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Is Ash good firewood to rely on all year round to burn in a wood stove or fire pit?
Ash is a readily available tree that is most likely growing nearby.
Let's dive into the details of ash firewood to see if it is worth burning throughout the winter, or during your next camping trip.
Overall, is ash good firewood?
Yes, ash is actually a great firewood choice!
Ash is a clean-burning wood with low smoke and spark production and many firewood enthusiasts say that ash is the best firewood type available.
As a member of the olive tree family, ash trees are a hardwood.
Hardwood trees are ideal for heat production.
Ash, when processed, is light in color and smooth.
The term ash is an overarching name for over 45 different species of the tree with the most common being white ash, black ash, and green ash.
Ash is readily available and found all throughout the world.
Known for its strength, workability, and its lightweight properties, ash is a favorite among carpenters.
Ash is often used for furniture making, along with other carpentry such as flooring, door molding, and sports equipment.
Identifying an ash tree from its bark differs with age.
A young ash tree has smooth gray bark, much like its twigs while a mature ash tree will develop long vertical lines that look almost ‘etched’ into the bark.
Ash has a pleasant neutral aroma that will not attack the senses, unlike elm firewood which can have a foul odor.
While ash is typically resistant to diseases, ash trees have a very real pest enemy.
Since the early 2000s, ash trees have been under attack by the Emerald Ash Borer.
Originally introduced from Asia, this invasive species has devastated millions of populations of ash trees.
While pest experts can save ash trees from the Emerald Ash Borer Beetle, it only takes a couple of years before your tree will be beyond saving.
Other pests may infest your ash trees as well, such as aphids or scales.
When an infested tree is cut, these pests may make the tree look like it is full of sap.
However, ash has a very low sap content.
Aphids and scales leak a sap-like liquid called honeydew.
If you are felling an ash tree, be aware if the tree is alive or dead standing.
Since the Emerald Ash Borer has killed millions of trees, it is most likely that the ash tree will be dead.
If the tree is dead, it can be dangerous to fell because of a rotten middle or falling limbs.
The rotten center can easily cause the tree to "barber chair" and splinter apart when felling the tree which is extremely dangerous.
Be safe when felling an ash tree and call an expert if needed.
Among the 16 different types of ash, green ash and white ash are the two most commonly used for firewood.
Green Ash - Is Ash Good Firewood?
Green ash trees grow quickly, are easy to maintain, and are the most common species of ash.
They create lovely shade and are resilient to different soil conditions.
Green ash trees can grow up to 70 feet tall.
Green ash has a slightly lower heat BTU and weighs more before it's seasoned (contains more moisture) compared to white ash, which makes it slightly less popular to burn when comparing the two.
White Ash - Is Ash Good Firewood?
White ash trees are found in North America and, while similar to green ash, produce beautiful fall colors such as bright yellow to deep purple.
White ash trees can grow from 30 feet to 100 feet tall.
This tree is popular to use for making sports equipment and household tools because the wood is strong and flexible.
White ash weighs more than green ash when dry and has a higher BTU.
White ash is also harder to split but worth the trouble!
As mentioned before, ash does not have a high resin or sap content.
Ash firewood is also known for its ability to split easily because of its low moisture content and straight, non-interlocking grain.
In fact, fresh cut ash has only a slightly higher moisture content compared to a seasoned piece of wood that has been allowed to dry.
This can be handy if you need to fell a tree in the winter to use the wood quickly.
Remember, due to the Emerald Ash Borer, most ash trees will already be dead and still standing.
Since the trees are no longer alive, the wood naturally dries out creating great firewood.
If you have time, it's always best to split, stack and season ash even if it's a dead standing tree.
The wood in a dead standing tree will always have more moisture than wood that has been split and stacked, allowing the sun and wind to penetrate the interior of the wood.
Of course, a green tree will have more smoke and be more fickle when lighting a fire too.
Ash firewood will need to season after being split and stacked for at least 6 to 12 months, depending on the initial density of the wood and where you live.
Like all firewood, keep your split and seasoned wood off of the ground by using a firewood shed, firewood rack or simply some 2x4 runners parallel on the ground.
If in contact with the ground or kept in wet conditions, ash firewood will rot and develop mold along the bottom as it soaks up ground moisture.
Ash is good firewood for many reasons.
It has a heat output of 23.6 million BTUs per cord of seasoned wood.
Ash BTUs compare to burning honey locust, mulberry, and red oak firewood.
One negative to ash firewood is that it does not create many coals.
It tends to leave behind a fine white ash that easily spills outside of your wood stove when you throw another log on the fire.
This is much different than red oak firewood, which has great coaling qualities.
However, since ash has such a high heat output, this typically isn’t a problem for many people.
Just like any other firewood choice, there will be pros and cons to every wood you burn.
To help you answer the question "Is ash good firewood" let's list some of the positives vs the negatives to burning ash firewood.
Ash is among the best firewood to burn, if not the best firewood choice available.
Particularly popular for smoking meats, ash firewood can be used to make delicious meals with red meats and fish.
Ash is commonly used for baseball bats, hockey sticks, paddles and oars, tennis frames, and other sports equipment.
Often used for the handles of shovels, spades, hoes, and racks, ash is a durable and robust wood that is sure to perform to the highest standards.
Throughout history, ash trees have had symbolic and sometimes magical meanings.
Ash was burned to ward off evil spirits in some cultures, and still is today.
The ash tree was referred to as the “Tree of Life” in Norse mythology and you may even recognize the old tune, “The Ash Grove.”
Historically, ash trees were used for medicine to make tonics, disinfectants, and astringents.
It is readily available, easy to split, and a great heat source.
Ash lives up to its reputation of being good firewood and should be the top choice for your fire pit, fireplace or wood burning stove!