Osage orange (Maclura pomifera) is more commonly referred to as the hedge tree. This is because it will not grow very tall at all but does have a traditional use as a windbreaker.
They can be found all over the US but are not harvested for their fruits in the same way that their name’s sake is. So, can you use Osage orange as firewood instead?
When only considering a firewood’s heat output, osage orange is one of the best with a very high BTU of 32.9. However, it is very high in sap which means that it creates far more smoke and creosote than other hardwoods.
What Are The Varieties Of Osage Orange
While Osage orange grows all over North America, it does not have notable varieties.
What Are The Physical Characteristics Of Osage Orange
|Heat per cord (Million BTUs)||32.9|
|Weight dry (lbs per cord)|
|Weight green (lbs per cord)||5270|
|Seasoning time||1 -2 years|
|Resin / Sap content||High|
Does its Wood Split Easily?
Osage orange wood grows with spiky, thick thorns that are a nightmare to remove. These thorns can make it difficult (and dangerous!) to split the wood.
Make sure to use protective gear when splitting Osage wood and use a hydraulic splitter if you can.
No matter what tool you use to split Osage orange, it is best to split it while it is still green. When seasoned, its wood will become extremely dense and will be basically impossible to split.
How Much Sap Does It Have?
The sap content of Osage orange wood is extremely high.
Though some of the sap it produces is distributed its bright yellow fruit, Osage orange wood will still hold a lot of sap.
How Does The Wood Smell?
It is the light citrusy smell that gives Osage orange its name and not because it has any relations to orange trees.
Heat Output And Efficiency Of Osage Orange
Osage orange is one of the hottest burning woods in North America with an excellent BTU of 32.9. This is more heat than some coal is able to produce.
Fire Characteristics Of Osage Orange
The heavy density of Osage orange means that it can burn for an extremely long time while holding steady heat. The good quality coals that it produces throughout its burn helps to keep its fire going for a long time.
However, the very high levels of sap within Osage orange wood means that it tends to smoke a lot for hardwood.
Even once the wood has been seasoned, a substantial amount of sap remains. This sap sticks to chimneys and flutes once burnt, creating an excessive build-up of creosote.
Is It Okay To Burn Osage Orange In A Fireplace?
You could burn Osage orange in a fireplace if you wanted to, but it can be dangerous if not monitored.
The high levels of sap mean that it will spark a considerable amount. Likewise, you will have to dispose of fireplace creosote more regularly for the same reason.
However, Osage orange does burn extremely hot. If you have it and need some heat in the middle of winter, then you can use Osage orange as a heating source. However, it is best to butn it in a closed log burner rater than in an open fireplace.
How Expensive Is Osage Orange Firewood?
According to woodchuckfirewood.com, for a rick cord of split osage orange you can expect to pay 120USD. A Rick cord is 1/3 of a cord so 120USD per rick cord would turn up to be 360 USD for a full cord of wood.
How Long To Season Osage Orange
There is little that can be done about the high sap content of Osage wood, but it is still important to make sure that it reaches a moisture content of below 20%.
Seasoned firewood will burn better and will create less smoke. In the case of Osage orange, it will take roughly a year to reach peak burning levels.
Some say that you should wait 2 years before burning Osage orange. Seeing as it is rot-resistant, you can wait as long as you want to burn the wood.
Pros And Cons of Osage Orange Wood
- Highly effective heat
- Pleasant smell
- Rot resistant
- Widely available
- Good coals
- High levels of sap
- Difficult to process
- Excessive smoke and creosote production
How Does Osage Orange Compare To Other Firewood?
Osage orange is one of the hottest burning hardwoods available in North America, burning hotter than most oak and hickory varieties. However, in comparison, it is poor firewood due to the amount of smoke and creosote it produces.
It is a wood that has an abundance of sap that hinders its desirability. Though it does not have as much sap as pine.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Can I Burn Osage Orange On A Stove?
It is better not to burn Osage orange on a stove as it sparks and smokes too much.
Can I Eat Osage Orange Fruits?
The fruit produced by Osage orange smell awful when damaged and so are not really edible. They will not harm you if you do eat them.
What Firewood Can Cool Hotter Burning Firewoods?
Mixing cooler burning firewoods with those that burn too hot will help to control the fire while ensuring not over loading your fireplace. Maple is still very good firewood but will help to manage hickory or Osage orange from getting too hot.
Osage orange is up there with hickory in terms of heat production but fails to provide a clean-burning fire. This is why it is not particularly popular firewood as oak, but it will keep your home warm throughout the winter nevertheless.
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.