Is Aspen Good for Firewood?

Aspen is a medium-sized deciduous tree endemic to cold locations with high altitudes and is mostly found in North America. It grows fast and when left matures the tree can reach a height of 5–30 m (50–100 ft).

Aspen wood is lightweight and soft but still strong. It has a number of commercial uses including wood pulp, construction lumber, paper, and particle board as well as being a very popular wood for smoking meats.

aspen trees

However, the question remains, is Aspen good firewood?

Aspen is okay firewood but far from being the best. The wood doesn’t produce a lot of heat per cord, creates a fair amount of sparks, and doesn’t have a very long burn time.

It produces smoke due to its inherently high moisture content, which can be a problem if you’re trying to avoid creosote buildup.

However, aspen is a quick-growing tree that regenerates quickly after being cut, which makes it a sustainable resource.

It is abundantly available in many areas, and it’s usually very inexpensive firewood. It’s also easy to split and can be stacked without taking up a lot of space.

By looking at the pros and cons, aspen can be used as firewood, but it’s not the best option.

Because certain properties of aspen wood are very desirable for firewood, while others make it less than ideal, it really depends on what you’re looking for in firewood.

Now, let’s take a closer look at some of the aspen’s firewood qualities in more detail.

What characteristics does Aspen firewood have?

Aspens are medium-sized deciduous trees with a circumference of 3 to 18 inches but there are also some aspen trees that can exceed 24 inches in circumference.

They have smooth, greenish-white, yellowish-white, yellowish-gray, or gray to nearly white bark. The bark of older trees may become rough and fissured.

Aspen trees rarely survive more than 150 years, while some can live for up to 200 years. They grow on a variety of soil types, particularly sandy and gravelly slopes, and are quick to establish themselves in disturbed areas with bare soil.

Aspen thrives in damp soils where water is available throughout the year. It needs plenty of sunlight and doesn’t tolerate shade well.

The wood aspen tree isn’t much flammable when green, but once it dries out, it can be used as firewood. Due to its high water content, the wood needs to be well-seasoned before being used as firewood.

Heat OutputLow to medium (18.2 million BTUs per cord) compared to other firewoods
DensityLow-density wood, weighing 2160 lbs./cord when dry
IgnitionDifficult to ignite due to high moisture content, needs to be properly seasoned
Spark ProductionProduces fewer sparks than some other firewoods
Pop/CracklePops and crackles more than denser wood, but less so when seasoned
CoalingCoals well and provides a long-lasting bed of coals
SplittingEasy to split with standard axe or maul
StackabilityGood stacking wood, straight-grained and uniform in diameter
Resistance to Rot/InsectsMore susceptible to rot and insects due to high moisture content
Drying Time (Seasoning)Takes at least a year, up to two years to dry or season, kiln-drying is faster
FragranceFaint fragrance similar to cottonwood or poplar
SustainabilityConsidered a sustainable firewood option due to fast-growing and quick regeneration
CostRelatively affordable compared to other firewood options, typically less than $300 per cord
Characteristics of Aspen Firewood

Low heat value

Aspen has a low heat value and produces 18.2 million British Thermal Units (BTUs) per cord. This is a medium to low heat output when compared with other types of firewood.

To give you some perspective, honeylocust has a heat value of 26.7 million BTUs per cord, and black walnut has a heat value of 22.2 million BTUs per cord. Is this make the aspen the worst firewood in terms of heat output?

The answer is no!

Aspen generates more heat than white pine which has a heat value of 15.9 million BTUs per cord, and white fir which has a heat value of 14.6 million BTUs per cord.

What this means is that Aspen is not the best firewood in terms of heat output, but it’s still better than some other types of firewood.

Low-density wood

Aspen is a low-density wood and weighs 2160 lbs./cord when it is dry. Although aspen is denser than certain woods such as basswood or buckeye, it is much lighter than certain hardwoods such as white ash or white oak.

axe and aspen woods

What does this mean for burning Aspen in a fireplace or woodstove?

It means that you will need to use more aspen wood to generate the same amount of heat as you would with a block of denser wood.

But, it also means that Aspen is easier to handle and transport than some of the other options.

Ignites difficult

Aspen wood is difficult to ignite because of its high moisture content. The tree holds a lot of water, and sometimes it can take up to two years for the wood to fully dry out and be ready to burn.

