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Anyone burn Hackberry?

Discussion in 'Firewood, Heating and Wood Burning Equipment' started by tallfarmboy, Aug 25, 2010.

  1. tallfarmboy

    tallfarmboy AboristSite Guru

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    We've got a lot of it here locally... Just finished dicing up about a 35" DBH Hackberry that had blown down about 18 months ago. It was still alive, so I will let it season for a couple months...
    Just wondering if anyone else burns any Hackberry?

    TFB
     
  2. chuckwood

    chuckwood AboristSite Guru

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    burnin hackberry

    I've burned a lot of it, mainly because I've had to remove them as nuisance
    trees. It's not the easiest to split by hand, but it burns ok. It rots quickly and you can't leave it on the ground and in the weather for very long.
     
  3. Wood Doctor

    Wood Doctor Edwin

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    Hackberry is good stuff

    Hackberry is excellent firewood. I haven't noticed any quick rotting problems as Tallfarmboy reports. In fact, it takes a full year to dry out if cut green, similar to mulberry. When cut green, it's as heavy as oak, but it loses lots of water as it dries, and it will spalt. Spalted hackberry is prized by some woodworkers as a lathe turning stock, and even kitchen cabinets are made from it because of the interesting grain pattern and spalting.

    As a firewood, I give it an A-, but only if properly dry. I once tried drying it in a garage for 8 months and that was not enough. Hackberry burns hot and with fewer sparks than mulberry, but it is not nearly as common around here.
     
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  4. needwood

    needwood ArboristSite Operative

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    Im like Wood Doctor. Its a pain to split but man it burns hot. Wish i had a cored for the colder months.
     
  5. avalancher

    avalancher Arboristsite Raconteur

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    I agree with wooddoctor, a few months aint gonna cut it with hackberry unless you got weather like they got down in arizona or something.I found it dries time wise about the same as red oak, give it a year and you got some nice firewood.
    Anything else and you will be gunking up your stove pipe.
     
  6. Mike PA

    Mike PA AboristSite Guru

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    I always feel like I'm talking about a different hackberry, because I don't like it much. I would compare it to a silver maple, but it makes much more ash. The ash is light and fluffy and goes everywhere. I agree with the drying times and I've found that it can start to rot or spalt quickly. Wood is really heavy live, and light when dry. Having said that it isn't a favorite of mine, I burn it. I get it for free - free wood is good wood.
     
  7. Butch(OH)

    Butch(OH) Addicted to ArboristSite

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    We cut up and burned a hackberry a couple years ago, the only one I have even burned and like the others I rate it average on all counts except splitting, it splits hard.
     
  8. 3fordasho

    3fordasho AboristSite Guru

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    I've got 6 or 7 of them in my yard, and many more just on the other side of my rear property line. tough tree, nothing seems to kill them. I've got two that I've poured concrete around 50% (driveway/patio slab etc) of the base of them and they remain unaffected since 1992. As firewood I'd rate it higher than elm, boxelder/silver maple, black walnut, cherry, and many others but below the oaks/locusts/hard maples. I'd give it a full year to season and have not noted the splitting or rotting problems other are reporting. I like it.
     
  9. WetBehindtheEar

    WetBehindtheEar AboristSite Guru

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    :agree2:

    Does well when seasoned and doesn't seem to leave a lot of ash behind either.
     
  10. msvold

    msvold ArboristSite Operative

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    I agree with woodchuck and other posts. I wasn't crazy about it, cause I have to split it and I have noticed it tends to rot quicker than most wood, but my wife loves to burn it in an open fire place.
     
  11. Lancelwh

    Lancelwh ArboristSite Lurker

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    I agree. Over the past few years, i've split and burned about 3 cords per year. I know I dont give it enought time, but i split it in the winter, split and stack right away, and it burns good by the following November. I try to burn the hackberry in the 'less' cold periods at which time I switch over to my oak.

    If you split with a log splitter, it shouldn't be a problem, its just so stringy.

    I'd give it a 'B'
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2010
  12. bsearcey

    bsearcey ArboristSite Operative

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    I haven't burned any yet, but I have about 2 cords of it seasoning since the first of April. I know the charts list it at around 21 BTU. Last I checked with my moisture meter (around a month ago) I was reading 27%. Yes it was a resplit piece. And the knock test already gives a good ring and not a thud. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that by November it will be ready. Seems like it might get there. Even if it is not all the way to 20% it will still be way better than what I was burning last year. I split most of it by hand and while definitely harder to split than red oak (honestly what isn't), I didn't think it was too bad. My main issue was the tree was huge and I had to do alot of noodling in order to split. Once it was noodled down I didn't think it was that bad.
     
  13. boyland

    boyland ArboristSite Operative

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    if you burn it greener, it makes a smell like and electrical fire yuck.

    I agree needs to season, burns ok. BTU chart gives it a high rating my personal experience is that it is like mulberry or soft maple.
     
  14. Nosmo

    Nosmo Addicted to ArboristSite

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    I've cut it, split it and burned it. It is alright to burn if seasoned - it seems to burn fast and hot.

    Nosmo
     
  15. flewism

    flewism ArboristSite Operative

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    I agree, our first experience with Hackberry last year wasn't great. burned fast and a lot of ashes. We started the fall with it and the better half which mostly run the stove even said don't get anymore of that. We stopped using it and let the kids burned the balance in outside fires. It only had about 1 year seasoning on it thou.
     
  16. mowoodchopper

    mowoodchopper Polar Bear

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    :agree2: NE hackberry is as good as it gets!!!
     
  17. bsearcey

    bsearcey ArboristSite Operative

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    Just wanted to give a moisture content update for my hackberry since there has been some back and forth on how long it needs to season. Of course seasoning varies and we all know the variables. The majority of my row is stacked N/S in the sunniest spot in my yard. It has been covered since it was stacked (c/s/s first of April). Around a month ago I check the MC (HF meter) and was reading around 27%. I split 5 pieces today, the largest was probably about 4"x4" square. Their was one that was wedge shaped and was around 5" on the bark side. Anyway I was getting ranges from 17%-23%. Is there any way to slow down the seasoning?(just kidding) At this rate it's going to be almost too seasoned. I've got about 2 more months to go before I'm really burning. I might have to mix in some of my greener oak just to balance things. I have read that optimal MC is between 15-20%. Getting below that is not good.

    Another thing I noticed is that since the pieces have been covered the exposed wood is a beautiful gold color. Where the sides have been exposed to rain and more direct sun the wood is a grayish splotchy color. I know Wood Doc said it's used alot in woodworking. I can see why. Very nice gold color.
     
    Last edited: Aug 29, 2010
  18. Wood Doctor

    Wood Doctor Edwin

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    Brandon, I would say that you should just leave it alone and don't worry about it. The drying process is not linear. It will slow down as less and less moisture is left in the wood. Note that it will never reach zero, so there is a point of diminishing returns as the economists say.

    About 5 years ago, one of my neighbors took a large hackberry stump nearly four feet high and carved it into a beautiful eagle. He applies a coat of spar varnish to it every year. It's truly magnificent and he lights it up with solar yard lights.
     
  19. REJ2

    REJ2 Firewood Hack

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    Hackberry is about all I do burn. The larger trunk portions are fairly straight grained here in Kansas, I split it by hand and or noodle it. Easy to come by on my FIL's farm. Its one of the woods people claim you can burn green, I do not agree. REJ2
     

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