for anyone not using a heat shield behind the stove, REMEMBER THIS, gyproc nails and screws heads will accept heat regardless of any crack filling. Heat generated will follow the nail or screw head until it finally reaches an outlet for the heat build-up. REMEMBER, a simple error in judgement can cause irreversible problems. The best way to avoid these are to make sure nothing is missed in the PLANNING or INSTALLATION stages. I will also add that when I was a kid, people never adhered to these things. I do remember a hole in the wall and the pipe going through with very minimal clearances. I can still smell the odours from the wood from the heat. I even remember them going diretly up through the floor and attic to the flue with very little clearances.   Most of this was with the idea of keeping the total heat inside of the house no matter what. Those were also the days of Pot Burning Stoves using stove oil, and Key-mac wood and oil combination stoves using the same. PROTECT YOURSELF, YOUR FAMILY and HOME by THINKING SAFE AND THINKING AHEAD.

The two pictures of the stove below are of the same stove. The idea of the pictures is to clearly show the galvanize protective guard behind the stove and only one turn in the pipe for the exit into the steel flue through the wall. This is the stove where the mishap almost took place. It is now installed as written about and comes with a clean-out right outside of the wall. It is not only a clean-out, but the stove pipe and chimney can easily be checked for any build up of particles without trying to get on the roof and looking down inside. The stove is still close to three feet from the stove and well beyond what the manufacturer suggests. It is more than a safe distance and now; other than a strong wind, I have no fears of going away and leaving the fire burning. It is not to be suggested as a good idea. So as not demonstrate the wrong idea, this stove is not normally used unless someone is present due to how the wood is stored. However, should I be outside and the stove is going, there is also a protective fireproof barrier that I slide in front of the wood that does attach to the wood rack. It is designed to deflect heat.  These can be purchased and should be purchased having a fire rating stamp. Being a brick lined stove top, sides and bottom, there is very little heat any further than 8 to 10 inches from the stove when burning. From the back to the wall, it is close to three feet. That is way more than the Manufactures guide suggests. Note the fire extinguisher.

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The pictures below are of both of my chimneys.  The one on the left  clearly shows how it comes through the  wall and extends upwards through the edge of my roof canopy. However, do not be misled by this. The area surrounding the whole chimney as it appears is covered by a framed 18 gauge metal shield and is on average  well over a foot from any wood, siding, shingles or roof section. We had to remove the front trim due to birds wanting to nest in the opening. This stove operates in the mornings. It is important to note the top of the chimney being quite clean with no discolouration. As for the rain gutter missing and piece of metal trim on the front, please ignore them. That was last years snow and ice damage that was not repaired. Plastic and ice do not do well together. The chimney rests on a metal base from the cement doorstep slab. It is also supported by a metal bracket on the house. The stove also has an air vent installed around the pipe inlet to allow cool air into the wall and any heat out, if present. It is also supported by brackets on the roof to keep it secure from wind, snow or ice build-up. It can happen and everyone should be prepared for the unexpected.

The picture on the right is of my other stove shown on the site. This chimney was also clean the other day until I spoke with Mr. Smith. Against my better judgement, I went to the wood pile and cut 16 pieces of fresh cut green Soft Maple. I was curious just how long the signs of creosote and wet burning would take to show on the outside of the pipe. What you see ((((and before I did this---this chimney was clean like the other one)))) was as little as 9 pieces of wood that were both slow burning on hot coals and an example of the moisture and smoke content in the green wood. I even had a bit of wet creosote moisture on one joint of the pipe. 

The interesting thing for me was the noticeable temperature of the pipe from the stove to the inside Insert Wall Exit Pipe. While burning, I could literally put my hands on the black pipe and hold them there for 15 seconds or more without fear of burning them. This clearly demonstrates the differentials in temperatures and how the crystallization process comes about in reference to: 
(a) moisture in wood, 
(b) how the burning process changes the quality of heat,
(c) what happens to chimneys, stoves and pipes when Creosote begins to form
(d) how to note poor wood burning practices by the poor quality of wood. When my stoves are burning, (other than at night time) in my opinion, and since I never checked them, they are well up into the 1200 to 1500 degrees F temperature burn. To put and hold my hands on the pipe clearly lowers the burn rate to well below the 250 Fahrenheit and allows the creosote time to adhere.

This chimney comes directly from the living room stove. If you look carefully, you can clearly see the venting to the wall from outside and around the pipe. Please excuse the pieces of siding missing from the house. This was also the result of ice damage last year and not repaired. As for the section under the roof where the pipe goes up through, it had to be torn out to prevent the Starlings or Black Birds from building nests in there again this past year. Unfortunately and like the other chimney, it was the only way to keep the buggers out. Going up through the roof, this IS NOT going through the inside of the house and is actually a foot from the inner wall. On the roof, there is an opening around the chimney of 6 inches and a galvanize plate going down over the chimney about 36 inches square to avoid leakage of water and any possibility of heat to the shingles.  However; and even on a hot burn, the pipe is always cold. The chimney is also mounted on a steel bracket and roof top supported. As for cleaning, a couple of good hot burns will cure what little creosote build up I caused three days ago. The time frame on this experiment is posted below being Dec/23/2011.  



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(3) GETTING THE BEST HEAT WITHOUT PROBLEMS:

ASHES is one of the things we take for granted and get careless with. Did you know that your stove would will actually burn better and hotter if wood was not at the stove bottom? If you  cradle the wood on a rack about an inch or so off of the base bottom of the stove, it will draw better and burn better. Stoves with a Brick Lined Base and Walls, burn and heat better than stoves without. If I have a large build up of coals, it becomes OPEN DRAFT and HOT BURN OUT TIME for me. It is the air flow underneath and the bed of ashes in a couple of days that will hold and maintain heat. This can also be a hindrance in heat productivity  if someone is burning Mixed Wood combinations where the ash build up becomes excessive. If the ash is dead and powdered, it defeats the heat purpose. To avoid wasted heat, try to keeping a bed of 1 to 1 1/2 inches of heated coals and light ash build up in the bottom of the stove. Dead ash will reduce your heat and draft. It will also cut the flow of required oxygen needed to properly burn the wood. If this happens, wood and energy is wasted. It will certainly create a fair amount of powder ash as well. 

 A severe build up of hot coals is not good. This will make it more difficult to put wood in and harder to maintain a burning balance throughout the stove. By adding more wood, you will end up with yet extra hot coals. When this happens, it becomes necessary to burn down the coals to create more room in the stove and correct the error. If there is a large build up of ash, it will remove about 30 to as much as 50% of the normal air and draft factor. When that happens, you waste wood, plus the burn rate will become much lower than is considered as normal. For me, and I burn one wood at a time--- (BEING NOT MIXED WOOD COMBINATIONS) I find with Maple, I am facing the ash removal about every fourth day. That is because I can feel the difference in how the stove draws and burns. I push the hot coals aside until I clear the dead ash off the brick and out from under my cast iron (metal) rack on the bottom directly over the top of the bottom bricks. When I burn the Black Poplar, I usually remove the ashes about 6 to 7 days. With the Black  Poplar, there is little ash waste in comparison to the Maple or Yellow Birch through proper burning if it is seasoned wood. If the wood is not seasoned, you will end up getting many dead and heavy clinker chunks of  unburned wood. This is the result of the gases and moisture in the wood not burning at the correct temperatures. This is a prime example of how you waste wood, energy and watch your hard earned money  go up the chimney in smoke. I remove the dead and powder ash and then quickly slide my hot coals back in place on the top of the bricks and rack to ignite my wood again. This saves paper which is also a form of powdered ash. I also save kindling, bark and block ends; not to mention precious heat time. This also avoids lost and wasted down time during the heating process.

(4) REMOVING ASHES SAFELY:
In REMOVING ANY and ALL ASHES, please do it safely and with the proper equipment. This should be done with a good long handled ash shovel and proper ash bucket. Should you not use a proper ash bucket (one with a cover on top) remove them and carefully get them out of the house immediately. Ash will quickly heat if they are condensed into a smaller area. If you use a fan behind the stove as I do to circulate heat, (and only when we are present for circulation) SHUT THE FAN OFF to avoid dust and any possible moving about because of a possible dropped spark. When the ashes are safely  removed, cover the container and remove it instantly from the house. Place it in a secured area AWAY FROM THE HOUSE AND STORED WOOD and/or anything flammable. It should also be cooled and placed in a protected area well away from  anything that could burn. 

What I do for safety is cool them instantly. If there is snow on the ground, I put snow on top of the ashes. I also cover the sides of the bucket with snow to cool down the ash in avoidance of future sparks or worse. If no snow is not available, welcome to the world of water. Never think of what you do as wrong, but only by what you do as being safe, proper and done correctly. On the other hand, think of the possibility of what can happen with a breeze, curious child; and we all know what small children can be like at times. There is also the issue of pets, exterior flame, rooting animals such as a stray dog, raccoon or rodents. Think safe and make sure the ash bucket is in a secure place and cannot tip over, or be tipped over. It is all around us, and about us, and how we do things deemed as safe. Remember, live ash can be active up to 72 hours or more depending on where and how it is stored. On top of that, how it is disposed of; even OUT OF DOORS, can be a startling issue if it is not properly contained and cooled. 

