Boxelder firewood is a popular choice among homeowners for its unique characteristics and affordable price. In this article, we will delve into the various aspects of boxelder firewood, compare it to other types of firewood, discuss its pros and cons, explore the best practices for preparing and storing boxelder firewood, and address the safety considerations associated with burning boxelder.
Understanding the Characteristics of Boxelder
Boxelder, scientifically known as Acer negundo, is a deciduous tree native to North America. It is commonly found in the central and eastern regions of the continent. The tree is known for its fast growth and relatively short lifespan. The wood of the boxelder is quite soft, lightweight, and has a pale yellow to light brown color.
Boxelder trees can reach heights of up to 50 feet, with a spread of about 30 feet. They have a slender and graceful appearance, with a rounded crown that provides a pleasant shade during the hot summer months. The leaves of boxelder are compound, consisting of three to seven leaflets. These leaflets are usually serrated along the edges and have a vibrant green color during the growing season.
During the spring, boxelder trees produce clusters of small, greenish-yellow flowers. These flowers are not particularly showy but attract various pollinators, such as bees and butterflies. As the flowers fade, they give way to winged seeds, known as samaras, which are characteristic of the maple family. The samaras have a distinctive V-shape and are often referred to as “helicopters” due to their spinning motion as they fall from the tree.
Physical Properties of Boxelder
The physical properties of boxelder make it easy to work with as firewood. Its low density allows for easy cutting and splitting. Additionally, the lightweight nature of the wood facilitates transportation and handling.
Boxelder wood is relatively soft, making it less suitable for heavy construction or furniture making. However, its softness makes it an excellent choice for carving and crafting. Woodworkers often use boxelder for making decorative items, such as bowls, boxes, and intricate scrollwork.
Despite its softness, boxelder wood has a smooth texture and a straight grain, which adds to its aesthetic appeal. When properly finished, the wood can exhibit a beautiful luster and a warm, honey-like color. It is not uncommon to find boxelder wood with interesting patterns, such as spalting, which is caused by fungal growth and creates unique dark lines and streaks in the wood.
Chemical Properties of Boxelder
When it comes to burning boxelder, it is essential to consider its chemical properties. Boxelder has a moderate moisture content, which means it burns relatively well once properly seasoned. However, the wood has a lower energy content compared to denser hardwoods, leading to slightly lower heat output.
Boxelder wood produces a moderate amount of smoke when burned, making it suitable for fireplaces and wood-burning stoves. The smoke has a mild, pleasant aroma, reminiscent of maple syrup. This makes boxelder a popular choice for adding a touch of fragrance to the ambiance of a cozy winter evening.
Another interesting chemical property of boxelder is its sap. Like other maples, boxelder sap can be tapped and used to make syrup. Although the sap has a lower sugar content compared to sugar maples, it can still be boiled down to produce a sweet and flavorful syrup. Boxelder syrup has a unique taste, with hints of caramel and a slightly nutty flavor.
Comparing Boxelder to Other Types of Firewood
When choosing firewood, it’s essential to consider factors such as heat output and burn duration. Let’s examine how boxelder fares against other popular firewood options.
Heat Output of Boxelder vs Other Woods
While boxelder may not produce as much heat as dense hardwoods like oak or hickory, it still generates a decent amount of warmth. It can be a suitable choice for moderate heating needs.
Burn Duration: Boxelder and Other Woods
Boxelder firewood burns relatively quickly compared to dense hardwoods. This means that you may need to replenish the fire more frequently when using boxelder. However, this characteristic can be advantageous in situations where shorter burn times are desired.
Pros and Cons of Using Boxelder as Firewood
Using boxelder firewood has its benefits and drawbacks. Let’s explore both sides of the spectrum.
Advantages of Boxelder Firewood
One significant advantage of boxelder firewood is its affordability. Due to the abundance of boxelder trees and its softer nature, boxelder firewood is often more affordable compared to dense hardwoods. Additionally, its lightweight and easy handling make it a convenient choice for those with physical limitations.
Disadvantages of Boxelder Firewood
One disadvantage of boxelder firewood is its relatively lower heat output compared to hardwoods. If you rely on intense heat for prolonged periods, boxelder may not be the ideal option. Moreover, boxelder firewood may burn relatively quickly, requiring more frequent fueling.
Preparing and Storing Boxelder Firewood
To ensure optimal performance and longevity, proper preparation and storage of boxelder firewood are essential.
Best Practices for Cutting and Splitting Boxelder
When cutting and splitting boxelder firewood, it is crucial to use proper techniques and tools. As boxelder is soft and lightweight, it can be easier to cut and split compared to denser hardwoods. However, care should still be taken to ensure safety and efficiency.
Tips for Storing Boxelder Firewood
To maintain the quality of boxelder firewood, it should be stored properly. Ensure that the firewood is placed off the ground to prevent moisture absorption. Additionally, proper air circulation should be maintained to facilitate seasoning and prevent mold or rot.
Safety Considerations When Burning Boxelder
While boxelder firewood is generally safe to burn, there are a few considerations to keep in mind.
Potential Risks and How to Mitigate Them
Boxelder firewood, like any other type of firewood, can produce creosote buildup in chimneys or flue pipes. Regular chimney cleaning and inspection are crucial to minimize the risk of chimney fires. Additionally, proper installation and maintenance of wood-burning appliances are necessary for safe and efficient operation.
Environmental Impact of Burning Boxelder
When burning boxelder firewood, it is important to be mindful of the environmental impact. As with any wood-burning activity, the combustion of boxelder releases carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Choosing sustainably sourced firewood and using efficient burning practices can help reduce the environmental footprint.
In conclusion, boxelder firewood offers several advantages such as affordability and ease of handling. While it may not generate as much heat as denser hardwoods, its moderate burn duration can be suitable for specific heating requirements.
By following the proper cutting, splitting, and storage practices, boxelder firewood can provide a reliable source of warmth. Remember to prioritize safety and consider the environmental impact when burning boxelder or any other type of firewood.
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.