Cherry trees are most distinguishable by their white blooms and red berries that grow every spring. They tend to start bitter, but once ripened they are soft, sweet, and delicious. It also has a stunning foilage color that makes it a great addition to any landscape. Is cherry wood good to use as firewood though?
Cherry does not burn too hot, reaching a BTU of 21.3 million per cord while some would argue that cherry firewood is one of the best firewoods you can get in North America. It is long-burning firewood lasting for hours at a time, while also burning clear, not throwing out sparks or excessive amount of smoke.
What Are The Varieties Of Cherry?
Though there are a handful of cherry varieties, the tree you are most likely to come across in North America is the black cherry tree aka the wild cherry. It is common all across America and is a key food source for many wildlife.
You may also find a few pin cherry trees, but these are less desirable as firewood because they provide significantly less heat.
What Are The Physical Characteristics Of Cherry?
|Heat per cord (Million BTUs)||17.1 – 21.3|
|Weight dry (lbs per cord)||2475 – 3094|
|Weight green (lbs per cord)||2805 – 3910|
|Seasoning time||12 months|
|Resin/ Sap Content||Very low|
|Splitting Difficulty||Very easy|
Does Cherry Split Easily?
As is the case with many firewoods, cherry trees are harder to split the more mature they are. Though in the case of cherry this isn’t necessarily because of the density of the wood, but rather the intertwined grain pattern, similar to dogwood logs.
Still, because of the cherry’s diameter, its wood is easy enough to split with a maul.
How Much Sap Does it Have?
It would be expected that berry tree produces a lot of sap in order to grow their berries. But with cherry, that is not the case.
Cherry wood has very low levels of sap, much like many other hardwood firewoods. Though cherry contains some of the lowest sap levels of any firewood, similarly to mesquite
How Does the Wood Smell?
Many people chose to burn cherry firewood purely for its smell. It is a unique smell, full of fruity, nutty, rich tones that will have your house smelling delicious in no time.
on the other hand, if you prefer sweeter-smelling fragrances, then you may want to try burning sugar maple instead.
Heat Output And Efficiency Of Cherry?
As a source of heat, cherry is not the best, but neither is it the worst.
Black cherry is the hottest burning cherry available, proving a heat of 21.3 million BTUs per cord. That is a pretty mediocre heat at best.
As for other cherry varieties, they can burn as cool as 17.1, which is definitely poor for hardwood.
Fire Characteristics Of Cherry
Cherry creates a fire that will last a long time. Its thick density means that it is a very slow-burning wood and can provide stable heat for the duration of its burn. Furthermore, there will be minimal sparks during the fire.
Unlike other dense hardwoods, cherry is also very easy to ignite, catching a flame as easily as some softwood-type logs would. This means that you will not have to waste time preparing softwood kindling just to start a fire.
One of the only downfalls of cherry is that it does not create the best coals because of its small diameter.
Does Cherry Burn Clean?
Little sap and moisture mean that cherry wood is not likely to create any noticeable smoke. Better yet, any smoke that it does produce is very clean meaning that the cherry will not create much creosote.
One advantage it has to firewoods like spruce or other conifers is the fact that it does not spark and pop as much. Still, in some instances cherry can throw out some sparks, even a bit more than other hardwoods like hackberry, tamarack or mesquite would.
Is It Okay To Burn Cherry In A Fireplace?
Cherry wood is the perfect fireplace firewood.
As long as you use black cherry, you will have a very good source of heat that will keep you warm through the winter night without getting too hot. And you will not have to prep any softwood to ignite cherry as it can start a fire easily by itself.
Cherry also creates very few issues in terms of creosote, smoke, or sparking, making it a safe wood to burn indoors.
How Long To Season Cherry?
Most slow-burning hardwoods take years to season as they are so dense. Oak for example will need at least 2 years to season before it is ready to burn. Cherry will only need 6 – 12 months.
So, if you time it right, you can cut and split your cherry wood in early spring and have it ready to burn by winter.
Although, you will have to ensure that you stack cherry off of the ground. Its outer layers will begin to rot if it comes into contact with moisture so keep it somewhere dry and breezy for a short seasoning period.
It would be a shame if such good firewood goes to the waist.
Pros And Cons Of Cherry Firewood?
- Extremely efficient heat source
- Easy to process
- Unique smell
- Not as hot as other hardwoods
- Prone to rotting
- Only moderate-quality coals
How Does Cherry Compare To Other Firewoods?
A lot of people overlook cherry in favor of hotter burning hardwood like oak or hickory which have BTUs exceeding 24.4. But this makes cherry perfect for occasional indoor use.
If you plan to have a fire burning for days at a time, then you may want to go with a wood that produces better quality coals than cherry, However, if you just want to keep your home warm at night, then cherry works just as well as other hardwoods.
It does have a unique smell though which some people may not like. Unlike maple or pine which have widely liked smells.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I Use Cherry To Cook Food?
Many food enthusiasts smoke a variety of meats using cherry. This is because cherry helps the meet develop a sweet but mild flavor, enhancing many meat dishes.
Is Cherry Firewood Better Than Oak?
Oak has lots of firewood varieties that all have different burning abilities. However, cherry does tend to burn at very high temperatures. The coolest burning oak is the California black oak which produces 24.4 BTUs. This can often be too hot for indoor use, but cherry burns at the perfect temperature, generating 21.3 million BTUs per cord.
How To Stop Firewood From Rotting?
The best way to prevent the wood from rotting is storing it adequately in a place with good airflow. This means lifting your firewood stack off of the ground onto cates and covering the wood from the top to prevent the rain from getting to it
To conclude, cherry is very desirable firewood, burning hot enough to fight the winter chill but not suffocatingly warm. It is also low in sap and moisture, making for a safe indoor and outdoor fire option.
I am the guy behind Theyardable.com. I grew up on a homestead and I am here to share the knowledge I have and things I learn while living in the countryside.