These are two buckets of ashes I just removed from my stoves for these pictures. Please note the one on the left that has been doused with water to instantly cool the ashes by drowning them. One must be careful in NOT OVERFLOWING the container should you be using this process to cool them. The bucket on the right has been sitting three hours between pictures. NOTE! It is still smoking and would smoulder for days at this rate.


3-16

Below are the same two buckets of hot ashes. I have doused the one on the right with snow. Even at that, and until I managed to focus the camera, most of the snow melted quickly because of the intense heat. To give you a better appearance, I used a brand new bucket for this picture. However; notice the label on the front of the bucket. Notice the discolouration of the older bucket from the intense heat from time to time as it has whitened the galvanize and totally changed its colour. Cooled from the snow, there was not enough heat to actually burn the label from the new bucket from the intense hot coals. Nonetheless; this goes to substantiate my comment about children, pets, roaming animals and rodents. This clearly send a message that one MUST BE CAREFUL with waste ash. It is essential to make sure it is quickly cooled to avoid any type of accident or carelessness through a slight bit of error, pertaining to good judgement being utilized.


3-17
Years ago people used to spread it on the snow thinking it helped the grass, garden and whatever. Heck, I remember in the spring getting the odd nail in my foot from some of the crap that was burned in winter. (Added January 03/2012 after our early morning coffee talk) In speaking with him, he told me something that I was amazed to hear--- (remember the fellow who called me on selling his 10 cords of wood) while talking. A friend of his; and as he tells me, a great preponderate of living clean on the wealth of free and cheaply purchased pallets; clearly makes use of the pallets in many ways besides using them to heat his oil fired water heater. However, in the text of the conversation, he divulged that not only does his friend take the time to remove a lot of nails before burning, he sifts through the burned waste ashes by means of a heavy magnet, extracting the burned nails. He removes them and has a separate storage facility for the waste nails. This is good in a way. I mean---- keeping them from doing harm to someone through poor disposal is clearly positive thinking. Nonetheless, burning the nails in the wood, then gathering them while keeping and storing them in buckets until he has enough to take and sell to the recyclers, to me, is a bit ridiculous. My friend tells me that he believes he in the past 20 years he has saved and owns literally close to a ton of them.

HELLO!!!!!! Do you think anyone thinks about the galvanize and zinc processing; not to mention the poisoning compounds that are associated with and on these treated nails before, and during the burn process? This; just like the treated wood, is playing a form of Russian Roulette that can kill you. Do these people not realize there is an issue with chemical components and fly ash in the air when these items are burned and subjected to extreme heat? These are treated pieces of steal that go through chemical staging to protect them from the elements and moisture in green wood. Why is it that even the old blacksmiths never heated or processed steel in their work unless it was in a well ventilated area? Does anyone remember the soda test from years ago? Take a Cola, drop a nail in it and see how long it takes to totally dissolve. These are all forms of chemicals. If Cola does that to a nail, what about your teeth and stomach with daily consumption? This is no different than burning Arsenic Treated or Chemicalized pieces of wood. Chemicals clearly have an affect on how we should be looking at things. Sadly, and in my opinion, burning wood with nails or glues, as part of the garbage we put in our stoves, while forcing our heating source to consume them in giving us heat and comfort, is worse. People have to understand that pallets, what holds them together, and the components of pallets, can be dangerous for many reasons. If not, we as people should be concerned of the fall-out from such a practice. 

Then there were the piles of unburned coal clinkers. They were great when we were playing with toy trucks and stuff. When I look back, that was actually quite stupid. We never knew better. There were no regulations and warnings about the dangers associated with the disposal of waste products. Considering it was usually a contaminate waste product, or some kind of wood that served no purpose any longer, it was just tossed. There were no safety measures in place 50 or 60 years ago. People were ignorant to the fact because there was very little information available. Furthermore, there is no telling what could or could not be in any of it. Looking back, I question how it affected the environment back then. I also can remember how  older people thought the ashes were good for their gardens and what a great way to dispose of them. This is sort of like putting sawdust in the soil. 'It Just Ain't Supposed To Be There.' It serves no gardening value and will choke gardens and growth. Remember, SAFETY IN BURNING WOOD is what this is all about. SAFE DISPOSAL OF WOOD WASTE IS PART OF THE PROGRAM ALSO. 

As little as last week/November 22nd/2012, I watched a neighbour as I was going up the road with a load of wood destined for HRM. There he stands at the end of his driveway with his bucket of ashes clearly extracted from his stove while dumping them in the ditch at the side of the roadway so the running water carried them away from his property. Well, he was smart enough to keep them off of his property, but what about the house down the road adjacent to the ditch and the stream that the ditch finally flows into. To me, the human stupidity and ignorance factor is clearly an issue. It is simple this neighbour cared little for anyone below him, and as to where his garbage would finally end up. No matter, what else could have been in the bucket that I didn't know about? What about the fish in the stream. Yes, people go fishing there. And imagine, his father and he sells firewood. Is this a picture of intelligence or what?

(5) THINGS THAT CAN CONTRIBUTE TO BREATHING DIFFICULTIES and DISORDERS:
Another thing to consider is the dryness of the air. It can cause breathing problems. I remember as a kid we burned wood and coal. I remember the coal only too well. I carried it, shovelled it, the dirt and smell associated with it WAS LITERALLY DISGUSTING. I also remember my mother and grandparents always having a container of water on the stove to put some moisture back in the air. You know-----I still do that today on both of my stoves when they are burning. It is usually a tea kettle that was once used for tea or a coffee before I forgot and left the electric stove on boiling it dry and rendering it useless. It is the little things that we let slip by that can avoid issues and down the road problems.

This next bit is both sad and true. I know someone who had a stubborn fire that just wouldn't burn. A little bit of lighter fluid was used to get it going. After the visit to the hospital, the person was considered very lucky only suffering from some minor burns, no eyebrows, swollen lips and missing skin on the nose. Fires should be started with clean paper; and if using newspaper, make sure there are no contaminants on it. It is always easy to toss something in the stove that we don't want. Poof-----and it is soon ashes. Remember, this can, and will also contribute to powder ash. This is where your chippings, kindling and block end pieces come in handy. Why? Again, it is from your wood and you paid for it. Remember, it did come from the cuttings off of your cord of wood. NO ONE cuts wood without these left over. You are the one paying for it, so why not take it? If not, it will be sold to someone for profit and not yours. You already paid for it. They never used all of this crap in the early Cave Man Days to start a fire. I know we passed the clicking two stones together to create a spark. We are well past the rubbing together of two sticks also. So true. We have come a long way. Yes; just look around at all of the pollution and gallant laws we now have as we try controlling an all ready out of control society. Technology has treated us well and definitely taught us short cuts in life. However, we still do not have controls on firewood sellers and they are needed.

(6) CREOSOTE!!!!  IT TRULY IS AN ENEMY AND A MASSIVE ENEMY AT THAT.  

WHAT DO YOU KNOW ABOUT IT?

Between smoke and creosote; simply put, it is a form of toxic waste. The smoke actually sticks to your stove pipe and chimney in the form of a tar substance when the gases in wood are not properly burned. In the end, it becomes CREOSOTE. In its own way, it becomes an air pollutant as it, and the smell permiates the air we breathe. This is because it is being released through liquid in the wood due to green wood and too low of a burning temperature. The stench alone is sickening. Trust me, I have burned green wood in my garage and the odd bit in my house from time to time. NO MORE!!!! I now consider myself lucky that I never had a fire. Why? I chose to be lazy and stupid rather than do what was right. Letting the wood lay on the ground in piles was just laziness kicking in because a golf game or something else I thought more important. Like many, my thoughts were----it will dry.

 CREOSOTE is a sickening, but smelly residue that becomes a hazard when wood moisture is present and  the gases are not completely burned. Before it hardens, CREOSOTE is a smoky, but gummy liquid substance that comes from the wood. To avoid this you need two things. One being well seasoned wood. The other being proper burn temperatures. Creosote creates a heavy smoke that will cling (adhere) to the walls of stove pipe and chimney. It is more prevalent when there is not enough oxygen present in the chimney and the burn temperature below 250 degrees F.  Simply put, too much build up of this toxic waste can cause an uncontrollable chimney fire----or worse. Aside from this, we have also covered this in another section; but clearly put---- (it is essential to get the moisture level in wood well below 25% for safe burning. Between 15 to 20% is best.) Although, 15 to 22% is an acceptable level.

