Tamarack (Larix laricina) is a deciduous conifer native to Canada. It can be found in swamps, bogs, fens, and other low land areas. It is a premium softwood but does it make good firewood?
Tamarack produces a low amount of smoke, is easy to split, seasons fast, and has a pleasant fragrance. Comparable to Douglas fir, it burns hotter than some hardwoods producing 22.5 million BTUs per cord. As a downside, like other conifers, it sparks and pops more than hardwoods. Overall tamarack is decent-quality firewood.
What are the Varieties Of Tamarack
The tamarack belongs to the genus Larix (Larch). And there are two major species of Larch (commonly called Tamarack).
- Western Larch (Larix occidentalis): can be found in places like Washington, Oregon, Montana, Idaho, and Western Canada.
- Eastern Larch (Larix laricina): can be found in the Northeast side of the United States and Eastern Canada.
What are the Physical Characteristics Of Tamarack
- Heat per cord ( Million BTUs): 22.5 million
- Weight dry (lbs per cord): 3271
- Weight green (lbs per cord): 3995
- Seasoning Time: 6 – 12 months
- Resin / Sap Content: Low
- Splitting Difficulty: Easy
- Smoke: low
- Smell: Pleasant
- Coal production: medium
- Creosote buildup: Low
Is Tamarack Easy To Split?
Tamarack is straight-grained and has very few knots. It is easy to split using both methods: manually with an ax or with a wood splitter. Splitting tamarack is not as difficult as it would be splitting hackberry firewood, which has similar BTUs per cord.
How Much Resin Content Does Tamarack Have?
Tamarack, like other conifers, contains resin. It has a fair amount of resin content contributing to its excessive spitting and popping while burning.
Tamarack is not like other softwoods. Suffice it to say, it is a ‘hard softwood’ and has a very low moisture level, reaching up to 60% when green (freshly cut).
Compared to other wood the freshly cut weight of tamarack is much lower than cedar or sycamore wood.
What Does Tamarack Smell Like?
Tamarack has a pleasant smell. Its smell is not as strong as pine or apple firewood, but it is pleasant. It is gentle and noticeable; this is one of the reasons many people like it.
Heat Output And Efficiency
Tamarack has a BTU of 22.5 million per cord despite being a softwood. It burns hotter than some hardwoods and definitely longer than other softwoods like fir.
Generally, the denser the wood, the more heat it will produce. Tamarack is a very dense softwood as opposed to most conifers.
Fire Characteristics of Tamarack
All firewoods create creosote, especially when burned green. Tamarack will build up as much creosote as any other conifer if properly seasoned.
As long as you maintain your chimney or flue once a year regularly, you do not have to worry much about it.
Amount Of Smoke
Tamarack produces a low amount of smoke when dry, less than any other softwood to my knowledge. Any firewood would produce a lot of smoke if burnt green (freshly cut).
Does It Produce Coals And Why Is It Important
Coals are important because not only do they retain heat; they make it easy to start the fire the next day. While tamarack does not produce much ash, coal production is also on the lower side.
Since tamarack is softwood, it burns out fairly fast, not leaving many colas behind. In that aspect, birch firewood, or any variety of hardwood would be the choice before tamarack.
More on how to dispose of fireplaces ashes properly.
Is It Okay To Burn Tamarack In A Fireplace?
Yes, it is okay to burn tamarack in a fireplace. Tamarack is usable both out- and indoors, it burns hot, produces low smoke, and has a minimal creosote buildup.
However, it produces a lot of sparks, and it spits and pops rather excessively which is something to keep in mind if you have an open fireplace.
How Long To Season Tamarack
Tamarack is known for how quickly it dries. It doesn’t take as much time as expected regardless of its resing content that is above hardwoods like the black locust.
Seasoning tamarack takes about 6 months on the lower end in ideal conditions, but to stay on the safe side, 12 months would be the sweet spot.
Is Tamarack Expensive?
Softwoods are generally cheaper than hardwoods, and tamarack is not different. Currently, the price of tamarack is on the higher side. According to blackdirtcompany, for half a cord of split and seasoned tamarack, you can expect to pay 310USD plus delivery.
Pros And Cons of Using Tamarack as Firewood
- It has a BTU of 22.5 million per cord
- Low creosote buildup
- Produces low smoke
- Pleasant smell
- Rot-Resistant due to high resin content
- Produces a lot of sparks
- Fairly expensive compared to premuim hardwoods
How Does It Compare To Other Woods?
- BTU: Tamarack, unlike most softwoods, has a very high BTU of 22.5 million units per cord. It burns hot for softwood. Of course, as compared to hardwoods like oak, ash, and honey locust, its BTU not as high.
- Splitting Ease: Tamarack is a very dense softwood but it’s straight-grained and can be split very easily. It is easier to split than hackberry or even fir varieties that have more knots.
- Rot-Resistance: You will never go at a loss for stacking many logs of Tamarack for the seasons. Tamarack is more rot resistant than softweoods wothout resin content.
- Smoke And Creosote Buildup: Hardwoods generally produce less smoke and creosote buildup than softwoods; Tamarack can be said to be an exception. It produces very low amounts of smoke.
How To Identify Tamarack
Tamarack is a small to medium-sized boreal coniferous and deciduous tree. Mature Tamarack can reach up to 66 feet (20m) tall. Its soft needle-like leaves are light blue-green, and they turn golden yellow before they fall during autumn and regrow during spring. The bark is flaky, tight, sometimes reddish.
Is Tamarack good indoor firewood?
Yes, Tamarack is good indoor firewood because it burns hot and long, produces low smoke, and has a low creosote buildup. On the flip side, it sparks a lot so it is not suitable to use in an open fireplace.
How much does a cord of Tamarack weigh?
A cord of dry tamarack weighs around 3300 lbs per cord, and a cord of green tamarack weighs 4000 lbs per cord.
How much wood is in a cord?
One cord of stacked wood is equal to 128 cubic feet. It usually consists of 700 pieces of wood, depending on how the logs are split. The real amount of wood in a cord is much lower (AKA net cord). The net cord, the amount of wood in a cord without air spaces and bark per cord would equal 80-100 cubic feet.
How much is in a Rick of wood?
There are between 700 pieces of dry wood to be split per cord. A Rick of wood is technically 300 to 350 pieces of dry wood.
What’s the difference between softwood and hardwood?
Hardwoods come from flowering plants (angiosperms), while softwoods come from trees with needles and cones (gymnosperms). Hardwoods are denser than softwoods, and they burn longer and produce more heat than softwoods.
Tamarack is great firewood suitable for both indoor and outdoor use. While burning significantly longer than other softwoods, tamarack doesn’t produce much smoke, and its creosote buildup is low. Furthermore, its seasoning time is short, 6-12 months while also being rot-resistant for long terms storage.
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.