Pine trees (pinus) are the most common tree in the entire world. The classification of pine covers a range of conifer trees, shrubs and geniuses, though the pine most often used for firewood is the evergreen variety.
With the ability to live up to 1000 years, civilizations have been using pine for a whole range of tasks for years. But how does pine do as firewood?
What sets pine apart from other firewood is its extremely high sap and resin contents. That is why most people say that pine is not worth the preparation effort to be used as firewood. It generates some of the least effective fires compared to any wood.
What Are The Varieties Of Pine Wood?
Put for the over 126 species of pine available around the world, there is only a handful that used as firewood in the US:
White pine firewood – It is one of the less efficient pine firewoods but is available in abundance, particularly in the east.
Ponderosa pine firewood – Out of all the pine varieties, ponderosa is the most widely available throughout the whole of the US. It also produces a decent amount of heat for pine.
Lodgepole pine firewood – As one of the slower-growing pine varieties, lodgepole pine has a denser wood.
What Are The Physical Characteristics Of Pine Wood?
|Heat per cord (Million BTUs)||15.2 – 20.7|
|Weight dry (lbs per cord)||2210 – 4243|
|Weight green (lbs per cord)||2975 – 4760|
|Seasoning time||6 – 12 months|
|Resin/ Sap Content||Very high|
|Coal Production||Very poor|
The sap that pine produces is extremely messy and will stick to anything it touches. This makes for a very unpleasant splitting experience.
Though if you can work past the sap, then splitting seasoned pine is very easy.
As a greenwood, pine does tend to be tough to split. But it is nothing that a hydraulic splitter can’t handle.
Probably the highest level of sap in any usable firewood, pine is a very messy, resinous wood. This is the main reason why many people stay away from pine when choosing their firewood for the winter.
There is little you can do to reduce the amount of sap that pine has. But, if you harvest pine during the winter season, there tends to be a little less sap.
Perhaps the best characteristic of pine is the amazing smell that it produces. Many candles’ scents are based on the smell of pine wood.
When burnt, pine’s aroma perfectly captures the smell of a thriving forest. It is a nutty, fruity, earthy mix of fragrances, often reminiscent of the festive season.
Pine prefers dry, well-drained soils and so does not require a lot of water to grow. This is reflected in the low moisture levels of its wood.
It is the low moisture level along with low density that allows pine to dry out quickly.
Heat Output and Efficiency
For the most part, pine is a very poorly performing firewood. Even the varieties that do generate more heat like Norway pine and Sand pine only create a BTU of 20.7.
Some types of pine can create a BTU as high as 29.2 but rarely will you find such pine in North America. Oak still outperforms every type of pine firewood.
Pine is a very low-density wood and so burns up quickly. That is part of the reason that it produces such low BTU on average, as it doesn’t have the time nor capabilities to maintain heat.
Fire Characteristics Of Pine
So, in what situations can pine to be used? And how effective is its fire?
Due to pine being one of the sappiest firewoods available, it consequently is most prone to creating high levels of creosote.
Creosote is a very flammable, hard-to-remove black tar substance that is produced as a by-product of burning wood. If you leave creosote to build up in your fireplace and chimney for too long, you are putting yourself in danger.
That is why you should never use pine as the primary source of heat when burning on an indoor fireplace. Creosote build-up is less of an issue with outdoor campfires.
Amount Of Smoke
It is the high levels of oils and sap produced by pine that create a moderate amount of smoke when burnt.
Some people claim that pine smoke is overwhelming while others have found it to be manageable. But, if you leave pine to season for long enough, you will be able to reduce some of the smoke to make it more manageable.
Does It Produce Coals?
You will not get many decent coals out of pine when it burns.
It is one of the worst firewood for producing coals as it burns too quickly to create any. The few that it does create will not add any value to your fire.
Use oak or maple firewood to help create high-quality coals that can keep your fire going even when the wood is running low.
Is It Okay To Burn Pine In A Fireplace?
No, pine is not okay to burn in a fireplace. In fact, most firewood fanatics would advise against burning any kind of conifers in an indoor fireplace.
Because of the sap pockets inside the pine, it tends to throw a lot of sparks, similarly to fir.
The amount of creosote it produces just creates too high of a risk for indoor burning. Not to mention the low heat that it creates for the short time that it burns. Pine is not worth the mess it will create.
However, as an outdoor kindling choice, pine thrives. There is no need to worry about creosote build-up when burning pine in an outdoor fire and it pops and cracks, creating a nice outdoor camping atmosphere.
If you are wanting to burn pine because of the aroma it can create in your home, buy a pine-scented candle or settle for tulip poplar.
How Long To Season Pine Wood?
Despite its resinous values, pinewood does dry out relatively quickly. You can expect to have seasoned pine ready to burn within 6 – 12 months.
Its quick seasoning time is mostly because of the low density and low water content in green wood.
Pine is not prone to rotting, so you can store it for kindling and campfires for a few seasons before running into issues.
Is Pine Firewood Expensive?
Pine is actually moderately expensive firewood. According to Californiafirewoodsd, for a cord, you can expect to pay a hefty 380USD
Pros And Cons Of Using Pine as Firewood
- Quick seasoning
- Good kindling
- Easy splitting
- Pleasant smell
- High Creosote Production
- Extremely resinous
- Quick to rot
- Moderate smoke
- Very messy
How Does Pine Compare To Other Firewood?
As a softwood, it is expected that pine would not perform as well as hardwood. But even for a softwood, its lowest BTU of 15.2 is incredibly low.
There are plenty of other more effective softwoods out there that will make for better firewood. Silver maple or poplar for example are considerably better options.
Pine is arguably one of the most dangerous firewood available to buy due to the amount of creosote it produces when burnt. To avoid the sticky, dangerous issues that pine presents, use hardwood like oak, maple, and black locust.
Frequently Asked Questions:
How Often Should You Remove Creosote Build Up?
It is recommended that you get your chimney and flues cleaned professionally at least once a year. If you are burning firewood often (especially firewood that builds up creosote quickly) then you will want to get it serviced a few times a year.
What Is The Best Way To Stack Firewood?
You will want to make sure that your firewood has enough spaces between each log for air to pass through. This will allow your firewood to season.
A commonly used stacking method is to create a crisscross pattern with your wood, bark downwards while ensuring that plenty of air can breeze through.
Most people believe that pine isn’t worth the effort of preparation as pine contains too much resin. It is also a very unsafe wood to burn indoors so is often discarded by those wanting to warm their homes for the winter.
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.