Cherry Firewood: Is It Good?

Cherry Tree in Bloom

Cherry is average to good firewood, which is mostly recognized for its wonderful aroma. It is commonly used for smoking and cooking purposes. Cherry is hardwood but it does not perform as well as oak, beech or black locust due to its low heat output.

Most Cherry trees grow in USDA zone 5 to 9. They’re not drought tolerant and they grow best in well-drained soil with lots of sunshine. Moreover, they’re often grown as landscape trees due to their beautiful blossoms.

Cherry produces high-quality lumber which is used for furniture, cabinets, and flooring. The wood has reddish-brown color throughout its sapwood and hardwood which makes it different from other hardwood.

Burn Qualities of Cherry Firewood

Cherry is average to good firewood. It has a moderate heat output of 20.4 million BTU per cord. This heat output is in the middle of top performers (Black Locust 29.8) and worst ones (E. Red Cedar 13).

Other than heat output, cherry has a good set of characteristics in terms of coal quality, smoke, creosote, sparks, and excellent aroma. It is also easy to split and does not take too long to season.

  • BTU: 20.4 (Million BTUs) per Cord 
  • Weight: 2928 lbs. per Cord, Dry 
  • Seasoning Time: 8-10 months
  • Resin / Sap Content: Low
  • Splitting Difficulty: Easy
  • Smoke: Low
  • Smell: Pleasant, Fruity

Heat Output

As mentioned earlier, cherry does not produce heat comparable to the hottest burning firewoods; it falls in the middle. The burn quality is sufficient for most, especially when you can easily obtain Cherry. In my opinion, however, it’s not worth going out of your way to get.

Its unique smell makes it preferable for campfires and equally enjoyable for indoors. In this context, it can be placed alongside oak and hickory. Moreover, if you’ve spent any time smoking meats, you’ll know that Cherry is commonly used for this purpose.

Smoke

Cherry gives off very low smoke. You can burn it safely indoors. However, if wet or unseasoned, it can create a lot of smoke. So, be sure to properly season your firewood before burning!

Creosote

Cherry has low sap content and if seasoned properly, it produces little creosote. All firewood produces creosote, however, hardwoods produce a relatively low amount of it, compared to softwoods with high sap levels. Still, remember to clean your chimney often to avoid chimney-related fire hazards.

Spark

Cherry gives off very few sparks which make it safe for indoor use. Sparks can worsen your firewood experience, causing house fires and also wildfire in an open areas.

If wood is wet it produces more sparks compared to dry wood because at high temperatures, moisture can cause wood to pop and throw embers.

Smell 

Cherry has a very appealing smell which is perhaps the leading characteristic of this wood. It gives off a rich fruity smell and is often used to smoke and barbecue food.

Coals

Cherry produces good coals which burn for a long time. Although it does not compete with oak or black locust, it still does pretty well. You can rely on it for your wake time. Unseasoned or wet wood does not produce good coals and they burn out fast.

Sap

Cherry has low levels of sap. This is one the best qualities of burning it in your stove.

Splitting

Cherry is fairly easy to split, comparitively speaking. You can easily split it with an axe or splitting maul. A hydraulic woodsplitter, however, is preferable.

Comparing Cherry Firewood to Others

Cherry is good firewood and performs better than average. It lags only in the heat output. Otherwise, the rest of the properties bring it on par with excellent firewood species.

Its peculiarity lies in its fragrance which adds an exotic touch to the firewood experience. Splitting isn’t bad, it seasons fast, and burning it is an enjoyable experience.

SpeciesWeight (lbs./Cord) DryHeat per Cord (Million BTUs)
Osage-orange472832.9
Black Locust401629.8
Pecan450028.5
Beech376027.5
Walnut, Black319222.2
Sweetgum259221.3
Cherry292820.4
Elm, American287220.0
Pine, Ponderosa233616.2
Pine, White225015.9
Fir, White210414.6
Redcedar, Eastern206013.0 

How Long to Season Cherry Firewood?

It takes roughly 6 to 8 months to fully season under optimal conditions. Seasoning firewood brings out the real potential of any firewood. If wood is not dried fully, you get an awful experience, even with the finest wood.

Seasoning time can vary with the external conditions. In hot and less humid states the drying process is faster as compared to cold areas. You also need to stack the wood properly in the rows and leave space between the rows for air passage.

Choose an open area, away from a fence and shade with a lot of sunshine and air. Kiln drying delivers a better experience and thoroughly dried firewood in very little time.

Identifying Cherry Trees

Cherry is a deciduous tree from the genus Prunus and family Rosaceae. Its fruits are called drupe. Cherry trees grow in USDA zones 5 to 9 and it usually blooms in spring between mid-March and mid-April and is commonly used as a low maintenance landscape tree.

There are several different varieties, some of which can even be grown in a container. The most common variety is black cherry which is found through eastern and Central United States. They can grow between 50 to 80 feet in height.

The cherry tree is known for its fragrant blooms in the spring season which later produce red berries, eaten by birds, animals, and humans. Contrary to popular belief, not all varieties produce edible cherries.

Leaves

Leaves of cherry trees have a dark green color with an oval shape and pointed tips. They’re glossy green with toothed edges. In fall, leaves change colors into golden, yellow, bronze, orange, and red.

Bark

Cherry Tree Bark
Cherry Tree Bark. Public Domain Picture

It is easy to identify a Cherry tree with its brown to grey bark which has horizontal cuts on it. Cherry bark is hard.

Featured Photo by: Rick Obst Flickr (CC BY-NC 2.0)

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