Q&A Pine Firewood from Hurricane

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New Member
Staff member
Nov 27, 2012

This recent hurricane that just ripped through North Carolina left a lot of trees down- but mostly pine in my area. My friend and I want to sell firewood to local folks- but I keep hearing bad things about burning pine. I've done some research on the Web and found out that pine isn't as bad as people say. I also read your response to a question about firewood in your Ask the Experts digest.I am interested in your professional opinion on softwood- pine in particular:
1. What are the pros and cons of burning pine? (especially the cons)
2. I've heard firewood should season for at least 6 months. If I'm splitting wood from freshly fallen trees in September- will it be burnable by December? (Will I be ripping off my customers? What would be bad about wood only seasoning for 3 months?)


1. The cons are that it is less dense than many hardwoods- therefore a cord of pine has less weight (and BTU value) than oak. Keep in mind- however- that many areas of the US and world burn only softwoods. Usually- if folks can get hardwood- they will opt for that. Pine does have more "sap" content- but this is actually fuel- and it produces heat. You must take care not to burn it with a low smoldering fire- or else a dense smoke and/or tar and creosote will build up. If one has an open fireplace or a newer EPA approved clean-burning stove- this is less of a problem.
2. Well- this is a tough one if the wood was split and stacked and dried in the sun or indoors- it might be ready in as little as 3-4 months. The true test (and something every firewood dealer should have) is a moisture meter (check with places that see lumber for millwork). If the wood has dried out to 20-25% moisture- it should be OK to burn. If the wood is not seasoned- it will be hard to ignite- hard to keep going- and burn with a smoky fire...this will result in callbacks from your customers. I would suggest telling them the age of it. Many customers already have some wood left over from last year- so they'll save yours for the middle or end of the winter.
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