Whether you are fueling a campfire or stoking an indoor wood stove, gathering and storing firewood is an ongoing task. When you are wide awake and your fire is burning during the warm part of the day, you can use almost any size firewood, wet or dry, seasoned or not. But when you stoke your fire in the middle of the night to stave off hypothermia, how you bundle and store your wood is very important.
Ties That Bind
Tie your wood bundle at each end with sisal, cotton or jute twine to bind enough wood for a 20-minute burn. Depending whether your wood is wet or dry, according to wood-stove installer Jeff Ramold, "This can be as much as you can hold under one arm, or it can equal enough wood to fill a 2-feet by 3-feet space with 18-inch lengths of various diameters from twigs to 3-inch logs."
Seasoned, dry woods such as maple and elm burn long and slow. Slab cuts from sawmill waste burn hot and fast, so you will probably use twice as much as you might think you need. Wet wood, whether green or seasoned, takes a large amount of accelerant to light and keep lit, burns cooler but lasts longer. Wet wood usually requires more paper, tinder and kindling to keep the temperature in your wood stove high enough to continue burning until all the moisture steams away. The flash point of wood is 572 degrees Fahrenheit, according to The Engineering Toolbox.com (see Reference 1). University of Kentucky Extension specialist James E. Reeb says, "80 percent of the total energy requirement...can be used in the drying operations (see Reference 2)."
Bundle three or four lengths of 2- to 3-inch diameter logs with one plastic grocery bag full of small twigs up to 1 inch diameter. Break kindling into 12-inch lengths and lay them in the bottom of the bag. Tie the log bundle at each end and run the tie through the handles of the grocery bag.
Make several balls of newspaper or other paper trash. Break open the grocery bag and spread the tinder on top of the paper in your fire pit or wood stove. Place the small logs from your bundle on top of the kindling once it is lit and has burned for five full minutes.
Cut slabs to the correct length for your wood stove or fire pit. Wrap the bundle in plastic or tie it at each end with 16- to 20-gauge black steel rebar tie. The bundle can be added to the fire without breaking it open. Remove the rebar tie rings from your stove or fire pit after the fire has died and the ashes are completely cold.
Empty 20-pound plastic pet food bags will hold enough dry, medium diameter wood for one night's burn. Wet wood should not be packaged in plastic bags, or it will mold before it has a chance to dry. Wet wood often attracts flies and wasps.
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