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Definition of Dry Wood? - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community

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Definition of Dry Wood?

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  • Definition of Dry Wood?

    Here's a stupid question; Seems the common recommendation for using wood in a WFO is that it should be dried for 2 years or kiln dried. So after this process, what about wood that sits out in the rain? Does this count or are we worried only about the moisture that "green" wood holds? Obviously we wouldn't want to burn rain wet wood in the oven, but it seems that all the places that sell wood have it sitting outside.

    And, I asked my local firewood supplier if their wood was dried to which they responded; "Of course... just look at it.". So how do we check that the dryness of the wood is appropriate for ours ovens?

  • #2
    Re: Definition of Dry Wood?

    "Here's a stupid question;"

    Absolutely not a stupid question. Once your oven is built you are quickly going to become an expert on firewood.

    Mine sits in my wood shed, out of the rain for one summer.

    I usually buy it in the spring and start using it the following spring.

    Mostly Douglas fir and alder. (note that Douglas fir is not a "fir" - it is closer to hemlock or redwood). Sometimes I get some Garry oak or Arbutus (Madronna to you yanks) and this I let season over two summers.

    Build a good, well ventilated wood shed for your wood. This will help it season and keep dry. The stuff that is seasoned well enough for a fireplace, is generally not quite seasoned enough for your oven. Talk to people you know who use wood fireplaces or wood stoves to find out who sells seasoned firewood locally.

    One trick is to use the heat of your oven to further dry your wood. After cooking pizza, and after your oven has cooled to below 400f (usually next morning), fill it up with part the wood you are going to use for the next firing. Put the door on and open it for 5 min every couple of hours.
    Last edited by Neil2; 09-02-2009, 05:38 PM.

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    • #3
      Re: Definition of Dry Wood?

      You can be a purist and by a hydrometer. My rule of thumb is if it catches on fire - it will get hot.

      I cut dead pine every year in the summer, after I split and stack, it's ready to go come winter. As Neil mentioned, keep it in a wood shed. Hardwoods I have found burn best after 2 years of seasoning.

      Les...
      Check out my pictures here:
      http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f8/les-build-4207.html

      If at first you don't succeed... Skydiving isn't for you.

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      • #4
        Re: Definition of Dry Wood?

        Neil: So you recommend against firewood suppliers?

        The stand I built from fancy cinder block was made to be my wood shed. The opening in front is 8"w x 32"h... just wide enough to get logs in & out and I have two 4" x 16" vents at the bottom, near the corners in the back. Inside space is 24" x 24" x 40"h, perhaps not enough for a year supply of wood... I guess we'll find out. And I don't anyone around here that has experience with a WFO... and judging from the remarks of people that have seen my work in progress; "Wow, that's different!" ... I don't suppose anyone I know knows anyone either! So any suggestions on where to start when looking for seasoned wood suppliers... preferably inexpensive suppliers. "Seasoned" wood sounds pricey!

        Les: Damp wood will still catch fire. My supply of fire pit wood that sits outside burns fine. It's just that it gives off moisture which from what I understand could cause my oven dome to crack. I thought pine was a no-no in a WFO.

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        • #5
          Re: Definition of Dry Wood?

          Originally posted by WaWaZat View Post
          It's just that it gives off moisture which from what I understand could cause my oven dome to crack.
          A couple of issues. When I bake bread I put a can of water into the oven for moisture. I also open it about every minute for the first three to spray in water. Not a crack to be found. If you are just trying to get heat (cooking bread) you can pretty much burn anything (other than a tire - it won't fit) For pizza you obviously want hardwoods for the flavor. Jim, a great baker on this forum, mentioned he will burn wood pallets to get to temp.

          Les...
          Check out my pictures here:
          http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f8/les-build-4207.html

          If at first you don't succeed... Skydiving isn't for you.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Definition of Dry Wood?

            So moisture in the wood is not an issue in a small refractory dome oven? Does this mean I can search for the least expensive 1/4 face chord of split hardwood... lots of oak around here... and be happy?

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            • #7
              Re: Definition of Dry Wood?

              For optimal burning and heat generation, wood needs to be seasoned 1 yr for each inch of diameter (thickness), this is pretty much the standard for air dried lumber as well.
              Problem is, no firewood supplier is going to "sit on" large logs for many years, so they split it to reduce the time (and also make it managable). Most users are not looking for optimal, either.....as long as it burns fairly well and does not smoke much we are happy.
              I've found that any logs over about 3 inches need 2 yrs seasoning (hickory, oak, citrus) to be acceptable.
              My primary supplier does not sell anything under a yr., I have no reason to doubt him - very well sorted/stacked and ALOT of land to store it.
              Wet/damp wood will burn, but is slow to catch and tends to smoke (as well as steam) and will not burn nearly as hot as good seasoned/dry wood.

              One thing to look for when buying wood - you only want logs that have checking/splits in the ends...this is a sign that the wood has "given up" a considerable amount of moisture; also, the cut ends should be discolored or weathered (grey, greyish brown color).

              One last point based on recent experience (this summer), Wet/damp logs (oak & hickory) are nearly impossible to get lit and keep lit in a wet, soggy oven........trust me on this, its another story and another thread.



              RT

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              • #8
                Re: Definition of Dry Wood?

                Old pallets will burn great, One note is that the ones that are painted on the sides are generally made from hardwoods and will burn better, longer and hotter, Sill not sure how I feel about using the painted wood in the oven so I only use them for the initial heat up as they are easier to light and switch to seasoned hardwood after that...
                Mark

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                • #9
                  Re: Definition of Dry Wood?

