Is Cottonwood Good Firewood?

Cottonwood is a fast-growing shady deciduous tree that is easily identified by its toothed leaves and cottony seeds. Like a lot of tree species, cottonwood trees are harvested for firewood. So, is cottonwood good firewood? This is where the focus is. As you read through this guide, you’ll find all the helpful information on how this wood ranks in terms of firewood quality.

This guide is comprehensive enough in its coverage of relevant information such as the pros and cons of using cottonwood for firewood, and how long it takes to season. We’ve also included information about how it compares to hardwoods like oak, heat output, and finally conclude by providing an answer to the question asked.

Cottonwood Firewood: Pros and Cons

Are you looking to use cottonwood for heating? If you do, you may be interested in knowing the pros and cons. Starting with the advantages, there are several that include low smoke emission (for well-seasoned cottonwood). It’s easy to light, and also widespread. In other words, this tree species is common and can be found across the United States. It’s also a wood that will fit your indoor heating needs (suitable for fireplaces and woodstoves).

Still on the advantages, cottonwood firewood is generally considered as being easy to split. This is one of the major considerations for users who often go for woods posing less difficulty. What more? The seasoning time for cottonwood is quite fair as it takes anywhere from 6 months to a year depending on climatic conditions of your area.

On the flip side, cottonwood firewood has its own challenges that include a high sap and resin content of around 62%. This means it will require adequate seasoning and may have to be mixed with other hardwood species for efficient heating. This hardwood has a slight smell which may be considered offensive to some users.

Compared to other hardwoods, the heat generated when combusting cottonwood isn’t as much. Temperate conditions will require going for firewood with greater heat generation or BTUs. These are mostly denser and produce more heat per cord. Examples of these include hickory, ash, beech, and oak. There are several other examples you can explore.

How Long It Takes to Season 

One of the considerations people make when choosing or harvesting trees for firewood is the seasoning duration. In other words; how long it takes to dry. The best woods for firewood shouldn’t take too long to season and vice versa. That is, a medium seasoning time should suffice. Cottonwood falls into this category as it takes an average of 6 months to a year to properly season.

Sometimes, it may take longer than a year based on climatic conditions of your area. For optimal seasoning, the wood must be suspended from the ground and kept where there’s ample exposure to sunlight. It’s important to note that the performance of your firewood is tied to how well it’s seasoned. Green or improperly seasoned cottonwood will generate a lot of smoke and creosote which isn’t good for your chimney.

How Cottonwood Compares to Other Hardwoods

Cottonwoods are hardwoods and hardwoods are generally known to be denser, thus ideal for firewood and other uses. However, there are differences between hardwoods in several respects like the density. Denser hardwoods tend to perform better as burning fuel compared to less denser hardwoods. Cottonwood is considered less dense compared to hardwoods like oak and hickory.

In other words, cottonwood firewood won’t burn as efficiently as oak or hickory firewood. By itself, it’s considered pretty good as it will serve your general heating needs. However, you may have to combine this firewood species with others for optimal performance. Thankfully, there are lots of options to consider. We recommend further research if you’re open to other efficient heating alternatives.

Heat Output

How much heat does cottonwood firewood produce? This is a vital piece of information when choosing or exploring heating fuels. Now, heat output is measured in BTU and for this tree species, the BTU is around 15.8 million per cord. While this may sound like much, there are other wood species, that are denser and have much higher heat outputs or BTU. Good examples include iron wood at 30 million BTU per cord and hickory at 28 million BTU per cord.

However, this doesn’t mean firewood from cottonwood trees won’t get the job done. They generally do. Nevertheless, more temperate areas may require denser firewood types as heating fuels as they burn longer and more efficiently. We’ve mentioned some of these to include hickory, oak, beech, and many other variants. Further explore and compare these with cottonwood to find a more suitable type.

Other Uses of Cottonwood

Is cottonwood used for other things besides firewood? Absolutely! Its versatility is quite remarkable. This tree means different things to different people, hence its use as pulpwood, and for medicinal purposes. What more? The lumber value of cottonwood is high. Like a lot of tree species, Cottonwood trees serve as home to wildlife like birds who may also feed on the seeds held by catkins produced by the tree.

From the name alone, it’s often assumed that cottonwood does produce cotton. However, that isn’t entirely the case as the fluffy material isn’t true cotton and can’t serve as a suitable material. Despite this fact, this tree is generally considered valuable for a lot of things besides firewood.

So, Is Cottonwood Good Firewood?

So far, we’ve discussed extensively on general combustive characteristics of cottonwood. This section serves as the conclusion of our findings. Yes, cottonwood is generally considered as good firewood as it can be used in a variety of heating scenarios including indoor heating. However, it doesn’t come without its downsides as also discussed above. There are several firewood species that easily outperform cottonwoods.

The final decision of choosing the best heating fuel for your needs rests entirely on you. Again, we recommend you do further research to have a broader pool of options to pick from. You can also maximize your experience by combining cottonwood firewood with denser species for best results. These will enhance overall efficiency. Also ensure your wood is adequately seasoned.

In conclusion, cottonwood is considered good firewood and may serve all your heating needs. Making a choice comes with a lot of responsibility on your part as you need to explore your options. This guide offers useful advice required to get started.