Is Douglas Fir Good Firewood?

Douglas fir – or Pseudotsuga menziesii – is a conifer and is part of the Pinaceae family. An extremely common tree, Douglas fir grows over 200 feet tall and sprouts ample branches, providing plenty of wood when cut down.

Contrary to what its name suggests, Douglas fir is not a true fir tree. Its cones hang upside down rather an upright like real fir trees. But how does Douglas fir do when used as firewood?

Coastal varieties of Douglas fir can produce a BTU of up to 20.7, which is hot enough to keep your home warm overnight. Although it is a wood high in sap and moisture, it does not produce an overwhelming amount of smoke. So long as you are cleaning out your chimney regularly, Douglas fir is effective firewood.

is douglas fir good firewood

What Are The Varieties Of Douglas Fir Wood?

Despite not being a fir, Douglas fir has its own varieties. They are categorized by where the tree grows.

Coastal Douglas fir – As its name may suggest, a coastal Dougal fir grows near the sea, along the coast. Specifically, from the Pacific coast ranges to the Cascade Range.

Rocky Mountain Douglas fir – These varieties of Douglas fir prefer areas with altitudes higher than 600 meters and span across North America’s rocky mountain regions.

Inland Douglas fir – Just as common as the other varieties of Douglas fir, the inland kind likes to grow further away from the coast but can be found in more places than the Rocky Mountains.

Though there are 3 kinds of Douglas fir in North America, they do not differ much in how good of firewood they make.

What Are The Physical Characteristics Of Dougal Fir Wood?

NameDouglas Fir
Heat per cord (Million BTUs)18.3 – 20.7
Weight dry (lbs per cord)2652 – 3006
Weight green (lbs per cord)2975 – 3230
Seasoning time6 – 12 months
Resin/ Sap ContentModerate
Splitting DifficultyEasy
SmokeModerate
SmellPleasant
Coal ProductionGood
Cerocote Build-upSubstantial

Is Douglas Fir Easy To Split?

Firewood fanatics love working with Douglas fir as it is arguably the easiest wood to split due to its straight-grained, generally knot-free growth pattern.

No matter what kind of splitting tool you use to split a Douglas fir, it tends to splinter a lot which makes it great for kindling.

How Much Fesin Content Does Douglas Fir Have?

As a relative to the pine tree, Douglas fir does produce a fair bit of sap. Though nowhere near as much as its pine firewood which can be quite sticky.

Young coastal Douglas firs are especially prone to developing resin blisters. So, to avoid a creosote build-up and messy splitting, pick a Douglas fir that is mature to use as firewood.

What Does Douglas Fir Smell Like?

Douglas fir creates a very pleasant not too sweet aroma when burnt but is not as strong smelling as cedar or tulip poplar. Though if you have a sensitive nose, then Douglas fir may be strong enough for your home.

If you like the smell of pine trees when they are used as firewood, then you will certainly like Douglas fir.

Moisture Levels Of Douglas Fir

If you have ever had a Douglas fir Christmas tree, then you will know that they don’t often need water. This is because they retain a large amount of water, resulting in high moisture content.

Though, unlike other hardwoods like maple varieties, this doesn’t majorly affect a Douglas fir’s seasoning time.

Heat Output and Efficiency of Douglas Fir

Depending on the type of Douglas fir that you are using, you can get a good amount of heat from its firewood over a long period.

The coastal variety can produce a BTU as high as 20.7 million per cord which is just a little less than hackberry firewood.

However, inland and mountain Douglas fir create lower BTUs of 18.9 and 18.3 respectively. This may be lower than the coastal type of Douglas fir, but it is still good enough to warm a home overnight when it’s not bitterly cold.

Fire Characteristics Of Douglas Fir

So, what’s it like to burn Douglas fir?

Creosote build-up

Due to the high levels of both sap and moisture in Douglas fir, it will create a substantial amount of creosote if not seasoned properly.

Creosote is produced when any kind of wood is burnt. It takes on a black tar-like appearance. Sap-prone and wet wood are more likely to produce high levels of creosote when burnt.

Therefore, Douglas fir is prone to causing a creosote build-up. Even when it is seasoned, it still holds some moisture and is quite sappy generally.

Make sure that you get your fireplace and chimney cleaned at least once a year if regularly burning Douglas fir.

Amount Of Smoke

You will want to make sure that you properly season your Douglas fir firewood as it does tend to produce a moderate amount of smoke otherwise.

This is because its resin content is much higher than other woods like oak or locust.

Even when fully seasoned, Douglas fir does still create some smoke.

Does It Produce Coals?

Not only is Douglas fir a slow-burning wood compared to typical fir varieties, but it also produces good quality coals.

These good quality coals also help to keep Douglas fir burning for longer through the night as they provide additional fuel to the fire.

Is It Okay To Burn Douglas Fir In A Fireplace?

Douglas fir is fine firewood to use in your fireplace, so long as you make sure to clean your fireplace’s chimney out to prevent a creosote build-up.

As a long-lasting wood, you will be able to get a moderate amount of heat from Douglas fir overnight. Though it does ignite as easily, mix your firewood in with some maple or oak for a longer burn.

It will also produce flying sparks due to resin content which can be dangerous unless burnt in a closed fireplace or log burner.

How Long To Season Douglas Fir Wood?

Despite being quite a moist wood, Douglas fir only takes 6 – 12 months to fully season.

Although you will want to make sure that it is fully dried out with a moisture meter and the sap contents can also make it hard to judge whether the wood is ready for use.

The longer you can season Douglas fir, the less creosote build-up you will get. And considering that it is typically rot-resistant, you can season it for as long as you want.

Is Douglas Fir Firewood Expensive? 

Douglas fir is not expensive firewood compared to most. According to Markslumber.com, one pound of split and seasoned douglas fir will cost you 0.07USD, which would translate to around 200USD per cord.

Pros And Cons Of Using Douglas Fir as Firewood

Pros

  • Very easy to split
  • Long-lasting heat
  • Pleasant smell
  • Good quality coals
  • Widely available

Cons

  • Noticeable amount of smoke
  • High creosote production
  • Difficult to light

How Does Douglas Fir Compare To Other Firewood?

With a BTU of up to 20.7, Douglas fir is certainly better than poplar and many other fir kinds of wood. Though locust, maple, and oak varieties are hard to beat in terms of heat production.

Douglas fir does produce extremely high-quality coals considering it is softwood which means it burns longer than most.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Which Type Of Douglas Fir Makes The Best Fire Wood?

Coastal Douglas fir produces the highest BTU of 20.7 so is the best firewood to use out of the varieties.

However, both inland and rocky mountain Douglas fir produce BTUs of over 18 million, so are also good choices.

What Wood Works Well As Kindling?

Softwood types typically are better for starting a fire quickly. Cedar, pine, and fir Leyland cypress make great kindling.

What’s The Difference Between Softwood And Hardwood?

As a general rule, softwoods are trees that produce cones and needles, while hardwoods are flowering, deciduous trees. Most hardwoods last longer as firewood and produce more heat because they are denser.

Conclusion

Douglas fir is quality firewood and should be used when you want a moderate amount of heat during the autumn or early spring. Though oak will always be better than any type of Douglas fir, it’s easy to prepare and BTU makes it decent firewood.