The spruce tree is a large coniferous evergreen that can reach a height of over 100 feet. Found in most parts of northern North America, the wood is popular for construction, paper pulp, and furniture. If you’d like to know if spruce is good firewood then keep reading. We’ll take a close look at how it compares to other popular varieties of wood.
Is spruce good for firewood?
Spruce firewood produces less heat than most popular alternatives, making it a better option for shoulder season firewood. Keep in mind it has poor coaling properties so you’ll need to keep feeding the fire regularly to keep it blazing.
- Low heat output and fast burning.
- Easy to split with practically any type of axe.
- Produces moderate levels of smoke and a lot of sparks.
- Emits a slight fragrance when burning.
Spruce firewood burn qualities
1. Heat output
Looking at heat output will usually be your first consideration when evaluating firewood. Whether you’re sitting around a campfire or relaxing at home, you want it to provide adequate warmth.
Spruce outputs 15.5 million BTUs per cord which is at the lower end of the spectrum. That’s at a similar level to white pine and cottonwood, all soft types of wood.
The heat produced by spruce is a lot less than beech, apple, hickory, rock elm, and black locust. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t burn it if you’ve got some old logs lying around. It’s okay for kindling or burning in the shoulder season when temperatures are still mild.
Check out the following table comparing the heat output of spruce to various other common types of firewood.
|Wood variety||Heat per Cord (Million BTUs)|
Spruce gives off moderate levels of smoke, so you may end up with a smoked-out house and sore eyes if you’ve got an open fire. If you’ve got a wood stove or fireplace with a door then smoke won’t be a big issue.
All firewood needs to be adequately seasoned before it gets tossed in the fire. Green wood is high in water content and will billow out smoke as it burns. Unseasoned wood is also much less efficient as the fire uses all its energy to evaporate water instead of giving off heat.
3. Ease of splitting
Spruce has a straight grain and is soft wood that is easy to split. If you’re unlucky, you may get stumps that are riddled with knots, making it much harder to split. For most though, splitting is a simple task.
Any axe should make quick work of splitting spruce, but to make life easier you can also invest in a splitting axe or maul.
You’ll want to split spruce when it’s green as this will speed up the drying process.
Spruce produces a lot of sparks as it burns, a lot like larch and mulberry. Inside a wood stove, you may enjoy the fireworks display, but you’ll need to take care if you’re camping or have an open hearth. Too much popping and sparks can create a fire hazard. Embers could burn the carpet or your skin.
Spruce doesn’t give off any fragrance as it burns, unlike some other popular firewood like cherry. For many, this won’t be a deal-breaker as the subtle smokiness that any fire gives off is enough.
Meat smokers and barbecue enthusiasts may want to combine spruce with another variety of firewood like apple or hickory.
Firewood that produces good quality coals will provide longer-lasting heat. Unfortunately, spruce ranks in the bottom few for coaling. That means you’ll need to keep feeding the fire frequently if you want to keep its heat intensity up.
The next day you’ll need to restart the fire from scratch as there won’t be any remaining embers glowing from the previous night.
7. Creosote build-up
Creosote is a type of black tar that slowly gets deposited on the inside of chimneys as the fire burns. Softwoods like spruce are notorious for producing higher levels of creosote. As this byproduct of the fire will clog up the chimney over time, you’ll need to clean it more regularly than if you burned hardwood like oak or hickory.