THIS PICTURE BELOW IS KNOWN AS CRUNCHY OR CRUSTY CREOSOTE.
Imagine this as cholesterol flowing through-----no----clogging everything in your body while blood tries to flow through your veins. Can you picture how long you would live? It could be too many eggs, too much red meat, too many potato chips, or who knows what is, or was, causing it. No matter; looking at the CREOSOTE in the chimney, the idea was to give you a mental comparison. In a way; and if it wasn't for the colour, one could visualize this as some form of peanut butter brittle, or left over volcanic lava. No matter what we call it, it is hinging upon death if you choose to burn mixed wood, poor wood and green wood that is not properly seasoned. This, applied with with good old fashion negligence is the result of poor judgement in allowing this to be in your home. This is what is known as the Crunchy form of CREOSOTE. It is best known for forming between the stove and stove pipe going into the chimney. This happens when the burning  temperatures fall below 250 degrees F. It is the direct result of wet/moist and unseasoned wood being burned. Did you ever hear that small sizzle sound in the stove as the flame darts from blue/red to yellow red?With the lower heat, the tar like substance and gases are not properly burned and expelled. This is the easiest CREOSOTE to clean from the pipe and chimney if it manages to get that far.

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The next picture below is that of the paper like deposits. It is mostly loose and quite flaky. This is normally not flammable. In most cases, this is the CREOSOTE that is responsible for choking off pipes and keeping the draft from giving your fire that precious oxygen needed to burn the wood. It is well known for forming inside of the pipe going into the chimney and is normally black in colour. It actually resembles a very brittle paper that is like over aged parchment. A strong upward draft can actually draw this through the pipe, into the chimney and up to and out into the atmosphere from the base of the flue. I have seen it on the snow outside of my garage before. The first time I wasn't sure what it was. I soon realized it was the result of stupidity on my part. The easiest way to rid yourself of this form of CREOSOTE is no different from any other. Clean the chimney, burn seasoned wood, avoid mixed wood and above all, do not use your stove as a garbage incinerator as I did in the garage. Knowing I did that in the garage, I quickly realized that I was the problem and soon changed my ways of disposing of things that should have gone in the garbage.


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The picture below is the real killer. This is the bad stuff. This is also what chimney fires are made of. One usually finds this form of CREOSOTE near the top of the chimney. There are also exceptions to the rule. Learning to take nothing for granted is the most important one. There is no rule to how high or low this form of CREOSOTE will adhere to the walls of your chimney. It has a sort of tough texture and some people referred to it as 'black glass' from the chimney. That one I have no comment on. What I do know, is that it is  much like glass and is definitely not brittle like glass. The only way to avoid any of these issues is by cleaning the chimney at least a couple of times during a heating season. The other is keeping wet wood, or unseasoned wood out of the stove. As long as you burn, or choose to burn bad wood, wet wood and unseasoned wood, these problems will exist. If it hasn't happened to you yet, consider yourself as one of the lucky ones. Mr. Smith wasn't as lucky by what he burned. However; he was darn lucky he caught it when he did. Remember that it is part of the silent killer family pertaining to heat.  

Do you remember the old style dampers on stoves? They were notorious for clogging the pipe with CREOSOTE due to their existence in the middle of the stove pipe located above the top of the stove. These were usually found just before the elbow. Hey; I remember those. My grandparents on both sides of the family had them. Many times I wonder why we never burned up in our sleep. For those who want to experiment with CREOSOTE outside of the stove, take some; a piece, or whatever, and set it a fire. Careful though; it will be almost like an exploding firecracker because it is just that dangerous. CREOSOTE in your pipe and chimney will actually act as an insulator. Believe it or not, but it can become more harsh than asbestos. A simple thin layer of it can reduce the quality of oxygen in the chimney by 10 to 20% and cut down on the efficiency of your stove by the same amount. There goes your BTU's and Dollars up the chimney. It will not allow the full heat to be produced by the wood should any of these situations exist.  

One of the important things to remember is that there is literally no guaranteed way to prevent CREOSOTE.   You must remember that no matter how well seasoned wood is, there is always that small percentage of moisture we spoke of earlier remaining in wood. Seasoning wood for 6 to 12, to as much as 18 months, will still not totally eliminate moisture in the wood. However, you will dramatically reduce i and the chances of Creosote build-up. Remember the percentage of tolerable moisture we spoke of? With good wood, good burning practices, you can avoid many of these issues. As for the mess in this Steel lined piece of pipe; like they did with Mr. Smith, all will have to be removed to properly clean this type of build up. If it is left unattended, it is again playing Russian Roulette. Should you have the bright idea of knocking it down and NOT HAVING a lower clean-out on your pipe or chimney, remember the burning experiment.
                                     


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UPDATED JANUARY 9TH/2012
(7) Liquid Tar and Creosote Build-up from burning wet wood.
THE TWO PICTURES BELOW are a prime example of how simple it is to be stupid and not think before doing something. I was late for an appointment yesterday in Halifax and in my rush to get away, I could have burned my house down. No joke! This is my living room stove pipe yesterday afternoon when I arrived home, January 8th, 2012, at 3:30 pm. Today it was cleaned. However, not paying attention to what I was doing  yesterday when I brought my wood in, I tossed 4 large, 5 inch round pieces in the stove and headed for Halifax. Unfortunately, it was some of the pieces of the two cord of wood that I had discarded. It ended up on the pallet with the good wood. I had planned to toss it when I went to the garage. It was the result of the wood used for the infestation check further in this section. Carelessly grabbing it off of the pallet that my good wood was on, it came in with the good wood. It shouldn't have, but it did. It should NOT have gone into my stove, but it did. I am only thankful nothing serious happened. 

Not only is this the result of burning wet wood, but it did create much extra work. Imagine, this happened in the time frame of seven (7) hours. Experiencing a touch of what I am sure Mr. Smith did, located below this piece, I feel lucky that nothing other than wet creosote was the result. I fear what could have happened if there would have been a hot burn that could have ignited the liquid creosote. I am glad that it was an air tight stove and all of the drafts were totally closed. This was another bad error in judgement, rushing to be somewhere that I was already late for.





When I consider how lucky I was pertaining to my home and my pets at home alone, I chose to put this in the section to merely show the direct damage and result that burning wet wood can be. This never made it to  down to the top of the stove,  but clearly was a reason for concern. This is how easy it is to be stupid by burning wet and green wood that is not proper for burning.
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I was further lucky that the problem never made it into the outside flue. The residue was contained in the two sections of stove pipe, and once removed, the outgoing chimney extension was both clean and clear. When you look at what could have happened, I am so glad the burn temperature was well below 250 degrees Fahrenheit. The pipe is now cleaned and stove working as it should be. 

(8) CHIMNEY STRUCTURES and WHAT THEY ARE RATED FOR:
Old and poorly installed stoves, fireplaces and chimneys can, and will relate to more expensive maintainence as time progresses. If you have a oil furnace rated chimney, wood burns twice as hot, and therefore will require a chimney structure that will comfortably adjust and accommodate the extra heat. If not, you can experience an increased level of exhaust, smoke emissions, and be treading water on the brink of a chimney fire, or worse. You will experience increased in home air pollution and stronger odours of CREOSOTE smell. There is also the strong possibility of chimney fires, (and keep in mind-----that in house chimneys going up through the ceiling and walls can be a difficult problem if a fire should occur, whereas these are areas not always accessible) not to mention, all of the clean up problems, and insurance issues should you not have a proper installed and ventilated stove. On top of that, you still face the possibility of repairs from damage. You could also count on a visit from both the Fire Marshall's Office, Building Inspector, and/or, possibly regular visits from the Fire Department who can insist on a full inspection of your heating and repairs made before all is acceptable.

(9) DANGEROUS SITUATIONS:
Listening to the early morning news today I heard about an issue creating a major home issue. Simply put, why would anyone choose to burn excess fire and cardboard in a stove or fireplace? On this one, the home owner, much like below was lucky. In this case it was done in a fireplace. You have to remember that stoves and fireplaces alike ARE NOT MEANT to burn paper in. Oh yes, we all use paper to start fires, but paper has a much quicker kindling temperature than does wood and WILL ignite upwards in the chimney should there be signs of burnable creosote and liquid tar present from burning unseasoned wood. 

In this case the home owner was burning a bunch of last years Xmas wrapping paper and mixed cardboard. The flash flame did burn quickly and make its way into the pipe and up inside of the chimney. Look out....the 'Old 97' was on her way. quickly igniting the creosote formations, the draft drew the flame quickly up inside of the chimney and went out of control. The fire department were summoned and what could have been a severe disaster to the home owner was averted by the use of chemicals in the fire pit that were drawn inside of the stove pipe and chimney. Aside from what I know had to be a mess throughout the house, the issue of neglect, ignorance and stupidity took a real form of not using common sense. As for the clean-up, I am sure it will and did result in a Chimney Sweeper, the Insurance Company being notified and a stern reprimand from all.

Products as this once they have served their purpose should be placed to roadside or taken to the recycle place to be discarded. what seemed to be a simple issue, simple exercise to rid oneself of the paper products, could have resulted in a complete house fire if the response time of the fire department were delayed. fortunate for the home owner, it was a town call and not one miles and long minutes away.

Another wood burning hazard to be careful with is that burning of the Alder bush or tree. This is a scrub bush that in time will grow into small trees. The wood normally is small and doesn't grow too large. But it does grow large enough to be passed off as a wood burning product and by some..... a form of hardwood namely Cherry Wood. Some people have passed it off as hardwood. To be true, it is. It resembles it, but is far from the same quality. The wood from this tree, or bush, is like a dark lurking monster that can strike with a vengeance.It will out burn any wood for heat. The down side is the moisture content in it will literally clog your pipes and cause major fires. A person I know several years ago almost lost his whole house due to burning this type of wood. It grows in wet swampy areas. Like White Birch, Yellow, Green and White Poplar, it is known as nuisance wood. I have it here. I use the backhoe to dig them up whenever I see one.

