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Is eucalyptus good firewood or should you focus your time and attention on another firewood type?
Overall, eucalyptus is a pretty good firewood choice.
In fact, the heat output and coaling qualities are very similar to oak firewood, which is one of the best firewood choices you can use.
So why don't you see or hear about a lot of people burning eucalyptus in their wood stove or fireplace?
Well, there's actually a few easy ways to answer that question, but it basically boils down to availability and the misconception that eucalyptus is toxic to burn.
To learn more, let's take a closer look at the tree and the best way to season the wood so it's safe to use.
If you live in Australia, you're probably very familiar with eucalyptus trees.
However, even though there are nearly 700 different species of eucalyptus trees, only a small amount of them can be found throughout California where they were introduced to the state by Australians during the California Gold Rush.
So, needless to say, unless you live in Australia or California, obtaining and burning eucalyptus firewood is going to be pretty hard.
This is because eucalyptus tress don't tolerate cold climates very well.
Many species of eucalyptus are simply referred to as gum trees.
Blue gum is the most prominent type of eucalyptus tree found throughout California, followed by river red gum and sugar gum.
The trees were first planted by the thousands, where they planned on using the timber for furniture and railroad material.
However, they soon realized once the wood started to dry, it began to twist and became so hard it was nearly impossible to drive a railroad spike into the wood.
These qualities also make utilizing the wood for firewood somewhat difficult.
Is eucalyptus good firewood to split?
As eucalyptus starts to dry out, it becomes extremely hard.
So, in order to split the wood you'll want to wait about a week after it's been cut, but not much longer than that.
After approximately 1 week you will notice small cracks that begin to appear in the wood.
You can use these cracks to your advantage by using a maul or splitting axe to strike the wood along the cracks which will help the wood split apart more easily.
However, if you let the wood sit too long before attempting to split it (longer than a week), the grain of the wood begins to twist making it really hard to split.
Eucalyptus wood, when green, contains a high moisture content along with a lot of natural oils in the wood.
It's important to let the wood season for approximately 2 years before attempting to burn it.
Attempting to burn wet firewood is one of the leading causes of creosote buildup inside your chimney.
So, before you use the wood it should have a moisture content of 20 percent or less, which can be determined by using an inexpensive firewood moisture meter.
Seasoned eucalyptus is really good firewood, but if it's green it creates a lot of smoke and simply doesn't want to burn very hot.
Also, the sap pockets inside the wood will cause the wood to pop and spark when you burn it.
So, if you're going to burn eucalyptus in a fireplace, you'll want to use a screen to prevent any unwanted sparks from flying out of the fireplace.
Is eucalyptus firewood better than oak firewood?
Both types of firewood create a lot of heat while leaving behind a nice bed of coals.
These coals allow you to obtain an overnight fire that has enough coals leftover to re-light your fire the next morning.
Eucalyptus will produce 34.5 million BTUs per cord of firewood while red oak will produce 24.6 million BTUs per cord.
Because eucalyptus burns so hot, you should mix it in with less desirable wood (wood that doesn't burn so hot) so your fire doesn't get too hot and damage your chimney or stove.
Both eucalyptus and oak take approximately 2 years to fully season, but I think oak splits a little bit easier than eucalyptus.
Having access to a hydraulic wood splitter makes splitting eucalyptus a lot easier.
One of the biggest advantages of oak firewood when compared to eucalyptus is its availability.
Oak firewood is a lot easier to find since it has a larger growing region compared to eucalyptus, which is mainly found in California.
There's a common misunderstanding that eucalyptus firewood is poisonous to burn, which isn't exactly true.
Although you could get sick if you decided to eat a large quantity of eucalyptus leaves, simply burning the wood doesn't create a health concern.
Just remove all of the leaves off the wood before you burn it and you'll be fine.
As long as the wood is dry, eucalyptus firewood does not create a lot of smoke when you burn it.
Eucalyptus gives off a pleasant, medicinal smell when it's burned which is mainly due to the oil content in the wood.
Again, this oil can cause the wood to spark and pop a lot, so you'll want to make sure you have a screen in place if you're burning it in an open fireplace.
If you're using a wood stove, the sparking is not a big issue because the sparks will be contained by the stove.
Is eucalyptus a good firewood that you can use in your wood stove or fireplace?
Just make sure you give the wood 2 years to fully season and be aware the wood can pop or spark a little as it burns.
Although the wood can be very difficult to split (especially when it's dry) it produces a lot of heat for an overnight fire.
I recommend mixing eucalyptus with other types of dry firewood to help control the intense heat produced by the wood.
This will create a safer, more manageable heat you're sure to enjoy!