Heating With Wood

| 3/19/2014 10:00:00 AM

woodstoveFor years I’ve thought about putting together some basic manuals for my daughters in case they are ever at the farm and we are not here. There are often times after working in the bush cutting firewood all day when I suggest to Michelle that this may come sooner rather than later. Then I snap to my senses and realize there’s only way I’m leaving this place… in a fridge-sized cardboard box.

So here’s the first of a series of manuals for my daughters on heating with wood. I believe it will be helpful even for our city readers because as I recommend in my book Thriving During Challenging Times, having a back-up heat supply, like a woodstove, is a good idea no matter where you live.

The challenge with heating with a woodstove is using it properly and most effectively, which after a decade and a half here at Sunflower Farm, heating exclusively with wood, I think I finally get it.

Wood Selection

In The Renewable Energy Handbook by William Kemp (a book we published) there’s an appendix that lists the BTU output of various woods. Red Oak is 27,000 BTU/cord. Poplar is 18,500 BTU/cord. But there is a great reference that I’d like to emphasize here because of a number of questions posted by readers on my blog about cutting down a big pine tree on Valentines Day (romantic fool that I am) which is available here if you haven’t read it yet.

“All firewood has the same heating or carbon content PER POUND or kilogram of mass. However, the density of softwoods is much lower owing to increased air and moisture content, resulting in lower BTU content per unit mass.”

You can tell an engineer wrote this!

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