Hemlock is not often thought of as good firewood, but it really is. It burns hot and clean, and is the perfect wood for a campfire or fireplace. If you're looking for something different to use as firewood this winter, give hemlock a try.
What is hemlock firewood good for?
Hemlock is a versatile firewood that can be used for everything from stoves to bonfires. It burns fairly hot and slow, making it ideal for longer fires that need to be maintained over time. Additionally, hemlock produces little smoke when burned.
How to select the best hemlock firewood?
It's important to select the right hemlock for your needs, though. Here are a few tips:
- Look for hemlock that is dry and free of knots. Wet or green wood will not burn well.
- Cut the logs into uniform sizes so they will stack easily and burn evenly. 18 inches is a good length for most fireplace grates.
- Split the logs using an axe or maul so they fit snugly on the grate and catch fire more easily. Hemlock splits relatively easily compared to other woods like oak or maple.
- Store your hemlock in a dry place until you're ready to use it - damp wood won't burn as well as dry wood, even if it's been split already.
The different types of hemlock trees and what they are typically used for
There are three main types of hemlock trees: the Eastern hemlock, the Carolina hemlock, and the Mountain hemlock.
The Eastern Hemlock is the largest of the three species and can grow up to 80 feet tall. It is native to eastern North America and can be found as far north as Maine and as far south as Georgia. The tree has a pyramidal shape with small needles that are dark green on top and light green on the bottom. The cones are brown and oval-shaped, about 2 inches long. The wood of this tree is soft and not very strong, so it is not often used for construction purposes. However, it does make good firewood. This tree prefers shady areas with moist soils but can also tolerate full sun if necessary.
The Carolina Hemlock only grows to about 50 feet tall making it smaller than the Eastern Hemlock. It is found in the southern Appalachian Mountains ranging from Virginia to Tennessee. Like its cousin, it has a pyramid shape with flat needles that are slightly curved inward at their tips; however, these needles tend to be more yellowish-green in coloration. Additionally, instead of having one central trunk like most other trees, multiple trunks emerge from its base giving off an umbrella-like appearance. Although beautiful, the wood from this particular species isn't useful for much beyond kindling due to its brittle nature. Lastly, another identifying factor of the Carolina Hemlock is the small, round cones that it produces which measure no more than an inch in diameter.
The Mountain Hemlock is the largest of the three hemlock species and can grow up to 100 feet tall. It's found in western North America specifically in the mountains of California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, and Nevada. This tree has a conical shape with dense, dark green needles that are arranged in pairs along the branches. The cones of this tree are small, brown, and oval-shaped measuring about 1-2 inches long. The wood of the Mountain Hemlock is strong and durable making it good for construction purposes such as lumber, fence posts, and telephone poles. Additionally, it makes good firewood because it burns well.
General maintenance tips for using hemlock firewood
If you have hemlock firewood, follow these tips to get the most out of it:
- Only use dry wood. Hemlock dries quickly, so make sure your logs are well-seasoned before using them. Wet wood will smoke heavily and produce little heat.
- Split the logs into smaller pieces. Hemlock burns best when split into small chunks or thin strips no more than 2 inches thick. This allows air to circulate around the log and helps it catch fire easily.
- Build a hot fire. A good way to start a blazing hemlock fire is by building up a bed of red embers first using lots of kindling material such as twigs paper cardboard, etc. Once this foundation is built then add some slightly larger pieces on top like small sticks and pinecones until you eventually add your big hemlock logs.
How to season hemlock firewood
Hemlock should be seasoned for at least 6 months prior to being burned. This allows the moisture content in the wood time to evaporate, making it easier to light and creating hotter, longer lasting flames when you do burn it. Seasoned hemlock can also produce less smoke than unseasoned or green logs. To season your logs, split them into manageable pieces and stack them in a dry location away from direct sunlight with good air circulation around them - a shed or garage works well for this purpose. Check your stacks periodically throughout the curing process to make sure they are still drying evenly; if not, rearrange the pieces so that damp ones are moved toward the outside of the stack where they will have better airflow exposure.
If you don't have six months to wait, kiln-drying is another option for seasoning hemlock firewood more quickly (although this method isn't as effective). Simply put wet lumber into a chamber where warm air circulates around it until the desired level of moisture has been reached inside each piece of wood.
Safety precautions when using hemlock firewood
Hemlock can produce more sparks than other kinds of firewood. This means that there are some special safety precautions to take when using hemlock firewood. Here are a few tips:
- Make sure your fireplace or woodstove has a spark screen in place before starting a fire. A spark screen will help catch any errant sparks and prevent them from igniting anything outside of the fireplace or stove.
- Keep a close eye on any fires made with hemlock wood - be prepared to extinguish them quickly if necessary. Because they burn so hot and slow, hemlock fires can easily get out of control if not monitored carefully.
- Be extra careful when handling ashes from hemlock fires; they may still contain live embers which could start another fire if not disposed of properly.
Is hemlock firewood hardwood or softwood
Hemlock is a softwood, which means it's not as dense as hardwoods like oak or maple. This makes it easier to split and burn, but it also means that it doesn't produce as much heat. Hemlock is often used for kindling because of its ability to ignite easily.
Hemlock firewood BTUs
Hemlock provides an excellent source of heat thanks to its high BTU output. Though hemlock firewood doesn't burn as hot as some hardwoods, it does have a fairly high heat output. Hemlock produces 19.5 million BTUs per cord. You'll be able to enjoy consistent warmth throughout the winter by burning just a few pieces of this type of wood each day.
Does hemlock firewood make sparks?
The one downside to hemlock firewood is that it makes a lot of sparks. This doesn't mean you can't burn it in a fireplace or stove. Where every you are burning hemlock, you need to make sure you have a screen to keep the sparks from popping embers into your home or campsite.
How much does hemlock firewood cost?
Hemlock can cost between $130-$180 per cord delivered, depending on your location and the quality of the wood.
Is hemlock firewood good to burn in a fireplace, fire pit, stove, or campfire?
Hemlock firewood is a good choice for burning in a fireplace, fire pit, stove, or campfire. Hemlock wood burns hot and produces little smoke, making it ideal for indoor use. The high heat output of hemlock also makes it well-suited for outdoor fires where you want maximum warmth. Just remember to take precautions for all of the sparks that hemlock produces.
How does hemlock firewood smell when it is burned?
Hemlock firewood has a distinct smell when it is burned. Some people say it smells like pine, while others say it has a more earthy scent. Either way, hemlock firewood definitely has its own unique smell that can be quite pleasant.
Does hemlock firewood smoke?
Hemlock doesn't produce much smoke, so it's great for indoor use.