He had installed a basement stove on his own, hooked it up in a manner very questionable with an exit pipe. It was exiting from his basement fireplace chimney, and through a properly installed exit port in the fireplace wall that was installed when the house was built. He chose to recklessly place the stove further from the point of exit than should have been so he could get more heat upstairs through the air vent for the furnace. He had used about 12 feet of black stove pipe fastened to hangers from the ceiling. He then chose to burn wood with the pipe exiting on and even level to the opening into the fireplace chimney. What I do know is that the Alder wood WAS NOT DRY and created a massive build-up of CREOSOTE inside of the black pipe. It finally ended up clinging and laying inside of the exit pipe because of no elevation. It filled enough that it ended up choking the flow of oxygen and eliminating the proper burning draft. I had seen the pipe when removed. It was literally over half full of the black loose sediment crap that is shown in picture #2. My guess was that if he had a draw on the chimney, the burn temps were well below the 250 degrees because of the distance of the exit point. In turn, getting the stench out of the house took months. As for the mess in the basement; I was glad it was their problem. There was no insurance coverage whereas it was improperly installed. As for how they faired out; in my opinion, there were very lucky. The had to remove the stove or do without Insurance Coverage. When he was finally able to get coverage as part of his mortgage, the rate had ballooned to three times the normal policy premium.

 It is you who makes the final decision on what you buy for wood and from whom. It is further important to know what you burn, and how you go about it. Simply put; there is no passing the buck on this one. It doesn't matter what form of energy you choose, or what fuel you burn or heat your house with. What is important, is that it should be ALL ABOUT PROPER MAINTENANCE, PROPER HEATING SYSTEMS, PROPER WOOD------ IF YOU CHOOSE WOOD, AND MOST OF  ALL-----DOING IT SAFELY FOR YOUR FAMILY AND HOME. NEVER TAKE ANYTHING FOR GRANTED WITH FIRE NO MATTER WHAT THE SOURCE OF ENERGY.

December 23/2011 info added based on a phone call I received on the 21st.
I received a phone at 5:30 Wednesday night from a gentleman outside of the Dartmouth area who had called me earlier in the summer in reference to purchasing wood. ((((FOR THE RECORD: The wood he finally purchased never came from me.)))) However; he did call me on his problem. Why----I am not sure. My response to him was quite simple. I suggested he shut the stove down immediately. He then had to smother the fire and cool the stove by lots of air passage through the opening door and up through the pipe, hoping the draft would eliminate the smell and cool the exit and exhaust route. This would help eliminate the problem of smell and would avoid the possibility of a chimney fire. From there, he should obtain the services of a qualified chimney cleaner and someone well versed in the field. After listening to what he had to say, it has prompted me to add the enclosed article in red and some information based on what had transpired.

It is unfortunate that many people still haven't gotten the message. BAD WOOD can be DANGEROUS. BURNING BAD and GREEN WOOD is like playing Russian Roulette with more than one bullet in the chamber. Sooner or later, something goes bang. As the story was relayed, they had been having many problems with the wood that they bought. Aside from being hard to burn, there was always a smell when the stove was going. On top of that, he called what was happening moisture  running down the inside of the pipe and very little in the manner of heat. My first question was, 'what kind of wood did you buy?' My second was 'how long have you been burning wood?' His response was, 'HARDWOOD and this was his second year with wood.' In return I asked, 'Was it MIXED HARDWOOD or WAS IT JUST ONE KIND?' His reply was, 'I don't know. To me-----wood is wood. The fellow I bought it from said it was hardwood and was ready for burning.' ****ANY WOOD CAN BE READY FOR BURNING------ WET OR DRY. THE QUESTION IS, HOW WILL IT AFFECT YOU, YOUR FAMILY AND HOME?

 He called me back last night (check the dates above) and told me that he was advised that he should dump the wood, or set it aside until it was well dried before using again. He furthered that by telling me that he was informed by the cleaner he had several different types of wood and most was very green. He told me the chimney cleaner told him that he had a combination of Apple Tree Wood, some Oak, Hemlock, White Birch, Maple and Poplar. I simply shook my head in utter confusion. Looking at the types of wood, Oak can take 2 years to season, as will Apple Tree wood. Hemlock, green -  is like trying to burn water. As for the soft Poplar, (quoted by him through his chimney cleaner-----and I would suggest it was yellow or green poplar) it would burn somewhat green. However; the combination of woods sold to Mr. Smith sounds more like it was Power Line Cut Out Wood or someone just cleaning the Garbage and injured trees from a wood-lot. 

In the end, he informed me that it cost him over $800.00 to clean the chimney, pipe and stove. He ended up replacing the pipe from the stove to the outside wall inlet. Aside from this, the complete chimney had to be removed from the side of the house, cleaned in sections and re-installed. It was suggested that he replace the bricks in the stove because of the CREOSOTE scum. I suggested that the chances of him finding a place with bricks on hand to fit the stove would be one chance in a thousand. I suggested he find someone who could sandblast them and clean the creosote from the bricks. The other option was a quick trip to Princess Auto for some wire wheels and a drill if he never had one. Either way, the solution would not be cheap, but could all be done in time for the holidays just around the corner. 

I suggested him finding a guaranteed supplier who would warranty the fact, that the wood, indeed, was well seasoned before buying. I told him what to look for and how to check on many of the aspects pertaining to seasoned wood. I clearly volunteered that I had no wood seasoned and advised him NOT TO ATTEMPT burning any of the wood he had left, until it was both dry and established as to what it was. He told me that he paid $200.00 a cord for the wood delivered and that he purchased 6 cord. To me, that was a deal for someone. For him; in my opinion------ a lucky lesson learned without a serious problem causing home loss or worse.


(10) Could Creosote be compared to Cholesterol?
If so, and making the comparison, how could it affect you and your family?
Preparing yourself for the wood burning season is one of the most essential things. We could compare Creosote and Cholesterol as one, if we compared our stove pipe to the veins in our body. In a sense of speaking, there is very little difference between them since both can kill. 

A few simple things to understand about CREOSOTE is that if common sense is used when burning wood, things as written here do not happen. SO-----YOU'VE BEEN LUCKY TO NOW. Congratulations.  Once it is established that CREOSOTE is present through the forms of green wood, poor wood, mixed wood, poorly maintained stoves and chimneys, you have to be aware on burning practices. The best method is to rid yourself of it before it becomes to late. As Mr. (and I will address him as Smith) Smith, he and his family were lucky. Whether it is the dry flaky CREOSOTE as in the pictures above, crusty, or crap that appears in the texture of lava or peanut brittle; it is all dangerous. Noticing a black sooty smoke is an indicator that your burning process is incorrect. Lack of oxygen, dirty and wet wood, as well as too high of moisture levels in the wood, will quickly create black smoke. Wood, if dry, will burn with very little smoke. And when there is smoke, it is usually a very light grey/blue colour. If it isn't, I suggest you find out why. 

From what he told me, the CREOSOTE was a combination of the goopy shale, and brittle type caused by the continual burning of green and mixed wood. This collects, and adheres to the pipe and chimney, which in time restricts the diameter of the flue, or pipe. When this happens, a combination of things from  reduced draft, lack of oxygen flow, proper burning of, and, from the wood not being burned, and the burning temperature well below the desired level need to properly burn, is compounded. The results can be catastrophic if not detected in time.  

It is important to understand that wood burning temperatures BELOW 250 degrees F, will create a condensing of moisture onto the surfaces of the pipe and chimney. This will cause a dramatic build up of CREOSOTE. This does create the tar like substance that literally stinks. CREOSOTE is actually formed from the condensation of the organic vapours that include the vapours (gases) themselves, comprised of tar, acids and water. Sadly; when proper seasoning of wood is not achieved, and a combination of different woods are burned with different burning and quality characteristics, the dominoes just start  falling. Once the burning temperature falls below 150 degrees F, the deposits begin to stick and claim their new boundaries called home. If these gases cannot be properly burned, they have to go somewhere. This, then traps the carbon from the smoke, finally drying and baking the CREOSOTE inside of chimneys, pipes and stoves. It is also important to understand that if you already have this problem, and you choose to burn the stove hot in hopes of solving it, again you could be playing with a loaded gun. The sudden burst of strong heat could in fact, ignite the creosote.

If, and for some reason, the burning temperature is allowed to reach 1,200 to 1,500 degrees F, or more, there is a 90% to 100% chance the CREOSOTE can ignite. This can cause a severe fire. It can be out of control in minutes, causing a chimney, pipe, stove, or wall fire, depending on the exit format of the system. I do remember this happening when I was a kid and wow....it really sounded like the Old 97 before the ending moment. There are but a few ways to eliminate this problem other than as was suggested to Mr. Smith when he called. From there, in comes the qualified personnel. Aside from that, you should go back to the instigator of the problem to begin with. However, if you didn't ask the correct questions about your wood, you have no receipt showing what you bought for wood, the quality of it, and the type of it, I clearly suggest this would be a wasted exercise. This is a jousting match of purchasing proper wood from a seller who knows what they are both  selling and doing. Anyone can lay claim to selling, seasoning wood and great deals. You are the one who has to be sure on what you are buying. Be positive it is the correct decision about what you do, and before you do it. 

