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Cedar, should you burn it in your fir...

Steve_Schefer's picture

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Stopped by an old friends the other day and noticed that his 60+ foot cedar was missing. He's not a wood worker and didn't realize the value of the wood so he had it cut up and split and is planning on burning it next winter in his fireplace.

I wish I had known he was taking the tree down because it would not be firewood. Most important now is if burning Cedar is O.K. I thought that I had heard that it could produce posionous gases when burnt. Can anyone comment on this.

I know, the first thing you all will want to say is "What a waste" but I can't save the wood, only my friend.

S

Mike_Taylor1's picture

(post #83177, reply #1 of 27)

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Tell him to use the fireplace screen cause it will pop and spit a lot. Kinda stinks too when burned. Not a good choice for firewood.

Norm_in_Fujino's picture

(post #83177, reply #2 of 27)

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Unless it's pressure treated, I don't know what poisonous gases it would produce. We burn a lot of Japanese cedar (sugi) here. As a softwood, it burns fast and may cause the creation of more tar inside the chimney, I guess, but other than that I've never heard about any specific health danger (worse than any other wood, that is).

Steve_Schefer's picture

(post #83177, reply #3 of 27)

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Thanks for the response Mike and Norm. I havent been able to turn up anything bad about from any of the Gov sites either.

Steve

Jeff_Wald's picture

(post #83177, reply #4 of 27)

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I hope it doesn't give off toxic fumes. I have seen cedar dust from sanding sold as incense at a local farmer's market. I have used the same around my house. A teaspoon or so placed on a flat rock and ignited will smolder for maybe one half hour. It gives off a nice cedar aroma.

Take your belt sander to your friend's house and sell the results for aroma therapy... You can use the proceeds to buy some cedar lumber of your own :-)

jeff

Steve_Schefer's picture

(post #83177, reply #5 of 27)

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Good one Jeff.. Maybe I'll just have to do that. O.K., Thats about enough to convince me that it's fine to burn. Thanks everyone once again for the great info.

Steve

Mike_Taylor1's picture

(post #83177, reply #6 of 27)

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Hey, if you ever see a Cherry fruit tree coming down, grab it. When I lived in Tulsa (gets cold up there) I had a small gas stove in the shop. It had a flat top and I would occasionally sprinkle sawdust from a cherry tree on the top. Really a nice aroma. Visitors thought I was smoking cherry tobacco.

Vern_Wright's picture

(post #83177, reply #7 of 27)

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Just a note about creosote buildup; creosote is caused by unburned gases (smoke). You'll get creosote when the fire is cool and/or the chimney is cool. If your fire is hot enough you could burn green wood with no creosote buildup, not recomended to try though. Cedar burns very fast/hot so is great for kindling. We burn a lot of it on the coast since it's so abundant and even cedar rots pretty quick outside.
Vern

Steve_Schefer's picture

(post #83177, reply #8 of 27)

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Vern, best way to clear up that creosote problem is a good ole chimney fire. I've been there and it's not fun. However, the fireman that inspected the chimney told me "No need to call a chimney sweep, that things clean as a whistle now".

Steve

Norm_in_Fujino's picture

(post #83177, reply #9 of 27)

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>>best way to clear up that creosote problem is a good ole chimney fire.

Yikes! I suppose that's fine if your chimney is the genuine brick-and-mortar kind that can take it. I wouldn't want to try it our "modern" {cough} dual-core stainless steel job though.

Mike_Taylor1's picture

(post #83177, reply #10 of 27)

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You should convert your fireplace to natural gas. Think of all the money you'd save. No pickup required, no chainsaw, no gasoline, no splitting maul, no sprained ligaments, no insurance deductibles paid to the emergency rooms, no medicine for daughters asthama, no cost for chimney sweeps, no carpet cleaning, no firewood rack, no sharpening expense, no opening windows to let smoke out, no need for gate in back fence, no cleaning out ashes, no burned spots in carpet, no broken toes, ...........................

Steve_Schefer's picture

(post #83177, reply #11 of 27)

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Norm, the chimney fire happend at my folks house. I just happend to be the one who lit the fire that day. Its brick and mortar so it survived. This was not a planned incident.

Mike, LOL, the house I live in now is Natural Gas. Keeps me from burning my precious supply of cutoffs.

Wade_'s picture

(post #83177, reply #12 of 27)

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Chimney fires really are no fun, unless it is the story you get to tell. They sound like a jet engine and are scary as hell. The risk with the flue is that most chimney's built in the 20th century have a flue liner made of tile. Under extreme temps. like in a chimney fire, they can crack, leaving possible paths for cinders and hot gas to work their way into the surrounding structure. Not something you want. The plus side is, as has been noted, they really will clean that sucker out.

No, I've never heard that BURNING E. Red Cedar (actually a Juniper)is toxic. The dust from sanding or planing it can irritate the nose, throat and lungs, but that is as much as I know. In fact, as has also been said, it smells great and it also will kick out a pretty green flame if the conditions are right.

BTW, how long are the logs that your friend cut? Fireplace logs can still yield some nice bookmatched panels, or you can make some bird houses.

Frenchy_Dampier's picture

(post #83177, reply #13 of 27)

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Wade,
I didn't know about the green color cedar will burn into. Neat!
lets see I can get orange from just about anything, blue from cherry, now green from red cedar, hey! a new art form....
Don't tell me I can't learn anything new!

Steve_Schefer's picture

(post #83177, reply #14 of 27)

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Wade, the worst part about a chimney fire is when you finally put it out. The back flash blows all of the ash back into the house. Took me all night just to get the big stuff cleaned up.

