Is Beech Good for Firewood?
Beech (Fagus) is a deciduous tree genus native to temperate Europe, Asia, and North America, belonging to the Fagaceae family.
It is one of the most common trees in Europe, and it is also widely planted as an ornamental tree in parks and gardens.
- 1 Is Beech Good for Firewood?
- 1.1 What characteristics does Beech firewood have?
- 1.1.1 High Heat Output
- 1.1.2 High-Density Wood
- 1.1.3 Coals Excellent
- 1.1.4 Produces minimum smoke
- 1.1.5 Low Sparking
- 1.1.6 Even Burning
- 1.1.7 Difficult to split
- 1.1.8 Ease of cleanup
- 1.1.9 Good Fragrance
- 1.1.10 Doesn’t Pop or Crackle Much
- 1.1.11 Stackability
- 1.1.12 Resistance to Rot and Insects
- 1.1.13 Drying Time (Seasoning)
- 1.1.14 Sustainability
- 1.1.15 Cost
- 1.2 Conclusion
- 1.1 What characteristics does Beech firewood have?
The wood of beech is hard, strong, and durable, making it a popular choice for furniture, flooring, and other woodworking projects.
However, one important question remains: is beech good firewood?
The answer is yes. Beech is a good firewood choice because it has a high heat output and low smoke production. It doesn’t produce much spark or pop either, so it’s relatively safe to burn.
Beechwood ignites easily, and coals last a long time, making it ideal for overnight burns.
It doesn’t produce much ash, so it’s easy to clean up after. The downside to beech is that it doesn’t grow fast, and has many other uses, so it can be hard to find or expensive to buy.
Also, beech is quite a hardwood, so it can be difficult to chop and split. Therefore, if you have to chop and split your own wood, you may want to consider an easier option or proper wood-splitting tools.
Beech is easy to season due to its low moisture content. It seasons quickly and evenly, so you will not need to wait long to use it.
What characteristics does Beech firewood have?
Beech trees can mature to a height of 50–70′ and a spread of 40′. However, the developing period for beech trees is very long compared to most other hardwood trees.
According to the US Forest Service, seedlings planted in northern Pennsylvania took 10 years to reach a height of 2 feet.
Trees cultivated in the Great Lakes region took 20 years to reach 14 feet, 40 years to reach 28 feet, and 80 years to reach 48 feet.
Beech trees have many uses beyond just being firewood. They are also used for lumber, paper production, and veneer.
Beech wood is also used to create furniture, flooring, and other wood products. It is also used to smoke food, and the bark can be used to make a yellow dye.
Now, let’s get into the nitty-gritty of the firewood traits of Beech to help you determine if it’s good to use.
|Heat output||High heat output of 27.5 million BTUs/cord|
|Density||High-density hardwood with a dry weight of 3760 lbs./cord|
|Coaling||Excellent at producing long-lasting, hot coals|
|Smoke||Produces very little smoke when burned|
|Sparking||Produces very few sparks when burned|
|Burn consistency||Burns evenly and slowly for long-lasting fires|
|Splitting||Difficult to split due to high density|
|Cleanup||Produces very little soot and ash for easy cleanup|
|Fragrance||Has a light, pleasant scent similar to almonds or honeysuckle|
|Popping and cracking||Does not pop or crack much|
|Stackability||Good choice for stacking due to straight logs with few branches|
|Resistance to rot and insects||More resistant than other woods due to high density|
|Drying time||Requires seasoning for 6 months to a year|
|Sustainability||Not very sustainable due to slow growth and high demand|
|Cost||Typically around $350 to $550 per cord|
High Heat Output
Beech is one of the highest-performing hardwoods with a heat output of 27.5 million BTUs/cord. The high heat output of Beech makes it a great choice for fires that require a lot of heat while using less wood.
To give you a better sense of how much heat beech wood can produce, it produces almost twice as much heat as buckeye or horse chestnut wood, which produces 13.8 million BTUs/cord.
Although this may not seem to be a desirable trait, it is extremely important. A high heat output allows for a longer burn time because no one wants to constantly feed the fire.
Using denser and more compact firewood reduces the amount of wood that must be cut, split, and stored, as well as the number of times the ashes must be cleaned out.
Beech is a high-density hardwood that has a dry weight of 3760 lbs./cord. Its density is nearly twice that of Basswood (Linden), which has a dry weight of 1984 lbs./cord per cord.
In fact, beechwood is nearly as heavy as applewood, which has a dry weight of 3888 lbs./cord.
Coaling is the process of firewood burning down to hot coals. This is the stage of the fire where it is at its hottest and produces the most amount of heat. Beechwood is excellent at coaling and produces long-lasting, hot coals.
It can take a while for beechwood to initially catch fire and start burning due to its high density.
However, once it starts burning, it will produce hot coals that last a long time. This makes Beech an ideal choice for overnight burns.
Produces minimum smoke
All firewood produces smoke when burned. However, some produce more than others.
Beechwood produces very little smoke when burned. This is due to the low moisture content of the wood. When burned, beechwood will produce a small amount of white smoke that quickly dissipates.
Sparking is caused by the burning of tiny pieces of wood that are ejected from the fire.
Although it is a natural process, it can be dangerous if the sparks land on something that is flammable. Beechwood produces very few sparks, making it a safer choice for indoor fireplaces.
