Heat Value of Firewood    


Certain tree varieties produce firewood that gives off more heat than others. Osage orange, honeylocust, black locust, bur and post oaks all have high heat values. However, osage orange firewood tends to spark which can be dangerous, especially in an open fire. If you’re harvesting your own firewood, it is beneficial to note wood from certain species, such as black locust and elms, is difficult to split.

The Kansas Forest Service has published a great resource for landowners about this topic: “Managing your Woodland for Firewood”.

Homeowners who plan to purchase firewood should buy local to avoid spreading pests including Emerald Ash Borer. The chart below ranks the woodland species in terms of the heat value (measured in British Thermal Units, BTUs) per cord of wood. A cord is the amount of wood, stacked well, in a pile that measures 4 feet wide by 8 feet long by 4 feet high. Higher BTU values indicate more heat produced. (Cynthia Domenghini)


Tree Variety BTU  
Ash, Green 22.8  
Cottonwood 15.9  
Elm, American 19.8 Difficult to split
Elm, Red 20.6 Difficult to split
Elm, Siberian 20.9 Difficult to split
Hackberry 21.0  
Honeylocust 25.6  
Locust, Black 28.3 Difficult to split
Maple, Sugar 24.0  
Maple, Silver 18.9  
Mulberry 25.3  
Oak, Red 24.0  
Oak, Bur 24.9  
Oak, Post 25.6  
Osage Orange 32.6 Tends to spark
Sycamore 19.5 Difficult to split
Walnut, Black 21.8  


Cynthia Domenghini, Instructor and Horticulture Extension Specialist


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