Is Walnut Good Firewood?

Known for producing delicious nuts, walnut trees (juglans) are part of the Juglandaceae family. This makes it related to hickory and pecan species. As well as their culinary and ornamental purposes, walnut can also be used as firewood.

Walnut is good quality firewood. As a hardwood, it generates enough BTU to keep you warm but does not burn too hot. It creates high-quality coals that can be used to keep a fire going all night. Because of easy preparation and good burning qualities, walnut wood is an excellent firewood choice.

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What Are The Varieties Of Walnut Wood?

With more than 20 varieties of walnut all over the world, here are only 2 types that are commonly used as firewood in North America:

  • Black walnut – As a popular furniture wood, black walnut is not as common a firewood as other walnut types but is still an exemplary hardwood
  • English walnut – Also known as the Persian walnut, English walnut is native to Iran but now grows in abundance in North America. It is this verity that is widely cultivated for its famous nuts

What Are The Physical Characteristics Of Walnut Wood?

NameWalnut
Heat per cord (Million BTUs)23.8 – 24.4
Weight dry (lbs per cord)3448 – 3536
Weight green (lbs per cord)4675 – 4930
Seasoning time18 – 24 months
Resin/ Sap ContentModerate
Splitting DifficultyEasy
SmokeMinimal
SmellPleasant
Coal ProductionGood
Creosote Build-upLittle

Is Walnut Easy To Split?

Allowing your walnut wood to season before you split it will make the task run a lot smoother. However, if you are splitting a walnut that has grown in an urban area, you may have more difficulties splitting it.

Urban walnut trees grow twisted and knotty, making for a harder split. But if you chop a walnut tree that has grown straight and tall, splitting it will be extremely easy.

Sap Content

Walnut is not an evergreen wood, so does not produce a lot of sap. It may create more in the warmer months as most trees do, but it will not cause any issues from the firewood aspect.

What Does It Smell Like?

If you are a fan of the smell of pine, then you will also like the aroma that walnut creates. It is a very pleasant, nutty smell but is not too overwhelming.

For a sweeter-smelling wood, go with sugar maple or cherry.

Heat Output And Efficiency Of Walnut

When it comes to heat efficiency, walnut is doing very well. It is a moderately dense wood, so lasts longer than most softwoods such as cedar, pine, or fir. It also has a greater heat output.

English walnut variety can reach a BTU of 24.4. This is on par with California black oak and is a higher BTU than most maple woods. Though it does burn down quicker than oak and maple typically do.

As for black walnut, you can expect a slightly lower BTU of 23.8. This is still an excellent source of heat, better than red maple and magnolia for example.

Fire Characteristics Of Walnut

With low resin content, walnut does not produce many sparks. However, it’s dense enough wood to create some high-quality coals when burned in a controlled environment like a log burner. Depending on the size of the logs you burn, walnut can burn through the cold winter nights, laying a nice bed of goals to reignite the fire in the next morning.

Walnut will not produce as many coals as oak, but the coals it does create are of good quality. Out of the walnut varieties mentioned, Black walnut is especially good when it comes to coal production.

Does Walnut Burn Clean?

Generally, walnut has a manageable amount of moisture that will require at least a year to fully season. Once walnut has been seasoned, it is known to be clean-burning firewood with minimal amounts of smoke.

Because of the low levels of smoke walnut creates, it will also produce significantly less creosote than pine or cedar. This is because of the lower sap content, there are fewer smoke particles created to stick to the inside of your chimney.

Is It Okay To Burn Walnut In A Fireplace?

Walnut is a good, safe wood to burn in a fireplace. Its lack of sap and moisture makes for a manageable fire with few sparks, similar to Bradford pear.

It can burn at an excellent 24.4 million BTUs – the perfect amount of heat to keep warm during winter without getting overheated.

How Long To Season Walnut Wood?

As a denser hardwood, walnut needs a few years to dry out. Though some people have reported walnut ready to burn after seasoning it for only 12 months, it is unusual to achieve the required results faster than 18-24 months.

Firewood needs to reach a moisture level of below 20%. Any higher than that you will find the firewood does not want to burn well and tends to sizzle while producing loads of smoke.

Is Walnut Wood Expensive?

Since walnut is firewood with medium BTU, it’s also priced similarly to firewood in the same class. According to cordsofwood.com, a cord of walnut will set you back 400USD.

Pros And Cons Of Using Walnut As Firewood

Pros:

  • Excellent heat
  • Very good coals
  • Minimal smoke
  • Safe for fireplaces
  • Easy to split

Con:

  • Fairly long seasoning period

How Does Walnut Compare To Other Firewood?

If you are looking for a bit milder fire than that of oak or locusts wood produces, then walnut is an excellent choice. It has similar characteristics when it comes to burning quality while producing slightly less heat.

It also has a pleasant fragrance that is not overwhelmingly sweet like sugar maple or cherry can be.

With a lack of sap and long seasoning time, walnut can is a safe wood to burn in a fireplace.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Is Walnut Firewood Toxic?

It is no more harmful to humans than any other firewood. Some people believe that walnut firewood is toxic to burn as walnut can be harmful to other plants growing around it.

How To Tell If A Firewood Is Seasoned?

While you could estimate a firewood’s readiness by eye, it is best to use a moisture meter to really ensure that wood is ready to burn.

Should I Split Firewood Before Seasoning It?

There is really not a right or wrong answer to this question, though as a rule of thumb, hardwoods such as oak, locust, and walnut should be split before seasoning, while softwoods like fir and pine should have some time to season beforehand.

Conclusion

A walnut’s most favorable quality is its coals which burn hot enough to fuel a warm fire for hours. Though you may have to use softwood such as a poplar to help get the fire started, walnut is excellent firewood to use throughout the harshest months of the winter.