Free cherry wood (along with a little poison ivy)

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Fire Starter
Original poster
Mar 1, 2013
Tallahassee, Florida
Arriving at church last week, I found a few men clearing a patch of woods on the church property.  One of the guys told me that they were about to burn an entire cherry tree that had been cut down.  I didn't have my truck, so I got my wife's SUV, threw down a blanket and loaded as much of the wood as would fit in the back of her vehicle.  I unloaded it when I get home and threw the blanket in the garage.

Two days later, it rains, my wife grabs her umbrella which must have touched some of the wood and she apparently has had a reaction to a bit of poison ivy that was clinging to the cut off logs.  I did notice some vines clinging to the pieces and threw them in a fire that the men had started.  I found out this past Sunday that the college student who was helping me load some wood in his truck and in my SUV must have breathed in some of the smoke from the fire as he had experienced a very bad reaction to the ivy, was taken to the ER due to his eyes swelling shut and severe rash.

I, thankfully, didn't have any reaction to any of the wood even though I loaded the wood with my bare hands and was walking past the very same fire and breathing the same smoke.

Option 1 - Get a hot bonfire going and throw away this precious cherry wood. 

Option 2 - Pull off any remaining vines, strip off as much bark, and stack it to be dried for 9 months or longer before smoking with the wood.

I don't know how long the "oils" could last once dried on the wood for such a length of time.  Thoughts/suggestions?
Hey James, the oils from the vines can take more than a year to dry out. You and anyone else around that fire that day got very lucky you didn't end up in the hospital as well. I've been a landscape professional for 15 years now and have seen this happen many times. Burning ivy, sumac, and poison oak is a big no no. On the plus side, your wood is totally fine to use after it is debarked thoroughly and seasoned.
Thanks for the input.  When I heard the college student ended up in the hospital, I was definitely concerned.  So, I can split the wood, let it season then strip the bark once it is loose?  I'm not sure I'll be able to do it green.
James, with gloves remove all the ivy now and throw in trash. Split, season, debark when it's easy to do so. Throw the gloves you used to strip the vines away too. Lots of soap and water right after too.
I was able to split off the bark yesterday.  Cherry wood is very easy to split so I did get it all split off.  I used several disposable latex gloves when splitting/handling the wood.  If a tear happened, I put on a new pair.  They are disposed of as well as the bark.  I probably won't use this wood for 9-months to a year.  I feel better getting rid of any evidence of poison ivy. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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