Christmas Miracle

In a true Christmas miracle, the guys who promised me firewood back in July, and have been telling us increasingly strange stories since early October about why it hadn’t arrived yet, finally actually showed up with it.  It isn’t perfect wood– at 23% moisture (measured with my handy moisture meter) it wasn’t quite the “<20% moisture” certified on the invoice they left.  And, it is by far the dirtiest firewood I’ve ever seen.  I don’t know how they managed to get the wood so dirty.  If it went in their kiln that way (and I suspect it did), no wonder they needed an EPA air quality permit for the thing.

Anyway, we were down to the very last sticks of our very first wood purchase (2009), but now we’re good for the winter now (one cord).  I won’t be buying from these guys again, I think.  To avoid this situation in the future, I’ve already put my order in for next winter with someone more reliable and upfront:  Heidi of Heidi’s Firewood (she probably doesn’t need extra publicity, but there it is.)

Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a cold night!  (Though actually we are supposed to have rain and record warmth tomorrow…)


6 Responses to “Christmas Miracle”

  1. Kathy Myers Says:

    Merry Christmas! What a wonderful surprise gift to you.

  2. Mr Lapin Says:

    “Kiln dried” – isn’t that a pretty significant energy input? Any sense for how many btus go in vs how many you extract when you burn the wood?

    • coldhousejournal Says:

      Well, that’s a good question. In terms of carbon emissions, etc., surely it is better to let the sun and wind slowly dry your wood, than to burn other wood to dry your wood (which I believe is how the kilns work.) The BTUs required I suppose depend on three things: whether the wood has been allowed to dry at all beforehand, the efficiency of the kiln, and how dry you want the wood.

      This website suggests that taking a cord of oak from fresh & green to 20% moisture involves removing about 1,500 lbs (188 gallons) of water. At 1000 BTU/lb for evaporation, and assuming say 70% efficiency… this would need about 2.1 MBTU input… which is about 1/10th of a cord of oak.

      So, in the worst case, I guess burning kiln-dried over field-dried represents a 10% efficiency loss. But there may be mitigating factors. I imagine suppliers might let the split wood sit for at least a few weeks before kilning it– that could remove a substantial amount of water. And, I’ve notice that people don’t seem to “fire up” their kilns until well into the fall, which leads me to wonder if they are using the waste heat for something– heating a workshop or barn? I will have to find out answers to these questions. And of course, if your field-dried wood isn’t done right, it might wind up with a lot more water than you’d like, and that could reduce effective heat value by more than 10%.

      I’ve been buying the kiln-dried mainly because we are storing it in our cellar, right under the living room, and for that purpose I appreciate the 100% bug-free aspect of kiln-dried. Also, except for the “artisanal” stuff I dried myself to my own standards, kiln-dried lights more easily and burns more reliably than any field-“dried” I’ve managed to acquire in the past.

      Really, the MOST ideal thing, which I may resume after I retire, is buying whole green logs, and sawing/splitting/stacking/drying them yourself. But by God that is a lot of work.

  3. Anne Says:

    I came across your blog doing a quick search of whether or not someone might die of hypothermia during sleep (old post of yours from 2010). The search was prompted by the inexplicable recent decision to dabble in winter camping.
    Anyway, I am thoroughly intrigued as my husband and I also live in an old house that in no way, shape of form falls into the “comfortable winter living” category. (I type this from my kitchen, currently at 50 degrees.)
    Looking forward to perusing you blog.

    • coldhousejournal Says:

      Welcome! I hope you enjoy your winter-camping dabble. Typing from my kitchen, where is it currently a balmy 56º… but it will be dropping overnight, as the fire is dying and the forecast is for -8º!

  4. tacocat04092 Says:

    Looks like you weren’t the only ones to get jerked around with your wood order.

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