burning sweet gum wood ?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by AR Transplant, Nov 18, 2007.

  1. AR Transplant

    AR Transplant Well-Known Member

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    Hey, I told my dh that I would inquire here about burning sweet gum. This sweet gum tree got blown over by a storm on our property this summer. We burn with wood using a lopi stove. Can we use this or is it best to be left for a bon fire?

    And , I appreciate all the comments, I wouldn't have as much fun living out in the country without HT to come to for advice.

    thanks,

    AR Transplant
     
  2. OkieDavid

    OkieDavid Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I've burn it before. Don't even THINK of trying to split without a hydraulic splitter.....That suff doesn't split, it tears. Also, if you like nice straight even wood piles, save yourself the frustration and bon fire it. There won't be a straight row in the pile.
     
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  3. Country Lady

    Country Lady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I agree with above post. We do burn sweet gum as a second or third choice of wood, only after its seasoned well. Neighbors tell us its safe to burn in the fireplace, but it takes a long time to dry out. If you split and stack it now, don't plan on burning it in your stove until next winter or possibly the next. To use now, it'll be much too wet. Even with a hydraulic splitter, you'll be saying things you don't want the children to hear.
     
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  4. just_sawing

    just_sawing Haney Family Sawmill

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    The basic word for burning sweet Gum "Don"t"
    If you figure out the BTUs used in cutting hauling splitting and all you will loose on what green sweet Gum Produces. Dry it goes but if I just didn't need to dispose of it I would line ditches for erosion and cut something else. It does make good Tobacco sticks and even though it warps bad the lumber is pretty. It also smell like Cow Piles then you cut it.
     
  5. Beeman

    Beeman Well-Known Member

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    To quote an old timer.. That stuff wouldn't burn in hell with a blow torch. on the other hand another old timer once told me, you know what kind of people wouldn't burn that type of wood?.......Cold people!
     
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  6. suitcase_sally

    suitcase_sally Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Beeman, those are good quotes! LOL!
     
  7. Fenrirwulf

    Fenrirwulf Well-Known Member

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    I have had no trouble burning it, it is getting it split that is the problem. As suggested earlier, its best to just use for erosion control. Sweet Gum isn't worth the effort.
     
  8. Silvercreek Farmer

    Silvercreek Farmer Living the dream. Supporter

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    For some reason the smaller stuff under 6 inches seems denser than the larger logs. We took a bunch down at a buddy's place and he has been burning it, the larger stuff split pretty easily after some seasoning, but seems to be pretty light and pithy. But like any wood, burn it dry and burn it hot and you should have no problems.
     
  9. sidepasser

    sidepasser Well-Known Member

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    I would burn it in a bonfire just to get rid of it..I hate those trees. However, goats seem to love the green leaves. Hard to split that wood, but it will burn, rots fairly easily - similiar to pine.

    It would be like my next to last choice, naw, I take that back - probably my last choice to use as firewood. But if the tree blew over, I'd cut it up, split what I could and let it season for one year and then burn it.

    It's a self renewing tree, just wait till all those little sweetgum balls start making more trees - lol..
     
  10. Ramblin Wreck

    Ramblin Wreck Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I burn it after shredding/splitting it and letting it dry for a long time, and my experience is consistent with what the folks above are saying/writing. I really only use it as firewood to avoid wasting or otherwise disposing of the tree. God had a reason for making the Sweet Gum, but I've not been smart enough to understand it yet.
     
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  11. Country Lady

    Country Lady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We've only tried splitting it with a hydraulic splitter when it was green. That was work!! Does it split any better if you cut to fireplace length and wait a year to split?
     
  12. Jolly

    Jolly Well-Known Member

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    I've burnt it several years. As has been said, a hydraulic splitter is a must. Stack it under a shed, or under a tarp, and let it dry for a year. Keep it dry.

    Mix it with a little oak or other hardwood, and you'll be fine. It does produce more ash, but that's an aggravation, more than anything.
     
  13. Country Lady

    Country Lady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Definitely mix it with other wood.
     
  14. texican

    texican Well-Known Member

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    It depends. Do you have a large woodlot? Do you have tree cutting services nearby, or large landowners with timber, National Forest land, etc.

    If all I had was gum, I'd burn it... around here, I'd never do it, as each year, I have access to hundreds (sometimes tens of thousands) of cords of oak... my sister alone has over a hundred cords lying on the ground (tops) and only a few folks have took advantage of the free wood.

    I'm reminded of Europeans during the big war burning their furniture, trying to stay warm.
     
  15. AR Transplant

    AR Transplant Well-Known Member

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    Texican, you are one blessed man with all that free wood.

    Dh has the opportunity to cut free wood, he did last weekend and will do so again in the near future. It is not really convenient, but free is free.

    I will tell dh about the opinions and let him decide. Interestingly, for the first time he is able to borrow a wood splitter this year, so maybe in a year or two he will want to split this. We do worry about the future possibility of getting free wood. Many of our friends are selling their land and moving into town. That is hard to imagine but it is so.

    Thank you so much for your advice, it really helps a lot when faced with things like this.

    AR transplant
     
  16. alisasee

    alisasee New Member

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    Country Lady poses a great question, "Does it split any better if you cut to fireplace length and wait a year to split? "

    My husband and I are confused about sweet gums because of all the mixed information out there on the www. While it is difficult to deal with in the beginning, ie, splitting, we wonder if it is properly seasoned (say 2 seasons) why not burn it? The BTU's are 20.6 - 21.9, which is not great but, mixed with other hardwoods it seems it would be a good way to help supplement the supply.
    We have quite a few of them and just hate to see them not being utilized if at all possible.
     
  17. Darren

    Darren Still an :censored:

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    The problem with true sweet gum is that the grain (wood fibers) looks like twisted spaghetti inside. It's is truly nasty to split by hand. There've been times I've had to take a chain saw to it after I've had a couple of wedges stuck in it going every which way.

    You end up trying to tear it apart.
     
  18. Old Vet

    Old Vet Well-Known Member

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    I have burn a lot of sweet gum. Once you start a fire with other wood it will burn but it pops if not truly seasoned. I wouldn't burn it in a fireplace without a good screen to keep it on the fireplace. I have a wood splitter and it doesn't make a smooth cut anywhere you try but it will burn.
     
  19. Dead Rabbit

    Dead Rabbit Well-Known Member Supporter

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    it burns fine. we burned it for yrs and yrs. the secret is, you let it season for a yr before splitting it. after its dry it split amazingly easy. then you stack it and its ready to burn. it does even better the following season. some areas are ate up with gum wood. so it makes sense to burn it.

    but as mentioned if its green its next to impossible to split...by hand.
     
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  20. RosewoodfarmVA

    RosewoodfarmVA Well-Known Member

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    Our farm is overrun with Sweetgum, due to previous owners cutting any tree of value (oaks poplars etc) and leaving the ones they couldn't get $$ for. We burn lots of it, it's not as hot as oak but burns well when dry. It has a lot more moisture in it than most hardwoods such as oak and maple, so it takes longer to dry. We don't split anything that we can shove into the stove, so only the first big rounds over 12" get split by our homemade splitter, which has no problem splitting it. Allowed to dry, it is very good wood, green, it's about like pine; can't get it started and won't burn.