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Is Sycamore Good Firewood?

By Lawrence Macmillan May 19, 2022

Sycamore is an interesting tree with a distinct appearance, but this popular hardwood has the potential to grow very large. This may make you wonder whether sycamore is good firewood or not. 

In short, sycamore is considered poor firewood. It's great at starting fires, but not so much for burning over long periods. 

However, this doesn't mean that sycamore shouldn't be used as a fuel source at all.

Is Sycamore Good Firewood?

If you don't have better firewood on hand, sycamore can be used in place of other types of wood, providing you take care when doing so. 

We'll cover why sycamore isn't the best firewood to use in this article, as well as how to identify sycamore easily. 

Keep reading to learn more about using sycamore as firewood! 

How To Identify Sycamore Firewood

Before we get into the details about sycamore, you should know how to identify sycamore first.

If you look at a sycamore log, you'll notice its unusual bark patterns. Sycamore will have a distinctive pale green layer and a slightly flaky bark.

You can also identify sycamore by looking at its 'rays'. Rays are lines that run from the middle of the wood to the outside. These will be at a right angle from the rings used to determine the tree's age.

If you notice rays on the log, your wood will either be sycamore or oak. Rays on a sycamore log will be close together, but rays on an oak log will be distinct and widely spread. 

Is Sycamore Good Firewood? 

Sycamore may be a hardwood by name, but most people consider it to be a lower-density hardwood. Sycamore is filled with water and is softer than a lot of softwoods.

As it contains a lot of water, it's harder to split and takes longer to dry out. It does light easily and initially, produces a lot of heat, but this doesn't last for very long. Some people also don't like the scent it releases when it is burned.

Sycamore is great if you're looking for short-burning wood. However, if you need firewood, it won't do as well as other hardwoods, as it won't burn slowly or for a long time. 

To judge whether sycamore is good firewood or not, we'll look at some of its burn qualities in more detail. 

Heat Output

We've covered why sycamore doesn't have the greatest heat output. As it doesn't burn for a long time, it only provides a small amount of heat. It will produce some heat for a short period, but not enough to keep your home warm for a long time.

Firewood needs to have a good heat output, but it also needs to provide warmth for a long time. In this case, sycamore isn't the best choice to use for heating. 

Volume Of Smoke

Sycamore burns quickly, but it doesn't release a lot of smoke. When it comes to firewood, sycamore produces more smoke than good firewoods, like oak or ash, but less than pine and hard maple. 

Remember that a lot of smoke may indicate that your firewood isn't fully dry. Always ensure that your wood is fully seasoned before burning it. 

Will It Spark? 

Various kinds of firewood, such as mulberry can spark up a lot, which is a huge problem. Wood which sparks up a lot is a considerable fire hazard. This can be an issue in outdoor spaces and enclosed ones. 

If you want to avoid having a big fire, then you should try to find firewood that doesn't cause too many problems. Fortunately, Sycamore doesn't usually spark up a lot. Sycamore only creates a few sparks, so it isn't very likely to create a fire hazard. 

Nevertheless, all fires are potential hazards, so you should always take caution and closely monitor any type of fire. 

How It Smells

Some types of wood are known for their pleasant fragrance. Cherry wood and maple are two examples of woods that smell nice. As smell and flavor are linked, fragrant woods are often used for smoking meats. 

Sycamore doesn't smell awful when it's burned, but there are better-smelling firewoods out there. There aren't many people that claim sycamore is their favorite smelling wood.

Coals

One way to rate whether firewood is good or not is the quality of its coals. All firewoods create coals when they are burned. The coals' quality will affect how well and how long the fire burns. 

Firewood that produces a lot of heat generally creates good coals. In the case of sycamore, the coals are around the middle. They aren't awful, but there are better options available. 

Of course, there are exceptions. Elm, for instance, has a lower heat output, but its coals are better in quality compared to sycamore. 

Creosote Accumulation

One of the most important things you should consider when using an indoor fireplace is avoiding creosote buildup.

Creosote is created when wood burns. It's a toxic black tar that accumulates on the inside of chimneys and flues. Creosote buildup can lead to serious health issues if left untreated. 

You can avoid creosote buildup by regularly cleaning your chimney, but you can also opt for certain types of wood over others. Firewood that contains a lot of sap will create more creosote compared to less sappy wood. 

You'll notice that sycamore doesn't accumulate much creosote. Most hardwoods are low in sap, so they won't create as much creosote compared to higher sap woods, such as pine.

This means that sycamore is unlikely to produce enough toxins to damage your home. 

The Bottom Line

Sycamore firewood is quite popular with people who use an indoor wood stove, but it may not be the best choice for other situations. 

If you're looking for high-quality firewood, then sycamore isn't going to cut it. However, if you just need something cheap to burn, then sycamore might do the trick. 

It's worth noting that sycamore does have some benefits. It's easy to split into logs. It's also fairly dense, which makes it easier to transport than other types of wood. 

It's also pretty versatile. You can use sycamore for cooking, heating, and even burning candles. This may be ideal if you're looking for multi-use wood. 

The bottom line is that sycamore is probably not the best option for every situation. But if you're looking for a cheap alternative, then sycamore could work.


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