13 pounds of ashes
Friday, December 20 2013
Several weeks ago I bought a six gallon steel trashcan to be used for carrying away the ashes from
the woodstove. Since today was the day before Gretchen and I would leave for a vacation in
Curaçao (and people might be coming over and starting a fire in our stove), I decided to empty the woodstove ashes before starting a new fire this morning. After I'd removed all
the ashes and had them in the can, I realized that I had, in one easy-to-measure place, the ashes for woodburning
over a timespan whose length I precisely knew. I'd last cleaned out the woodstove on November 14th on the day before
Gretchen and I left for Los Angeles. All the ashes in the stove this morning were produced by burning wood
(nearly all of which was dense hardwood such as Chestnut Oak or legacy American Chestnut) and incidental amounts of paper trash.
It should also be
noted that the period of this most recent ash accumulation was an especially cold one, punctuated by a single
unseasonably-warm several days in early December. Using a spring scale, I measured the ashes to be 13 pounds (plus
or minus a half pound, and yes I remembered to subtract the weight of the bucket, which was about three pounds).
With that 13 pound figure, I did some Google searching and found that this could represent as little as 500 pounds
of firewood or as much as 2300 pounds of firewood (depending on factors such as wood species and moisture
content). Since most of that wood was very dry and very dense, the amount of wood I burned in that month was proably about 2000 pounds. Another web page gave cord figures for ash residue (which might be more useful,
since a cord of a specific species does not vary much in ash residue over the range of possible moisture content figures).
The ashes-per-cord figures suggested that 13 pounds of ash came from the burning of a third of a cord of wood.
That's a lot of wood for just a single month, but, as I said, it was an unusually cold month, and (additionally), Gretchen
and I hosted a lot of guests during that time, and one has to keep the house warmer when guests are visiting.
Perhaps because I had an unusually small number of commitments on this, the day before a tropical vacation,
I decided to smoke some pot early in the day, on my first visit to the brownhouse in the mid-morning. There it was, all the stuff
I needed to get high, conveniently pre-positioned around the hole into which I birth my one-legged eyeless brown
As expected, smoking pot early in the day is not conducive to getting a lot of work done on that day. But it's great for making the day seem more interesting than it might otherwise have been. In search of standing dry firewood, I went for a walk with Ramona up the Farm Road and then over to the Stick Trail via the Chamomile Headwaters Trail and a shortcut connector. The crusty snow was a little hard to walk through and I didn't find any wood worth cutting, but it made me realize that walking in the woods on my own under the influence of marijuana is a surprisingly fun thing to do. I'm sure at the time I was full of insights and observations, but I don't remember what they were.
Later I did some dishwashing and vacuuming and made other preparations for being away, such as setting up a webcam so I could monitor conditions in the laboratory from thousands of miles away. (I usually set up such a camera in the living room, but I didn't want to cause paranoia among the visitors that Gretchen had cajoled into hanging out with our cats.)
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