Our rocket mass heater comes with a built in firewood dryer! I haven't completed my experiment with this yet, but my hope is that by placing some of the less dry firewood on top of the barrel while the stove is hot, it will dry the pieces of wood out, so they burn better.
I asked google the best way to dry firewood quickly, and all I got were lectures about planning ahead. Apparently, all respectable wood stove owners have their wood all cut and stacked well in advance, so it's nice and dry before winter. Brandon and I are not respectable wood stove owners yet, but we did call a local guy and have him deliver a load of wood from an ash tree. One thing I did glean from the internet lectures, is that ash is a good wood to burn if you have to go with unseasoned wood. This wood isn't exactly juicy, but I can hear steam hissing from it when it burns, so it's not exactly dry either.
Fortunately there was a small stack of dry firewood at the farm already, in one corner of a shed. This wood is really old, and really dry, so it burns easy. The small pile of wood in the green tub is how much fire wood I burned in the rocket mass heater in a four hour period.
I burned about eighteen pieces, and as you can see, the pieces are not very large. Not nearly as big as the pieces of ash that the firewood guy delivered. I'm not sure how this relates to a real wood stove. I didn't fire up the rocket mass heater for two days after burning this quantity of wood, and could still feel heat radiating from it.
In my mind, firewood chopping is a boy chore. So is taking out the garbage, changing the oil in the car, and mowing the grass. This doesn't mean I don't do these things, it just means I put it off as long as possible hoping a male person will eventually do it for me! Brandon has been keeping us stocked up on firewood of the appropriate size, but on an evening last week when he wasn't home, I ran out of little kindling and decided it was time I gave my inner feminist a pep talk and went outside in search of the hatchet. There it was, dangling menacingly in the barn, daring me to chop my fingers off or put out my eye while I'm home all alone. Scary.
Telling myself that fingers can be sewn back on, I searched out some safety glasses to eliminate my fear of putting my eye out with a rogue splinter. I look like a total bad-ass, right? Of course I can chop firewood! I'm not scared. Gulp...
It was actually kind of fun. Probably because the firewood was so dry it practically splinter apart each time I whacked it with the hatchet. I ended up chopping five of the big pieces into little pieces, which was plenty.
It doesn't take many small pieces of firewood before it's roaring hot enough to get the bigger pieces burning too. Maybe next time I'll try chopping some of those big pieces of ash with the big ax. Or maybe I'll wait and see if Brandon will do it!