Beechwood burns evenly and slowly, making it a good choice for long-burning fires. This is due to its high density and low moisture content.
Compared to other types of firewood like pine or birch, beechwood is a better choice in terms of producing a longer more consistent burn that produces less smoke and sparks.
Difficult to split
Preparing beech as Firewood may be difficult because it is a quite high-density hardwood that can be hard to split.
Thus, it is recommended that you use a hydraulic log splitter or an electric log splitter to make the job easier.
If you are buying Beech firewood, make sure the size is split to the size that you need. If it is not, then you will need to use an axe or a hatchet to split it yourself. This can be difficult and time-consuming.
Ease of cleanup
Fire doesn’t only produce heat it also produces ashes. Thus, burning all types of wood will result in a layer of soot and ash on the inside of your fireplace or wood stove. However, beechwood produces very little soot and ash, making cleanup easier.
All wood has a natural scent or fragrance. Beechwood has a light, pleasant scent that is not overbearing. However, it is still strong enough to be noticed when burned.
The fragrance of beechwood has been described by some as similar to that of almonds or honeysuckle. Obviously, the perception can be subjective when it comes to fragrance.
You may experiment with an entirely different scent while burning beechwood in your fireplace.
If you plan to smoke food with beech, the light, pleasant scent it emits can enhance the flavor of your food.
Here is how you can use beech for smoking:
Doesn’t Pop or Crackle Much
Firewood that pops and cracks can be annoying, especially if you are trying to enjoy a quiet evening by the fire.
The reason why wood pops and cracks is due to the expansion of the water inside the wood as it heats up.
Beechwood is a dense wood with low moisture content. Therefore, it doesn’t trap as much water inside, and it doesn’t expand as much when heated. This results in less popping and cracking.
Stackability of firewood is important especially if you have limited storage space. Some trees grow in very irregular shapes, making them difficult to stack.
Beechwood is a good choice for stacking because the logs are generally straight with few branches. This results in a more uniform stack that is easier to store.
That said, due to the large size of beech logs, you may need to use cut them down to size before stacking them.
As mentioned earlier you should either have the proper tools to get the job done or purchase Beech firewood that has already been cut to size.
Resistance to Rot and Insects
Trees are living organisms, and as such, they are susceptible to rot and insect infestation.
When the tree dies, these problems can persist in the wood. Because the wood is home and shelter to insects and fungi due to the moisture content and microorganisms that are present.
Beechwood is more resistant to both of these problems than other types of wood. This is due to the high density of the wood.
The tightly packed cells make it difficult for insects to bore into the wood, and the lack of moisture makes it inhospitable to most fungi.
Consequently, beechwood is less likely to rot and is more resistant to insect infestation than other types of wood.
However, no type of wood is entirely resistant to rot or insects. The best way to prevent these problems is to store your wood in a dry, well-ventilated place.
Drying Time (Seasoning)
Beechwood has a very low moisture content, making it burn hot and produce little smoke. However, as with all types of wood, it still needs to be seasoned (dried) before burning.
Seasoning beech can take anywhere from 6 months to a year depending on the type of wood and the conditions in which it is stored.
If you live in a humid climate, it is best to store beechwood indoors where the humidity is low.
This will help to prevent the wood from absorbing moisture from the air which can significantly prolong the drying time. Never store firewood directly on the ground where it can absorb moisture from the soil.
It is always best to purchase beech or any other type of firewood that has already been cut and seasoned. This will save you both time and effort.
If you do choose to season your own beechwood, make sure to do so well in advance of when you plan on using it. This way you can be sure that it is properly dried and ready to burn.
To season beechwood, simply cut it into logs and then stack it in a dry location away from direct sunlight.
Make sure to stack the wood off the ground on a pallet or something similar. This will allow air to circulate around the logs and speed up the drying process.
Once the beechwood is fully seasoned, it will be a light golden color and will feel dry to the touch. The end of the log may also have cracks in it, this is normal.
When considering firewood, it’s crucial to prioritize sustainability to avoid depleting tree species that cannot be replaced.
Unfortunately, beech is not a very sustainable option for firewood. Beech trees grow slowly and can live up to 400 years, making it challenging for new trees to reach maturity and be ready for harvest.
Furthermore, beechwood is often used for furniture and woodworking projects due to its beautiful grain, reducing its availability for firewood.
To ensure sustainability, it’s recommended to consider using other types of firewood, such as poplar, sourced from sustainably managed forests that can be replaced at a faster rate.
Beechwood is not the most expensive type of firewood, but it is also not the cheapest.
In general, you can expect to pay around $350 to $550 per cord of beechwood. This price may be higher or lower depending on the location and the time of year.
Beechwood is a good type of firewood that has a high density, burns hot, and produces little smoke. It is also more resistant to rot and insects than other types of wood.
However, beechwood is not very sustainable since it grows slowly and is often used for other purposes such as furniture. Therefore, beechwood can be expensive to purchase.
If you are looking for good quality firewood that is also sustainable, and relatively cheaper, then you may want to consider using oak or maple wood instead.
If you aren’t concerned about excessive smoke, then you could use birchwood which is more sustainable than beech since it grows at a faster rate.
Just remember, no matter what type of wood you use, you will always compromise on one aspect or another. It is important to find the right balance of qualities that best suit your needs.