Are pine trees a good species for firewood? This is a question that many people have, and the answer is not always clear – until now!
In this blog post, we will discuss the pros and cons of using pine wood as firewood, as well as some other characteristics of this type of soft wood.
Is Pine Good Firewood?
As the 2nd most common tree found in U.S. forests, Pine trees offer an abundant supply of firewood. Pine firewood is noted for its ease of igniting a fire, making it ideal for kindling wood and starter firewood.
However, due to its high sap and resin content, Pine firewood burns quickly and generates more smoke than hardwoods such as oak, resulting in the potential for creosote build-up in chimneys.
As such, it is recommended to mix pine firewood with other hardwoods for burning indoors in wood stoves, fireplaces, and for cooking.
- Easy to ignite
- Great for kindling wood
- Provides lots of hot flames
- Abundant, and maybe less expensive
- Smells great!
- Burns quickly
- Does not produce fire sustaining coals for long burns
- High sap and resin content
- Generates lots of sparks and crackles
- Difficult to split due to lots of knots
Let’s get into it!
Is Pine Good Firewood as a Heat Source?
1 Cord of Pine Firewood Equals:
Note: The volume of a cord of wood is 128 cubic feet. Firewood is generally cut into 16-inch lengths and stacked in three rows, with a height of 4 feet and a length of 8 feet, for a total volume of 128 cubic feet.
Pine Firewood Characteristics
Seasoning Time: 6-8 months
Pine trees thrive in wide-open areas with plenty of sunshine. They are evergreen trees with pine cones, which means that their pine needles remain throughout their life cycles unless new ones grow in their place.
Like many types of soft wood, pine is not the best firewood for indoor use, but it does provide a hot fire in less time than many species of trees.
Their leaves are long and thin, ranging from 1 to 11 inches long. They attach near the end where they meet the twig in pairs of two. The needles are arranged spirally around the twigs, but they can also be found in bunches of three or more near the branch tips.
Pine trees have both male and female reproductive organs that mature at different times during the growing season. The male cones release pollen that fertilizes the female cones.
Once fertilized, the female cones begin to grow and mature. It takes about 18 months for the cones to mature fully. The scales on the cone will open and release seeds when they are heated by a fire or exposed to high temperatures.
Pine trees can live for hundreds of years, but they only grow to be about 50 to 100 feet tall. The oldest recorded white pine tree was about 500 years old!
The bark on pine trees is generally reddish-brown and grows in a rectangular pattern around the tree’s trunk. The bark is most often thick and has square scales. Some Pines have flaky bark that you may scrape with your fingers.
Varieties of Pine trees used for firewood
A pine is defined as any coniferous shrub or tree species from the Pinus genus of plants — a family that contains more than 120 species worldwide, with 36 being native to North America.
In the United States, Southern Yellow Pine, Eastern White Pine, Western White Pine, Sugar Pine, Ponderosa Pine, Jack Pine, Norway Pine, and Pitch Pine are all popular firewood varieties.
Does Pine have a lot of sap?
Pine is a highly sappy and resinous tree. The resin from pine trees will cling to your clothing, gloves, and chain saw. Some people clean their chain saw with Lestoil and a small brush while others just chop something else.
Wear clothes and shoes that you don’t mind getting covered in sap or planning to trash because the fluid gets everywhere.
Is Pine easy to split?
Splitting green wood such as pine into firewood is difficult because pine tends to have a lot of knots. If you have the option to select a Pine with fewer knots, your job will be an awful lot easier!
Some people prefer to split Pine in colder temperatures because the wood isn’t as “juicy” as when it’s warmer. However, if you’re using a hydraulic splitter, seasoned Pine will split like butter!
The best way to store Pine firewood
Place split firewood in a covered woodshed or storage area outside of your house. The bark side of the log should be on top and stored with the bark facing down. The bark is a natural barrier that prevents water from seeping into your wood, but using a big tarp is suggested because it keeps the rain off over the winter.
Pine heat output
Because pine is a softwood, it has a lower heat output than hardwoods. However, this doesn’t mean that pine wood is bad for burning. Pine can still make a good fire if it’s properly seasoned.
BTU’s for common pine trees, measured in million Btu per cord of wood
- Jack Pine = 17.1 mmBtu/cord
- Lodgepole Pine = 19.3 mmBtu/cord
- Norway Pine = 17.1 mmBtu/cord
- Yellow Pine = 22 mmBtu/cord
- White Pine = 14.3 mmBtu/cord
- Ponderosa Pine = 15.2 mmBtu/cord
Pine is a smoky firewood
Pine firewood produces a lot of smoke. This can be a problem if you’re trying to avoid smoking up your home. The smoke from pine wood can be very dense, and it can quickly fill a room or house. If you’re looking for firewood that produces less smoke, you might want to try another type.