The moisture content of aspen wood can be as high as 70%, which is considerably higher than the 60% moisture content of most firewood.

This means that aspen wood is not the best choice for starting a fire if it’s not properly seasoned.

However, once aspen wood is fully seasoned and the moisture content has been reduced to 20% or less, it ignites easily and burns well.

Produces few amounts of spark

Sparking is a natural process of burning wood and is not something that can be completely avoided. If not properly managed, sparks can cause fires.

The good news is that Aspen produces fewer sparks than some of the other types of firewood.

This is a desirable trait if you are burning wood in an indoor fireplace or pit. Because aspen produces fewer sparks, it is considered a safer option for indoor use.

Pop or Crackle

Pop or crackle is the sound that most woods make when they are burning due to the release of gases.

Aspen is somewhere in the middle in terms of how much it pops and crackles. Because aspen is a lower-density wood, it is likely to pop and crackle more than denser wood.

However, this is usually a concern when the wood is burned without having to go through a seasoning process. Seasoned aspen should not pop or crackle as much as unseasoned wood.

Coals well

Coaling is the process of wood burning down to a bed of red-hot embers. Aspen coals well and can provide a long-lasting bed of coals for cooking or heating.

Although aspen is a low-density wood, it still provides a consistent and reliable bed of coals.

Easy to Split

Aspen is considered to be an easy wood to split. This is due to the fact that aspen has a straight grain and is not as hard as some of the other options. Most individuals should be able to split aspen using a standard axe or maul.

It is typically not necessary to use a power splitter or log splitter when splitting aspen depending on the volume of wood that needs to be split.


Stackability is a desired trait in firewood because it allows for easy storage. Aspen is considered to be a good stacking wood because it is relatively straight-grained and uniform in diameter.

Therefore, it can be easy to stack aspen in a neat and tidy pile. When aspen is properly seasoned, it should stack well and not warp or twist.

Resistance to Rot and Insects

Aspen naturally has a high water content, which makes it more susceptible to rot and insects.

This makes aspen more susceptible to rot and insects than some of the other options.

Ambrosia beetle on aspen wood
Ambrosia beetle, Xyleborus cryptographus on aspen wood

However, as long as aspen is properly seasoned and stored in a dry location, there should not be any issues with rot or insects.

Drying Time (Seasoning)

Aspen needs at least a year and in some cases up to two years to dry or season. This is due to the fact that aspen has a high moisture content.

Although some individuals may try to rush the drying process down to a few months, it is not recommended. Because the wood likely won’t be dry enough, it can lead to problems such as low heat output and high amounts of smoke.

Seasoning aspen using a kiln is the best way to ensure that it is properly dried and ready to burn.

Kiln-drying aspen can take anywhere from a few days to a week. However, this method can assure that the aspen is properly seasoned and ready to use in a much shorter time than open-air drying.

Slight Fragrance

Aspen has a very faint fragrance that is not as potent as some of the other options like cedar or eucalyptus. However, the fragrance is still noticeable when the wood is burned.

The smell of aspen is often described as being similar to cottonwood or Poplar. This is likely due to the fact that aspen is in the same family as these other trees.


The sustainability of firewood is an important consideration for many individuals.

Because we want to be able to enjoy firewood for many years to come, it is important to make sure that we are using sustainable options.

aspen logs

Aspen is considered to be a sustainable firewood option. This is due to the fact that aspen trees are relatively fast-growing and can regenerate quickly after being harvested.

Compared to other firewood like oak or maple, aspen is a more sustainable option that can be harvested more frequently without damaging the environment.


Cost is always an important consideration when it comes to purchasing firewood. Because aspen is a fast-growing and relatively common tree, it is typically less expensive than some of the other options.

For example, a cord of aspen is often less than $300, while a cord of oak can be over $500. This makes Aspen a more affordable option for many individuals.


Aspen is an okay firewood option. It is easy to split, has a uniform diameter, and stacks well. Aspen is also a sustainable firewood option that is relatively affordable.

The main downside of aspen is that it has a high moisture content, which can make it more susceptible to rot and insects. Aspen also needs to be properly seasoned for at least a year before it is ready to be burned.

If you are looking for an affordable and sustainable firewood option, Aspen may be a good choice for you. However, keep in mind that aspen has high moisture content and needs to be properly seasoned before burning.