Is Sugar Maple Good Firewood?

As the primary source of maple syrup, sugar maple (Acer saccharinum) can grow as old as 300 years old. They are a tree more climatized to eastern areas of North America and are popular firewood for anyone living in those areas. Why is that?

Sugar maple is good quality firewood that can generate as much heat as some varieties of oak and can last just as long with an impressive BTU of 26.8. It is by far the best performing maple firewood, but it also comes with its own problem of excessive smoke while being difficult to process.

is sugar maple good as firewood

What Are The Varieties Of Sugar Maple Wood?

Sugar maple does not have any varieties of its own as it is a variety of maple. But sugar maple goes by many other names, such as:

  • Maple sweet
  • Hard maple
  • Birdseye maple
  • Rock maple

What Are The Physical Characteristics Of Sugar Maple Wood?

NameSugar maple
Heat per cord (Million BTUs)26.8
Weight dry (lbs per cord)3890
Weight green (lbs per cord)4760
Seasoning time18-24 months
Resin/ Sap ContentHigh
Splitting DifficultyDifficult
SmellPleasantly sweet
Coal ProductionVery Good
Creosote Build-upModerate

Is Sugar Maple Easy To Split?

Compared to red maple and silver maple firewood, sugar maple is difficult to split, even when green.

Still, it will be easier to split a fresh piece of sugar maple wood with a hydraulic splitter when it is green, so split sugar maple before seasoning it.

Sap Content

As the most commonly tapped source of maple syrup out of any maple species, sugar maple has a very high sap content -higher than any other maple tree in North America.

If you harvest a sugar maple at the right time of year, then you can avoid the high levels of sap in your firewood.

Sugar maple is tapped in spring. So, for lower sap content, harvest sugar maple in summer or fall before its sap reserves start building up again.  

How Does It Smell?

It is to be expected that sugar maple produces a very sweet fragrance.

The sweet smell is more present than when red or silver maple, but still not as overwhelming as pine can be. That is why people prefer the aroma that sugar maple produces, as it is not suffocating.

Moisture Levels

Just like most maple firewood, sugar maples do contain a fair bit of moisture but are able to try out quicker than locusts or oak.

The less moisture and sap content a tree has, the less likely they are to smoke, creating more efficient firewood. That is why oak is a common choice of firewood, as it contains less water and sugar than sugar maple and many other alternatives.

Heat Output and Efficiency

Out of all the species of maple, sugar maple is by far the most efficient. It is able to produce a high BTU of 26.8 which is just as good as some oak varieties for burning.

This heat is then maintained for hours at a time without the need for any additional wood. If you want to get your money’s worth of firewood, then sugar maple is a great choice.

Although you will need to use kindling that can ignite easily as sugar maple struggles to do so.

Fire Characteristics Of Sugar Maple 

So what situation can sugar maple be used in? And how good is its fire?

Creosote build-up

Unfortunate, sugar maple is prone to high levels of creosote.

It is the abundance of sap that sugar maple contains that then burns out of the wood and into your fireplace. This burning sap creates a sticky-tar substance which is creosote.

Sugar maple is much more likely to make creosote stuck to flutes and chimneys as red maple logs would. Still, make sure to clean out your fireplace regularly to prevent any fires.

Amount Of Smoke

Typically, maple wood produces smoke with some varieties such as silver maple being cleaner-burning firewood. However, sugar maple is known to create a little more smoke than other maple types.

The amount of smoke isn’t really the issue but rather the type of smoke that sugar maple can create.

Excessive smoke production can be prevented by allowing your sugar maple to dry out fully before burning and harvesting it at the right time of the year.

Either way, you will want to burn sugar maple in a log burner rather than a fireplace.

Does It Produce Coals?

Maple is one of the best wood types for creating high-quality coals, and sugar maple is no different.

It is the quality and number of coals produced that allow sugar maple to burn for as long as it does. The coals essentially add more fuel to the fire.

Though sugar maple coals are not necessarily better quality than red maple coals, they are better than the coals produced by tamarack firewood.

Is It Okay To Burn Sugar Maple In A Fireplace?

Despite the high amounts of sap that sugar maple contains, it creates very few sparks when burnt. Not more than that of oak or ash.

The only problem you may run into with using sugar maple in a fireplace is the levels of smoke that it can produce.

The longer you leave the wood to season, the less smoke there will be. But you burn sugar maple while it is still moist, you will certainly notice that it produces a fair bit of smoke.

That is why many people burn sugar maple on a log burner or outdoors rather than an open indoor fireplace.

That would be the only downside of using sugar maple as firewood

How Long To Season Sugar Maple Wood?

With one of the highest sap contents out of the maple family, sugar maple will take a little longer to dry than silver or red maple. This is because seasoning a wood reduces the amount of water and sap in a wood, not just water like some people think.

Even with its higher sap content, the sugar maple can be ready for burning within 2 years.

You will not want to wait to use your supply of sugar maple as it is very likely to rot if not used quickly enough. So, do not let it sit longer than 3-4 years.

Pros And Cons Of Using Sugar Maple as Firewood


  • Highly efficient wood
  • Pleasant aroma
  • Low moisture content
  • Long burning time
  • Fast seasoning time


  • Suffocating smoke
  • Difficult to split

How Does Sugar Maple Compare To Other Firewood?

Sugar maple is by far the most efficient firewood to come from the maple family. Its 26.8 BTU compares to that of oak, and it can burn for just as long.

However, oak has a lower sap content than sugar maple so is better suited for everyday use.

The aroma that sugar maple creates is certainly stronger than the smell of silver or red maple, but not overwhelming like so poplar wood can be. Likewise, sugar maple creates fewer sparks than many other firewoods out there.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What firewood makes the best kindling? 

Softwoods are more likely to catch fire quicker as they are less dense than hardwoods. So, poplar, fir, and some cedar varieties will make good kindling.

How To Prevent Firewood From Rotting? 

Some firewood is just more prone to rotting than others, but by keeping them in a dry storage place and lifted off of the ground, they will not rot as quickly.

What Is The Difference Between Hardwood And Softwood? 

Hardwood is mostly derived from trees that shed their leaves every year, whereas softwood is categorized as evergreen trees that do not shed their leaves.


Sugar maple is the most highly rated firewood to burn. It has great properties like a high BTU rating and high coal production. The main issue with sugar maple is that it has a very sugar-rich sap which creates more smoke than other, similarly classed hardwoods.

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