Pine firewood smells great!
Pine’s distinct fragrance is undoubtedly one of its most appealing features. The appeal of the pine scent is why car or home air fresheners offer this scent. Floor cleaning chemicals that smell like pine are also popular. It has a distinctive odor that makes burning pine enjoyable.
Pine is wonderful firewood for campfires because it helps evoke the scent of the forest while also providing a lot of flames.
How To Select The Best Trees For Firewood
To help you select firewood for heating, you can categorize firewood into the following three groups.
- Soft Maple
- Hard Maple
- Black Walnut
- Black Cherry
What is creosote?
Creosote is a black or brown liquid that is produced when wood burns. This can create creosote buildup on the inside of your chimney and cause a fire. Like any type of wood being used as indoor firewood, you want to avoid burning green pine. An inexpensive moisture meter is a good investment to quickly check how seasoned your firewood is.
Creosote is a by-product of burning wood and is created when unburned particles in the smoke condense and coat the inside of your chimney. These chemicals can be corrosive and can cause damage to your chimney.
Creosote is also flammable, so it is important to remove it from your chimney to prevent a chimney fire. Cleaning your chimney once a year is a good idea if you burn a lot of pine or green (unseasoned) firewood.
Is creosote hazardous to health?
Creosote is a naturally-occurring substance found in coal tar. It has been used for centuries as a wood preservative and is still commonly used today. While creosote is not considered to be hazardous to health, there have been some reports of adverse effects associated with exposure to high levels of creosote fumes.
hese effects include irritation of the respiratory tract, skin, and eyes. In rare cases, exposure to high levels of creosote fumes has been linked to cancer. If you are concerned about your health, it is best to avoid exposure to creosote fumes.
If you must work with or around products containing creosote, be sure to use proper ventilation and protective equipment.
How many varieties of Pine trees are used for firewood?
There are over 126 distinct species of Pine in the world, but 36 of them are native to North America. In the United States, the Southern Yellow Pine, Eastern White Pine, Western White Pine, Lodgepole Pine, Sugar Pine, Ponderosa Pine, Jack Pine, Norway Pine and Pitch pine are all popular firewood varieties.
What is pine typically used for?
Pine is a softwood that is commonly used in construction, especially for framing lumber and sheathing. It is also used for making furniture, paneling, floors, and molding. Pine is easy to work with and takes stains and paint well.
In addition to its many uses in construction and carpentry, pine is also a popular choice for woodworking projects. Pine is a versatile wood that can be used for a variety of applications.
What is firewood coaling?
Coaling refers to the amount of coals generated by firewood.
All firewood yields coal after a burn, but some types of wood yield more than others. The coal produced through the process has an impact on the fire’s longevity. Firewood that yields more coal will help the fire to last longer, which is especially nice in the winter months.
The wood with the highest capacity to generate coals is Oak, while Pine has one of the lowest coal-generating abilities.
Another advantage of big coal production is that it will be considerably easier to relight the fire in the morning since the embers will still be burning and all it takes is a little more dry wood over time to reignite a roaring blaze.
What is the best length to cut firewood?
The recommended length to cut logs for firewood is 16″. A standard cord of firewood measures 4′ high x 4′ wide x 8′ long, made up of three rows with each row measuring 16″ in width. Therefore, 3 rows x 16″ per row = 4′ wide.
However, if you have a smaller woodstove or wood oven, you may want to cut your firewood into more manageable 12″ lengths. There are no set rules.
To keep my wood piles even and straight, I made a handy measuring stick from a piece of cheap strapping material. I quickly lay the stick on the log and make a small indication marks at 16″ so I’m assured of standard lengths. I either make these indication marks with the chainsaw, or Ideally I’ll use a can of spray paint.
As a side bonus, in the winter months I use these sticks as driveway markers for the plow guy!
Is pine good firewood?
As we’ve seen, when it comes to building a campfire in the woods and creating a pleasant ambiance with an outdoor fire pit in your backyard, pine is a dependable option. It’s also ideal for kindling a stove or fireplace fire but that’s about it.
The excessive creosote generation together with the poor heat output of pine means that it’s not the best type of firewood for long-term fires.
For these, you’re better off using hardwoods like oak or hickory. With that being said, if you have a lot of pine trees on your property and want to use the wood for firewood, it’s perfectly fine to do so.
Just be sure to clean your chimney regularly and don’t use pine as your primary source of heat during the winter.
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