In the case of CREOSOTE, it will not form until the wood burning temperature drops below 250 degrees F. We have covered this in Seasoning of Wood, Mixed Wood and knowing what you buy. To eliminate this issue, it is important not to burn green wood. It is further important to understand the different species of wood and time frames in seasoning it, as to get the best BTU's from it. Should you get a fire out of control, (and trust me----it will sound like the Wreck of the Old 97 going through your living room) or, as in this case, a problem, you must remember never to try extinguish the fire quickly. DO NOT USE WATER! This can create yet another problem being the stove will emit large amounts of gases, creosote odour and moisture into the house. It can also explode due to the combustion process through blow back. Smothering it down will be the only safe means, unless you have a way to safely remove the balance of burning wood and coals. I do have several ways and suggestions, but will not entertain them here.

Another one of my air tight stoves and Chimney hook-ups below. One of the things I mentioned previously is the issue of turns in the connector pipe from the stove to the chimney. Keeping the turns and a slight upward elevation from the stove to the chimney is essential on keeping creosote formations under control. On the elevation, if you should burn green wood, this is an easy method to allow the green water, juices and creosote liquid to run back toward the stove. If there is an issue, you will soon notice it. I have seen it where people had creosote runs and never thought it dangerous. You must remember that if you burn green wood, CREOSOTE build-up will be present. I spoke earlier  of the Silent Killer. Simply put, with the elevation slightly downward toward the stove, any creosote run back will indeed show up on the joint of the pipe if the stove pipe is installed correctly. If you see it, you have a problem that should be addressed immediately. After I did the Green wood burn which is demonstrated on the pipe further up on the right, I did the White Birch hot burn until I was satisfied that I cured the temporary problem. Any pipe that I use; and no matter how short or long, I screwed 4 self thread cutting screws into the pipe to avoid any dislodging of the pipe connecting units. This is a safety measure and a good idea in making sure that any connector pipe cannot work its way loose.  

Depending on the outlet of the stove to the size of your pipe, it is important to remember that a smaller pipe will create more draft draw. For me, and in my living room stove, this is an 8 inch pipe going directly into the exit pipe you see. I have learned from past experience that having more protection than needed is a safer way to deal with wood and heating issues. Even in this wall entry and the type of insulated pipe I have, I did the same set-up as in my kitchen with the fireproof gyproc doubled against all of the wood framing. If you notice the fire shield behind and extending well past the stove on both sides, I feel very comfortable with whatever burn I have. Cut around the windows, it still serves the purpose, and in summer is not an issue since I can still use the windows for fresh air. With the outside venting to the pipe inside of the wall, I am very comfortable with the idea that I do not have any inner wall heat.




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THE PICTURE BELOW LEFT is of a normal burn for my stove in the  daytime or evening.  It is more than adequate to heat the size of the rooms that I use it for. For me, I find it healthier having a tea kettle, or container of water on the stove to cut through the dryness in the air. As for the iron in back----being that I like to warm the bed before I crawl into the sheets, I use the iron to warm the sheets by ironing them on the bed. I remember many years ago as a kid growing up my mother use to warm wood in the oven, wrap the wood in newspaper and put it all in the bed to warm the sheets. In this day and age; and not wanting an electric blanket over me, (it just doesn't seem safe to me)  I find the  old flat iron a great tool for doing the job. As for me, there is always a fire extinguisher near any stove and another about 15 feet away. I have learned over the years to expect the unexpected. I also have three smoke detectors and two Carbon Monoxide detectors in the upstairs where I burn wood. I would rather spend a couple of dollars now to be safe, than waste a lot of money down the road through stupidity. I was close to there in my rush to get to Halifax. Furthermore, Insurance Companies like to see these kinds of protection vices. 

THE PICTURE BELOW RIGHT is of a fast burn in the morning for me after a slow night burn with Maple. In the mornings I will use the Black Poplar cut in small pieces to give me that extra hot burn. Remember, large wood will not give you a hot burn until you get down to the coals. Waiting for that defeats the purpose. Another good wood for this is a few pieces of seasoned 2 year old smaller split White Birch or Hackmatac. It actually will almost disappear in the 15 to 20 minutes in comparison to the Black Poplar. As a matter of fact, 2 year old White Birch properly seasoned will weigh about  1/3 of its normal green or unseasoned weight. I find letting it open for about 20 to 30 minutes cleans any of the stubborn creosote particles that may lay, or adhere to the pipe lining, or chimney. I must caution anyone considering this to be sure of what you are doing. After I did the burn test on the green wood to show how quickly a stove can be smothered down from creosote, and as I previously mentioned above, I used White Birch for about 2 hours on a medium hard burn to make sure I rectified the problem. I am confident that I did. Nonetheless, I am not a fan of white birch for long term heat and quality. It does serve a purpose for me.  



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Allowing more air into the fire will create a better oxygen flow. This will increase the burn rate  and raise the temperature well above 250 degrees F. to more of 1,000 degrees plus. It is important to understand that the more bends and turns you have in a pipe, the more avenues of CREOSOTE build-up can be found. Those cute wrinkled pipe sections can also look neat. In the same token, they can become your enemy on green wood. Creosote will adhere to the wrinkled sections and continue forming unless it is cleaned, hot burned ,or knocked down. One turn from the stove to the exit pipe is more preferred than several. The shorter the pipe inside of the house, the less chance there is of stove to wall build up of CREOSOTE. It is further important to remember on a hot burn after a slow night burn, or possibly cleaning out the pipe and stack, you could still stand the chance of a runaway fire. This is only said as a warning if you have been burning green or unseasoned mixed wood. Another thing to remember is that CREOSOTE in stoves is more of a problem than in fireplaces. The reason for this is that the exit or exhaust gases burned in fireplaces are much hotter than in the stove. 

(11)  INSECTS and LARVAE IN YOUR WOOD:

(This addition was entered on January 22nd, 2014.)
For many years I have been around wood and dealing with wood as a firewood source. However, one has a tendency sometimes to ignore the reality of true fact and become careless. Below you will find two photographs that are of my arm and just a simple point on how stupid one can be and why. The top one is my arm and the result of me carrying left over wet wood into my garage in the past week of January 14th/2014. It was a mild day and had been all week. However; knowing better and being slightly careless because of being in the garage and working in my T-shirt where it was warm, I thought it would be an excellent day to move the left over block-ends off of cuttings into my garage. The result of that moment of stupidity were both very painful and infectious. The picture below is the result of being bitten many times by miniature Spider Mites that had come alive after hatching into the green and wet wood. Having no knowledge that I had been bitten until after the fact by a few minutes, I was both alarmed, not to mention shocked. Simply put, no matter how well we plan things, the hidden results can be mind shattering. As for what you can see, within one day the infection spread up my arm from the microscopic little creatures to the arm pit. They are literally so small you can't even see them. But, can they bite. It became very stiff and sore as the swelling continued. The redness from the infection was unbelievable.



After several days of antiseptic cream and ice packs, the swelling gradually went down and the itching stopped. I have to tell you, I have had chicken pox as a child and they never itched this much. Ten years ago from that virus of the chicken pox I had shingles. Between the two; and trust me, I would have preferred to have either or back. Below is the result a week  later as the problem was on its way to healing. However, there will be scars when all is healed.

It is very important to understand that green and wet wood that has been laying can have many painful issues and SHOULD NEVER be taken lightly. Many processors will precut wood and allow it to be prone to the elements of Mother Nature. As a result, wood becomes a home for many of these insects needing the protection and breeding ground for all forms of insects and rodents looking for a place to lay their eggs. What happened to me is a prime example of how the simplest moment of laziness and lack of using common sense can bring home and issue that one is not aware of. How simple it would have been to be wearing  coat as I should have been. On the other hand, I know about wet and green wood and yet, somewhere along the way I just literally screwed up. Let this be a lesson to you to protect yourself and family in all ways when it comes to wood and using only properly seasoned wood. What kills them is simple. Remove their home by properly seasoning wood and by burning wood with proper moisture levels as brought about by proper wood care and seasoning. Remember, no spray will cure and infestation under the bark. Remove the moisture and they will leave also.
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From here the original writing continues.
Have you ever considered the issue of insects that live in wood? Why not? Do you think they are not there? It is a natural home for many as they infiltrate the bark and wood nurturing the sap, water, dampness and substance of their natural habitat. Two of the issues of concern here are drying process and storage. This is also discussed in the section pertaining to Seasoning your wood. Do you know what is in your woodshed, basement or wood bin somewhere within the house? You should. Did you know that some trees/wood are more susceptible to housing insects as in comparison to others?

