Is Cherry Good for Firewood? [Debate is Over]
Cherrywood is a reddish-brown wood with a fine, even grain structure. It has a golden hue when first cut, but darkens to a deeper red over time. The wood has a sweet smell that lingers long after when burned.
However, does this mean that cherry is good firewood? Should you rely on this hardwood to keep you warm during the winter?
- 1 Is Cherry Good for Firewood? [Debate is Over]
- 1.1 What characteristics does Cherry Firewood have?
- 1.2 How to season and store cherry firewood?
- 1.3 What insects or diseases affect cherry trees?
- 1.4 Does cherry firewood attract fungus?
- 1.5 What is the best way to store cherry firewood?
- 1.6 Can cherry firewood be used in a smoker?
- 1.7 What is the best time of year to harvest cherry firewood?
- 1.8 Conclusion
Here is what you need to know about using cherry wood as firewood:
Cherry is good firewood that burns well. Its medium density and moderately high heat value (20.4 Million BTUs per cord) make it an efficient wood to burn. Cherrywood is easy to split, emits little to no smoke, and produces little to no sparks.
When it burns, it emits a pleasant, natural aroma, making it an excellent choice for smokers. For the best results, the wood needs to be seasoned for at least six months before it is used as firewood.
What characteristics does Cherry Firewood have?
Cherry is a deciduous hardwood that is part of the rose family. The wood is hard, dense, and durable with a close grain that gives it a smooth texture.
Cherrywood is known for its unique coloring that can range from a pale yellow to a deep red.
Cherry trees can reach a height of 100 feet (30 meters). However, the average tree is between 80 feet (24 meters) tall with a trunk diameter of 24 inches (61cm).
The trees can live for up to 100 years, but the average lifespan is between 50-70 years. Most cherry trees become susceptible to rotting in their trunk as they approach old age.
Now, let’s take a closer look at the qualities that make cherry is good firewood:
Moderate heat value
The heat value is the amount of heat that is released when the wood is burned. The higher the heat value, the more heat is released.
Cherry has a heat value of 20.4 million BTUs per cord. While cherry isn’t a high heat-producing wood, it’s still somewhere in the middle.
To give you some perspective, the heat value of alder wood is 17.5 million BTUs per cord while the heat value of mulberry wood is 25.8 million BTUs per cord.
So, the cherry falls somewhere in the middle of the pack.
Low Smoke Generation
The smoke from the burning wood isn’t just an annoyance, it can also be dangerous.
The smoke from the wood pollutes the air and can cause respiratory problems. This can make an even bigger issue if you are burning the wood in an enclosed space.
Fortunately, the cherry doesn’t release a lot of smoke when it’s burned. In fact, cherry burns much cleaner than birch and spruce. This is mainly due to the wood’s high density and close grain structure.
Also, the cherry has a low sap content, which means that there is little to no resin in the wood. Woods with high resin content tend to produce more creosote.
Creosote is a sticky, tar-like substance that builds up on the inside of your chimney. If the creosote isn’t removed, it can catch fire and cause a chimney fire.
So, the cherry’s low smoke production and low amount of creosote make it a safe wood to burn.
When a piece of wood is burned, it can produce sparks. Although this is a natural occurrence, the sparks can be dangerous if they fall on something flammable.
The cherry doesn’t produce a lot of sparks when it’s burned. Because of the wood’s close grain structure, the sparks that are produced are small and don’t travel far.
This makes the cherry an excellent choice for people who are looking for wood that produces little to no sparks.
Low Popping & Crackling
Popping and crackling is the noise that comes from the wood as it burns. While it may sound harmless, the popping and crackling are actually caused by the water inside the woodturning into steam and exploding.
Cherrywood has low moisture content and closed pores, so the popping and crackling are minimal compared to most other woods.
Ignites Easily (Good kindling ability)
Kindling is small pieces of wood that are used to start a fire. The cherry ignites easily and burns hot, making it an excellent choice for use as kindling.
The blue flame that cherrywood produces is very intense and will quickly get the fire going.
Weight per cord
Cherry is a medium-density wood that weighs 3696 (lbs./Cord) when it is green. The weight of the wood can drop to 2928 (lbs./Cord) if it is properly seasoned.
To give you a better idea, the weight of oak is 2080 (lbs./Cord) and the weight of black walnut is 3192 (lbs./Cord) when both kinds of wood are dry.
Ease of Splitting
Cherry is an easy-to-split wood. This is due to its density and straight grain. Another reason why cherry is easy to split is that the wood doesn’t have a lot of knots.
Knots are areas where the grain of the wood changes direction. These areas are usually much harder to split than the rest of the wood. The cherry’s straight grain and lack of knots make it a breeze to split.
Cherry is a stackable wood. This means that it can be easily stacked and stored without taking up too much space.
Since the trunk diameter of cherry trees is usually only 24 inches (61 cm), the firewood can be cut to length and stacked in a compact space.
The ease of splitting offers another advantage when it comes to stacking the wood as it can be cut into smaller pieces that fit together tightly.
Resistance to Rot
Rotting is the process where the wood begins to decay and is destroyed by fungus or bacteria.
The cherry has a high resistance to rot, which makes it a good choice for firewood.
The wood doesn’t usually rot until after it has been cut and has been exposed to the elements for a period of time.
However, no wood is completely immune to rotting, so it’s important to keep an eye on your firewood pile and remove any pieces that are showing signs of decay.
Drying Time (Seasoning)
Although cherry has a high density and closed pores, the wood doesn’t take long to season. It takes 6 to 12 months for the wood to reach its optimal moisture content for burning.
