This post may contain affiliate links so I earn a commission.
Is cedar good firewood to burn in a fire pit or fireplace?
Are you wondering how you are going to warm your home for the winter or keep a campfire going on your next trip?
Fortunately, we’ve got you covered.
We have compiled a guide of everything you need to know about whether or not you should use cedar for your next fire.
Cedar firewood is a popular wood that has many different uses besides being burned for a fire.
Here’s a list of characteristics and need-to-know facts to consider.
What Type Of Wood Is Cedar?
Cedar is a softwood.
Softwood comes from gymnosperm trees as opposed to hardwood that comes from angiosperm trees.
This means that the wood is lightweight and more flexible.
Therefore, softwoods like cedar are typically more popular for interior building projects.
Is Cedar Good Firewood For Creating Heat?
To measure the heat output, we use British Thermal Unit (BTU).
BTU measures the amount of energy required to heat one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit.
For cedar, the BTU measurement is 12.2 - 13 million BTUs per cord with the standard firewood measurement of 128 cubic feet per cord.
12.2 - 13 million BTUs is a lower heat output than other types of wood.
Therefore, cedar doesn’t make the best firewood when burning for a long time - but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth using.
We’ll continue to explore this further on in the article.
Different Varieties Of Cedar Trees
There are three well-known cedar varieties.
Eastern red cedar is primarily found on the east coast of the United States and can grow anywhere between 16 and 66 feet tall.
Western red cedar is much taller than eastern red cedar as it can grow anywhere between 210-230 feet tall.
This type of cedar is found in the Pacific Northwest of the United States.
Finally, there is incense cedar (also known as white cedar).
These trees are found in the Cascade and Sierra Nevada mountain ranges in North America.
They have the strongest scent out of the different varieties and come in at around 100-150 feet tall.
Sap From The Cedar Tree
Much like other species of wood, cedar does have a lot of sap.
However, unlike other species of wood, the sap is more of an oil consistency than super thick.
If you cut through cedar with a chainsaw, it is less likely to get stuck like it would in something like pine.
Is Cedar Firewood Good For Burning?
Cedar burns very fast and for that reason is perfect for kindling.
If you want to use something other than newspaper or dried straw to start a fire, cedar is the perfect alternative.
However, cedar does has a tendency to spit and pop more often than other varieties of wood.
For that reason, it is best to only burn cedar outside or behind a protective barrier if you’re burning it inside.
The Scent Of Cedar Firewood
Most people know of cedar because of its wonderful aroma.
Cedar has a slightly spicy, calming scent that fills the space.
Barbeque enthusiasts sometimes use cedar planks to grill because of their satisfying smell.
Grilling things like salmon or other fish on a cedar plank gives the food a nice, unique taste.
Other Functions Of Cedar Wood
Because cedar is so lightweight and flexible, it has so many other uses than just firewood.
Cedar is also popular for building closets since it is mostly moth resistant with its strong aroma.
In addition, cedar was once used for building big ships and canoes.
Though this is still done today, it’s not nearly as common as it once was.
Cedar is one of the easiest woods to split due to how lightweight it is.
It is easy to split when it’s green and when it’s dry.
Usually, it only takes you one strike to successfully split the wood.
It is important to allow your cedar firewood to season to decrease the chance of creosote and for an easier burn.
For cedar, it takes anywhere between six and twelve months to season.
The nine month mark is the average time for a properly seasoned log of cedar.
With any wood, there is a chance that it can create creosote.
Cedar, luckily, is one of the cleanest burning woods you can burn, but it is still important to take the necessary steps to prevent creosote buildup.
Creosote is unburnt gasses that sit in the chimney and can cause chimney fires and harmful fumes.
Make sure to get your chimney cleaned annually.
One of the ways to lessen the chance of creosote build-up is to store your cedar off the ground and in a dry place.
To do this, you can chop your cedar into 2-foot lengths (this also decreases sparking), place them on a platform above the ground, and set them in a sunny area.
It is important to also provide some sort of tarp to cover your wood to prevent it from getting wet, but you don't want to cover the entire stack of wood because it can create mold.
For best results, just cover the top portion of the stack and allow the rest of the wood to be exposed to the summer sun and dry winds.
Cedar, overall, is not the best firewood.
However, it does make for excellent kindling.
Because cedar easily sparks and pops, it can be dangerous to burn indoors.
It is essential to have some sort of glass barrier on your fireplace or wood stove if you plan on using cedar as firewood.
If you are only planning on burning cedar to quickly warm up your house, that is okay to do.
With every type of firewood, there are pros and cons.
Here are the pros and cons of cedar firewood:
The best alternative to cedar is a hardwood.
Hardwood can burn longer and doesn’t spit or pop as much.
Here is a list of hardwoods that would be good for firewood:
Every wood has its pros and cons so it is important to research the benefits and warnings of each wood before burning them in your home.
If you are planning on using cedar as a fire starter, absolutely go for it.
If you are planning on using it for firewood indoors, we would recommend selecting a different wood.
Cedar is great for indoor building projects, barbecuing, and its scent alone.
If you are craft-savvy or want a new flavor to your meals, consider splitting some cedar.
Otherwise, you should only plan on burning it if you combine it with other types of firewood that will provide a longer, hotter burn for you.