Many forms of firewood are homes for worms, larvae, beetles, carpenter bees, horn-tail wasps, ants, cellar bugs, centipedes, millipedes, and yes-----even mice. Did you know that a piece, or pieces of wood containing beetle larvae can take  up to two years for the hatchings to survive and finally present itself as an adult beetle, or worse? Do you really want these in your home? If you have ever pulled the bark from seasoned wood and noticed small furrows or tunnels in the wood, you would automatically come to the conclusion that something had been there. Excellent My Good Watson. You are very observant. The two simple questions are, what was it and where the heck did it go?

On the dry wood, carpenter bees can be attracted hoping to find and build a nest into the wood. Another great surprise is that some species of wasps lay their eggs in wood where the larvae can and will safely develop into yet another headache. Imagine storing that one in the basement. This is why one of the important steps is to keep wood outside in a well ventilated covered shed, and covered at all times if outside  and dry.

 Wood that has been laying on the ground,  house yet another headache in the form of Carpenter ants, termites, those little grey covered bugs that resemble a miniature Armadilas; to which I call 'Cellar Bugs' that dwell in the dark, damp and wet places. Those can be easily found in damp basements as well. From there, many other social insects as millipedes, centipedes, pill-bugs  bark lice and several more that I just couldn't find names for, do appear from time to time. Wood stored in damp and wet areas will attract the latter of these. Ants and bees like it dry and warm. However; if outside-----they will hibernate. Inside, and trust me, they do become well alive, and full of vim and vigour. This brings on the question, just where do you store your wood? Did you forget  that many of these insects hibernate in winter?

My wood stays covered and remains outside. I bring in only what I need on a one or two day basis. Carports that have a protective roof and partial sides are the ideal storage method. This will cut down the threat of infestation. On the other hand, I do remember the bucket sized wasp nest I retrieved as a kid one winter and brought into my grandparents house. My grandparents WERE NOT THRILLED the next morning when they awoke to a house full of wasps flying about wondering what the heck was happening. I am sure their thoughts; if they had them, wondered why did someone change the season or jump the winter time clock ahead on them. Simply put, my grandfather; and I remember his words to this day, 'I do not want to see you here for a week or two,' still haunt me as does that day. Looking back, it was funny. However; looking at it responsibly, with allergies an health issues, this would not have been a funny picture.

The big concern here is; can any of these unwanted guests damage my home? That is a good question. Since I would have no idea where you got your wood, what could be in it, where it was cut and how it was stored, I have no idea. One can only think the worst. As for us and our cutting practices, we do not precut or pre-split wood. It has been my experience that cutting it and letting it lay until someone calls for it is just plain stupid. It makes it convenient for many processors, but it also makes available a home for just these insects. If you want seasoned wood, buy it green and dry it yourself. That is one of the only ways to cut down and possibly eliminate any forms of larvae, or insect infestation. Laziness and passing the buck will not get you change. It will entice headaches that can, and could be out of your control. On the whole, the answer to damaging your home I would say is no. However, it depends on the insect. Then, if you bought wood like was pictured back further and that I returned, I would suggest mice, ants, hibernating wasps and whatever. Once dried, few insects will choose to inhabit the wood. However; keep in mind that the finished product in your home is far to dry to sustain any form of life that they are use to; other than termites. If you have them, they have already been there. I suggest if they are present, they came from a source much differently and other than wet wood.

Keeping wood in damp garages, car garages, basements, buildings, exposed to the rain and weather, or covered outside where air cannot get to it, can cause another issue beside insects. It will bring on forms mildew, several types of mold and rot because of the moisture content in the unseasoned wood. This is usually brought on by negligence in properly covering wood outside (like happened to me last year) and storage. I ended up tossing out over two cords of Maple because of my ignorance in doing what was correct. To avoid many of these issues, find out as much about the wood you are buying. Such things as how long has it been cut? Where has it been stored? Has it been laying on the ground? Has it been cut and split and been allowed to lay outside uncovered to the elements of Mother Nature? These are things you need to know and should ask before buying any that has been pre-cut and not ordered cut that day or week. This is about good wood, BTU's and safety. If not, you could be buying wood well past its prime. For me, I process it as you buy it. I  buy it 3 to 6 months in advance, whereas that way it is fresh cut. AVOID buying wood that has been cut in the months of Mid-March to Mid-May because that is when wood becomes the wettest with the sap coming alive as the leaves sprout. It is the sap and seasons that give the leaves life. On the other side of the coin, we DO NOT buy wood that has been cut in the late month of October to Mid-November. Again, the wood is at the wettest point since the sap is heading south for winter, and making the wood wetter again. These are helpful hints to help you with your wood burning. Always remember, keep it safe for your family and home.

(12) INFESTATIONS and LARVAE:
I think this is one that many people should consider when it comes to their wood. The question of keeping the home and family is one thing; however, when we look at infestation on, and in wood, the questions are simple. They are: How will I know if there are infestations in the wood? Why are they in my wood? Where did they come from? What are they? When did they get there? Who can help me if they are present? And last of all - Can these forms of insects get in my basement and though my house? I have been asked the first question so many times. The answer to that is simple. Learn all about your supplier, how long the wood has been cut, what all is mixed in with it, how he stores  or keeps his wood, and do this before buying. For this, personal references NOT RELATED TO or WORKING THERE, is the best method if you do not have an already solid track record established. I am not picking on people in the business, but merely making the information available so that you, as the consumer, can understand how easy it is to become a TARGET and be taken advantage of. 

As for the first question above highlighted in black, find out how long the wood was cut in  4, 8, 12 or 16 foot lengths. Remember, at 16 inch cuts, these measurements are the best ones that will give you true cording at 16 inch cuts. In the process of those answers, if someone says, or suggests to you that the wood has been cut, air piled and laying for one,  two or more years in unprocessed lengths; and is seasoned, I suggest stock up on LOTTERY TICKETS because you will be the next LOTTO 649 Winner. It is an outright lie. WOOD WILL NOT SEASON WHOLE. 

Back in the 1950' when I was a kid in the woods with my grandfather, hardwood was sold in 4, 6 and 8 foot pieces split down the center because of the different sizes of kitchen stoves, etc. This was all practically done by hand sawing, a sledge hammer and splitting wedges to get the job done. They never had log and pulpwood loaders, or hydraulic wood splitters. Purchasing it that way, it was sold as PARTLY SEASONED and SPLIT WOOD. In this case, this was true. However, the final task was up to the purchaser to see that what was needed after delivery. Sadly, the moisture can be trapped inside the whole piece for one to three years and cause both inner decay while making a breeding home for other forms of insect infestations. Then you also face the deterioration factor of the whole unprocessed wood as the quality of it diminishes. You can not season wood unless it is CUT, SPLIT, AIR PILED, TIME FRAMED to planned burning in reference to the time needed to season it. On top of this, is still needs to be properly covered when  needed to be. As for ANYONE telling you they have whole wood SEASONED, the only other way that I am aware of seasoning UNPROCESSED 2 foot to 16 foot wood, or longer, is by a KILN DRY PROCESS. To my knowledge, there is only one or two operations in the MARITIMES to KILN DRY WINTER FIREWOOD.

For home burning purposes-----buy your wood green and do it yourself by seasoning it. Never rely on someone else to do your work properly. Learn whether or not is has been ground laying, or raised on random length pieces of wood as skids that are cross piled under the wood so to allow air to flow underneath. However, never PURCHASE ANY FIREWOOD without using a MOISTURE PROBE METER to test the moisture content in the wood. ANY high concentrations of MOISTURE is a guaranteed home for infestation if the wood is NOT CUT within a month of delivery. Over that, the infestation process begins and YOU WILL NOT know it until it is too late. REMEMBER, Fresh Cut, Sap Cut should be within one month and not being cut and allowed to lie about for months and longer to the forces of nature before you end up with it. 

NEVER BUY WOOD THAT HAS BEEN PRE-CUT, COVERED IN PLASTIC, LAYING ON GRASS, SAWDUST or WORSE YET ---MUD AND GRAVEL. You are the only one who can avoid these issues by learning the answers to the highlighted questions above.  Better yet, if you want to be sure about your wood, do take the time and go see it where it lies. If you are happy and feel that you are comfortable with what has been said, and are satisfied that it meets your requirements in cordage and quality, then make the decision. I say this only if you have doubts. You can be assured that wood that has been cut, split and laying to the forces of nature will have forms of the infestation clearly shown in the pictures below.  It happens and DON'T LET ANYONE tell you differently.  ALSO----remember that  insects and worms do not always hatch together. As the eggs could be from one, or several different carriers, claiming refuge in the same piece of wood and laid at different times, the birthing, or hatching process will also be lengthened, or shortened by conditions that you allow through different forms of storage and use.

Should you enter green, wet, moist, mold, or mildew wood into your basement, or other in home places, remember that you do run the risk of hatching the larvae and the hatchings becoming a nuisance. Aside from that, you are putting stale moisture into your home. This too, can cause the different forms of mold due to mildew, and sooner or later, Black Mold can be the result. What can you do? AVOID BUYING MIXED WOOD and PRE-CUT WOOD. Above all, AVOID BUYING ANY WOOD that has been cut and allowed to lay in BULK or WINDROW PILES for long periods of time . This will  allow the forces of nature to an open playing field at your expense. 

