Apple trees are found in most parts of the world and they’re easy to grow with the right climate and soil. Although they produce fruit for many years, you may have an old tree that needs to be chopped down. If you’re wondering whether apple wood is worth burning, then keep reading. In this article, we’ll look at how apple wood performs in fires and whether it’s as good as other popular types of firewood.

Is apple good for firewood?

Wood from apple trees will make excellent firewood that generates plenty of heat and produces great coals. It also gives off a wonderful, sweet fragrance that is revered by meat smokers and other foodies who cook with flame. 

  • High heat output for a cozy, warm home in winter.
  • Excellent fragrance that most people enjoy.
  • Dense wood that can take some work to split.
  • Produces very little smoke or sparks.
An infographic showing apple firewood data

Apple firewood burn qualities

1. Heat output

Apple is one of the best firewood options you’ll find based on heat output. It produces an impressive 27.0 million BTUs of heat per cord. That means you’ll stay warm, whether you’re next to the fireplace at home or sitting around a campfire.

BTU measures heat output, so look for a higher value when choosing suitable firewood. As a comparison, apple rates a little lower than a few other firewood varieties like beech at 27.5, Gambel Oak 30.7, and Osage Orange 32.9. But it outperforms other popular firewood like ash, birch, elm, and maple.

Check out the following table comparing the heat output of apple to various other common types of firewood.

Wood varietyHeat per Cord (Million BTUs)
Green ash20.0
American Elm20.0
Gambel Oak30.7
Osage Orange32.9

2. Smoke

Apple firewood produces low levels of smoke so you can comfortably burn it without fear of getting smoked out. The smoke tends to be light, with a sweet and fruity fragrance. This makes it ideal for smoking food like pork, chicken, beef, and fish. The flavor it imparts is subtle, so it is best used to cook food that isn’t too flavor-packed.

Like any firewood, apple needs to be seasoned before burning. Otherwise, you’ll have to deal with a lot of unpleasant smoke.

3. Ease of splitting

When it comes to splitting apple firewood, it ranges from easy to moderate. It’s a dense wood so we recommend investing in a decent splitting axe or maul if you’re going to do the work by hand.

If you get unlucky, the tree may have become twisted, in which case the gnarly fibers won’t be easy to split. Whatever its condition, be sure to split the wood as soon as possible. If you leave apple firewood too long, it becomes rock hard and very difficult to chop.

Note: You may also want to read our article on crabapple firewood and if it’s worth the effort to split.

4. Sparks

Apple firewood burns clean without a lot of sparks and pops being given off. This is important because sparking and popping wood has the potential to cause burns and can also start unwanted fires.

Be sure to burn wood that has been fully dried for best results. Well-seasoned apple is trouble-free wood that won’t let you down.  

5. Aroma

Some firewood varieties produce a fragrance that gives your house an enticing homely feel. We love apple firewood for its subtle sweet aroma that doesn’t overwhelm the house.   

If you enjoy smoking meat, then you’ll also want to pay close attention to the aroma wood gives off. Apple is a popular choice that rates alongside other favorites like peach, maple, hickory, and quince firewood.

6. Coaling

The coals produced by apple firewood are reasonable, outperforming varieties like boxelder, white fir, spruce, and willow. This is important as the quality of coaling impacts how well a fire burns and how long the fire will last.

While apple produces adequate coals, it doesn’t compare to some of the top performers. Seasoned beech, cherry, black locust, maple, oak, and hickory will usually provide better coals.

7. Creosote build-up

Apple is a hardwood that is low in sap and resin content. It burns clean and produces low levels of creosote, which is reassuring. This black tar deposits on the insides of chimneys and if left unchecked can build up to unhealthy levels.

Creosote production isn’t a huge factor when choosing firewood, but it’s still good to know you won’t have to clean the chimney every six months.  

An apple tree in blossom on a white background
Apple trees make great firewood once they stop producing apples.

Tips for seasoning apple

Seasoned wood means it has been thoroughly dried. Burning applewood that hasn’t been seasoned is not a good idea unless you have no choice. The smoke won’t be enjoyable, and the heat output will be much less.

There are ways to speed up the seasoning process. Living in a hot, dry climate will certainly help. If you don’t have weather on your side, follow these tips to expedite seasoning your apple firewood.

  • Split the firewood: by splitting the logs, you increase the surface area that gets exposed to sunshine and wind.
  • Stack in the best place: speed up the drying time by facing the exposed wood towards the wind and avoiding shady areas.
  • Raise the wood: lay the wood on some planks or pallets to allow airflow under the wood.
  • Space out the rows: create a series of stacks with a 3-5” gap between each one to assist with air circulation.
  • Protect the wood: use a tarp or similar cover to protect the stacks from rain and snow while keeping one side exposed to the wind.

Commonly asked questions

How long does it take to season apple firewood?

You may be okay seasoning apple wood for one year, but you’ll get better results leaving it to dry for 2-3 years.

How do I know if the wood is apple?

An apple tree can be distinguished by its leaves. Instead of compound leaves growing off each other, the apple tree has single, toothed leaves alternating on each side of the twig. Also, look at the bark which is plated and slightly smooth. 

Stacks of apple firewood next to an apple orchard
Apple firewood produces excellent heat and fragrance.

Fast facts about apple trees

  • The scientific name for the apple tree is Malus Domestica from the family Rosaceae. Source.
  • There are over 7500 types of apples grown around the world.
  • The trees take 5-7 years to produce fruit and can live for 100 years.
  • The leading producers of apples include China, the United States, Poland, Turkey, and Italy.

Summing up

The firewood from an apple tree is one of the best available. It gives off plenty of heat, produces excellent coals, and has a lovely fragrance. Just make sure to season the wood for at least one year before using it.

The biggest problem with apple firewood is finding it. Trees are mostly grown for their fruit rather than firewood, so the wood isn’t readily available. You’ll mostly find apple wood sold as chips for smoking food.

If you have a large, old tree that’s no longer producing apples, then you’re in luck. It’s time to get that axe or chainsaw into action and fell it. This wood will keep you warm through the coldest winter.

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