Of all the different types of firewood, Spruce is a type that many people overlook. Spruce has a mid-range BTU output and it's easy to find in most areas in the north. Spruce also burns cleanly with little smoke or soot production when it is dry. But, does Spruce have any drawbacks? In this article we will examine whether Spruce is good firewood for your fireplace or outdoor fire pit.
Spruce is a popular firewood because it is so readily available. It burns relatively hot and has good heat value for the price. Spruce trees are also abundant in many areas of North America, making it an affordable firewood option.
Spruce: Hardwood or softwood?
A Spruce tree is a softwood. Spruce trees have a great capacity for drying out. Spruces have a high fuel value, which means they burn up very readily and quickly while producing warmth and light. Spruces also produce a good deal of heat while burning. Spruces are commonly grown in the northern US and Canada, where they grow at a much faster rate than other trees.
Because spruce trees are part of the pine family most of them don't burn extremely hot. There are a few that have a fairly high heat output. Most spruce trees produce between 14 and 16 million btu per cord.
Sitka Spruce produces about 21 million btu per cord. While black spruce produces only 16 million btu per cord.
Splitting/Seasoning Spruce (drying)
You'll enjoy splitting spruce. It chops easy and is one of those types of wood that throws wood chips all over the place like silver maple. You will have a nice confetti show as you slice into this semi-soft textured wood. As the wood chips fly they get all over your clothes and in your hair. It's a ball of fun. Make sure to wear safety glasses so the spruce wood chips don't get in your eyes.
Spruce have a lot of limbs. This can make spruce hard to get ready for cutting. Each individual branch needs to be removed before you can start cutting and splitting the wood.
The best time to split spruce is in the winter. Spruce sap is a lot less sticky, so you won't have sap holding the wood together and making a mess. Also, since it will be cold out, you won't sweat as much. That's a nice benefit.
Burning spruce as firewood
Most spruce is not very dense when it is dry. This makes spruce burn fast. It also makes it tend to smoke some. If it is dried really good then it won't smoke much.
Also, when spruce isn't dried well it will smolder and produce a lot of soot. This is why spruce firewood is most ideal for outdoor fires. Burn spruce in your fire pit and campfires.
If you are going to use spruce in your fireplace, you should make sure it is very dry. Clean and check your chimney more often if you are burning spruce in your fireplace. It can build up creosote deposits fast.
Although spruce burns kind of fast, it doesn't burn as fast as other softwoods like cottonwood and pine. Some people even feel it burns somewhat slow. I really think it depends on how big you are chopping the pieces of wood. Larger pieces will last a few hours and give you a nice fire to warm yourself and toast some marshmallows.
One cord of spruce is equivalent to 150 gallons of heating oil.
One of the biggest drawbacks of spruce is that it produces a lot of sparks. Spruce will pop and crackle a lot when it is not dried out good. Seasoning spruce and then keeping it dry is key to reducing the amount of sparks it produces.
Use a screen whenever burning spruce to prevent sparks sending embers into the air. This is another reason why it is not the best idea to burn spruce in your fireplace or wood burning stove. If you don't keep the chimney very clean, a spark can send an ember into the chimney and catch creosote that is trapped in the chimney on fire.
Spruce firewood cost between $250 and $400 per cord. If you can't pick the spruce up, you will have to pay a delivery fee on top of the price per cord.
Where is Spruce Good to burn
Spruce is best burned in a campfire and fire pit. You can burn it in a stove or fireplace, but be sure it is very dry.
Spruce puts off a slight odor when it is burned. If it seasoned well, it doesn't smell much. Some people feel that it stinks a lot when they burn spruce. The smell will vary depending on which type of spruce you are burning. White spruce seems to be the one that many people report as stinking.
Spruce will smoke and even smolder if it is not dry enough. Let the wood dry thoroughly before burning it and you won't have a big smoke issue.
Where does spruce grow
Spruce grows in the north, in colder climates. It can be found from Tennessee all the way up into Canada.
What can you do with your spruce tree stump
If you've cut a spruce tree down in your yard for firewood, you will have a stump left over. There are a few things you can do with the spruce stump.
The easiest thing to do with the stump from your spruce tree is to leave it alone. Over time it will decay and become part of your soil. You also can drill some holes in the stump and pour epsom salt on it. The epsom salt will help the spruce stump rot faster.
If you are ambition, you can rent a stump grinder and grind the stump. This will leave you with a bunch of spruce shavings that you can use to start your fires.
Spruce is not the perfect firewood, but it is a good product to burn. Use spruce to get a fire started. Keep the branches and needles you trim off as kindling.
Dry spruce thoroughly and it will burn well for you without smoking much. Cover your fire with a screen when burning spruce because sparks will fly.