From its bark to leaves, paperbark trees give us strong wooden furniture and aromatic teas and oils. However, they are still considered invasive in most parts of the world.
Converting these paperbark trees into firewood is a great way to put them to good use!
In this article, we’ll walk you through the paperbark’s characteristics and how well (or not!) it performs as firewood.
Is paperbark a good firewood?
Paperbark makes great firewood for firepits, log burners and other outdoor burning activities. It produces a medium heat output of 20 million BTUs per cord but gives off a lot of smoke, creosote and sparks when burned.
As a hardwood, paperbark is dense enough that it can sustain its fire for hours. Its sap content also helps the bark of this wood to ignite easily, almost as quickly as softwoods.
However, the amount of sap in the paperbark produces more smoke and creosote, even when it has entirely been seasoned.
Below are the physical characteristics of paperbark firewood.
|Type of Wood
|1 to 2 years
|Heat Output (million BTU per cord)
Fire Characteristics of Paperbark Firewood
Paperbark firewood is difficult to split and has high sap content, creosote build-up, moderate heat output, and coal production.
Let us walk you through each fire-burning property of paperbark firewood.
1. Difficult to Split
Like any other hardwood, paperbarks are very dense and, thus, difficult to split. This wood is prone to knots and interlocked grains, making cleaning harder.
It’s best to use a hydraulic splitter and split the wood along the grain to achieve a clean cut of paperbark firewood.
2. High Sap Content
Paperbark contains a lot of sap, mainly because its flowers are filled with nectar.
We recommend harvesting paperbark wood during winter because this is the time when they have the lowest level of sap content. With low sap, the wood will season more quickly.
3. Moderate Heat Output
The bark of paperbark trees is known for its high combustion rate. This translates to its moderate heat output of 20 BTU, which can warm your home.
Paperbark also has a high heat efficiency rate since about 80% of its heat energy is converted to heat as it burns. It’s good firewood for cooking because of its efficient heat output.
4. High Creosote Build-Up
Paperbark firewood produces a lot of creosote, a thick black and tar-like substance that forms when the wood is burned in an oxygen-poor environment.
It’s best to check your fireplace at least once a year and remove the creosote build-up to prevent unwanted fires.
To reduce the creosote build-up, make sure that the firewood is fully seasoned before burning, and burn the wood in an area with adequate airflow.
5. Moderate Smoke Output
Paperbark firewood produces a medium smoke output due to the wood’s high moisture content. So when the firewood is burned, it releases more water vapor and smoke into the air.
Prolonged exposure to smoke harms health as it causes eye, nose, skin or throat irritation, respiratory problems, heart diseases and even cancer. That’s why paperbark is best burned outdoors.
6. Moderate Coal Production
Paperbark produces only a moderate amount of coal. This is mainly because of its high moisture content, making it difficult for the wood to convert into coal.
Coal production slows the burning process and produces heat to keep the fire burning. This is how paperbark firewood works to extend its burning time when lit.
Pros and Cons of Using Paperbark as Firewood
Here are some benefits and drawbacks of using paperbark firewood.
|Moderate heat output
|High sap content
|Long burning time
|High smoke and creosote output
|Difficult to split
Paperbark is an efficient burning wood. It produces moderate heat output but with a long burn time thanks to its dense wood fibers.
It’s also a renewable source of fuel for heating because this tree can still be replanted even after harvesting them.
Unfortunately, paperbark wood is challenging to split because of its knotty and grainy structure.
Paperbark also has high moisture and sap content, which results in high smoke and creosote output, making them unsuitable for indoor fireplace use.
How long should you season paperbark wood?
Paperbark wood should be seasoned for 1 to 2 years. This is a vital step to lessen smoke and creosote emissions and ensure efficient firewood burning.
We recommend splitting the wood into smaller pieces so that more of its surface area is exposed to the wind and sunlight as it fully dries out.
To be sure when you can finally use it, use a moisture meter and aim for a level of 20% or less before burning.
FAQs on Paperbark Firewood
The most common of the 150 species of paperbark trees are the Swamp paperbark, Weeping paperbark, Melaleuca, and Broad-leaved paperbark trees. They are native to New Guinea and Australia and are typically used as ornamental trees.
Paperbark woods are sustainable when turned into firewood, since they’re otherwise known as an invasive species.
Burning paperback firewood is associated with health risks related to the heart and lungs, including heart disease and cancer.
Paperbark bark is commonly used to make canoes, shelters, baskets, and mats. In contrast, its leaves make medicinal teas and antiseptic and antibacterial oils.