Is Willow Good Firewood? The Pros And Cons

Willow's low density means that it doesn't produce as much heat per cord, making it less economical to use in large quantities.

We will be discussing Willow firewood. Willow is a type of firewood that has been used for centuries by many different cultures. Willow trees are deciduous trees which means they lose their leaves every year and grow back in the springtime. Willow wood can vary depending on where it is grown. It typically grows to about 50 feet tall. The average lifespan of Willow trees ranges from 20-40 years before they die naturally or get cut down for lumber or firewood production.

Willow wood has long been used for making baskets, furniture, and other household goods. It's also popular for use in firewood nowadays. The question is often asked if Willow makes good firewood due to the high moisture content in Willow trees .

The willow tree is a common sight in many parts of the US and Europe. Willow trees bark has a distinctive pattern that resembles waves crashing on the shore. Willow also grows quickly and does not require much care to grow well. Willow is often used for firewood because it burns at an even temperature with little smoke or sparks, but there are some drawbacks as well.

Willow is often used to supplement other types of firewood because it burns so fast; helping get other hardwoods started.

Willow: Hardwood or softwood

Willow is a lightweight hardwood. It has a lot of moisture in it. This makes the wood very heavy when it is green. But, when it is dry, it is very light. Because it is lightweight, it burns very quickly when it is dried.

Willow BTU's

Willow produces about 17 million BTU's per cord. This is not very hot, but it is a good heat. Most people that burn willow use it as a shoulder wood. It is hot enough to burn in the north during cool weather.

Mix it with hardwoods like oak and hickory to increase the heat output. For instance, if you have half willow which outputs 17 million BTU's and white oak which outputs about 26 million BTU's per cord, you resulting fire will output 26 + 17 = 43/2 = 21.5 million BTU's per cord.

Splitting/Seasoning willow

Willow, although very heavy when wet, splits fairly easy. The bigger issue is seasoning willow. Willow can take a few years to dry out.

If you don't keep willow in a really dry spot, it may never dry out. Willow also will not start to dry until it has been split. Willow has been called the wettest wood in the world.

Burning willow

Willow is best burned in a fire pit due to the smell it produces. You can burn it in your fireplace, but it may leave an unpleasant smell.

Willow, when seasoned properly, burns fast. Some people feel willow burns too fast and actually stay clear of it. If your willow wood is not dry, it may not burn at all.

You will definitely have to move a bunch of it from your pile into the fire because it burns so fast. If you use it as a starter wood, then you won't need to move that much of it.

Get a fire started with a little kindling. Then add some willow to the fire and top it with a harder wood that will burn longer. The willow will give enough heat to the harder wood to get it started burning good.

Willow is most used as firewood in the Northern Hemisphere. Willow trees are originally from China.

Burning one cord of willow is the same as burning 150 gallons of heating oil.

Does Willow spark when burned

Willow doesn't produce many sparks when it is burned. Some woods produce more sparks when they are wet. Willow doesn't pop much when it is wet, it just won't burn well, if at all, when it's wet.

Cost of willow

Willow is very cheap to obtain. Some people don't want to spend the time drying it, so they give it away. It really boils down to if you have many willows growing in your area.

Check with your neighbors to see if they are thinking of felling any willows. They may even pay you to haul it off.

How does willow smell when burned

Willow is known to not smell good when burning. Some people say willow smells like pee when burned. Others say it gives of a sweet odor; kind of like antifreeze. Many others believe willow loses its stench when it is completely dry.

If you find that willow has a bad smell when you burn it after you have dried it well, you may want to only use it outdoors. In this case it would be good to use in a fire pit or campfire.

If it doesn't smell bad when you burn it, you can use it in your fireplace and stove; as well as in your fire pit and campfire. You should test it before burning it indoors. It's better to have a stink outside then inside.

Does willow firewood smoke?

Willow doesn't smoke much when it is burned. If it's not dried well, it will produce more smoke then if you season it correctly.

Conclusion

There are mixed reviews on burning willow. Some people feel it is well worth the time to split, season, and burn willow as firewood. Others won't even let someone drop it off for free.

If you don't have much other wood, then you should take as much willow as you can. Just remember it takes a while to dry. And you have to keep it out of the elements so it does re-absorb moisture.

Also, consider that you have to take time to split and dry it. If you can get better wood, weigh the options between spending the time to prepare the willow vs. preparing a better wood. You may find it's not worth your time to work with the willow when you can work with a better wood.