Sweetgum For firewood?

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by Jeffery8mm, May 6, 2009.

  1. Jeffery8mm

    Jeffery8mm Well-Known Member

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    We recently had a dozen sweetgum trees cleaned off of a fence row. There are alot of limbs and tops left. Just the right size for the firplace insert without any splitiing. I usually use oak, but since this is in the yard i want to know if it makes good firewood??? I will of course keep it dry to season it.
    Any thoughts??
    Jeff
     
  2. Sawmill Jim

    Sawmill Jim Well-Known Member

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    I burn what ever is at hand mixed with some dry oak it should work fine .
     

  3. Country Lady

    Country Lady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I see you're in MS too and we have lots of sweetgum here, don't we? Yes, you need to let it dry completely. Sweetgum has lots of moisture. We much prefer oak if we have a choice. Dry sweetgum will burn, but burns fast, doesn't put out as much heat as oak, and will leave your insert full of ashes. In a pinch use it, but if you have plenty of oak, don't use it.
     
  4. Jeffery8mm

    Jeffery8mm Well-Known Member

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    Hello Country Lady!!! We definately have the sweetgums here in Newton Co!! Cut one down and they just come back!! I usually hate to cut a good tree down, but IMHO a sweetgum is sorta a trash tree. I have a freind that works for the power co and when they cut a right of way, I can usually go and get all the small oaks I desire!!!
    Jeff
     
  5. Country Lady

    Country Lady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    If you can get plenty of oak, then don't waste your time and energy with sweetgum.
     
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  6. Jeffery8mm

    Jeffery8mm Well-Known Member

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    But I gotta clean it up anyhow, as it is in the yard!!! May mix it in with some oak!
    Jeff
     
  7. Country Lady

    Country Lady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Mixing it would be better than burning alone.
     
  8. SpaceCadet12364

    SpaceCadet12364 Well-Known Member

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    Have some campfires this summer...or bonfires if you have lots of it.....roast some marshmallows or weiners, have some beverages of choice, and the company of some friends or family.
     
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  9. Country Lady

    Country Lady Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Great idea.
     
  10. Jolly

    Jolly Well-Known Member

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    It's a devil to split...it demands a good woodsplitter.

    Other than that, make sure you keep it dry and it will burn just fine (mixed with a little oak) in a woodstove...produces a bit more ash, it seems to me...
     
  11. RonM

    RonM Well-Known Member

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    It is tough to split, but it is good enough for firewood, use it....
     
  12. Harry Chickpea

    Harry Chickpea Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Sweetgum doesn't like to catch unless it is FULLY dried. Typically, the oldtimers around here season it for a year if they plan on burning it. That would be the main wood though, branches might not take as long.
     
  13. jross

    jross swamper

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    It is wood and you have it on hand. Split it thin and use it as fire starter wood, then use the oak or whatever. Yes, it burns faster. All we have around here is sweetgum, red maple, birch, and sometimes oak. Just more exercise reloading the stove. If you use a stove thermometer, moisture shouldn't be much of a problem.
     
  14. ThomasBrownUGA

    ThomasBrownUGA Member

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    :hair:hair

    I agree with everything in this thread, which openly comes up on a search of the Internet at the top - this thread does - when you ask on the Internet sweetgum tree as firewood.

    My neighbor 3 years ago, cut their sweetgum tree down between their home and mine. I hated the seed balls, always picking them up and carrying them to the front yard and throwing them in my trash can.

    The tree is 16 " trunk. It's big. I filled up my wood shed with it. I have seasoned it for 3 years.

    Splitting the sweetgum ? No hope of it. I gave it all I had. I took a small chainsaw to it and tried to cut it to split it. It is very hard.

    I have a fireplace old man Bailey put in for me. It draws very well and is 30 inches wide at the front. I open the damper all the way. I put in one of the logs, and use the gas assist I had put in it.

    They burn for 2 days, even if you leave the gas on. They stink. My neighbors never said anything about it. But, I would have. Doesn't smell bad in my home, but it smells like all the others on here told you it smells like : It stinks beyond explanation. It's a horrible odorous smell outside, downwind. Every neighbor should come over and tell me. It's that bad.

    The bark comes off in large chucks, and that smokes. The wood does not smoke. It is very hot. It is as hot as any hickory I've ever used. I always noticed how wonderful the hickory smells. Hickory never lasts as long as this sweetgum with the little spiny sweetgum seed balls.

    If your idea of a fireplace burning is romantic, do not take sweetgum tree as firewood. I had to cart the wood 5 feet from where the tree grew to where my woodshed is. If I had it to do over again, I would not cart it that far.

    Sweetgum ? I figured it might be like a fruittree. I figured it might be like my Pecan Trees I burn all the time. I figured, how could it be any worse than some willowoak ?

    Well, let me tell you. Sweetgum firewood is for the birds. Do not pick it up free. Do not cart it 5 inches. Do not pay a penny for it. If I did not have 6 cords of wood out of the 1 tree, when it costs me nothing, I would never have known. Not sure I would have considered an Internet search to see what folks might say about using sweetgum as firewood.

