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Building a good burn pile

Discussion in 'General Industry Questions' started by Todd v., Aug 25, 2015.

  1. Todd v.

    Todd v. Well-Known Member

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    Location:
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    Just wondering what some tricks are to building and lighting a good burn pile that burns well and doesn't leave a lot behind.

    I am blessed to now live in an area that allows burning of debris when doind cleari g work but my first couple piles haven't burned real well. I have seen a few guys clear lots and burn the debris while they are still working and it burns so well there is nothing left but ashes. Me I have some loge left behind no matter what I do. I guess I'm not getting it hot enough...
     
  2. FSERVICE

    FSERVICE Senior Member

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    indiana
    get a straw blower & point it twards the pile;) all thatll be left is ashes!!
     
  3. EZ TRBO

    EZ TRBO Senior Member

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    Occupation:
    Aggregate Utility, Maintence Welder
    Location:
    USA
    No matter what you are using to make your pile a few things always are key.

    Keep the trees as clean as you can, shake what you can for dirt out of them and if need be wrap a chain around and drag them rather than push them if using a dozer.
    Keep everything going the same direction, or at least parallel to each other, don't put all the bases on one side, alternate.
    Pack it, pack it again and then after a few more times pushing it together, do it again. The less air space between the trees allow for less heat loss and there is still plenty of space to create a good draft.
    Use the wind to your advantage and start your fire down low, heat rises.
    Using oil or gas or diesel, or tires is frowned upon by the EPA, DNR..etc
    Over the years I've used LP with a weed burner, older by still dry corn fotter bales shoved up and into the pile and as mentioned above leaf blowers.
    As the fire burns keep pushing the trees together, be careful as usually your going to get some smoke back at your machine.

    These are just a few things I've been taught and learned over the years of cleaning timber and fence rows, etc. I'm sure others will chime in with more good ideas as well, there is more than one way to skin a cat.

    Trbo
     
  4. spitzair

    spitzair Senior Member

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    Location:
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    The way my dad taught me is to make a pile beside where you are burning, then start just a small little fire the size of a camp fire. Slowly add more and more wood to the fire and as it gains momentum you can start adding greener and wetter wood. After a while you'll be able to pile full stumps on there and they will be gone in no time flat! This method has worked very well for me over the years. The really nice thing about this method is you can start one heck of a fire without anything more than a match! In these pictures I cheated - had some diesel mixed with gas that we needed to get rid of but in most cases I've never needed any... The first picture shows the fire just getting started, the second is about 45 minutes later, then the last picture is the next day... Oh and you can't see it in these pictures but it was raining cats and dogs when I built this fire... The key though is like EZ TRBO says to keep the wood as clean as you can!
     

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    Last edited: Aug 26, 2015
  5. zhkent

    zhkent Senior Member

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    Occupation:
    Earthmoving
    Location:
    Kansas
    Using a bulldozer to clear.
    Keep the dirt out of the sticks. You may have to leave sticks in the dirt.
    Cleaning up the sticks without getting dirt takes ability, hard work, and some knowledge of ways to do it.
    The only way to have a clean pile is not to push dirt into the pile.
    Plan ahead and leave a dead tree in the right place in the pile to make it easier to light.
    Start a campfire where you want it to light. You will probably have plenty of sticks to throw on it
    if you've kept a clean pile, sometimes a saw is handy to dice up a limb or two. When you can't get near
    the campfire to add wood because of the heat your pile should light up.
    Skill and hard work make a good pile, poor conditions make it harder.
    It starts with getting out the small trees with no dirt where I am.
    4 to 12 ft tall in our soil have to be plucked out with the corner bit. In our tight dirt if you
    cut an inch across the blade you'll get dirt, cut off and leave the small trees.
     
  6. gtermini

    gtermini Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Amity, OR
    Rumor has it that old bias ply tires in the heart of the pile make for a good burn, albeit a touch smokey. :D

    Greyson
     
  7. digger doug

    digger doug Senior Member

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    They don't smoke at night....
     
  8. Ronsii

    Ronsii Senior Member

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    If you can't find bias ply's then make sure you put a loop of haywire or chain through what you do use... makes it easier to clean up ;)
     
  9. DoyleX

    DoyleX Senior Member

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    Why not just burn in a deep hole and sweep everything under the rug? The heat reflects and incinerates everything. It burns so hot even tires burn clean!
     
