Is Locust Good for Firewood? – A Smart Choice for Winter

If you are looking for a reliable and efficient type of firewood to keep you warm during the cold season, you might want to consider locust wood. The trees are fast-growing and hardy trees that produce dense and durable wood that burns hot and long.

In this blog post, we will explore the characteristics, benefits, and drawbacks of using locust wood as firewood. We will also compare the wood with other common types of firewood and give you some tips on how to season, split, and store properly.

Ideal Choice for Kindling

Locust wood is one of the best types of firewood for several reasons. Here are some of the advantages of using it as firewood.

High heat output

firewood heat

Locust wood has a high BTU (British thermal unit) rating, which measures the amount of heat energy that a unit of wood can produce. According to various sources, black locust wood has a BTU rating of about 27.9 million BTU per cord, and honey locust wood has a BTU rating of about 26.7 million BTU per cord.

This means that this type of wood can produce more heat than most other types of firewood, such as oak, maple, birch, or pine.

Long burn time

This wood is recognized for its dense and hard nature, leading to a slow and steady burn. The length of time a cord of wood burns can differ based on its size and moisture content, but generally, it offers a long-lasting burn.

Moreover, locust wood produces coals that burn for an extended time, helping to sustain the fire’s duration effectively.

Low smoke and sparks

smoke

Burning locust wood is a relatively clean process, as it emits minimal smoke and sparks. This quality makes it an excellent choice for use in indoor fireplaces or wood stoves, and equally suitable for outdoor settings like fire pits or campfires.

Additionally, the wood releases a pleasant scent when burned, setting it apart from other firewood types that might emit unpleasant odors.

Rot Resistance

Locust wood boasts impressive resistance to decay and insect damage, attributed to its natural chemical composition that serves as a preservative. Its durability is remarkable, with the ability to withstand rot for many years, even under conditions of moisture or direct soil contact.

This resilience makes the wood a top choice for various outdoor applications, including fence posts, boat construction, flooring, outdoor furniture, and more.

Its Drawbacks

Despite its many benefits, locust wood also has some drawbacks that you should be aware of before using it as firewood.

Challenges with Splitting

Splitting locust wood can be a tough task, particularly when it’s green or wet. Its grain is often twisted and interlocking, making it resistant to being cut with standard tools like axes or chainsaws.

To effectively split the wood into usable pieces, you might need to use a hydraulic splitter or a heavy-duty maul. Additionally, it’s advisable to wear gloves and protective gear to prevent injuries from thorns or splinters that wood may have.

Extended Seasoning Period

seasoning

Locust wood requires a notably long time to properly dry and season, often exceeding a year. Burning the wood that hasn’t been adequately seasoned can lead to reduced heat output, increased smoke, and higher creosote production.

Creosote is a combustible and sticky substance that can accumulate in chimneys or flues, posing a significant fire hazard. It’s important to verify the moisture content of locust wood before burning, ensuring it’s below 20%.

Availability Concerns

Locust wood may not be readily available in some regions, particularly outside North America. Finding locust wood for sale locally can be challenging, and it might come at a higher cost.

Additionally, there may be local regulations governing the harvesting or transportation of the wood, as certain locust tree species are considered invasive or protected in some areas.

Comparison with Other Types

Different Firewood

If you want to compare locust wood with other types of firewood, you can use the following table as a reference. The table shows the BTU rating, weight, and quality of 15 common types of firewood, based on various sources.

The quality is rated from 1 (poor) to 4 (high), based on factors such as heat output, burn time, smoke, sparks, splitting, seasoning, and availability.

Rank Species BTUs Weight/Cord (lbs) Quality
1 Black Locust 27.9 4028 4
2 Hickory 27.7 4016 4
3 Oak (White) 26.4 4200 4
4 Honey Locust 26.7 3796 4
5 Beech 26.8 3844 4
6 Ash 24.2 3180 4
7 Mulberry 25.8 3588 4
8 Black Cherry 20.4 2740 3
9 Maple (Hard) 23.9 3340 3
10 Black Walnut 22.2 3140 3
11 Birch 20.8 2936 2
12 Sycamore 24.1 2804 2
13 Maple (Soft) 19 2692 2
14 Elm 20 2804 2
15 Pine (Southern Yellow) 22 2884 2

As you can see from the table, locust wood ranks among the top types of firewood in terms of heat output, weight, and quality. However, you may also want to consider other factors, such as the availability, cost, and personal preference of the firewood you choose.

Effective Ways to Season, , and Store the Wood

If you decide to use locust wood as firewood, you need to follow some steps to ensure that you get the best results from your firewood.

1. Seasoning Wood

  • Purpose: Seasoning reduces the wood’s moisture content, enhancing its burn quality.
  • How-To: Cut the wood into 16 to 18-inch (40 to 45 cm) pieces. Stack them in a sunny, airy spot. Cover the top with a tarp or a roof for protection against rain or snow, but keep the sides open for ventilation.
  • Duration: Season for at least one year or until moisture content is below 20%.
  • Moisture Check: Use a moisture meter or look for physical signs like cracks, color changes, or loose bark to gauge readiness.

2. Splitting Wood

Split Wood

  • Process: Splitting makes the wood easier to burn and fit into your heating unit.
  • Tools Needed: Use a sharp, heavy axe, maul, or hydraulic splitter.
  • Best Time: Split when the wood is green or wet, as it hardens when dry.
  • Safety Measures: Wear gloves and protective gear to prevent injuries from thorns or splinters.
  • Size for Use: Split into pieces about 6 inches (15 cm) in diameter, suitable for your fireplace or stove.

3. Storing Wood

  • Goal: Keep the wood dry and safe until use.
  • Storage Tips: Place in a shed, garage, barn, or under a cover, off the ground, and away from moisture, insects, and rodents.
  • Stacking: Leave space between stacks for airflow to avoid mold.
  • Storage Duration: Store for at least a year or until ready for use.

FAQ

Can it be used in all types of fireplaces and stoves?

Yes, locust wood is suitable for most fireplaces and stoves due to its high heat output and low smoke production. However, always check your appliance’s guidelines to ensure compatibility.

Does it emit any specific aroma when burned?

Locust wood typically emits a mild, somewhat sweet aroma when burned, which many find pleasant compared to other types of firewood.

Is it eco-friendly compared to other firewood?

Locust trees grow rapidly and are abundant in some regions, making locust wood a more sustainable choice compared to slower-growing hardwoods.

How does its heat output compare to traditional firewood like oak or maple?

Locust wood has a higher BTU rating than many traditional firewoods, including oak and maple, making it a more efficient heat source.

Are there any special considerations for storing it outdoors?

When storing locust wood outdoors, ensure it’s elevated off the ground and covered to protect it from rain and snow while allowing air circulation to prevent mold.

Can it be used immediately after cutting, or does it require seasoning?

Locust wood needs to be seasoned before use. It should be dried for at least a year or until its moisture content is below 20% for optimal burning efficiency.

Final Words

Locust wood is a smart choice for firewood, as it has many advantages over other types of firewood. The wood has a high heat output, a long burn time, low smoke and spark production, and rot resistance.

However, locust wood also has some drawbacks, such as the difficulty in splitting, the long seasoning time, and the limited availability. Therefore, you should weigh the pros and cons of using the wood as firewood, and compare it with other types of firewood that suit your needs and preferences.

If you decide to use locust wood as firewood, you should follow the tips on how to season, split, and store the wood properly to get the best results from your firewood. We hope that this blog post has helped you learn more about locust wood and its use as firewood.

Thank you for reading and stay warm!