No matter how long or much wood I burn, I am still entertained and inquisitive of the science behind burning wood. I shove 1-2 cords of wood into the stove, and I am left with 3-4 gallons of ashes. I still think that is amazing! OK Maybe I am as easily entertained as a 6th grade chemistry lab student. But really, you put a solid piece of wood in, heat is applied, then heat is released, gases are created, chemical (or is that physical?) reactions occur, smoke is produced, and ash is left behind. How cool is that?
Where does all the extra "stuff" go? Does the smoke carry away the volume of solids from the wood with it? Is there a cord of wood "dust" dropped out of the sky for every cord of wood burned? Water vapor takes up part of the space, and enters the water cycle again. Hey I am solving world drought here!
These are all thoughts that I must ponder while feeding the fire and watching the snow fall.
What if you sealed wood into a chamber, and heated that chamber to 400, 800, 1200, degrees. What would be left at each phase. How would this differ from a open stove with air/oxygen going in and waste gases coming out. Would you have charcoal, or at some point does it break down and become just ash.
ponder ponder ponder....
I tell my daughter we send the wood to tree heaven, and we can find new ones in the spring out in the woods. Works for us. I'm sure some day she will be a bio-chemical engineer and tell me the truth, and I might be heart broken.