Is Poplar Good Firewood: What You Need to Know

Poplar trees are often considered to be good firewood. They can grow quickly, they produce a lot of heat for their size. But is poplar really so great? The answer isn't so clear-cut because there are some major points that should be considered before you decide which type of wood to use for your next campfire, fire pit, or fireplace. We'll take a look at the positives and negatives below and provide an in-depth analysis on whether or not this species of tree is actually worth considering as fuel for your fireplace or stove top burners.

Poplar is a great firewood choice for many people, but before you start chopping down trees to use as fuel, there are some things that you need to know about poplar. The first thing that you should know is that it doesn't have the best BTU output. In fact, it has one of the lowest outputs among all hardwoods. It also dries quickly, but can easily re-absorb moisture. However, if your looking for an inexpensive wood to burn in your fireplace or stove then poplar might be the perfect option for you.

What is poplar?

Poplar is a tree that grows in the northeast region of the United States. It's known for its white to light-yellow wood, which is soft and easy to work with. Poplar has been used in furniture, paper making, and construction for centuries because it can be cut into boards without warping or cracking. This article will go over what you need to know about poplar before using it as firewood.

Is poplar a hardwood or softwood

Poplar is considered to be a hardwood. Although poplar is a hardwood, it is softer than most other hardwoods.

The wood from a poplar is not very dense and does not hold up well to the elements. If you are planning on using it for firewood, then we suggest that you split it and cover it fast. Poplars also tend to burn pretty quickly too, so if you are using it in an outdoor fireplace, for example, you will need to cut and chop it often.

The best place to use poplar is when building crates or boxes that do not require strength. It can also make very decent furniture if cared for properly; however, there are far more stronger woods out there.

Poplar BTU's

Poplar has a low heat output. There doesn't seem to be any definitive data on the exact amount of BTU's per cord that poplar produces. The numbers I have been able to find range from 12 to 14 million BTU's per cord. This mean poplar's heat output is about half of oak's.

Splitting/Seasoning (drying) poplar

Splitting and cutting poplar is easy. It also dries very fast. Some people feel it dries to fast and becomes no good if you don't burn it quickly after it dries. Others feel that you can maintain the pile longer if you store your poplar correctly and protect it from the elements. Poplar will absorb moisture easily if it is not kept dry.

Most pieces of poplar can be dried and seasoned within 6 months to a year. If you are in the spring and need to prepare some wood to burn in the fall, poplar is a good choice. Split it into small to medium pieces and it will be ready to burn in the fall.

One good benefit of poplar is that it is lightweight. When it is dry it is even lighter. Since you will need to burn more to produce the heat of harder wood, you will need to handle more poplar. Being lightweight should help save your back.

Burning Poplar

You can burn poplar in the cooler months and in the cold. You just need a lot of it if you want it to be your main wood for the colder months. It can be hard to keep a house warm all night with poplar because it doesn't produce coals. This also means you won't have coals in the morning to get the fire started.

On the plus side, poplar catches fire quickly. With a little kindling you can get a fire burning well with poplar as your firewood.

Poplar will work well as firewood in the north for the cooler months. If it is the only kind of wood you can get, then try to split and stack large amounts. If you keep feeding the fire poplar, it will produce good heat. Night time will be the hardest time to use poplar in the north, especially in the coldest months. You may need to wake periodically and feed the fire to keep your house warm.

Poplar can be a good wood to burn in the south in either cool or cold months. The further north you are, though, may mean having to subject yourself to waking to feed the fire at night time.

To maximize your wood supply and get a longer burn time, you should mix poplar with hardwoods. Poplar is especially good a reviving a fire that has gone out.

One cord of poplar is equivalent to burning about 100 gallons of fuel oil.

Does Poplar Spark

Poplar is known to produce sparks when it is burning. To lower the amount of sparks, make sure your poplar is well seasoned. Any moisture left in the wood will add to the popping when it is burning.

To protect yourself and things around your fire, use a screen to catch any embers or small pieces of wood that may be thrown when you burn poplar.

Poplar Smell and smoke

Poplar smokes some when it is burned. You can reduce the amount of smoke by drying it properly. Poplar gives off a bitter, but sometimes sweet smell when it is burned.

Is poplar good firewood for fireplace?

Poplar is good firewood for a fireplace. Use a screen when burning poplar in your fireplace. It tends to pop and crack.

Is poplar good firewood for fire pits?

When making a fire in a fire pit, you usually only want a fire for a few hours. Poplar is a good wood for fire pits because it burns quickly and doesn't leave coals. This means, when the fire is done, there isn't much to extinguish.

Is tulip (yellow) poplar good firewood?

Tulip poplar is denser and heavier than other poplar. It is particularly denser than aspen poplar. Tulip poplar burns a little hotter at 16 million BTU's per cord. Tulip poplar is a good all around firewood.

Is black poplar good for firewood?

Black poplar can be challenging to work with. This is because it has a high moisture content and the wood can be prone to splitting or cracking as well as warping when drying out over time after being cut down from trees. If you are looking for firewood that will give off intense heat, black poplar might not be the best choice, but if you enjoy a wood that burns clean and gives off little smoke, this is a good choice for you.

Is hybrid poplar good firewood?

When people talk about hybrid poplar, they are usually referring to one of two types of poplar; American poplar mix with cottonwood or black poplar. Both of these hybrid poplar have the same characteristics as other poplar when it comes to using them as firewood.


Poplar is a great firewood choice because it burns easily and produces good heat. Poplar may not be as popular as other types of wood like oak or cherry, but its affordability and quickness in burning make it an excellent alternative when you want to get your fireplace going quickly or need something extra on hand if friends drop by unexpectedly.