Is Hickory a Good Firewood?

If you’re in search of exceptional firewood, hickory might be the answer. It boasts a high energy content, an extended burn time, and a delightful scent that’s sure to captivate your senses.

hickory tree

Being a dense hardwood, hickory ranks high in BTU rating and produces more heat than most other types of wood, making it the perfect choice for home heating during colder months or for cooking over an open flame.

Moreover, hickory offers yet another benefit. It produces minimal creosote, a substance that can accumulate in chimneys and ignite potential fire hazards. Its low ash content and ease of stacking also make it an ideal choice for those seeking firewood that’s easy to handle.

Yet, despite these advantages, there are a few challenges to using hickory as firewood.

For instance, it can be more challenging to split and season than some other types of wood. Seasoning is crucial for optimal burning performance, and hickory may require a longer period to dry than other firewood varieties.

Despite these challenges, many homeowners still favor Hickory for its impressive heat output, pleasant aroma, and overall benefits as a firewood choice. Its unique combination of features and benefits makes it an exceptional option that’s hard to resist.

Characteristics of Hickory

Density700 kg/m3
Heat per cord27.7 million BTUs
Weight dry4200-4800 lbs per cord
Weight greenVaries, typically 2-3 times heavier than dry weight
Seasoning timeUp to 1 year
Resin/ Sap ContentLow to moderate
Splitting DifficultyDifficult
SmellSweet, nutty, bacon-like aroma
Coal ProductionHigh
Creosote Build-upLow
Ash ContentLow
Bark ContentLow
SustainabilityRequires sustainable sourcing
Technical Details of Hickory Firewood

Density and BTU Rating

Boasting a density of around 700 kg/m3, hickory is known to be one of the densest types of firewood out there.

This exceptional density contributes to its ability to burn hotter and longer than other types of firewood, making it a top choice for heating homes or cooking food.

With an impressive BTU rating of approximately 27.7 million BTUs per cord, hickory is highly efficient in producing more heat per unit of wood than other types of firewood, thanks to its high-energy content.

Moreover, hickory’s slow-burning characteristic is another advantage that adds to its appeal. Its ability to produce more heat and burn longer than other types of firewood makes it an excellent choice for heating homes and cooking food alike.

But that’s not all – hickory’s high density and slow-burning characteristics also make it a favored option for smoking meats. The rich, smoky flavor imparted to the food is simply irresistible.

Overall, hickory firewood is a versatile and reliable option that offers unparalleled performance and quality, making it a top choice for all your firewood needs.

Moisture Content and Smoke Production

Hickory has a low moisture content, typically around 20% when seasoned, which means that it produces less smoke than other types of firewood.

This low moisture content also makes it easier to light and produces less creosote buildup in chimneys.

Hickory’s low smoke production makes it great for indoor fireplaces and outdoor fire pits where smoke may be an issue.

However, Hickory can still produce some smoke when not fully seasoned, so it’s important to make sure it’s properly dried before burning.


Hickory firewood has a sweet and distinct aroma that is often described as nutty or bacon-like, and many people find it pleasant and appealing.

thick meat smoked on barbeque

This aroma makes hickory a popular choice for smoking meats, such as pork, beef, and poultry, as it imparts a unique and delicious flavor to the food. 

Hickory wood is also commonly used in outdoor grills and smokers to add flavor to dishes such as ribs, brisket, and chicken.

The smoke produced by burning hickory wood penetrates the meat, giving it a rich and smoky flavor that many people find irresistible.


Hickory firewood is renowned for its consistent size and shape, making it easy to stack and arrange neatly.

hickory firewood stacked

The straight grain of hickory further adds to its stackability, allowing the logs to fit together snugly and securely.

To stack hickory firewood effectively, it’s best to keep the logs in a uniform size and shape, with the cut ends facing up and down to facilitate proper air circulation. This ensures the wood dries correctly, reducing the risk of mold and rot.

Overall, hickory firewood’s uniformity in size and shape, coupled with its straight grain, simplifies the task of stacking and arranging it functionally and aesthetically.


Hickory, a slow-growing hardwood tree that can take several decades to mature, requires sourcing hickory firewood from sustainable sources.

One way to ensure sustainable sourcing of hickory firewood is to look for suppliers that offer hickory harvested from sustainably managed forests or woodlots.

Sustainable forestry practices aim to reduce the impact on the environment while ensuring the long-term health and productivity of the forest. Selective harvesting, for instance, involves removing only mature trees while leaving younger trees to grow and replanting or regenerating the harvested area to ensure the future growth of the forest.

By opting for hickory firewood from sustainable sources, you not only get to enjoy the benefits of this popular and versatile firewood but also help to preserve the environment for future generations.

Ash content

Compared to other firewood types, hickory firewood boasts a relatively low ash content, producing less ash than many other hardwoods when burned.

This feature can be particularly advantageous for those seeking to minimize ash cleanup after using the firewood for heating their homes or cooking regularly.

Less ash means less time and effort spent on cleaning up, making hickory an ideal choice for those who value convenience and ease of use.

Although the amount of ash produced can vary based on usage conditions, hickory’s low ash content makes it a popular choice among firewood users who prioritize convenience and ease of use.

Bark content

Hickory firewood has a relatively low bark content compared to some other types of firewood.

The bark of some types of firewood, such as pine, can contain a high level of resin, which can cause sparks and make the fire more prone to flare-ups.

Hickory’s low bark content makes it less prone to sparking than other types of firewood, which can be a safety advantage, particularly in indoor fires or in situations where sparks could pose a hazard.

Additionally, the low bark content of hickory firewood can make it easier to handle and split, as the bark can be tough and difficult to remove from some types of wood.

While hickory’s low bark content may not be a significant consideration for everyone, it can be an important factor to keep in mind for those who are concerned about safety or who are using firewood in situations where sparks could pose a hazard.

Advantages of Using Hickory as Firewood

High Heat Output

Hickory is known for its high heat output, which means it can produce more heat per unit of wood compared to many other types of firewood. This makes it an excellent choice for heating a home or cooking food.

Long Burning Time

Hickory is a slow-burning wood that can last longer than many other types of firewood. This makes it a cost-effective option for those who use firewood for heating or cooking on a regular basis.

Low Smoke Production

Hickory produces less smoke than many other types of firewood, which makes it a great option for indoor fireplaces and outdoor fire pits. Its low smoke production also means that it’s less likely to cause air pollution or health hazards.

Pleasant Aroma

Hickory has a sweet and distinct aroma that can add flavor to food and create a pleasant atmosphere when burned indoors or outdoors. This makes it a popular choice for smoking meats or adding flavor to grilled dishes.

Disadvantages of Using Hickory as Firewood

Hard to Split

axe and log

Hickory is a dense hardwood, which can make it difficult to split for use as firewood. This can be a challenge for those who prefer to split their own firewood or who don’t have access to heavy-duty splitting equipment.


Hickory can be more expensive than many other types of firewood due to its high demand and low supply. This can make it less accessible for those on a tight budget or those who use firewood on a regular basis.

Requires Seasoning

Like all firewood, hickory needs to be properly seasoned before use. This can take up to a year or more, which can be a challenge for those who need firewood immediately or who don’t have enough storage space for seasoned wood.

Failure to properly season hickory can lead to increased smoke production, reduced heat output, and increased creosote buildup in chimneys.


Hickory is an excellent choice for firewood due to its high heat output, long burning time, low smoke production, and a pleasant aroma.

However, it can be challenging to split and may be more expensive than other types of firewood.

It’s also important to properly season Hickory before use to ensure it burns safely and efficiently. Overall, Hickory is a top choice for those who value high-quality firewood.