Why these infestations are in your wood is also simple. Perhaps the wood WAS NOT PROPERLY SEASONED. IT COULD HAVE BEEN, or IS OLD WOOD PAST ITS PRIME. Then stands the possibility that it COULD HAVE BEEN SUBJECTED TO TOO MUCH WATER and BAD WEATHER OVER TIME. This in time is one of the Natural Enemies of cut and split wood.  On the other hand, THE WOOD COULD HAVE BEEN allowed to be stored in a moist place that is, or, had been subjected to a lack of fresh air. It is important to understand that you could have actually bought the wood ALREADY TAINTED. Aside from that, it could have been OLD AND INFECTED BEFORE YOU EVEN RECEIVED IT. Nonetheless, the final chapter of the story is up to you. You are the one that has the final say of yes or no. Toss that Bulls Eye away and DON'T BECOME A TARGET.  

Where did they come from is easy! They are the direct result of ignorance, negligence, lack of education pertaining to wood, poor cutting practices, poor quality wood, and last of all, NOT PROPERLY SEASONED. Any of these can allow wood to be worked, sold, delivered, and used as a WET PRODUCT. It is important to learn what to look for and BEWARE of the people offering the DEALS,  on CHEAP and MIXED WOOD. 

What are they, is simply defined AS A PROBLEM. They can become a severe issue if allowed to be brought into the home. Remember this, small children will put virtually anything in their mouths. I know - it sounds gross. It is. Insects only know one thing. To them, all is SURVIVAL. These white worms pictured below are a general part of the Millipede and Centipede family. These are more of the wood worm family even though related. They are the direct result from continued wetness and mildew. Most generally it is because of improper ventilation and dampness on unseasoned, or bad wood. Also on the wood; and I am doubtful you can see them on the pictures, (even though I tried several times to get them close-up) there are several small worm type larvae in the hatching stage. Trust me - they are far from cute. The cure is simple. DO NOT bring it in your house unless you are prepared to do what I have done with the open stove. 

This piece of wood was properly seasoned once. However, and through my negligence and ignorance from improper storing and covering it, it had gotten wet without my knowledge. I did discard about two cords, but pulled these pieces  from the scrap pile to clearly show what can, and does happen. However, the water did get to it because of my ignorance to cover it properly and do what was right. I do not blame the insects. It is their habitat that we invaded. Just like the Bo-Evil song from the 60's---I's Justa Lookin' For A Home'----- they are too.  Notice the small white specks on both bark and wood? Those are un-hatched eggs. Of what I see-----they could be more of the small black worms that I see just hatched and wiggling around. A closer view reveals a hundred or more.

When they got there is a question that is almost impossible to answer. How is simple. These could be 1st, 2nd or 3rd generation insects. No one really knows. It all depends on how long the wood was cut, stored and maintained. If in the wood, consider this - that they can STILL REPRODUCE. What you have to know and understand, is that these when they hatch, they will eventually be out of the wood. For me - the fire was the only place, even though it meant burning another chunk of wet wood in my stove. I know----I could have tossed it out of doors. I didn't. I just chose to dispose of  it, and them once and for all. There is no one that can help you if they are present. There is no way to get rid of them unless you discard the wood,  pull the bark off, burn it, and them. The only other option is to toss the wood out. 

Can it be re-dried and used again? It can. However, re-splitting into smaller pieces to allow better drying would be the first step. From there, removal of the bark. It will be underside saturated with sweat, moisture, mildew and infestation. Most generally on re-splitting, the bark will loosen and almost pop off. The question is - are you willing to do this to ensure it is properly cared for before attempting to burn it? Again, this is your wasted dollars not properly being utilized. There is no way to fumigate them. Remember - they are under the bark and against, and possibly, inside of the wood. Can you imagine what could have been present in the hollow centers wood pictured earlier in this site. What if I didn't care? What if I had sold the crap this supplier brought to me? What if I made a 'So Called Deal' with someone to rid myself of the headache? Wood with the centers rotted out and hollowed clearly indicate poor wood. I shudder to think what may have been in that wood. 

As before, if they get into your house, you are the only one who can help. It is a matter of KILL, CLEAN and BURN. The only rational and sensible thing to do is get this wood out of your house. It is very important to KNOW the person you buy from. Know the wood as best as you can by checking it well when delivery is tendered. Be up front and tell this person that you will inspect the wood before it is delivered. NEVER BUY WOOD IN THE DARK UNLESS YOU TOTALLY TRUST THE PERSON YOU ARE BUYING IT FROM. UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES SHOULD YOU EVER PAY FOR ANY WOOD BEFORE IT IS DELIVERED, CHECKED BY YOU AND/OR DUMPED IN YOUR YARD. If someone says that is not their policy, point to the road and keep your money in your pocket. If he is a good wood provider and has good product, represents the product as the product should be represented, none of this should be an issue. REMEMBER THIS SIMPLE POINT: IF HE TELLS YOU THAT IS NOT THE WAY HE DOES BUSINESS, HE IS CLEARLY NOT WILLING TO TRUST YOU. REVERSE THIS IN A QUESTION AND ASK YOURSELF----  WHY SHOULD I/YOU TRUST HIM? 

(13) AVOIDING THE BULLS EYE TARGETING. Pull some from the truck before the dumping practice begins. YOU DO HAVE THAT RIGHT for two reasons.
(1) The vehicle is  in your yard and you are being asked to trust this individual. If the wood doesn't look right, DO NOT accept it. That does give you the right.
(2) Check the wood well when dumped to make sure that there are no DARKENED ends with anything that resembles WHITE MUSHROOMS,  WHITE, GREY or BLACK FUNGUS growing on it.  The important issue to understand more than anything, is that these infestations become more readily noticeable in the SOFTER and LESS DENSE hardwood combinations being sold as MIXED WOOD. These are even worse if the moisture level is higher due to sap or leaf cutting and laying out to the forces of nature. The Fungus and Darkened ends will clearly identify that there IS A PROBLEM within the wood. The sad thing is that this WILL SPREAD as will ANY INFESTATION, especially as more laying area for larvae become available and food sources are found. Decay houses problems. I WILL BE PLACING PHOTOS BELOW. 

If there is, or signs of any of this, this is due to continued subjection to the forces and not being covered while laying, cut, and/or split. On top of that, randomly try pulling the bark. Green wood will be difficult to pull the bark. Wood that has been subjected to the forces will have a softer bark and a moisture compound that becomes soft and soggy when you try to remove it. It can also smell stale. The smell resembles that of wet towels or stale wet cloth that has been kept from the fresh air. 

The direct two photos below clearly show the worms (greenish white) on wood and bark. It is essential to make sure that any damp or wet wood brought into your house; that IS NOT FRESH GREEN, is examined well before placing it within a warm atmosphere. When I pulled the bark from the wood outside, these little creatures were not even moving. Matter of fact, I am sure they must have been in a somewhat docile or hibernation state. However, once in the house, and in front of the stove for a few minutes, life began to move before my very eyes. Even the small hatchings that hatched sometime in the past months, and WERE NOT moving, were suddenly awakened by the changing temperatures. It is important to understand that pre-cut wood that is not stored in a dry place or VENTILATED AREA IS NOT a good package and will stand better than a 50/50 chance of having some form of infestation under the bark. 

Aside from the rain and water, the other nasty situation can be brought on by wood sweating in the process of being dried. Dry wood can also sweat due to lack of fresh air. No matter, it all boils down to getting GOOD WOOD, AVOIDING MIXED WOOD and MAINTAINING GOOD WOOD HABITS. Remember this, there will always be someone offering a deal, offering cheap wood and willing to give a deal to make a deal. What you have to be aware of is learning what to and what not to buy. It is important to remember this; after the delivery it is 'AFTER THE FACT.' You will have no proof it was purchased that way. You need to address it well before it is purchased and delivered by putting the delivery person well on notice. Remember, it is NOT  A PURCHASE until the commitment is made. Stick with Fresh Green Cut Wood and season it yourself. I can imagine if Mr. Smith would have looked for infestation in the wood he had; and with the problems that resulted, he too would have been mortified.







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The pictures below clearly indicate the form of bacterial decay and fungus that I spoke of and described in the text above. First - if you look at the end of the round piece, you can clearly see the Seasoned Cracking of the center cut. A closer look will show the bark lifting on the wood. Even on the ends there is a clear indication on how the mildew causes the fungus to form. Sadly, it can still grow in cold temperatures. However, not fast. It will also hibernate in a sense of speaking.  Still, the growth is then magnified by the changes in warmer and moist temperatures. 

If you look at front view of the piece of Birch  on the left, notice how the Fungus has multiplied on the butt part and the Birch shielding, or bark. As sad as this is, it is a form of mold, (from the fungus and mold family) and is, and in some cases, can turn to black mold and become massively dangerous if not dried out, scraped off and eliminated before burning. Do you realize that this type of moisture being subjected to car garage walls, finished basement, and other products in time can create a Black Mold situation? It is a fungus and in line with several types of the mold family. However, anything that has been this wet should really not be burned. (Added note----sometimes you can even see a form of this fungus growing on trees in the woods while still standing. Whether healthy or slightly beginning to deteriorate due to age, dampness and rot, trees as this should really questioned for firewood. Unfortunately, they usually make their way into the MIXED WOOD loads. This form of Fungus is usually found on the East side of the growing or dying tree.) Incinerating this form of contamination is not overly wise. I did today. However, in a ventilated living room with two windows open. It sure does defeat the purpose of heating the house in winter with the stove.

