Crepe myrtle (Lagerstroemia) is one of the rarest trees that now grow in the US. Originally from India and Australia, the crepe myrtle is considered a luxurious crafting wood due to its rarity. So, it is worth burning this precious wood?
Though it is hardwood, crepe myrtle burns like softwood. It burns very rapidly, giving off 23.8 million BTUs of heat in one short burst while creating a substantial amount of smoke. If you are looking for campfire wood, crepe myrtle will work nicely but isn’t the first choice as indoor firewood.
What Are The Varieties Of Crepe Myrtle
As a genus of trees, crepe myrtle consists of roughly 50 species. However, most crepe myrtle varieties are not native to the US, and the ones that are now present in the south of the US are predominantly indistinguishable.
What Are The Physical Characteristics Of Crepe Myrtle
|Heat per cord (Million BTUs)||23.8|
|Weight dry (lbs per cord)||3448|
|Weight green (lbs per cord)||4590|
|Seasoning time||8-12 months|
|Resin / Sap content||Moderate|
|Splitting Difficulty||Very difficult|
Does its Wood Split Easily?
No matter where or how you split crepe myrtle wood, ensure that you wear gloves.
Even though crepe myrtle leaves are used in medicine, they have since been known to cause excessive skin irritation. There has also been some speculation about the wood itself causing the same issue.
To avoid this issue, wear some sturdy gloves whenever you handle crepe myrtle. A pair of safety goggles are also advisable, just in case.
The wood itself is very difficult to split. Crepe myrtle is known to be extremely hard and will not yield to a hand ax easily. Instead, you will need to use a hydraulic splitter.
It is better to split crepe myrtle wood once it has been seasoned. The wood will lose some of its density and will be easier to cut through.
How Much Sap Does It Have?
Crepe myrtle is typically a dry wood but does have a moderate amount of sap. However, unlike pine firewood, crepe myrtle’s sap will not cause as many issues.
It is not as sticky nor as dangerous as it is burnt up very quickly.
How Does The Wood Smell?
Though short-lived, crepe myrtle has the heavy scent of spice both before and when it burns. This smell only lasts as long as it’s sap as the sap is responsible for the smell.
If you want a wood that will make your home smell delicious throughout its burning time, try sugar maple for a sweeter smelling burn.
Heat Output And Efficiency Of Crepe Myrtle
As a hardwood, crepe myrtle has the ability to generate a fairly high heat of 23.8. This is hot enough to warm your house without being unbearably warm like some hotter burning woods.
Though crepe myrtle is not very efficient with its heat, burning out extremely quickly.
Fire Characteristics Of Crepe Myrtle
Despite being a hardwood, crepe myrtle does not burn for long. It does burn slower than popular softwoods like pine but nowhere near as long as oak or maple. For this reason, its fire can be quite aggressive.
The moderate levels of sap within crepe myrtle wood burn away very quickly, bubbling under its intense heat. However, this will not limit the amount of smoke that the wood produces.
Crepe myrtle firewood will smoke a considerable amount, similarly to other firewoods related to the Myrtle family. Its fire will not necessarily set any built-up creosote alight, but it will contribute to that build-up. Though not as much as pine or fir firewood which has an excessive sap content compared to crepe myrtle.
Due to having such a short burning time, crepe myrtle will struggle to produce quality coals. It may coal some, but these coals will not be helpful in making a fire last longer or re-starting a fire.
Is It Okay To Burn Crepe Myrtle In A Fireplace?
Crepe myrtle produces a significant amount of smoke and is not clean burning.
As such, in order to burn it in your indoor fireplace, you will want to make sure that you have a secure door and working flutes. Otherwise, it will quickly make your room smoky.
Compared to other hardwoods, crepe myrtle will ignite very quickly. This means that it is a good wood to keep by when you want to start a quick fire inside.
A crepe myrtle fire will not spark a considerable amount despite its sap content. This makes it safer to burn than other sappy woods. But because of the smoke, it is better to burn in an outdoor fireplace or log burner.
How Expensive Is Crepe Myrtle Firewood?
Being one of the rarest trees in the US, crepe myrtle often comes with a hefty price tag. It is more common in the south of the US – specifically Oregon- so it tends to be cheaper in those areas.
How Long To Season Crepe Myrtle
Like any other wood, crepe myrtle will smoke more if burnt when green (unseasoned). It is better to wait at least 8 months to burn it, but you can use a moisture meter to check if the wood is ready to burn.
Crepe myrtle is already a fairly dry wood before seasoning, so you may find that the wood is ready to burn before the 8-12 month mark.
Pros And Cons of Crepe Myrtle Wood
- Ignites quickly
- High heat generation
- Quick to season
- Quick burning
- Difficult to split
- Considerable smoke production
- Extremely rare
How Does Crepe Myrtle Compare To Other Firewood?
With such an impressive BTU of 23.8, the heat that crepe myrtle generates is comparable to that of red maple (23.2 BTUs).
Crepe myrtle is often compared to pine in the way that it burns and how long it burns. However, crepe myrtle burns far hotter and for longer than the best performing pine, even if it is one of the poorest performing hardwoods.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Can Burn Crepe Myrtle On A Campfire
So long as you avoid burning the toxic crepe myrtle leaves, then crepe myrtle makes for good campfire firewood. At least for a short while.
What Is Crepe Myrtle Popularly Used For?
The rarity of crepe myrtle makes it more common in high-end crafting. However, it is also a phenomenal ornamental tree and is a statement piece for any garden.
Crepe myrtle firewood burns fair for firewood but poorly for a hardwood. Its impressive BTU of 23.8 may be hot enough to warm you on a cold winter’s night but the fire itself will not last as long as hardwoods like oak or locusts would.
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.