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Burning cottonwood...?

Discussion in 'Firewood, Heating and Wood Burning Equipment' started by thombat4, Aug 21, 2009.

  1. thombat4

    thombat4 AboristSite Guru

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    A tree guy told me that cottonwood is one of the worst smelling woods when burned... Is that the general consensus or should I not be too concerned about the odor? Can't say I've ever had the displeasure of burning any to know for sure.

    Thanks
     
  2. Wood Scrounge

    Wood Scrounge AboristSite Guru

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    I burnt some that had been drying for 18 months last year, burns like poplar, I did not notice the smell any more then poplar. It does not burn very hot and leaves a lot of ash though.
     
  3. Rookie1

    Rookie1 Addicted to ArboristSite

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    Ive burnt some and dont remember a bad odor. I do remember the fast burning of it though. It works good to get a dying fire going again.:)
     
  4. woodbooga

    woodbooga cords of mystic memory

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    I agreee with scrounge and rookie.

    The stuff stinks bad when fresh split. And mind you, the odor of fresh-split red oak is like an ambrosia to me.

    I've changed a few baby diapers that reminded me of fresh-split cottonwood.
     
  5. Wood Doctor

    Wood Doctor Edwin

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    I deliver it unsplit and I just packed a truckload of it. Looks something like this:
    [​IMG]
    When it comes time to burn, I prefer other hardwoods. However, cottonwood will get that stove hot faster than just about any firewood that there is. Just mix it with some good stuff (ash, oak, etc.).

    It's also great for campfires.
     
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  6. R Walter

    R Walter ArboristSite Member

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    Cottonwood does burn fast and doesn't produce as much heat as some other firewoods. Also, it's a beast to split even when dried out pretty well.
     
  7. Highbeam

    Highbeam ArboristSite Operative

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    I've burned many cords of cottonwood. The only time it stinks is when you try and burn it green. Cottonwood holds a huge amount of water and must be dry to burn well. Once dry I find it performs almost as well as our other northwest softwoods in a modern EPA stove.
     
  8. ray benson

    ray benson Tree Freak

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    It's better than not having wood or running out.
     
  9. Wood Doctor

    Wood Doctor Edwin

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    Surprisingly, cottonwood produces almost as much heat per lb as any wood that there is. The problem is, you need big logs becuase the density of cottonwood is small--lots of internal air within. Many stoves haven't the interior volume to hold the logs because you need big cottonwood logs to crank out the heat.

    Basswood (linden) and willow are in the same league. The big barrel stoves love cottonwood and crank out enormous heat with it:
    [​IMG]
    The barrel stove on the right is used to burn cottonwood. The one on the left burns premium hardwood. The owner says the barrel stove is his bread and butter in January.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2009
  10. MNGuns

    MNGuns Purveyor of Fine Firewood Consumer of Fine Whiskey

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    The stove pipe on the double barrel is kind of scary....:)
     
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  11. Wood Doctor

    Wood Doctor Edwin

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    I told the owner that same thing last year after I took the Pic. He replaced it and reflashed the roof above.
     
  12. xtm

    xtm ArboristSite Operative

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    I've burned a lot of it. In my experience, seasoned, dry cottonwood doesn't have an odor when burning in a stove.

    I have noticed that thick cottonwood bark can give off a musty odor when burned - but only if it is wet. I don't normally try to burn wet firewood. Besides, the bark usually sloughs off cottonwood once it becomes cured and dry.

    xtm
     
  13. mowoodchopper

    mowoodchopper Polar Bear

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    :cheers: Glad to see a ???? answered by some people with real knowledge of burning cotton wood, not just the the usual ones who heard from a brother!
    There is not a D**** thing wrong with cottonwood! You burn it dead and dry
    not green and the smell is fine. Its splits fine when dry. It will heat your house just fine and as stated it will get hotter than H***! It will burn faster than elm or ash. It does not leave a huge amount of ash in your stove. I cut alot of it burn it and sell it. I dont have a huge stove mine is about the same as the small stove in the pic, if I fill it and go to bed , as long as I get up before 7 itll have plenty of coals left, sometimes I get up and stoke once in the night that works best. My father in law who I cut his wood actually prefers cottonwood it burns good and is not to heavy.

    The main thing about cottonwood is if you want a load of wood fast and alot of it , its the best their is and the easiest to cut, not much small limbs and what their is explode when it hits the ground if its dead. You may not believe this but I can easily cut a large pickup load of cottonwood and load it in an hour with my son helping load.
     
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  14. bgiles117

    bgiles117 ArboristSite Operative

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    Must've been some crazy cottonwood. My last load of cottonwood split so easily with the Fiskars SSA we made a splitting competition out of it.
     
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  15. chainsawaddict

    chainsawaddict AboristSite Guru

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    I burn cottonwood now and then, mostly when I help a friend cut one up out of a yard. It burns hot, and is good for a first fire. It smells different, but it serves a good purpose for me.
     
  16. jerryw66

    jerryw66 AboristSite Guru

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    In SD we have a lot of cottonwood, and not much good firewood, some ash, oak and whatnot. I know a few guys who burn a lot of cottonwood. They like it and one old timer said " if you burn some well cured cottonwood every now and then, you'll never have a chimney fire." Well, I've burned some and it does burn hot and quick, maybe cleaning out any excess creosote or something in the chimney. I prefer it over most elms and it doesn't smell as bad as elm.
     
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  17. Wood Doctor

    Wood Doctor Edwin

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    Just delivered my second cab-high truckload (unsplit) this week to the same customer. That makes 1.5 cords in 4 days. He said he would like about five more loads to ensure a warm winter.

    I guess cottonwood burns with cold heat. :laugh:
     
  18. mowoodchopper

    mowoodchopper Polar Bear

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    I agree! You hear alot of cottonwood bashing about the smell but dead dry cottonwood dosent have a lot of smell to me! The elm is worse but I like it too!
     
  19. BarkBuster20

    BarkBuster20 Addicted to ArboristSite

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    around here there is vast amounts of alder and fir. so i dont bother with cottonwood, as red alder is probably the easiest and cleanest wood to cut,split,and stack. burns pretty good too. it seasons pretty quick as well. fir is my $ wood though.
     
  20. goof008

    goof008 ArboristSite Operative

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    I think cottonwood burns fine when dry. But it smells pretty bad when cutting/splitting it. It does hold a lot of water, so it has to be well seasoned, but if you let it go too long, it burns too quickly w/o a lot of heat.

    Any wood is better than not wood!
     

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