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It's time to cut some firewood! Now, this is a job that gets really old, really fast, so we try to do it as seldom as possible. Thankfully, living in a 12x16 foot cabin helps a lot with that! It doesn't take very much wood at all to heat a cabin this size, so a little wood goes a long way. It goes a long way, that is, provided it is the proper wood. Here we are burning Jackpine, as it is an excellent source of heat, creates very little ash, and is readily accessible to us. These trees are stumps from trees that lost their tops in the ice and wind storms a few years ago, and so are nice and dry. Green wood tends to cause chimney fires as the sap coats the chimney with creosote, which can be a major hassle; there's not much more exciting than waking up in the middle of the night to a cherry-red glowing stovepipe!
So, just how good is Jackpine at heating a cabin? Thankfully, someone has already figured this out for us. Borrowing from the folks at http://worldforestindustries.com/forest-biofuel/firewood/firewood-btu-ratings/ we see a nice comparison of the major types of firewood. These values are given in BTU (British Thermal Units) per cord of firewood (a cord being a stack 8 feet long by 4 feet deep by 4 feet high). Since the common woodtypes around here are Jackpine, Tamarack, paper birch, black spruce, trembling aspen (or white poplar as many call it), and balsam poplar (or black poplar as it is often called), these are the ones I will bring in to this blog. Feel free to follow the previous link to check out the heat value of your own local wood species!
Jackpine has a BTU rating of 17.1 million BTU's per cord of dry wood.
Tamarack has a BTU rating of 20.8 million BTU's per cord of dry wood.
Paper Birch has a BTU rating of 20.3 million BTU's per cord of dry wood.
Black Spruce has a BTU rating of 15.9 million BTU's per cord of dry wood.
Trembling Aspen (or Quaking Aspen as it is listed) has a BTU rating of 18.0 million BTU's per cord of dry wood (but must be very well seasoned).
Balsam Poplar is not listed, but it similar to the Eastern Cottonwood I believe, which has a BTU rating of 13.5 million BTU's per cord of dry wood.
As a general rule, the denser the wood, the more heat it will put out. Thus, of our local species, birch and tamarack, which weigh the most, have the highest heat output. However, as Jackpine is more readily available, it is a great contender for our stove. Another downside to both aspen species (besides Balsam poplar's very low heat output), is the accumulation of ash in the stove. Anyone burning either of these species had better have a shovel and an ash bucket handy.
Now that we have the cabin well-stocked with firewood again, we can get back to the more important things, like trapping, making more videos, and analyzing black bear home ranges (that one would be the biologist's job haha).
P.S. If the quick-sharpen tool looks useful to you, follow the attached amazon link to purchase one of your own. We are in no way sponsored by them, we just make regular use of their product on the trapline. It's really handy to be able to sharpen a chainsaw in under a minute while clearing miles of trail!