Silver maple is not considered to be the greatest firewood for the coldest months, but many consider it good for burning during cool months. It is not as good at producing heat as some of your harder woods like oak, beech, and ash. It is does, however, burn slower than soft woods and produces a medium heat of about 19.5 million BTU's per cord.
Many people refer to silver maple as a good shoulder wood. Now, if you're like me, you may be asking what is shoulder wood. I did a little digging around and came to this conclusion about shoulder wood. Shoulder wood is wood you burn when it is cool outside, but not cold. Some people also like to differentiate between day burning and night burning. They say you should burn shoulder wood in the day and your harder wood at night.
The next logical question is, “Why is silver maple a good shoulder wood?” In a perfect situation, where you have a variety of softwood, medium hardwood, and hardwood, silver maple would be considered a shoulder wood. This is because you have other wood that is harder; more dense. The harder wood will output more heat and burn longer.
Most people, however, don't live in a perfect world. If that's you, then welcome to the club. If silver maple is all you have to burn, then it is both a shoulder season wood and a regular season wood. If you have pine and silver maple wood, then pine would be your shoulder wood and silver maple your regular season wood. If you have silver maple and oak, then silver maple would be your shoulder wood and oak your regular season wood.
Splitting silver maple
Silver maple splits fairly easy when it is from smaller parts of the tree. It is said by some to be a fun wood to chop. It doesn't require a lot of effort to split and makes a confetti of white as the wood chips disperse on each strike.
When you get closer to the trunk, silver maple can be very hard. Splitting it can be a real chore. Some people even resolve to using a mechanical or water splitter when splitting pieces from the base of the tree.
Split silver maple logs in the early spring into small pieces. Silver maple dries fast. It will be seasoned and ready to go in the fall.
If you want to burn silver maple during the really cold months, you should cut it into larger pieces. This way it will burn longer.
Burning silver maple
Properly seasoned silver maple will burn well. It doesn't burn as slow as oak, but it isn't a fast burning wood either. A stove or fireplace loaded up with silver maple can burn for 8 hours.
When the wood is close to being finished, you will have nice hot coals. You can use these coals to get more wood burning.
Silver maple can also be good to use when starting another, harder wood. Use a layer approach to starting your fire. Place silver maple at the top and let it get burning good. Then place your harder wood on top. The slow burn of the silver maple will give plenty of fire to ignite your harder wood.
Silver maple, like other maple woods, give of a nice smell when you burn it. It burns clean as long as it is seasoned correctly.
Should you remove bark from silver maple
Removing bark from silver maple before storing and burning is a good idea. The bark has a lot of crevices that will allow bugs to nest in it. This is not a big issue if you keep the wood away from your home, but can be a source of trouble if you have the wood on your back patio near or against your house.
Removing the bark before burning is also a good idea because the bark contains creosote. Creosote is basically carbon based chemicals that can be harmful when burned. The biggest issue with creosote is when it is burned in fireplaces. The creosote can build up in the chimney and cause a fire risk. It is better to remove bark from wood that is going to be burned in a fireplace. Whether you remove the bark, though, you should clean your chimney regularly so there is no build up or blockages.
Silver maple bark will not be able to be removed by hand when the wood is fresh. You will have to let it dry out some. Once it has dried, you will see pieces of bark curling away from the wood. Grab a hold of the pieces and use leverage to break off as much as you can. You won't be able to get all of it off of every piece of wood. Remove as much as you can. If some of the bark is left on the silver maple wood, it is okay to burn.
Silver maple is a good firewood to burn in your fireplace, fire pit, wood stove, or in a campfire. It is harder than many types of wood, but it is not as hard as others, like oak. It produces a moderate amount of heat. It produces a nice heat for the cooler months. It can keep you warm during the coldest months. You will have to burn more of it to produce the heat of harder woods. This means you will burn through it a lot faster than the harder woods.
If you have the opportunity to get some silver maple, whether through cutting your own tree or some other source, take it. Silver maple will not disappoint. It will warm you and your family while producing a lovely aroma.