Is Alder Good for Firewood?

Alder trees are known for having both male and female flowers on the same tree. The tree has rounded pear-shaped leaves and reddish-brown bark.

It is widely available in North America, Europe, and Asia. Alder wood has many uses including furniture, flooring, and even smoking food.

Alder Trees

However, you may be wondering if alder is good for firewood.

The answer is no. Alder is not a good firewood choice. It has low heat per cord value(17.5 Million BTUs) compared to other hardwoods.

The wood is too soft and typically has a high moisture content creating considerably more smoke than most other woods. Alder also generates a moderate amount of spark which isn’t as safe as other options.

Although alder wood is easy to split, it is known to produce red sticky sap which gives the tree its name. If it is not harvested at the right time, this sap can make the wood difficult to light and cause it to produce more smoke.

What characteristics does Alder firewood have?

Alder trees improve soils by supplying nitrogen and protecting against soil erosion. That is why alders are often planted in riparian buffers to stabilize stream banks and improve water quality.

There are many different types of alder trees including:

However, one thing all these types of alder have in common is that they grow quickly. In fact, alder is considered one of the fastest-growing trees in North America.

Now let’s take a look at all the characteristics of alder firewood.

Low Heat Value

When wood is burned in a fireplace, the heat produced is called the “heat value.” The higher the heat value, the more British thermal units (BTUs) of heat the wood will produce.

Adler has a low heat value of 17.5 million BTUs per cord which is much lower than other hardwoods such as maple (25.5 million BTUs), apple (27 million BTUs), or oak (26.2 million BTUs).

However, alder has a slightly better heat value than white pine (15.9 million BTUs) or spruce (15.5 million BTUs).

Burns Quickly

Alder wood is considered a “softwood” because it comes from coniferous or cone-bearing trees. Softwoods tend to have a lower density than hardwoods and burn more quickly.

What that means for you is that alder wood will need to be replenished more often than other woods if you’re using it as your primary source of heat.

For that reason, alder shouldn’t be used as your only source of heat, but rather as a supplemental source.

Sustainable source

Alder is a sustainable wood source that supports sustainable forestry practices because it grows quickly, making it a more environmentally friendly option than many other wood sources.

That means it can be replanted and harvested more often without damaging the environment.

bud and young leaves of alder

Many experts consider alder to be a weed tree because it grows so quickly. That is why alder is often used in reclamation projects. Thus, if you are looking for sustainable firewood, alder is a good choice.

Low priced

Alder is a good choice for people who are looking for an affordable option. It has a moderate price tag compared to other types of wood.

Since the tree grows quickly, it can be harvested quickly and is, therefore, less expensive.

Easy To Split

chopped alder wood

Alder is considered softwood, which means it is easier to split than hardwoods. That is because the wood is not as dense.

What that means for you is that it will be easier to get the firewood ready for your fireplace. You most likely don’t need an electric log splitter for alder wood. A splitting maul or ax should do the trick.

High moisture content

One of the biggest drawbacks of alder is that it has a high moisture content. That means it will produce a lot of smoke when burned.

Burning firewood Smoke

This is what experts classify as “smoldering firewood.” What that means is that it doesn’t produce a lot of flames when burned. Instead, it smolders and produces a lot of smoke.

Since the alder produces a red sticky sap, it can be difficult to light. The firewood should be thoroughly seasoned by letting it dry out for at least a year before burning.

Harvesting should be done at the right time to reduce the sap content. The best time to harvest alder firewood is in the late fall or early winter when the sap content is at its lowest.

Generates sparks

Firewood that generates sparks can be dangerous because it can easily start a fire in your yard or even inside your home.

Alder is one of the firewood types that generate sparks. If you are looking for wood that doesn’t produce sparks, then you should avoid alder.


Although alder doesn’t have a high heat value, produces smoke, and generates smoke, it has steel-redeeming qualities.

It is a more sustainable source of wood than many other options, it’s easy to split, and it’s affordable.

If you are looking for the best possible option in terms of heat output and efficiency, alder wood is not the best choice. There are other options available that will suit your needs better.

If you are looking for an affordable, sustainable option for firewood, alder is a good choice.

Just be sure to season it properly and harvest it at the right time to reduce the sap content. And, most importantly, use it as a supplemental source of heat.