                  First off, there are no stupid questions here. Managing wood supplies is a very important component in using a WFO. Done properly, getting up to pizza speed is relatively easy; done poorly it may not happen at all. This is a core subject in the WFO workshops we hold here.

                  Color and checking are two important signs. In the wood pic, all the pieces are seasoned, checked and discolored, with one exception. The small round in the upper left corner is Osage orange cut green and left in the round. Notice the light color, no checking and how tight the bark is to the wood. It will take at least a year to season. A useful exercise is to take two pieces of wood or the same species and similar dimensions. Pick up one you know is seasoned in one hand, pick up the other (green) in the other. The difference in weight will show you just how much sap and moisture is in each one.

                  The second pic is self explanatory. The shed is sixteen feet long, eight high and four feet deep.

                  And, yep, I do burn pallets, long as they aren't stamped to show they've been treated with pesticides. I also use slab wood from a bandsaw mill, construction offcuts, scrap from a kitchen cabinet shop, basicially anything I can get. I won't use red pine, though, because it creates very black oily smoke and smells terrible when burning. White cedar, by contrast, burns very bright and hot.

                  Jim
                  Attached Files
                  "Made are tools, and born are hands"--William Blake, 1757-1827

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                  • #10
                    Re: Definition of Dry Wood?

                    Originally posted by CanuckJim View Post
                    First off, there are no stupid questions here. Managing wood supplies is a very important component in using a WFO. Done properly, getting up to pizza speed is relatively easy; done poorly it may not happen at all. This is a core subject in the WFO workshops we hold here.

                    Color and checking are two important signs. In the wood pic, all the pieces are seasoned, checked and discolored, with one exception. The small round in the upper left corner is Osage orange cut green and left in the round. Notice the light color, no checking and how tight the bark is to the wood. It will take at least a year to season. A useful exercise is to take two pieces of wood or the same species and similar dimensions. Pick up one you know is seasoned in one hand, pick up the other (green) in the other. The difference in weight will show you just how much sap and moisture is in each one.

                    The second pic is self explanatory. The shed is sixteen feet long, eight high and four feet deep.

                    And, yep, I do burn pallets, long as they aren't stamped to show they've been treated with pesticides. I also use slab wood from a bandsaw mill, construction offcuts, scrap from a kitchen cabinet shop, basicially anything I can get. I won't use red pine, though, because it creates very black oily smoke and smells terrible when burning. White cedar, by contrast, burns very bright and hot.

                    Jim
                    Awesome... that clarifies a lot! And thanx for the pix.

                    Is the checking that everyone's talking about the cracks in the ends? What about that round that's right in the middle of the 2 larger logs in your pic.... is that a seasoned piece?

                    I have a few pallets around here that I actually was going to get rid of. What does this stamp you mentioned look like & where is it typically?
                    Last edited by WaWaZat; 09-03-2009, 07:21 AM.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Definition of Dry Wood?

                      Here are pix of the stamps on 2 of my pallets. What do they mean?
                      Attached Files

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                      • #12
                        Re: Definition of Dry Wood?

                        Photo # 1 is a US built pallet that appears to have the HT code - meaning it was heat treated, not chemically treated for pests.
                        Photos #2,3,4 are Canadian (CN) and have been treated (fumigated) with methyl bromide (MB). Methyl Bromide is widely used as a fumigant. It is the primarly chemical used in the "tenting" (fumigation) of businesses and homes here in FL that are infested with drywood termites, powder post beetles and other wood boring pests. I do not believe there are any residuals left within the wood after fumigation......they certainly would not be allowed to fumigate homes with this stuff if there were. Basically the chemical is introduced as a gas within a confined space. It will basically kill anything moving until the space/air is cleared. I'm only guessing that the same process is used for pallets.

                        RT

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                        • #13
                          Re: Definition of Dry Wood?

                          So is it best to stay away from burning a pallet like this Canadian one in a pizza oven or is this one ok because of the fumigation process?

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                          • #14
                            Re: Definition of Dry Wood?

                            "Neil: So you recommend against firewood suppliers?"

                            Not at all. Most of the reputable suppliers want you to be happy and be a repeat customer. You may just want to keep the wood you buy from them for a while before using it in your oven. In my experience, wood that is seasoned just well enough for use in my fire place is not quite seasoned enough for optimal performance in my oven.

                            As CanuckJim notes, good wood management; including buying, storing and seasoning is going help you get the most from your oven.

                            Wood types, availability and price vary widely across the country so local knowledge is important.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Definition of Dry Wood?

                              I completely agree with Neil. The reputable suppliers want you back (I know my guy does) and will be straight forward about their wood. They also have the space to store the wood and at least let it season for a yr. The guys to watch out for are the tree trimming services and landscapers. They usually have limited capacity and are always looking to move the last big cutting job. I see a rash of ads from these guys in the spring (spring cleanup) and again in the late fall (Nov-Dec) when people are looking for fireplace/firepit wood. The true firewood suppliers have wood all year.

                              As for the pallets, I'm not going to recommend the methyl bromide treated.....I just don't know exactly how pallets are treated. My limited research says they use a fumigation process, which means it should be safe to burn.....but that stuff is deadly to anything that breaths when it is airborn and in a gasious state; if there is any residual from whatever process is used, it would certainly become airborn when burned.

                              RT

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