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Using birch wood - Forno Bravo Forum: The Wood-Fired Oven Community

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I'm Peter Reinhart! Ask Me Anything! Monday, February 15, 2016 7:00-8:00 pm EST

To kick off our AMA feature, we have invited author, chef and master bread maker and host of Pizza Quest, Peter Reinhart, to be our first host! Peter will be in the Forum on Monday, February 15th, from 7:00 - 8:00 pm EST. If you are unable to be online during the live session, you can post your questions in the sticky post. Peter will answer those questions during the live session on February 15th. You can view Peter's answers to your questions as well as what happened during the live session in the session thread.

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Using birch wood

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  • Using birch wood

    Someone mentioned a while back about using birch for fuel. I tried it the other day and the smoke it put out looked like I was burning a car tire. I let it burn down and started throwing in oak. Do different types of birch burn differently? Seems odd that they would.

    Thanks,

    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.

  • #2
    Re: Using birch wood

    Hi Les!

    We burn birch in log cabins in Canada and it burns pretty clean. Was yours dry and aged?
    Jay

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    • #3
      Re: Using birch wood

      I cut it last winter. With our summer heat and low humidity, it doesn't take long for wood to cure. It appears dry and burned quite hot. I just couldn't believe the black smoke it was putting out.

      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: Using birch wood

        I burned some birch last year - but the oven was already hot - so it burned very clean - but not vigorously.

        Christo
        My oven progress -
        http://www.fornobravo.com/forum/f8/c...cina-1227.html
        sigpic

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        • #5
          Re: Using birch wood

          Is it white birch, with the bark that peels off? I remember (from my northern Michigan youth) that that stuff burns ferociously. (At least the bark does.)
          My geodesic oven project: part 1, part 2

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          • #6
            Re: Using birch wood

            Yes - it's white birch. Which burns black
            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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            • #7
              Re: Using birch wood

              Around here the White Birch bark burns black and lets off a sooty, chemical looking smoke. I haven't burned it in the oven due to this bark, but if the bark is off, it burns hot like other mixed hardwoods.
              My Build Thread

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              • #8
                Re: Using birch wood

                Hi Les,,
                WHatever wood I have that doesnt burn well or smells (cedar) I save in a seperate pile for the chiminea,,, Just another option

                Mark

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                • #9
                  Re: Using birch wood

                  Timo - I would have thought that after a while, the bark would have been the first thing to burn off. This was black until it was gone.

                  Mark - I have a wood burning stove for heat, that is it's destination.

                  I am going to drop another one after the leaves fall. In hind site, it was the wrong tree to plant. Surface roots are attacking my planters and destroying my lawn. They are also a very dirty tree - drops crap everywhere.

                  Thanks all,

                  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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                  • #10
                    Re: Using birch wood

                    In Alberta, where quality hardwoods are scarce, white birch is a premium species. It must be split, stacked and dried before use. It is the bark that gives off the black soot but once you have a good bed of coals, the dry birch burns well. Oak, maple, or other hardwoods, if you live in the east would be preferred species.
                    When I lived further north where the winters were long and mean, I had a wood stove to supplement our gas furnace and to act as a backup. I burnt a lot of birch, pine, a little poplar and every now and then some tamarack or larch. Tamarack burns pound for pound with the equivelent heat of a low grade coking coal, if fact, it will warp your wood stove if you fill it up with tamarack. I used to just put a piece in every so often and you could really feel the heat difference.
                    Most of the wood that I will burn in the forno will be pine, poplar, a little birch and maybe some tamarack when I can get it. While I have access to a lot of fire wood, another cheap source is new sub-divisions and grabbing the scrapes, with permission from the builders.

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                    • #11
                      Re: Using birch wood

                      I use birch for overnight heating of the house. Up here its the only hardwood available except for poplar. In addition I use the birch bark for starting the fire under kindling in the WFO. Works great, smokes black like crazy. Now that winter is here, I plan on re-firing the oven after the bake is done and leave a good sized chunk of birch to smolder away untill the next use, about 24 hrs later. I'd like to keep the beast warm so that the thermal shock of -30 to plus 1000 f is not too great. Yeah, it will be interesting to see how the Pompei holds up over the winter.

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                      • #12
                        Re: Using birch wood

                        What is "birch" in Northern Canada may not be what is "birch" in Nevada. Local/regional names can be very misleading. For precision, try to use the scientific names.

                        I use "Pseudotsuga menziesii" also know locally as "Douglas Fir" (even though it is not even a "fir".)

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                        • #13
                          Re: Using birch wood

                          Originally posted by Neil2 View Post
                          What is "birch" in Northern Canada may not be what is "birch" in Nevada. Local/regional names can be very misleading. For precision, try to use the scientific names.

                          I use "Pseudotsuga menziesii" also know locally as "Douglas Fir" (even though it is not even a "fir".)
                          I've got some access to Doug Fir but have not tried it yet. How do you find it compared to other softwoods such as pine...

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                          • #14
                            Re: Using birch wood

                            I use it because it is a good price and is easy to split. We don't have much pine here on the coast but if I remember my days growing up in Canmore, I would guess that your pine will burn very much like Douglas Fir, maybe a bit smokier.

                            Having said that, these things are not fussy. Any well seasoned firewood will do the job.

                            "All firewoods dried to the same moisture content contain approximately the same heat value per pound-from 8,000 to 9,500 BTU for fully dried wood and 5,500 to 8,500 BTU for air-seasoned wood."

                            By weight all woods, hardwoods and softwoods, are equal.
                            Last edited by Neil2; 10-31-2009, 05:01 PM.

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                            • #15
                              Re: Using birch wood

                              Some species are denser which gives them more weight, so it takes less wood to get the same BTU output. Having said that, I can get a pretty hot fire in the oven just using pine with no problem. Tamerack or Larch is heavier and does put out much greater heat with less wood but the same can be expected with any of the denser hardwoods. Some species are a little more aromatic than others but they can all heat an oven.

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