Frenchy, I wonder what color Black Walnut produces. I understand it is very high in tanics.. Would that be green or blue.

LOL

Steve

Frenchy_Dampier's picture

(post #83177, reply #15 of 27)

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Steve,
I've never seen anything other than yellow/orange flame. Had hundreds of all black walnut fires over the years, when 2 1/2 full cords of black walnut slabs was only $25.00 I'd sit and burn the stuff for weeks. Saving the "good" pieces is what got me into trouble with my addiction problem. Not a particularly hot fire (like pine etc. or long lasting fire like oak) but never a pop or crackle out of it either. It's one you can walk away from evan when it's burning well and just go to sleep without a worry.
The bark tends to be a bit messy so I always took the debarked stuff. I will say that a evenings fire of black walnut that's been debarked will leave very little ash. It doesn't smell any differant either like cherry does or oak. It just burns well.

davamoore_'s picture

(post #83177, reply #16 of 27)

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Out of curiosity, what's the best way to stop (not prevent) a chimney fire?

I have a fire extinguisher not far from my fireplace, but now I'm beginning to wonder... would spraying the fire extinguisher in the fireplace stop the oxygen from getting to the chimney and feeding the fire?

I vaguely remember hearing of some sort of "stick" that you break apart and throw into the fireplace when a chimney fire occurs, that supposedly emits something that blocks the oxygen... but now I'm wondering if that was just a hallucination after too much fun on the town.

David

Steve_Schefer's picture

(post #83177, reply #17 of 27)

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David, A bucket of water poured slowly onto the fire will produce steam that will put the fire out. Putting water directly down the chimney will cause damage.

Steve

b_lyon's picture

(post #83177, reply #18 of 27)

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Hi-First of all,I can't think of a reason to keep all the cedar.However,we cut them down every day,just to get rid of them.Cedar isn't good for most building.My friend last summer cut 5000-10000bd ft.Then he what are we supposed to do with this stuff,so we made a lot it into kindling.Just my .02cents BL

davamoore_'s picture

(post #83177, reply #19 of 27)

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Steve, thanks. I'll file that in my mental "what to do in an emergency" list, and I hope I stay calm enough should I ever find myself in need!

David

Mike_Taylor1's picture

(post #83177, reply #20 of 27)

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Don't ever burn masonite siding in a fireplace. That stuff burns with a white heat! I threw some in our fireplace once up in Tulsa and that stuff almost exploded. Got so hot it warped the metal sides. I had to spray water on it to keep it cooler while it consumed itself.

Frenchy_Dampier's picture

(post #83177, reply #21 of 27)

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Mike,
I've tied to burn masonite in my fireplace and found it not only burned poorly, it almost didn't burn. In fact when the fire was out I could still see the whole piece in the fireplace and while it was "burned" it sure wasn't consummed. I wonder if your's was differant than mine or what the differance was.

Norm_in_Fujino's picture

(post #83177, reply #22 of 27)

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>>I vaguely remember hearing of some sort of "stick" that you break apart and throw into the fireplace when a chimney fire occurs, that supposedly emits something that blocks the oxygen. . .

Dave, I think it's called "dynamite"; it sucks away all the oxygen for sure.

:-)

Will_O'Brien_2's picture

(post #83177, reply #23 of 27)

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I remember when I was a kid my grandfather had quite a few relatively small but nice boxes made from cedar. I believe he uses some for keeping cigars (but it was not a humidor)and coins and my sisters got a few to use as jewelry boxes etc. Firewood sized logs could be milled for this purpose. Cedar that is milled between 12 and 18 inches long, 4 inches wide and 3/8 or 1/2 inch thick (final diminsions) could make a lot of nice boxes and I find it to be a fun wood to work with. You might want to expirement with milling a few logs before it is all burnt and see what you get. You will have to dry it of course.

Will

Richard_Griffin's picture

(post #83177, reply #24 of 27)

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FWIW,

Our house had a chimney fire before we bought it; the FD put out the fire by pouring sand down the flue. The home inspector found out when he opened the damper to check the chimney....

Frank_H._Biscardi's picture

(post #83177, reply #25 of 27)

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Chimfex flares are designed for puting out chimeny fires. Strike it (like a roadside flare)and throw it into the firebox. They cost$9.99. I think anyone who burns wood should have them at hand and the family should know how to use them.

Frank

piffin_'s picture

(post #83177, reply #26 of 27)

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Verns point about green wood not forming creosote if the fire is hot enough was only part right. Of course, putting a large green log on is like adding a quart or so of water to the fire so it will cool it down. The real danger is at the top of the chimney, especially with modern metal chimneys. The water vapour in the smoke from a green log will cause it to cool more rapidly as it rises up the flue. The top three or four feet of a chimney tend to be cooler than the rest anyway, at least with an interior chimney. crersote condenses at temps lower than about 425 degrees F. So you want a hot chimney and not just a hot fire to prevent creosote formation. I've seen several with a clean flue all the way up to the top couple of feet and suddenly it chokes down to a two inch blow hole.

davamoore_'s picture

(post #83177, reply #27 of 27)

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Norm in Fujino, I'm laughing my butt off!!! The best one I've heard in days (and I just got done watching a so-called comedy on TV).

Frank, thanks for the Chimfex name -- I thought I wasn't hallucinating.

piffin, another good reason to cut a little extra firewood each year, so I'm twelve months ahead of my needs and it has time to season.

David