View Full Version : BTU's of FIREWOOD

Scribner's Mountain Maple
12-07-2013, 10:42 PM
I thought this was interesting and felt this community would find it interesting as well.

First is the woods common name, then the pounds per cord, and the last number is BTU's per cord. We don't have Osage, hop Hornbeam or Persimmon in VT. At least I don't where I am.

Here is the link in case the info doesn't present well. http://chimneysweeponline.com/howood.htm

Common Name Species Name Pounds
/Cord MBTU
Osage Orange (Hedge) Maclura pomifera 4,845 30.0
Hop Hornbeam (Ironwood) Ostrya virginiana 4,250 26.4
Persimmon, American Diospyros virginiana 4,165 25.8
Hickory, Shagbark Carya ovata 4,080 25.3
Dogwood, Pacific Cornus nuttallii 3,995 24.8
Holly, American Ilex Opaca 3,995 24.8
Birch, Black Betula lenta 3,910 24.2
Oak, White Quercus alba 3,910 24.2
Madrone, Pacific (Arbutus) Arbutus menziesii 3,825 23.7
Oak, Post Quercus stellata 3,825 23.7
Locust, Honey Gleditsia triacanthos 3,825 23.7
Hickory, Bitternut Carya cordiformis 3,825 23.7
Beech, Blue (Ironwood) Carpinus caroliniana 3,825 23.7
Mulberry Morus rubra 3,740 23.2
Locust, Black Robinia pseudoacacia 3,740 23.2
Maple, Sugar Acer saccharum 3,740 23.2
Beech, American Fagus grandifolia 3,655 22.7
Oak, Oregon (Garry) Quercus garryana 3,655 22.7
Oak, Bur (Mossycup) Quercus macrocarpa 3,655 22.7
Oak, Red Quercus rubra 3,570 22.1
Birch, Yellow Betula alleghaniensis 3,570 22.1
Ash, White Fraxinus americana 3,485 21.6
Myrtle, Oregon (Pepperwood) Umbellularia californica 3,485 21.6
Apple Malus domestica 3,485 21.6
Ash, Green Fraxinus pennsylvanica 3,400 21.1
Maple, Black Acer nigrum 3,400 21.1
Walnut, Black Juglans nigra 3,230 20.0
Maple, Red Acer rubrum 3,230 20.0
Ash, Oregon Fraxinus latifolia 3,230 20.0
Birch, White (Paper) Betula papyrifera 3,230 20.0
Tamarack (Larch) Larix laricina 3,145 19.5
Birch, Gray Betula populifolia 3,145 19.5
Hackberry Celtis occidentalis 3,145 19.5
Juniper, Rocky Mtn Juniperus scopulorum 3,145 19.5
Cherry, Black Prunus serotina 3,145 19.5
Coffeetree, Kentucky Gymnocladus dioicus 3,060 19.0
Sorrel (Sourwood) Oxydendrum arboreum 3,060 19.0
Elm, Red Ulmus rubra 3,060 19.0
Eucalyptus (Red Gum) Eucalyptus camaldulensis 2,975 18.4
Elm, American Ulmus americana 2,975 18.4
Sycamore, American Platanus occidentalis 2,890 17.9
Maple, Big Leaf Acer macrophyllum 2,890 17.9
Elm, White (Russian) Ulmus laevis 2,890 17.9
Ash, Black Fraxinus nigra 2,890 17.9
Boxelder (Maple Ash) Acer negundo 2,890 17.9
Pine, Norway (Red) Pinus resinosa 2,890 17.9
Fir, Douglas Pseudotsuga menzies II 2,805 17.4
Maple, Silver Acer saccharinum 2,805 17.4
Pine, Pitch Pinus rigida 2,635 16.3
Pine, Lodgepole Pinus contora latifolia 2,465 15.3
Hemlock Pinaceae tsuga 2,465 15.3
Spruce, Black Picea mariana 2,465 15.3
Catalpa (Catawba) Catalpa speciosa 2,380 14.8
Pine, Ponderosa Pinus ponderosa 2,380 14.8
Alder, Red or White Alnus rubra or rhombifolia 2,380 14.8
Pine, Jack (Canadian) Pinus banksiana 2,380 14.8
Spruce, Sitka Picea sitchensis 2,380 14.8
Pine, White (Idaho) Pinus monticola 2,236 14.3
Willow Salix 2,295 14.2
Fir, Concolor (White) Abies concolor 2,295 14.2
Basswood (Linden) Tilia americana 2,210 13.7
Aspen, American (Poplar) Populus tremuloides 2,21 13.7
Butternut (White Walnut) Juglans cinerea 2,125 13.2
Pine, White (Eastern) Pinus strobus 2,125 13.2
Fir, Balsam Abies balsamea 2,125 13.2
Cottonwood (Balsam Poplar) Populus trichocarpa 2,040 12.6
Spruce, Engelmann Picea engelmannii 1,955 12.1
Cedar, Eastern (Redcedar) Juniperus virginiana 1,955 12.1
Buckeye, Ohio Aesculus glabra 1,955 12.1
Cedar, White (Whitecedar) Thuja occidentalis 1,870 11.6
Bamboo Poaceae bambusoideae 1,615 10.0
Balsa Ochroma pyramidale 935 5.8

maple flats
12-08-2013, 06:49 AM
I've seen several lists in the past, but this one seems to be far more complete.

