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A BIZARRE TREE – WITH UNIQUE QUALITIES

Bald Cypress Tree in swamp

It’s a tree with roots that grow up and out of the ground – and no one knows exactly why. These knobby root segments are called ‘knees’ and they sometimes grow out of the water too, reaching heights up to 6 foot. Their scientific name is pneumatophores, and it is believed that these growths allow the tree to access oxygen or help it remain stable in its native environment of swamplands.

Cypress trees in swamp with knees growing up from ground
SWAN LAKE S.C. USA

THIS TREE IS CALLED THE BALD CYPRESS

It grows naturally in the swampy settings along banks of rivers, lakes and streams and is abundant in the southeastern U.S. It was designated the official state tree of Louisiana in 1963.

BUT HERE ARE THE REALLY COOL FACTS

Its wood is decay resistant and free from insects and diseases…hard to believe as the trees tend to live and thrive in water. Also, the tree can reach heights of 150’ and despite being so tall, they easily tolerate high winds and ice storms.

OK, SO YOU KNEW THIS WAS COMING…

Is the Bald Cypress Tree suitable for firewood?

I know, why would you need to burn a Cypress Tree?  First of all, this is a website where I provide information for wood burners and second, if you live in the eastern half of the U.S. or anywhere you might find a Bald Cypress Tree, you need to know the wood from this tree is a ‘softwood’ which burns up fast and would not last very long in a wood fire.

If you burn firewood for heat or for cooking food, this wood is not your best choice. However, if used for kindling or even mixing with hardwoods, it would be just fine.

THE BOTTOM LINE

If you get the wood for free…take it and burn it. As long as the wood is properly seasoned, it is an excellent choice for fire starting and maintaining fires.

Don’t forget to grab your FREE copy of the “Trees We Need” book located on our FREE STUFF page. You’ll find 200 pages chock full of information on trees and the great outdoors.

BZ

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I LAUGHED, BUT IT WASN’T FUNNY

IT GOT WORSE

A TOXIC SUPER BOWL STORY

IT HAD THE MAKINGS OF AN AWESOME PARTY

Friends, pizza, beer, and a large video screen – add an outdoor woodfire for keeping football fans warm in the cool Florida evening, and it was the perfect setting. The 3-topping pizzas were hand-made, hot and delicious and even better with cold beer served in iced buckets. The 25’ video screen was awesome too, broadcasting the game with larger than life action along with all its hype.

AHHH…BUT THE WOODFIRE

My friends and I chose this particular venue not only because of the food and drink specials, but the offer of catching the big game along with a bonfire. Watching the Super Bowl outdoors in the middle of Winter was one thing but having a blazing woodfire close by made it a no-brainer.

WHAT FIRE?

Game time, and so it was for the fire too. I watched as the venue’s manager approached the firepit, placing a few paper towels underneath the logs. He lit them and walked away. OMG, he actually thought this was going to start the fire!  Of course the ‘fire’ was short-lived, but not for long. He came back equipped with a 2-gallon plastic jug filled with enough liquid fuel to blow up the joint.

HE POURED ‘POISON’ ON THE FIREWOOD

Sure enough, this time the fire took hold on the wood but with one big problem…the place wreaked of kerosene fumes! And believe it or not, it STILL wasn’t enough to ignite all the wood in the pit.

OUR EYES SWELLED WITH TEARS (and not because of the game)

Now yet another manger comes to ‘save the day’, equipped with his choice of a firestarter…ECO Fire Logs. I think he had like 2 or 3 of them. Oh boy. While most of our ‘man-made’ environmental logs are considered safe, these particular logs somehow intensified the odor that now was burning our eyes. We endured the pollution as long as we could but unfortunately we left the venue much earlier than planned.

In my numerous travels about our great country, I still witness godawful (dangerous) attempts of people trying to start a fire. It’s embarrassing to watch but more so, it can be harmful to our health!

BOTTOM LINE: Not everyone knows how to properly start a fire.

THE GOOD NEWS: Most fires can be safely started and maintained if only by following a few simple instructions.

HERE’S A FEW SAFETY POINTERS FOR ENJOYING OUTDOOR FIRES WITH FRIENDS

PLAN AHEAD

Make sure to have enough firewood for the expected length of burn time and more importantly, know how to start a fire efficiently! TIP: Have more kindling on hand than you think you’ll need.

‘KNOW’ HOW TO PUT OUT A FIRE

Dumping a bucket of water on a raging fire will create a lot of smoke and steam and could damage your firepit. Also, where will all that dirty water go? Best scenario might be to let the fire burn down to ash and spread out the remaining hot coals using a fire poker. Then lightly spray water or throw loose dirt or sand on the remaining ashes for complete extinguishing.

NEVER USE LIQUID FIRE ACCELERANTS TO START A FIRE…any fire

They can cause toxic fumes that last for hours. Start the fire small, let the kindling ignite the larger sticks and build it from there.

DON’T LEAVE A FIRE UNATTENDED

Always dedicate someone for tending to the fire. First, the fire will need to be fed on a regular basis, especially if you want to continuously enjoy those glorious flames and the heat they provide. But more important, if the fire should get out of hand, having someone who knows how to control the situation can be a life safer.

Without a doubt, there are more ‘lessons-to-be-learned’ for enjoying outdoor fires. Drop me a line if you have thoughts that may be helpful for our wood burning community. Sharing is caring!

I would love to hear from you. CONTACT ME HERE.

Burn safe!

BZ

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NOTE! The aforementioned venue in my (true) story is a popular local hot spot in Florida, USA. I continue to support and frequent this very establishment as the service is exceptional as well as their food, beverages and entertainment.