Worst Trees for Firewood

Smoking Fire

In the previous post I talked about the best trees to burn for firewood. While all trees will burn, there are clearly some that are better for keeping warm. This time around we’re discussing the worst trees to burn for staying warm and other reasons. It’s not because they won’t burn, but because they burn quickly and don’t put out much heat.

Unlike the best list, all of these trees are soft, which means they are all much easier to process. So in a pinch because you can’t find the good trees or don’t have the proper tools to process the better wood here is the list of easiest. Of course you will need to cut more wood because it burns so fast, so there is a tradeoff.

  1. At the top of the worst list are coniferous trees. This includes trees like Pine, Cedar, and most trees with needles instead of leaves. These trees produce heat to approximately 15 to 18 BTU per cord. This is considerably less than the lowest wood on the best list. They are also prone to popping due to the sap in them, unless they are seasoned for some time. Popping can cause issues depending what the hot ember lands. Because of the sap they can also cause a buildup of residue in chimneys that can cause chimney fires. Small pieces are good for starting a fire, but not maintaining a fire.
  2. Aspen trees while pretty when looking at a wall of white bark, burn quickly, and only putting out 18 BTU per cord. Since they grow so tall and narrow compared to other trees that grow to that height and because of the area they grow in they have to be flexible and not hard. This softness allows them to thrive, but doesn’t make them good for burning unless it’s all you have or for starter.
  3. Basswood burns well, but only puts out 13.8 BTU per cord. As a relatively soft wood with quick growth it is popular as a landscape tree in large places.
  4. Willows are a fairly large tree that appears to have sad branches, which leads to its name of Weeping Willow. Like all of the trees on this list it is a soft tree that is easy to cut, but burn quickly and only heat at 17 BTU per cord.

While none of these trees are the best for keeping you warm, they will burn and do the job. You will have to cut much more because they burn faster, but they will be light to carry. The trees listed here would be excellent choices to get a fire going and once you have a few coals put on the hardwoods that take longer to get going. I would make every effort to stay away from the coniferous trees though. The popping can be more problematic then it’s worth.

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