If you are purchasing cherry wood that has already been cut and split, make sure that it has been properly seasoned.
Make sure the manufacturer kiln-dried the wood to reduce the moisture content.
Kiln drying is a process that uses heat to dry the wood in a controlled environment. The process also helps to kill any insects or pests that may be in the wood.
Cherry trees have a slow growth rate and don’t typically reach a large size, making it challenging for them to reach maturity. As a result, it’s difficult to replace harvested cherry trees with new ones, which does not align well with sustainable forestry principles.
Cherrywood isn’t planted with the primary intention of being harvested for firewood. It is often used for high-end furniture, musical instruments, and veneers. It is also used to make cabinets, flooring, and paneling.
The popularity of cherrywood has led to the overexploitation of cherry trees, making the industry unsustainable as demand exceeds supply.
To sustain the cherrywood industry, it is vital to practice responsible forestry, including proper forest zoning measures, to ensure that cherry trees are harvested in a sustainable manner.
This means new trees should be planted to replace the ones that are harvested. It is also equally important to harvest only old, unhealthy trees that are no longer suitable for furniture-making or other uses.
Cherry wood has a very versatile range of applications while the supply of the wood is relatively low. Therefore, cherry wood is one of the more expensive kinds of wood.
A cord of cherry wood can cost anywhere from $600 to $900. This is significantly higher than the price of most other types of wood.
Therefore, unless some special circumstance applies, most people wouldn’t choose cherry wood for their fireplace.
How to season and store cherry firewood?
Seasoning is the process of reducing the moisture content in wood so that it is suitable for burning.
There are two methods of seasoning wood: air-drying and kiln-drying.
Air-drying is the most common method of seasoning wood. It involves stacking the wood in a dry, well-ventilated area and allowing the moisture to evaporate naturally.
This process can take anywhere from 6 to 12 months for cherry wood depending on the weather conditions.
Kiln-drying is a more rapid method of seasoning wood. The wood is heated in a controlled environment to remove moisture.
During the kiln-drying process, the moisture content in the wood is reduced to below 20%.
This method of seasoning wood is more expensive, but it is the best way to kill any insects or pests that may be in the wood while also reducing the drying time.
Once the wood is seasoned, it can be stored in a shed or garage. If you live in an area with a lot of insects, you may want to store the wood in a plastic bag or container.
Here are the best tips on how to season and store cherry firewood:
Split the wood
Split the wood into pieces that are 18 inches (46 cm) or even shorter. The smaller the pieces, the faster they will dry.
When the wood is split, the sap will flow out of the cut and reduce the moisture content.
Elevate the wood
Elevate the wood off the ground. This will allow air to circulate around the wood, which will help it dry faster.
If you have a firewood rack, that’s the perfect place to store the wood while it seasons.
Stack the wood loosely
Stack the wood loosely. This will also help the air circulate and dry the wood faster. If the wood is stacked too tightly, the moisture will be trapped and the wood won’t dry properly.
Cover the wood
Cover the wood with a tarp or other type of cover. This will protect the wood from rain or snow, which can slow down the drying process.
Check the wood regularly
Check the wood every few weeks to make sure that it is drying properly. This will also prevent the wood from molding or being infested with insects.
What insects or diseases affect cherry trees?
The cherry tree is vulnerable to a number of insects and diseases. The most common diseases that threaten the cherry tree include the following:
Also, the most common insects that are attracted to cherry wood include the following:
Does cherry firewood attract fungus?
While all types of wood can get infected with fungus, cherry is less susceptible to it. This is because the wood has a high density and close grain.
The pores in the wood are small, which means that there is less space for the fungus to grow. In addition, cherry has a low moisture content, which also helps to prevent fungal growth.
As with any type of firewood, it is important to store cherrywood in a dry and well-ventilated place. If the wood is too wet, it will be more susceptible to fungus.
What is the best way to store cherry firewood?
Cherry firewood can be stored in a number of ways, including a pile, a rack, or a log store.
If you are using a pile, make sure that the wood is stacked neatly and that there are plenty of airflows. If you are using a rack, make sure that the wood is well-spaced so that it can dry properly.
If you are using a log store, make sure that the wood is off the ground and that the store is well-ventilated.
Can cherry firewood be used in a smoker?
Cherry wood is a great choice for smoking because it has a sweet flavor that pairs well with a variety of foods. Meat, fish, and poultry all taste great when smoked with cherry wood.
Using cherry wood in a smoker is easy. Simply soak the wood in water for at least 30 minutes before using it. This will help to prevent the wood from burning too quickly.
Once the wood is soaked, place it in the smoker and let it smoke for the desired amount of time.
The typical smoking time is 2-4 hours for the average piece of meat. However, the smoking time will vary depending on the type of meat and the desired flavor.
What is the best time of year to harvest cherry firewood?
The best time to harvest cherry for firewood is in the late fall or early winter. This is because the wood is dry and the sap is not flowing.
If you harvest the wood during the summer, it will be wet and difficult to burn. In addition, the sap will make the wood sticky and hard to handle.
Cherry is not an ideal choice for firewood if you are looking to produce a lot of heat without breaking the bank.
The wood has positive firewood qualities like burning clean, producing little smoke, and creating little sparks.
However, it is an expensive wood to purchase while it has so many other uses like furniture, flooring, and cabinetry.
Since cherry wood releases a pleasant aroma while it is burning, it might be a good choice for smokers to use in their fire pits.
Remember that cherry wood needs to be properly seasoned before burning and should be stored dry and well-ventilated. Because cherry trees are susceptible to insects and diseases, it is important to inspect the wood regularly during the seasoning process.