Monday, 28 January 2013

The wood that wouldn't burn

Ally and Ben report that the fallen tree I slaved over, sawing by hand into stove-sized logs, doesn't burn.

Can anyone identify this wood?

This is the tree before I attacked it with a bow saw, not that this leafless tangle of branches can help much with identification.

A+B tell me that the logs are very reluctant to catch light, even when positioned on a bed of burning coal.

I cut the logs a month ago, and they have been protected from rain and snow. I know they are not "seasoned", but I would have expected them to at least repay me a little for all the hours I spent in the rain cutting them up.


Ben the Snowman update:

Two days after birth ... and he's lost his head.


Bruce in Sanity said...


hard to tell from the photos, but they are probably either sycamore or willow, neither will ever make a good fire even if you keep them for years.

Useful rhyme:

These hardwoods burn well and slowly,
Ash, beech, hawthorn oak and holly.
Softwoods flare up quick and fine,
Birch, fir, hazel, larch and pine.
Elm and willow you'll regret,
Chestnut green and sycamore wet

Oh well, hopefully the exercise did you good!




Halfie said...

Grr ... thanks Bruce! I guess it's one of the species you suggest, and probably sycamore. A few years ago I chopped up some weeping willow which burnt well.

The thing is, you see a fallen tree blocking the towpath and think, Ah! I'll be a good boy and clear the towpath, and help myself to some free firewood in the process. It looks as if, in this case, I should have done the first but not the second. Oh well. Just don't tell Ally and Ben that they have a huge pile of useless logs taking up valuable space in the well deck!

Graham said...

Poplar is another wood which will not burn. Glass makers take advantage of this property and make their tools out of it.

Halfie said...

Graham - I never knew! Thanks.

Anonymous said...

We have moved most of them to a friend's garage now... oh well...!
A and B

Brian and Diana on NB Harnser said...

They make matches out of Poplar. It would probably burn on a proper wood burner with a good draw

Halfie said...

I'll take them home then.

Graham said...

I didn't know that they made matches from poplar but I see from Wiki that it has lots of other interesting uses,

I was told that poplar was used by glass makers during a visit to Hartley Wood of Sunderland who were manufacturers of some of the finest English sheet glass. I remembered that fact particulary because I had once been give a load of poplar for a bonfire. With my mates we had pushed many wheelbarrow loads across town only to find that it would not burn.

Now it sounds contradictory that a wood that will not burn will make matches but that need not be the case. Tha small section of a match stick will burn but a heavier piece of wood will char on the outside. In poplar the charring is fire proof and so it protects the inside of the wood from burning.

Halfie said...

Graham, thanks for that. It sounds like poplar might make a good building material ... as long as it's not in matchstick-thin amounts! I'll have to look up Wikipedia's entry ...