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Thread: locust firewood

  1. #1

    Question locust firewood

    i typically always burn oak, cherry, or maple it seems, but i took down a huge locust tree last year. i've heard this wood nicknamed "iron wood"....i think. i'm familiar with the tree.......just haven't burned it as firewood before. does this require anymore time to season compared to oak, cherry....etc? just curious. this particular wood i'm talking about has seasoned for exactly a year now. it seems to still be holding onto it's bark pretty well though. thanks for the insight.....whomever it may come from!

  2. #2


    any thoughts folks?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Kent, WA


    Locust should be a good wood to burn, a little better than oak (see http://chimneysweeponline.com/howood.htm ). I don't think it is the same thing as ironwood which is really hop hornbeam. I would expect a year of seasoning to be enough if oak will season in that same time period where you live.

    Here's a link that shows some other pros and cons of various firewood:

    and of the wood itself:
    Kent, WA

  4. #4


    Locust and, maybe, osage orange are two woods you can cut and burn the same day. Both of them make excellent fence posts too. Afaik they'll last 20+ years, often longer.

    I've picked up locust that's been cut by road crews and burned it that night.

  5. #5


    Sure, you can burn anything, but some of the "green" locust I've cut DRIPS sap when I split it. You're better off splitting stacking, and covering anything you plan to burn and let it dry for at least a few months.

    Splitting is the single most important thing to enhance drying times. Very little water actually moves directly through the many rings of a log - that's by design. Water moves UP and DOWN in the tree. With that in mind, 99% of the evaporation occurs at the end of the log. When the log is split all those many layers are now open and evaporation can occur via a much shorter path - through the split instead of having to travel all the way to end of the log.

    I split everything down to about 3 or 4 inches. It's easier to handle; you can stuff the stove just as well with just as many (or more) pounds of wood; burn characteristics are more consistent. In a "modern" air restricting stove burn times are about the same as when using larger wood, but the advantages far outweigh the additional time for splitting to that smaller size. It's sort of like using a pellet stove that uses a bunch of little bitty pieces to achieve the same end - consistent, steady heat output.

  6. #6


    Locust is a very dense wood, you can see it's weight here http://firewoodresource.com/firewood-btu-ratings/

    The more dense a wood is the more solid the wood is and the less space there is inside for water. The outside edge of the water will dry fast and will burn fine. Locust burns so hot that it will evaporate the water inside before the flames ever get to it so it burns better when it hasn't fully dried than a lot of wood does.

  7. #7



    I don't mean to argue, but that's been just the opposite of my experience. I cleared a road through the property this year and have been burning some locust this winter. The fresh-cut (green stuff) won't hardly burn at all, even after sitting split and covered for several months. When a little heat is applied the moisture just drips from the end effectively lowering the fire temperature because it has to boil off all that water in the burning process. Converting liquid water to steam requires a lot of BTUs.

    There is also a bit of standing dead wood (locust as well) that has been dead for several years, debarked and half-way fallen over. It is dry and hard as a knot, but it burns well, and for several hours. I'm going to be cutting/splitting some more green locust, but it will be nine or ten months before I will be burning it.

    On the other hand, if I want a hot fire "right now" I'd choose yellow poplar or one of the lighter woods. They don't burn for quite as long, but they really make the heat when you want it -- like in the spring when it's just cool enough to need something to "take the chill off" but when you don't really want a fire all day long which would overheat the house.

  8. #8

    Default Old thread: An experienced follow-up about black locust fuel

    I've been burning locust for years. BTW, there are several varieties, each with slightly different characteristics. In our area, black locust is not only common but invasive so removing it can be a full-time job. The only worse "invader" around here is black walnut which is a so-so fuel, a bit too fast-burning for my taste. It all comes down to HUMAN energy expended to provide a manageable BTU of heat.

    I prefer locust over all other woods if given a choice. As has been mentioned, it is a dense wood and is the best banking wood I've found. A single 4-inch log thrown in at bedtime will be slowly burning when you open the draft up in the AM after a night throttled back a bit. All other native woods I've used will be ash in 8 hours. Cherry seems to be a close 2nd favorite but is a branchy wood around here and tough to split.

    Locust needs to be seasoned. If you have access to dead and fallen trees, you may be able to utilize sooner, but the more water in the wood the fewer BTUs of heat you will radiate since much of the energy will be consumed turning the water into steam. In the summer, black locust will cure in a couple months, 4-6 when the cold months arrive. Because of the way that it typically grows, sort of spindly, splitting is not really necessary except near the trunk where thickness over 6 inches may warrant it. One of the easiest splitting woods IMO.

    I find it somewhat ironic that a species that can overwhelm many different types of forests is such a natural fuel for wood burners, almost depending on that activity to keep its populations in check.

  9. #9


    I've gotten to where I rather like burning some of the lighter woods. Our schedules are such that there is someone around about 20 hours of the day to feed the fire. Two or three small sticks fed in periodically, leaving the damper wide open, burns nice and clean, generates a consistent heat level, and keeps us cozy. We burned about 10 ricks of cherry this past season. Though it generates a bit more ash it was great wood to burn.

    Speaking of ash, I'm not sure there is really "more" ash, but lighter ash which occupies more volume and needs to be carried out a bit more often.

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