Posts Tagged ‘stoves’

Heating With Wood – Vintage-Style Energy

admin | July 23rd, 2010 | No Comments »

Old Is New Again

The newer things become, they more they return to the past. This is true of heating with wood. From the dawn of time, heating with wood was a natural emanation of the need to stay warm in cold temperatures as well as a means with which to cook. The return to heating with wood is no surprise. Until the early 1900’s most homes were heated with wood stoves and wood-burning fireplaces. Most meals were cooked on wood stoves.

Where Did All That Wood Come From?

With careful conservation methods, wood used for heating and cooking was never in short supply. It was grown in heavily wooded areas or on designated tree farms. Care was taken to insure wood stoves were properly venting fly ash so that fires were rare. Chimneys and flues received regular meticulous cleaning by expert chimney sweeps.

In big cities, fireplaces and large open hearths provided enough heat from wood even in three-story Victorian homes. Wood for these homes and businesses was brought in from lumber yards. The lumbering process was so exacting that there was little in the way of waste. Twigs, branches and short sawings were used as fat wood to help a wood fire start. Sawdust was used in any number of ways: to patch holes in wood as well as to line walkways and chicken coops. Whatever remained was returned to the earth as mulch. Wood was carefully selected for heating purposes.

Vintage-Style Energy

Though heating with wood may be a vintage-style energy source, it is effective as a means of energy. It does require knowledge of the types of wood that can be safely and cleanly burned. Hardwoods like oak, maple, beech and sycamore as well as fruit-woods like apple, crab apple and cherry are some of the types of woods that make clean burning fuel for heating with wood. Among others, nut-woods like walnut, pecan, chestnut and almond also give off a lovely fragrance while burning.

Choose hardwoods, fruit-woods or nut-woods that are aged. One tip is to look for orchards that are in the process of removing dead woods. In most cases, the wood will be sold for firewood. Unaged, green woods retain sap and therefore need to be dried before they can be used for heating with wood. Sappy woods create dangerous sparks and as a result burn faster.

Wood Stoves Today

Today’s wood stoves make heating with wood more efficient than those of the past. Venting systems for these wood stoves has been greatly upgraded to produce thorough efficient heating with wood. Aged woods for wood stoves are sold in large lumber and hardware stores as well as by individual sellers of wood. In most cases, these woods are already split and bundled. Wood is sold in stacks and cords for heating with woods in wood stoves. Cords of wood need to be shielded from too much dampness or dry rot will occur fairly quickly.

Be sure to stack your wood so that it is protected from ground moisture. Also, it’s a good idea to use a moisture-proof tarp to cover your wood pile or, use log holders and hoops.

Written by Craig Daniels and used under the Creative Commons License.

Hardwood pellets vs. softwood pellets

admin | March 22nd, 2010 | No Comments »

300px-Wood_pellets-small_huddle_PNr°0108With wood stoves and fireplaces, hardwood is typically the fuel of choice. Hardwood is naturally a denser fuel with a lower moisture content than softwood. Stoking your fire with a hardwood like oak or maple would burn longer and also have hotter coals. Chimney sweeps will usually recommend burning hardwoods to avoid buildup in the flue and lower the risk of a chimney fire with heavy use.

Softwoods, like pine, are known to be easy to light. They burn hotter than hardwoods initially but burn much more quickly. In turn this would mean stoking the fire more frequently and having to store a larger supply. In addition, softwoods have more pitch leading to more sparking and sound as it burns. With the sparking comes additional risk of sparks leaving the fireplace and with more pitch is an increased chance of a chimney fire with use.

When wood is pelletized many of these differences go away. The wood is ground into sawdust and dried to a consistent moisture level of about 6%. Hardwood, softwood and blended pellets are compressed at about 40-pounds per cubic feet into pellets can produce about 8,000 BTUs per pound.

At this point the differences lie between pellet mills and brands. Each will have their own pellet length that affect burning and the stove maintenance and also the amount of ash that is produced. Premium pellets typically leave behind 1-pound of ash for every 10 bags burned. Compare this with regular pellets that could leave up to 3 times as much ash behind for cleanup.

The Michigan Hardwood pellets and Lakes Region Softwood pellets we carry are both classified as premium pellets.