Please note the 2nd picture on the bottom. This is the inside of the Birch (above left) that has been infected on the outside. It clearly shows the underneath fungus growth inside of the split while the contamination begins working its way under the bark. For the record, this wood has been cut only two years ago and was well seasoned before it  had gotten wet. (My fault) This clearly backs my claim of just how long or short wood can last when not properly stored or cared for. If you notice the piece of Maple behind, (or above right of the Birch) look to the top and see the raised portion of the wood in the center of the bark. Closer examination revealed a hole in the wood where the knot decayed and ended up leaving a small hole.  You would most likely find some form of life inside if this would have been  split today and the bark removed. The hole did go into the wood about an inch and was somewhat filled with debris from being near other wood and decay factor. 

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(14) WHAT IS THE BEST WAY TO AVOID INSECT INFESTATIONS?
The easiest way to avoid insect infestations in any firewood is to know your supplier and know what you are getting. Further this by knowing when it was cut. As for buying it, dry it quickly. In doing so, you must remember one important thing. If wood was cut and is left UNPROCESSED in 8, 12 or 16 foot pieces, it is not seasoned firewood. It is nothing more than wood that is raw cut and unprocessed. The question is-----how long has it been sitting that way? As hardwood, the life is sustainable at about 1 to possibly three years in that form. Unfortunately, the other side of the coin is worse. If the wood was cut, split and tossed in wind-rows or piles and left uncovered to the forces of Mother Nature, you have welcomed a ton of different forms of infestations such as: mold, mildew, bark rot, center decay, bugs and worms feeding off of the trapped moisture under the back and multiples of larvae excrement and eggs. Remember, ANY WOOD cut and split and left outside to the forces of nature uncovered is just being plain ignorant and stupid. Sadly, from there we complain. WHY? It is your responsibility as a purchaser to learn about what you are buying and from whom. Remember, the only guarantee 99% of the sellers will give you is that 'for this wood I will take your money.'

Then there is the friend of mine below and the 10 cord of wood he had. Read it and understand it. The pictures above is what could be gained from his wood if not properly seasoned. However, each year   that the wood is cut, split and laying, will cost you quality. As softwood-----softwood will lose its value in as early as 6 months and will begin to deteriorate badly quickly losing its BTU value. By the time the 2nd year rolls in, softwood is quite useless on the whole. That number can be reduced by half or more if it has been cut and split and not properly seasoned.

A friend of mine wanted to sell me 10 cords of wood this spring that was cut almost two years ago in 8 foot pieces. He was convinced that this was now seasoned wood. Looking at it, it sure looked that way at first glances. The bark was cracking and partially beginning to peel. Once I cut the end off of a few pieces with the power saw, there was still alot of water and moisture in it. I was surprised at both the amount and at the decay factor under the bark.  There was also larvae present. I suggested he cut, split and dry it as soon as possible. In my opinion, it would have about another year of life if he was lucky. The drying, if done correctly, would eliminate the infestation. He had to dry it over the summer before it could be sold for burning this year. It is important to remember one thing about wood; and just like a bag of apples on the counter----- EVERYTHING HAS A SHELF LIFE. What is reasonable to some, may not be reasonable to others. It is important to remember that wood will not last forever unless it is dried properly and kept away from moisture. Then----it still won't last forever unless it is made into furniture and preserved.

What is the life of wood? I personally would stay away from anything pre-cut in lengths that has been cut for more than 18 to 24 months. Why? Hello insects and worms. Also remember this, when wood is cut from the lot, it is on the ground and not on skids or pallets. The longer wood lies, the more susceptible it becomes to the different forms of infestation. Keep in mind that this is one year off of the life of the wood which will take away valuable wood burning quality. The most important burn time for wood is the first year after it has been cut and seasoned. After that, it is like 'Down the Road---Jack.' The longer it has been cut, the more the wood in time breaks down. They cleared off the area across the road from me three years ago. There was a pile of softwood left housing about 40 cord or more. I noticed that someone started whittling away at the pile. That has now ceased because the wood is literally rotting and the quality is gone. On top of that, the infestation factor was tremendously high. The bark is gone on much of it exposing the wood. All of that in less than two years.

When wood is cut and left out to the forces in this manner, the deterioration factor is quickened. This will massively cut down on the BTU rating. If it has been spit and laying on the ground, hello infestations. Beyond that, rot will occur from the deterioration of the wood caused by both gravity and the surface water from what it is, or has been laying on. Why? There is no air flow and no way for the water and moisture to dissolve into the air under the wood. The idea is to keep wood OFF OF THE GROUND AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE and FOR AS LONG AS POSSIBLE. This way it dries and moisture is not subjected to the wood. Hey-----this is where those pallets would come in handy and possibly be very useful. Keep in mind one important thing; Never treat or spray pesticides on wood trying to control infestations or avoid insects. WHY? If you do, you would only be treating the outer part of the wood. Sooner or later you will have the results of your wasted work and money inside of the house. The infestations are under the bark.


SAY NO TO PILING WOOD OR BUYING WOOD THAT HAS BEEN IN DIRECT CONTACT WITH THE GROUND, GRASS, SAWDUST, SHAVINGS and SCRUB BARK USED AS A BASE. THESE FORMS OF CONVENIENT STORAGE HOUSE MOISTURE. TO PROTECT WOOD, IT SHOULD BE AT LEAST THREE TO FOUR INCHES OFF OF THE GROUND AT ALL TIMES WITH AIR FLOW UNDERNEATH. ACCEPT NO EXCUSES; BUT DO ASK.

This wood is not split. However; split or not DOESN'T MATTER. laying on the GRASS, GROUND, SAWDUST and SCRUB BARK  will add moisture up and through the pile. This, then becomes a BREEDING GROUND for insects looking  for a home and place to lay their eggs. There is no way for the underneath foot or two of the wood to be, to get, or stay dry. This being the case, it becomes a breeding ground for condensed moisture and prolonged wetness. Added to this is the possibility of mold, mildew, end and bark rot.  This only amplifies all of the things I have discussed above. 


Say no to BUYING PRE-CUT WOOD and ANY FORM OF MIXED FIREWOOD that has been stored on any of the above. Grass is even worse.

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SAY NO TO SPRAYING WOOD FOR, or AGAINST WOOD INFESTATION!


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It is important to remember that no amount of spraying from any chemical  will prevent infestation once it has began. Spray only covers the outside of the bark. The culprits are under the bark and burrowing their way into the wood. The only cures to infestation is careful wood buying and proper seasoning.


(15) LAST BUT NOT LEAST, LET US LOOK AT THE ENVIRONMENT:
What affect can the wood I burn have on the environment? If we look at this in a sensible way, we know that burning wood causes smoke. However; with the efficiency of stoves today, the chimney properly installed and the wood properly seasoned, fires can burn with virtually very little smoke. How does wood burning affect climate change? Again, if you look at wood in the proper way, it is a Carbon Neutral method of heat. Actually, almost 100% if we did not have to add in the chain saws, processing machines and harvesters. These machines and deforestation are the bigger concerns. Nonetheless; I don't see us going back to the days of the Pilgrims and doing everything in the time method and back breaking manner as it was. There is, and has been a population explosion since then. Many new methods of heat are on the market including pellet stoves, heat pumps, natural gas; along with some of the standards of oil, electricity, propane and coal. Just a thought; but did anyone ever hear of the Sydney Tar Ponds? Wait a second.......do I remember something about coke ovens, coal and whatever? Wait....doesn't Nova Scotia Power still burn coal? However; did you ever consider how much pollution is added back into the atmosphere through the cost of producing these forms of heat, energy and burning them; more-so than wood itself? You should. We are the ones who breathe it. In time we will be leaving all of our messes and headaches to the children not yet born. Yes----these will be the children of your children.Wow! Something great to remember us by.

In all fairness to you, to me, and to the children coming into the world and growing up, and/or  anyone out there who do not know the ins and outs about wood; research it. You might be surprised on some of the things you could learn if you just took the time. Come the end of the day, it is like buying lobster. Would you sooner buy them fresh and alive, or are you one of the people who prefer them dead and cooked? I bought them cooked once and damn near died. Why? I have no idea. Perhaps it was because at the time, lazy had a meaning called convenient. I would assume they were cooked when dead or partially dead, or perhaps even spoiled. Either way, never again. As for me, I like to buy them alive and see what I am eating. As for my wood, I like to buy it green, cut it myself, season it and KNOW what the heck I am burning. You should too. And remember this, if you don't----there is no one to blame but yourself. 


Email addresses: d2b@xcountry.tv and frankrhynosvalleyfirewood@xcountry.tv
   
 Wood Info and Wood Burning Hazards