  10. Todd v.

    Todd v. Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    SC
    Good ideas, never really thought to build a regular fire to get it going, I did think about the blower idea. I have tried mixing in the brush and branches to no avail. I guess the problem was I wasn't generating enough heat to really spark things off by dumping a little diesel fuel on it.

    I have kept the fires clean, everything that I pile is placed there with a skidsteer with a grapple rake not just pushed up so not much dirt.
     
  11. backhoe1

    backhoe1 Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    South Dakota
    I always dig a hole, throw in a small straw bale, and light the fire as soon as you have a couple trees in there. They'll burn as fast as you can pile them on and gets so hot that there's not much left other than a few stumps. This method is by far the easiest to clean up because the ashes and anything that didn't burn is already in the hole, just fill the hole back in and go home.
     
  12. John Deer

    John Deer Well-Known Member

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    Location:
    Llano County, Texas
    I push old carpet scraps or old carpet padding into the base of the pile and wet it with 25% gasoline and 75% diesel. I light it down wind so it doesn't burn too fast. I use a torch separating me from the fuel and move the gas/diesel can far away to be safe. I like to burn in the rain so the fire will not spread easily. This method will light wet piles. I also like to have a less than 5 mph breeze to move the smoke. The 25% gas 75% diesel mixture is pretty tame, but it will flash if it the temperature is hot. Someone mentioned burning at night. Our local law enforcement folks tell us that there is a federal law against burning at night so we don't do that here.
     
  13. digger doug

    digger doug Senior Member

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    It is a standard joke....burning tires don't make any smoke at night....:rolleyes:
     
  14. clintm

    clintm Senior Member

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    charlotte nc
    just be careful when using gasoline or diesel as soon as you put it on be ready to lite it or the vapors will spread a long way fast and will get you or anything else around.
     
  15. jjhdozing

    jjhdozing Active Member

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    Location:
    Nebraska
    I do a lot of tree clearing and the biggest things you NEED to do is keep as much dirt out as possible. I always have a guy cutting the bigger stumps off before I stack the trees on a pile therefor I can bury them while my pile is burning. Pack trees in same direction, parallel, not all over the place. And last pack trees in tight!! figure out wind direction so you can get fire blowing into the pile. I have a diesel tank on my pickup so I just pull up to pile, light a newspaper put my thumb over nozzle and spray the fire with diesel and it doesn't take much before you gotta get the hell outta there! Works every time for me. I've burned huge trees that had water gushing out of them to nothing.
     
  16. Mattcon

    Mattcon Member

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    Pittsburgh PA
    We dig a pit about six ft deep and length and width depends on how much brush you have. Dig a trench out of it same depth about 15 ft long and we drop in a 15 ft 10 inch steel well casing pipe in. Then 2 leaf blowers inside the pipe. Line the pit with 4 bales of straw 8 tires,20 dry pallets. Soak with diesel, then light and turn your blowers on. Let it build heat and start placing brush on with a excavator. Excavator should be 26,000 lbs or bigger
     
  17. lantraxco

    lantraxco Senior Member

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    LOL, must be nice, out here you would be doing jail time if you got caught burning tires :OMG
     
  18. buckfever

    buckfever Senior Member

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    We do the same as mattcon only in stead of a leaf blower we use a air curtain.

    Lantraxco you can get in big trouble around here to but if you get real good at playing really dumb by the time the local authorities get you nailed down the tires all burned up. They usually just tell you in a really stern voice not to do it again.
     
  19. wrwtexan

    wrwtexan Senior Member

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    Occupation:
    Indy Farm Wrench, heavy land clearing, rancher
    Location:
    Cooper, Texas
    What does anyone know about burning green timber? When I was a TxDOT inspector, DL Lennon would clear right of way and if burned within a seven to ten day window, the stuff would burn out as cleanly as dry timber without any blower assistance. I didn't believe it until I saw them do it. There would be a little stuff like stumps left which they would repile and burn again then haul off what was left. This was mixed timber (hackberry, bois d arc, oak, etc., no cedar or pine).
     
  20. Mattcon

    Mattcon Member

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    Agreed!! Most of our burns are in the middle of the woods, I wouldn't do it in the middle of penn ave. lol