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More than Christmas Trees: Leyland Cypress as Firewood

More than Christmas Trees: Leyland Cypress as Firewood

When you see a Leyland cypress, a Christmas tree almost automatically pops up in your mind. We get it, you’ve used it for holiday decor before.

But did you know that Leyland cypress can also be used as firewood to keep you cozy during cold nights?

Now that we’ve piqued your interest, read more to find out how you can enjoy Leyland cypress all year round!

Is Leyland cypress a good choice of firewood?

Leyland cypress a good choice of firewood
Image: Good Housekeeping

Leyland cypress is an excellent choice for outdoor firewood. It easily ignites, produces large flames, and tends to spark and pop.

What are the wood-burning qualities of Leyland Cypress?

Leyland cypress possesses the following wood-burning qualities: High heat output, high smoke amount, high creosote build-up, low density, and a pine-like fragrance.

Let’s discuss these qualities in more detail below.

1. High Heat Output

Leyland Cypress wood provides high heat output with 21.7 million BTUs (heat per cord) of wood. This makes them useful for kindling activities because they quickly start a fire.

2. High Amount of Smoke

Leyland cypress is less dense and produces less heat than other hardwoods. 

Because it contains sap and less organic matter, there is less fuel. That is why the wood produces more smoke as it burns.

3. High Creosote Build-Up

Leyland cypress contains resins that create a lot of smoke as it burns and leaves creosote in the chimneys. 

So if you burn Leyland cypress, expect it to produce thick black tar inside the chimney, which is, unfortunately, hard to clean. 

4. Low Density

Generally, the lower the wood density, the easier it is to split the log, season more quickly, and increase burn output.

Leyland cypress is best chopped while still green. This way, the seasoning process is hastened, and wood produces more heat when burned.

5. Pine-Like Fragrance

Leyland cypress emits a pine-like fragrance you can enjoy while sitting by the campfire. That sure beats any pine-smelling aromatic candles from the shops!

What are the pros and cons of using Leyland cypress?

pros and cons of using Leyland cypress
Image: The Tree Center
Easy to sourceProne to sparks and pops
Has a pine-like aromaHas poor coaling properties
Excellent for kindlingBurns quickly
Quickly seasonsProduces a lot of smoke
Has low wood density

Pros of Using Leyland Cypress as Firewood

Leyland cypress is one of the most widely cultivated evergreen trees. It is a versatile, fast-growing tree that can be used as an ornament, hedge for privacy, and firewood, so you’re sure they’re always available in the market. 

Compared to hardwood which takes two years to season, it only takes 6 to 12 months to season a softwood like the Leyland cypress. The seasoning process is also hastened because of its low wood density, contributing to a higher heat output when burned.

With all these perks, you can easily ignite the Leyland cypress and enjoy its pine-like fragrance during your outdoor activities. 

Cons of Using Leyland Cypress as Firewood

Thanks to its high heat output, Leyland cypress firewood is prone to producing sparks and pops while quickly burning. It also creates a high amount of smoke and hard-to-clean creosote after burning. 

The Leyland cypress is also not advisable for overnight burning because of its poor coaling properties. It leaves little to no coal, making restarting a fire from its remnants difficult. 

Leyland Cypress vs. Other Firewoods

Leyland Cypress vs. Other Firewoods
Image: Financial Times

Energy contained in firewood is measured by British Thermal Unit or BTU. When the BTU is high, it takes more energy and time for the wood to burn. 

Leyland cypress produces 21.7 million BTUs of heat per cord. 

Let’s see how Leyland cypress compares to other firewood varieties:

Variety of WoodHeat per Cord (per million BTUs)
Coffee Tree21.6
Birch 23.6
White Oak25.7
Black Locust27.9
Source: Axe Adviser and The Woodwork Place

How long does Leyland cypress take to season?

How long does Leyland cypress take to season
Image: Direct Stoves

It takes six months to 1 year for Leyland cypress to be seasoned or dried before it can be used as firewood.

Well-seasoned firewood usually has a paler color and cracks at its ends. When struck together, the seasoned firewood should make a clacking sound. 

Tips for Seasoning Leyland Cypress

You can speed up the seasoning process of Leyland cypress woods in three different ways: by splitting the firewood, covering it, or simply ensuring proper airflow.

Let’s take a look at each of these in more detail below.

1. Splitting the Firewood

Splitting the Firewood
DifficultyModerate ●●●○○
Duration1 to 3 hours
Things You NeedChopping block
Axe or maul

Splitting the firewood helps hasten the seasoning process and enables the wood to produce more heat when burned. It increases the surface area exposed to sunlight and wind so that it will dry more quickly. 

How To Do

1. Chop the wood into a 16 to 20-inch log. It is best to do this step while the tree is still green. 
2. Prepare a chopping block. You can use a tree stump or a trunk that stands at least 6 inches above the ground. 
3. Place the log vertically in the chopping block and split the firewood.

2. Covering the Firewood

Covering the Firewood
DifficultyEasy ●○○○○
Duration1 hour
Things You NeedNylon Tarpaulin 

We would like to protect the firewood from rain and snow so that moisture is shielded from the pile and will not disrupt the drying process.

How To Do

1. For the first layer, place the split woods parallel to each other, with a 3- to 5-inch gap in between. 
2. Build the second layer by laying the split wood perpendicular to the previous layer. 
3. Repeat 1 and 2 until all split wood is stacked. 
4. Cover the cypress wood with a tarpaulin or place it in a wood shed to protect it from rain or snow.

3. Ensuring Proper Airflow

Ensuring Proper Airflow
DifficultyEasy ●○○○○
Duration1 hour
Things You NeedWood Rack or Wood Boards
Hollow Blocks
Nylon Tarpaulin

An elevated area ensures proper air circulation on all sides of the firewood, speeding up the seasoning process. 

How To Do

1. Place the Leyland cypress wood stacks on an elevated area. 
2. Cover the stack whenever it rains or snows, and expose it to sunlight whenever possible. 
3. Store the split wood between 6 to 12 months before using it as firewood. 

FAQs on Leyland Cypress

What problem does Leyland cypress have?

Leyland cypress is prone to develop root rots because of the oversaturation of its shallow roots in poorly-drained soils. It also catches the canker disease, where fungi cause the tree’s foliage, branches, and bark discoloration. 

Is Leyland cypress a good tree?

Leyland cypress is considered a good tree based on its rapid growth rate, slender shape, and ability to windbreak and thrive in various soil and climate conditions. 

It is a popular choice as a hedge border in landscaping and a Christmas tree during the holiday season. 

Is Leyland cypress poisonous?

All parts of the Leyland cypress tree are poisonous. Its sap and leaves cause skin irritation, diarrhea, and loss of appetite in humans and animals such as horses and dogs. 

How tall and wide does Leyland cypress get?

Leyland cypress trees grow about 60 to 70 feet tall and spread between 12 to 20 feet wide. 

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