12-08-2013, 09:22 AM
You most likely do have hop hornbeam in your neck of the woods. It is a short lived (typically only gets to 5-6" in diameter, though I have seen up to 12"DBH on a woodlot in Manchester VT) hardwood tree that most folks call ironwood since it is very heavy and hard to cut if you have a dull chainsaw. We have quite a bit in our woods - though not as many anymore as my neighbor uses them for fence posts. Not much of a firewood species since they never get real big.

I know it is from Ohio, but here is a good link - http://ohiodnr.com/forestry/trees/hophorn_am/tabid/5377/Default.aspx

Scribner's Mountain Maple
12-08-2013, 11:08 AM
You're right, I do have those in my woods. I know them as Iron wood. Most of the ones I have are 4-8" with a couple big ones in the 10-15" range. Seeing how many BTU's it puts out, I wish i had more. Of course it dulls a chain in pretty short order.

The biggest surprise for me on this list was that White Birch is better firewood than Black cherry. And that Black Birch was equal to Oak.


12-08-2013, 07:58 PM
Yea, I was quite surprised to see black birch high on the btu chain and cherry lower. Folks around here refer to hop hornbeam as ironwood but there is also the regular ironwood that is very smooth grayish bark. The hornbeam has something almost like vertical paper strips for bark. I like burning the hornbeam but you have to let it get completely seasoned.

12-08-2013, 09:27 PM
I have seen a few similar but smaller lists. When you compare them pound for pound all are nearly equal. Hard to convince some people that a ton of white pine will produce the same BTU's as a ton of red oak. Anyone know how a cord of pellets would compare?

maple maniac65
12-09-2013, 07:05 AM
You most likely do have hop hornbeam in your neck of the woods. It is a short lived (typically only gets to 5-6" in diameter, though I have seen up to 12"DBH on a woodlot in Manchester VT) hardwood tree that most folks call ironwood since it is very heavy and hard to cut if you have a dull chainsaw. We have quite a bit in our woods - though not as many anymore as my neighbor uses them for fence posts. Not much of a firewood species since they never get real big.

I know it is from Ohio, but here is a good link - http://ohiodnr.com/forestry/trees/hophorn_am/tabid/5377/Default.aspx

There is quite a bit of hornbeam in Franconia Notch on the back side of the Hounds Head Along with a ample amount of Rock Maple that seems would yield a fair amount of sap about the end of May when the ice melted. Although climbing up there to tap would take about 3 hours for a youngster, it took me 2 hours last September on dry ground to climb up the back side.

12-09-2013, 07:45 AM
Lb. for lb. they may be similar but it would take close to 5 cord of white pine to equal 3 cord of red oak. So if we look at volume you can only put so much wood in your arch, so you would would get more btu's with a denser wood for the same volume because it has more weight. lets say you can fill your arch with red oak and you get in 50#. Fill it with white pine and you would only get about 35#. The arch full of white pine will give off about 2/3rds of the btu's as opposed to the arch filled with red oak.

12-09-2013, 07:52 AM
A ton of pellets should be about the same as a ton of wood dried to the same moisture level. Seasoned and dry cord wood is typically about 20-25% moisture vs kiln dried wood which is closer to 3% moisture.

12-09-2013, 09:34 AM
I too am always surprised to see black birch so high on the list. One clarification, the BTU rating provided is actually MBTU or Million Btus/cord.

Also, Hop Hornbeam is not a "short lived" tree despite the fact that it does not grow to be very large. I have cut several that were only 6" in diameter but were over 100 years old. The growth rings were so tight (which is why it is so hard) that it was difficult to accurately determine its age. They are very shade tolerant and grow extremely slow and here in the Champlain Valley they are often found on dry upland sites in the understory with sugar maple, oak, and hickory. They are considered an understory component of a climax forest because they can easily outcompete early succession trees.

12-09-2013, 08:46 PM
What I find interesting is the weights listed for a cord. According to this the avg. cord of hardwood is close to 2 tons. Most cords of wood are carried on 1 ton trucks. I assume this must be for unseasoned wood but I carry 2/3 cord on my tundra with side boards. I added a few leafs to each side but I find it hard to believe I'm carrying 1 1/4 tons+.

12-09-2013, 09:19 PM
The standard forestry conversion for hardwood is 2.3-2.4 tons per cord.