    It's hot. It burns for a long time, as long as any wood you've ever burned. It burns clean without the bark. It makes great red coals. The coals do not stay hot for that long compared to others. The wood has a foul stench to it, the likes of which you've never considered subjecting your neighbors to. I love my neighbors. I've lived here since 1977, actually even before that.

    I had the chimney sweeped before I started burning it, and from the brown I see at the top, I'd say it was hot all the way up the chimney. I had painted some of that trim up there white. I'll have to go right back up there after this Winter making the mistake that the wood was finally seasoned after 3 years. I guess those estimates are if someone already split it for you, because to my way of thinking, if I had left it in the woodshed another 3 years, it would still be impossible to split.

    If someone gives it to you free, ask them if that is split or unsplit.

    I cannot really describe to you how tough it is to split, nor the intolerable unpleasant reek the odor is put-off out your chimney.

    If you get the basic concept that you cannot deal with the sweetgum tree as firewood to get it into split wood, nor have the foul-odor for your neighbors to have to deal with, nor the fact that it cannot be burned whole, that it just stays there in your fireplace for 2 days giving off so much heat you cannot stand in-front of the fireplace, then I'd say you pretty much have got it about how awful sweetgum tree is as firewood.

    Just say no.

    Sweetgum tree, what a misnomer.
     
  15. Copperhead

    Copperhead Well-Known Member

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    Here in WV, we burn a lot of black gum because we try to make room for the Oaks and Hickories to grow. Cut it in the fall and/or stack it in the dry. It burns significantly hotter than poplar or aspen.

    Splitting the stuff is difficult, unless the temperature drops. If the thermometer get to 0F or below for a few days, even the large chunks are ridiculously easy to split with a maul. We burn it in an indoor coal stove with a small opening. The wood gets cut to about 14". What fits in the stove door gets burned, the rest gets thrown over the hill to rot -- I've been tempted to consider hugelculture ;)

    P.S. Goats will keep it from growing back :D
     
  16. motdaugrnds

    motdaugrnds II Corinthians 5:7

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    I would either use it to spawn mushrooms or set it all on fire (outside the house) and use the ashes for my garden.
     
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  17. ThomasBrownUGA

    ThomasBrownUGA Member

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    Yeah, I have put the ashes out the trap in my compost. I should have asked them that, too, in the Compost Thread. Thanks for letting me know you and I are thinking the same way : Ashes from sweetgum are ok to put in the compost. I would hate to think that those ashes would make anything grown in the ashes even, would grow-up and be burned and smell even half as badly as the sweetgum. That's an awful stench from sweetgum. The good news is that I hope that Furry little Punxsutawney Phil, who did not see his shadow last Saturday a week ago, is correct and that I am finally done with burning this awful firewood, sweetgum. The Winter is over and I am finished with sweetgum, forever. And, hopefully, anyone getting a free gift of a sweetgum tree will decide to do the same Internet search I did of sweetgum tree as firewood, come to this great forum and read all of us telling them, don't do it ! The Winter fuel bills were the lowest I have ever had. It burns hot and for a long long time. The bad news is if I had not burned it all, I would have to get hand trucks and cart it all somewhere and dump it because after finding this blog to discuss this today, and having now read it I can say without a doubt everyone here is 100 % correct. It stinks an awful nauseating reek.
     
    Last edited: Feb 11, 2013
  18. RebelDigger

    RebelDigger Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Sweetgum twigs make good toothbrushes, split the end and fray it out. My Grandma Velma, born in 1891 and lived her whole life as a country farmwoman cooking and heating with wood got that special sneer on her face when referring to burning sweetgum. As a consequence, I have never burned it since I learned early in life that Grandma was wise in ways I will never understand. BTW she is the one that showed me the toothbrush trick and told me then that that is the only thing sweetgum is good for.
     
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  19. hippygirl

    hippygirl Well-Known Member

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    As we have an abundance of sweetgum on our property, we burn it mixed with oak, but have burned it alone in a pinch...if you're cold, it's a fire!

    And yes, it is a bugger to split once seasoned, so split it green.
     
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  20. ThomasBrownUGA

    ThomasBrownUGA Member

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    My Great, Great, Great, Great Aunt Bea would get that wry little wrinkled lip-look when I would ask her to what does she attribute her living to such a ripe-old age. Then, she would explain that she read her Bible every day and that she believed in doctor left leg and doctor right leg. So, I asked her Aunt Bea born 1877, what does that mean, that you don't like doctors ? And, she would get that wry little wrinkled lip-look again and say she did not know if she liked doctors or didn't but that she had never been to one and never would.

    I see that seasoning it 3 years as I did, made it worse to split. Silly me for thinking that it would become easier to split with age. Still, whether I did split it when given to me fresh, it would still spark-up when poked that the heartwood just sits there and burns for days giving off immense heat, and the sparks would fly 5 feet like fireworks, and of course my poor dear-old neighbors have to put up with the worst reeking stench awfulness to the nth degree. And, all sweetgum as firewood is good for is to throw the accumulation of ashes upon my favorite exercise project : my compost pile, which is not unlike the stench of burning sweetgum.

    How wise your Grandmother, and now I from knowing this she knew, and I had to learn the hard way.

    Sweetgum trees, the world-over, need to defend themselves from your Grandmother and now from me.