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Is boxelder good firewood for your fire pit or wood stove or should you save your time and focus on a better burning type of wood?
Since it produces moderate amounts of smoke with a low heat output, boxelder definitely isn't the best firewood choice, but that doesn't mean you can't burn it.....it just has its limitations.
Boxelder trees are a very common in North America and grow in planting zones between 2 to 10.
They can also thrive in several soil types.
As long as they keep getting the right amount of sunlight, they can grow as tall as 50 feet!
Unfortunately, boxelder is considered an undesirable tree that produces large clusters of seeds that not only make a mess in your lawn, but they also attract the boxelder bug.....which we will talk more about later.
The center heartwood of the tree is actually very pretty because it contains distinct red streaks that look great when turned into a bowl or other similar item.
Now that you know a little bit about the boxelder tree, it's time to answer the big question – Is boxelder good firewood?
Let's analyze some different factors and determine whether or not it's worth your time and energy!
For starters, let's consider how much heat the wood will produce.
If you're hoping to use boxelder firewood to keep warm during the extremely cold winter nights, then you might want to reconsider!
Because boxelder firewood burns very hot and turns to ashes relatively fast!
You'll need something more long-lasting if you're going to stay warm on a cold winter night.
But hey, don't throw your boxelder wood away just yet.
It still makes a decent choice of firewood to burn in the spring and fall seasons when the outside temperatures are mild and you don't need a long lasting fire.
Is boxelder good firewood to split?
Boxelder wood has proven to be hard to split when damp.
Also, the tree is fond of twisting as it grows, which makes splitting the wood with a maul or splitting axe somewhat difficult.
If you have any experience splitting firewood by hand, you know that twisted wood tends to flip off the chopping block on nearly every swing.
If you can keep the flips under control it's definitely possible to split boxelder by hand.
However, a hydraulic wood splitter works a lot better and it's safer because you won't have to worry about a glancing blow with an axe.
Clogged chimneys aren't pretty, and since boxelder wood produces a fair quantity of smoke, then high creosote buildup is exactly what you'll get.
There's a way around this, though.
To reduce the amount of boxelder creosote in your chimney, you can burn it alongside a higher BTU firewood.
Maple and oak are good boxelder pairings.
But if you don't want it smelling indoors, then you can use it in your outdoor wood furnace.
Also, you can give your boxelder wood more seasoning time before you burn it.
You will find the smell to be more attractive by then.
Another advantage of allowing boxelder wood to be fully seasoned before burning it is that it will become a lot lighter.
Although it will also be harder to split when fully seasoned, so just make sure it's split to size before you stack it and allow it to dry.
Boxelder firewood requires about six months to be seasoned.
For best results, it's a great idea to stack the wood in a space that collects a lot of air and sunlight.
If you're looking for a super clean burn (which I'm sure you are), you can allow it to cure for eight months instead of six.
If you tend your own woodlot, then I have to advise you to cut the boxelder wood nearest to your house first.
This is because boxelder bugs love boxelder trees, and they won't mind sneaking into your home when the outdoor weather becomes chilly.
You can also have a professional spray your boxelder trees to chase away the bugs.
If the bugs have already crept into your home, do not squish when you find them.
They will release an awful smell if you do.
Vacuum them away instead.
Now, if you're the type that is freaked out by bugs, you have to ask yourself one more time – Is boxelder good firewood for you?
If you're looking to save some money, then boxelder firewood is among the cheapest you can find.
In fact, some woodlots often view them as weeds (thanks to all the bugs they attract).
I'm sure you guessed it already.....buying boxelder firewood from a woodlot that discards them will be quite pocket-friendly!
So, we've analyzed the major
factors that will help you determine if boxelder firewood is good for you.
Now let's run through the pros and cons quickly!
Is Boxelder good firewood when compared to cottonwood?
Boxelder can be compared favorably to cottonwood since both of these tree types are well-suited to areas near bodies of water.
Although cottonwood burns hotter, both are quite low in BTU production.
Cottonwood requires more time to season, but once it has, it splits like butter.
When properly cured, both trees will burn quietly without a lot of sparks, but boxelder will produce more smoke.
Cottonwood is also easier to split since its grain is typically more uniform.
On the other hand, boxelder is easily twisted, which makes it more difficult to split.
The boxelder tree is usually the first to be cut down when you or a local woodsman are clearing out a woodlot.
This is largely due to the fact that many bugs, birds, and mammals are attracted to it during the spring season.
Cottonwood has far less of a pest problem.
Although it might not be the best type of firewood to burn, you can definitely throw some boxelder firewood into your wood stove.....just don't expect amazing results.
I wouldn't go out of my way searching for a boxelder tree to cut down and use for firewood.
However, if you need to cut one down near your house because you're sick of the mess they create or the bugs they attract, then I'd save the wood to burn later on.
Just remember to allow it to season for 6 to 8 months for best results during use.