12-10-2013, 05:35 AM
That probably explains why you dont see much cordwood carried on the interstate.:)

Gary R
12-10-2013, 11:31 AM
Black Birch is about all I burn in the house and evaporator. I like it a lot but I still seem to burn a lot:lol:

Clarkfield Farms
12-12-2013, 03:57 PM
What, no mention of Buckthorn?!?!?! HOW CAN THE LIST BE COMPLETE, THEN?!?! oh the horror... :D Right, Dave? ;)

Actually, that miserable weed that I despise more than just about anything else on the planet DOES burn well. It seasons quickly, the too-small-to-use branches chip well or can be left to rot (they decompose fairly fast), the majority of the trees can be used without need for splitting, and not splitting surprisingly enough doesn't seem to retard the drying rate. I do detest it, but I've found something positive - it burns well and catches fast.

I honestly have no idea what its BTU value is, though.

On another note, I personally believe that there's a LOT more to the whole subject than a wood's BTU value, per weight or per cord. Again, personally, I think it matters most to talk about BTU'S per ACRE, PER YEAR. How I mean it is this way: Coppice management of woodlots, as has been mentioned above. I've been aware of it since I was a kid back in the 70's, I think it was an article in a "Farmstead" magazine from back in the day and it made a convert out of me. I still have a copy of the chart prepared by the Northeast State and Private Forestry Report from -- I can't find a date. But it was "old" back then.

Essentially, in calculating millions of BTU'S per acre, PER YEAR, involves the number of trees per acre, rate of growth, resprouting (coppice) ability, harvest cycle, annual yield per acre and average BTU's per cord.

Birch (type not specified): 29.7 million BTU's/cord, growth rate X resprouting ability = 0.5, millions of BTU's/acre/year = 14.9
Hickory (type not specified): 40.4 million BTU's/cord, growth rate X resprouting ability = 0.8, millions of BTU's/acre/year = 32.3
Willow (type not specified): 17.7 million BTU's/cord, growth rate X resprouting ability = 3.0, millions of BTU's/acre/year = 53.0
Hybrid Poplars: 18.7 million BTU's/cord, growth rate X resprouting ability = 3.2, millions of BTU's/acre/year = 59.8
Osage Orange: 43.3 million BTU's/cord, growth rate X resprouting ability = 1.2, millions of BTU's/acre/year = 51.9

There are 21 species used in the study.

This is certainly NOT to suggest anything other than what the facts show; meaning, I know that it takes a far greater volume of poplar to produce the same amount or value of heat than it does oak or hickory or maple. The study was designed to show users with limited land resources how it was much more economical to use species not previously thought to be good for heating.

The growth rate x resprouting ability may be hard to understand at first. Take oak, for example: It may take 20 years to reach a suitable diameter for harvest, and it has a poor-to-fair (red is better at resprouting than white) resprouting ability, and that coppice takes another 6-10 years or more to again reach suitable diameter, AND the oak may not survive more than 2 or 3 of these harvest cycles before the plot needs replanting, and then start all over again with 20+ years to first harvest.

On the other hand, it may take a hybrid poplar only 3 years to reach suitable harvest diameter (4-6"), it has, really, a 100% resprouting ability, and is again ready for harvest in less than 4 years. Additionally, the hybrid poplars seemed to take this cut-regrowth cycle very well, since they could repeat this for more than 30 years.

So, that's my take on it. More wood from the same woodlot with less cost? I'm OK with that. One caveat: this is not to say that larger woodlots are as doable for coppicing. Coppice management CAN be labor intensive. It's all in the planning and execution, though. And again, it's all about doing what you can with what you've got.

- Tim out. :)

EDIT - hmmm, this may even be useful in limiting the spread of EAB, etc. ??? I dunno.

Clarkfield Farms
12-12-2013, 04:12 PM
And as for black (sweet) birch, we can tap those, too. :)

Also, if any of you that are near enough to me (13323) and have any ganoderma applanatum (artist's conch/conk, shelf fungus), which grows on pretty much any tree, or inonotus obliquus (chaga, cinder or clinker fungus), which prefers yellow and black birch but will also grow on aspen and poplar, as well as a few other species --- I'll buy it from you by the pound, and I'll come and harvest it. I need a lot of it. I make a tincture out of them, it takes a lot to make a little, and they've been helping my Dad. He's 96 this month, has been in excellent health (averaged twice a week golfing even with the miserable start to summer that we had!), but now has a recurring aggressive tumor that's spread into the cheek muscles and cheekbone. He and his doctors say that "it does seem to be helping." Not alone, he's certainly under medical care, but --- I'm close to running out of what I've got, and it can take years for them to reach a harvestable size. Sorry if this is inappropriate or in the wrong place.

12-12-2013, 05:42 PM
I used to haul 4-6 tons of sure-Pac on my 1 ton on a regular basis. Last I knew I had the record at the pit with 7.75 tons! Plenty of power to go but scary to stop.
I had rubber timbren( rubber) blocks in the rear. Shhhhh.....it's a secret.