Is Ponderosa Pine Good Firewood?

As the most widely distributed pine varieties available in North America, ponderosa pine (Pinus ponderosa) is often discussed in firewood communities. It is a very large tree, growing as tall as 235 ft. So, how does it do as firewood?

While ponderosa pine is not the worst performing firewood, it no not the best. For a pine species, ponderosa pine performs well, generating a BTU of 17.1. It is also a heat-resistant wood, so you will be able to enjoy its flames for longer than most pine fires.

is ponderosa pine good as firewood

What Are The Varieties Of Ponderosa Pine Wood?

Even though ponderosa pine does not have varieties of its own, it is very similar to Jeffery pine when used as firewood

You may hear ponderosa pine more commonly referred to as yellow pine, bull pine, or blackjack pine.

What Are The Physical Characteristics Of Ponderosa Pine Wood?

NamePonderosa pine
Heat per cord (Million BTUs)17.1
Weight dry (lbs per cord)2475
Weight green (lbs per cord)3825
Seasoning time6 – 12 months
Resin/ Sap ContentHigh
Splitting DifficultyEasy
SmokeLow – Moderate
SmellVanilla / Butterscotch
Coal ProductionGood quality
Creosote Build-upLow – Moderate

Is it Easy To Split?

Ponderosa pine is better to split after being seasoned for a few reasons. Though the biggest is that there will be less messy sap to content with. Even if you do wait to split it, ensure that you wear clothes you don’t mind getting messy in.

You should also use a hydraulic splitter to split ponderosa pine. Some ponderosa pine trees develop a lot of knots while growing, so a hydraulic splitter will just make the whole processing of the wood easier.

Sap Content

Every type of pine tree contains high levels of sap – it is one of the pine’s most defining characteristics.

As for ponderosa pine, it too does produce lots of sap. But it is one of the most resinous pine firewoods available. This means that it will burn slightly more aggressively than other pine woods.

What Does it Smell Like?

If you like the smell of baked goods and butterscotch around your home, then you will be pleasantly surprised by the smell of ponderosa.

Typically, pine trees produce a foresty fragrance that is commonly associated with the holidays. So, the aroma of a ponderosa pine makes a nice change.

Moisture Levels

Ponderosa pine can sometimes have a slightly higher moisture content than you would expect of a pine. But still not as high as the white pine variety.

Moisture is not the main issue of pine but rather the levels of sap it produces. Ponderosa pine will dry out quickly so even if you do find its wood to be wet, it will not take long to season.

Heat Output and Efficiency

For a pine, ponderosa pine does provide some decently heated flames. Some estimate that it can reach a BTU output of 17.1 despite being a low-density wood.

This ranks it as moderately hot pine firewood, falling just below lodgepole pine which produces a BTU of 17.7. Ponderosa pine will not provide anywhere near the level of heat that hardwoods will.

Fire Characteristics Of Ponderosa Pine 

Now that you know what to expect from ponderosa pine wood, what kind of fire will it create?

Creosote build-up

Due to the exceedingly high levels of resin and sap that ponderosa pine producers, there is a high chance of it producing a lot of creosote. As is the case for all pine firewood.

The less time that wood has to burn, the less creosote it will be able to produce in that short amount of time.

So, while ponderosa pine can cause a significant creosote build-up, it will not be a problem if used as shouldering wood during warmer weather.

Amount Of Smoke

Ponderosa pine does not produce any more smoke than any other pine. It will smoke more the less time It has to season, as is the way for most firewood.

But ponderosa pine will not create anywhere near as much smoke as most poplar woods tend to make.

Does It Produce Coals?

Pine generally produces few good coals, which is why it tends to burn out quicker than hardwoods like oak. However, ponderosa pine produces some of the best resinous coals of any pine variety.

Better yet, due to being so high in resin, ponderosa pine coals will allow you to build a slow-burning fire. The coals will not serve the ponderosa pine itself many favors, but its coals will provide a setup for a better fire.

Is It Okay To Burn Ponderosa Pine In A Fireplace?

As a wood of a lower density, ponderosa pine will not burn for as long as a dense hardwood will (e.g oak). However, it does tend to resist heat well, meaning that it will not burn out as quickly as poplar or fir.

This makes it a good wood to use in your fireplace when you want to achieve quick heat. Especially because it catches the light very quickly.  

By adding hardwood on top of ponderosa pine, you will create a long-lasting, hot flame to heat your home overnight.

on the other hand, you should be considerate of how long you let ponderosa pine burn in your fireplace. It has a tendency to create high levels of creosote if left to burn for too long.

Furthermore, because of the high resin content, it also pops and cracks more than non-resinous woods., creating another set of issues. In short, it should only be burned in a closed fireplace.

How Long To Season Ponderosa Pine Wood?

Even though ponderosa pine is high in sap, it is moderately low in moisture. That is why it will only take 6-12 months to fully season.

Though if you would prefer to leave it to the season for longer, you can. Ponderosa pine is more resistant to rot than lodgepole or white pine, so you can leave it outside for longer.

Pros And Cons Of Using Ponderosa Pine as Firewood


  • Moderately heat resistant
  • Good quality coals
  • Pleasant smell
  • Little smoke


  • Messy to split
  • Very resinous
  • Burns agressively
  • Cracks and sparks

How Does Ponderosa Pine Compare To Other Firewood?

When compared to other pine species like white pine, ponderosa pine performs very well. It can produce moderate heat and smells amazing. Its biggest downfall is its short burning time, though that is to be expected of a pine.

As is the case when comparing softwoods to hardwoods, ponderosa pine is should not be a preferred heating choice if you want to keep a warm house all night.

However, ponderosa pine can produce high-quality coals, which other softwoods such as cedar struggle to do.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Where Does Ponderosa Pine Grow? 

Though it is the most widely distribute pine variety in North America, ponderosa pine does favor western, mountainous regions of the United States. That is why you may also hear ponderosa called western yellow pine.

How To Make Pine Wood Burn For Longer? 

Pine is as softwood so will burn out quickly. That is why it is recommended that you mix it in with hardwood to keep a fire going for longer.


Ponderosa pine does make for decent firewood, though mostly for what it can produce rather than the heat it provides. Burning ponderosa pine will make your home smell delicious and will allow hardwood to last longer due to its resinous coals.

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