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The aspen tree may be the largest single-cell organism in the world, but is aspen good firewood?
This tree is home to many wildlife, such as hare, moose, black bear, elk, deer, ruffed grouse, and a lot of small migratory birds.
Although these lively animals are finding shelter and home in the aspen forest, not too long ago it was thought the aspen tree was the key to the underworld.
Aspen is a decent choice of firewood, and if given the opportunity I wouldn't pass it up......but it does have its limitations.
Ultimately in this article, we’re going to identify why the aspen tree is good firewood.
But, while we’re here we’re also going to indulge in the myths, facts, and folklore behind this standing giant.
The aspen tree is known to the world for having mystical powers.
Although the folklore and myths were created by our ancestors, the tree still stands today.
The aspen is a tall slender giant, standing from 30-80 feet tall and roughly six inches to 20 inches wide.
The tree is heavily draped in iconic leaves, that dance and “quake” in the wind.
Quaking is a term specific to the aspen tree.
It is nature's free show.
The leaves are a special shape, and when the wind catches them, they make a dancing motion and a light noise which is why it's commonly referred to as the quaking aspen.
When you're searching for the quaking aspen it's best to start high up in the mountains.
Aspen usually grows between 5,000-11,000 feet.
If you can't pinpoint the tree by its dancing and singing, it's best to identify tall slim trees with white bark.
Beware, there are similar trees such as the birch that grow nearby.
Although similar in appearance, there are key differences between the two.
Aspen will have a triangular shape periodically throughout the bark, whereas, birch will not.
You can find aspen all over the world.
Most commonly the tree is in western North America, as well as Asia and Europe.
When searching for this tree you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find a “stack” of them together.
The root systems of the aspen species are all connected, making them the largest single-cell organisms (by area) worldwide.
Since they’re all connected and one, they're referred to as a stack.
The tree is deciduous, but during the snowy winter months, the tree is actually still growing.
The aspen tree is a tree with a lot of folklore and history.
This tree is known for being workable and strong.
Since this was the case it was a commonly used wood for shields, which were used in battle because they were functional, but also lightweight.
People believed aspen had magical qualities as well, not only protecting them from enemies but also protecting them from psychics and magic.
When these trees were quaking, it was thought, the leaves were the sound of the “voice of the spirit."
The crown of rustling leaves surrounding the top of the aspen tree was known to give power to those entering and returning from the underworld.
Aspen has a lot of great burning qualities.
Although it may not be the best choice for keeping your house warm overnight, it's a great choice for starting a fire and getting it ready for the bigger logs.
Although the wood is technically a hardwood, the wood is very soft making it great for kindling and preparing a fire.
Aspen produces 18.2 million BTUs per cord and usually, this would be a sign to tell you it's not a great choice for burning.
However, although it might not be the best choice of wood for an overnight burn compared to other hardwoods like maple or ash, aspen is perfect for starting a fire or when mixed in with other types of firewood.
Aspen also has a low sap content which means it's great to burn in a fireplace or wood stove because it burns clean and won't create a lot of sparks or creosote.
Remember, creosote occurs when your firewood is wet, causing a low temperature, smoky, smoldering fire.
Since seasoned aspen is lightweight and starts easy, your fire quickly becomes hot which reduces smoke and unburned particles that can adhere to your chimney, forming creosote.
Since aspen wood is really soft, it will only burn for a couple of hours at the most before you need to throw some more into the fire.
But, the coals produced by the are actually pretty decent and will remain hot for quite some time.
This creates a great base for cooking on if you're using it for a campfire, or it makes restarting a fire a lot easier with the leftover coals.
If you commonly heat your home with firewood, you know that starting a fire from scratch in the morning can be a pain.
Ideally, you want enough leftover coals in the morning that will quickly start another fire.
This is where dry aspen is really nice.
Just throw a few pieces of seasoned aspen on some hot coals and the wood will quickly ignite, leaving you with a hot fire to add some heavier hardwoods too.
Although a lot of people like to use pine as a fire starter or kindling, I prefer a wood like aspen because it has a lower sap content.
This creates fewer sparks, and it's a lot cleaner to handle since it won't leave your hands feeling sticky compared to white pine or another similar type of wood.
Considering aspen is soft and straight grained, it's very easy to split.
Also, since the diameter of the tree isn't massive, you won't be dealing with huge rounds.
If you've ever tried to move or split a massive piece of oak, you understand how heavy it can be.
The smaller and lighter pieces aspen are much easier to handle and a maul or splitting axe will easily split the wood in just a swing or two.
When splitting aspen, I recommend using the Fiskars X27 splitting axe.
In my opinion (and many others) this lightweight yet effective axe is the best splitting axe you can buy.
It works great on all types of wood and it won't wear you out like a heavy maul.
Once the wood is split and ready to go in the stack, be sure to leave the pile elevated.
Aspen that's left on the ground will quickly start to rot, so using a firewood rack or wood shed with a pallet floor works great.
Aspen seasons pretty quick, and if properly split and stacked in an open-air space, it should be dry in 10-12 months.
Remember, wood that is stacked in a sunny location that's exposed to the warm summer breeze will dry faster than stacking wood in a shady, cool spot.
Also, if you don't have access to store you aspen firewood in a covered wood shed, you should use a tarp to cover the top 1/3 portion of the firewood stack.
This will shed rain and snow, but still allow moisture to escape from the wood as it dries out over the summer.
Now that we’ve gone over some key factors about the aspen tree let's draw our conclusions.
The tree isn't the highest-outputting wood on the market but it's great when used as tinder, kindling, or quickly starting a hot fire.
Be sure to season the wood properly, and if you have an abundance left over, think about creating a roman shield before entering the underworld!
Jokes aside, the wood is a great choice to burn in your fireplace, wood stove, or bonfire.
Below we have some key takeaways for your convenience.
Is Aspen Good Firewood - Key Takeaways