The Bradford pear tree can grow to 60 feet and is commonly found in the eastern United States. Unlike many other pear trees, the fruits are unpleasant, so how good is pear firewood for burning? We’re about to take a close look at whether this wood is worth tossing in the fire.

Is Bradford pear good for firewood?

Bradford pear is an excellent choice for firewood as it burns clean and gives off a mild aroma in the fire. With quality coals and a high heat output that matches popular hardwoods like oak, pear is worth the effort to split.

  • May be a challenge to split by hand.
  • Produces excellent coals and burns clean.
  • Suitable for smoking meat and other food.
  • High heat output for extra cold climates.
An infographic showing Bradford pear firewood data

Bradford pear firewood burn qualities

1. Heat output

Heat output will usually be your first consideration when considering firewood. Whether you’re huddled around a campfire or relaxing in the lounge at home, warmth is essential.

Pear firewood gives off 26.5 million BTUs of heat per cord, which is high. As a comparison, white Gambel oak provides 30.7, and pinyon offers 27.1. Pear radiates much better heat than spruce, pine, and willow.

If you live in an area that’s freezing cold in winter, then pear will work well in the fire.

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

Wood varietyHeat per Cord (Million BTUs)
Lodgepole pine21.1
Black walnut22.2
Red oak24.6
Bradford Pear26.5
Black locust27.9
Gambel oak30.7

2. Smoke

Smoky wood will result in an unpleasant smoked-out house and sore eyes. Thankfully, seasoned Bradford pear burns clean and gives off low levels of smoke.

Firewood should be adequately seasoned before burning. Green wood from the pear tree is high in water content and will billow smoke if tossed into the flames. Unseasoned wood is also inefficient as the fire uses its energy to evaporate water instead of emitting heat.

For another low-smoke option, you may want to read our guide to holly firewood.

3. Ease of splitting

Splitting pear firewood is often tricky, thanks to its unique wood fibers and many knots. If you have done so already, save yourself a headache by investing in a splitting axe or maul that’s fit for purpose. Better yet, save your back the strain and pick up a hydraulic splitter.

The wood from a pear tree sometimes makes a unique sound as it splits. Be prepared for an explosive popping sound as the wood flies apart.

4. Sparks

Some types of firewood give off a lot of sparks as they burn. Inside a wood stove, you may enjoy the fireworks display. But if you have an open hearth or are camping, excessive sparks and popping can create a fire hazard.

Pear will produce very few sparks, so you can light the fire and relax. If you’re in the outdoors, then always use extreme caution. Never leave a burning fire unattended, as it can be unpredictable.

5. Aroma

A living Bradford pear tree produces white and pink flowers in spring that give off a pungent aroma. People describe the blooms as smelling like urine or rotting fish! Luckily, well-seasoned pear gives off a mild fragrance as it burns.

Meat smokers and barbecue enthusiasts love pear for the subtle flavor it imparts into food. Along with cherry, apple, mesquite, fig, and hickory, home cooks generally agree that pear is a decent wood for cooking.

If you’re after a neutral smelling fire, try hawthorn firewood. Also check out whether yew firewood is any good.

6. Coaling

Firewood coals impact how the fire burns and how long it lasts. Pear is a variety of hardwood and great for coaling. Toss a few logs in the fire, and they should burn for hours.

7. Creosote build-up

Creosote is a substance deposited inside the chimney as the fire burns. Some types of firewood are worse than others, meaning you’ll need to clean your fireplace and chimney more often.

Like most hardwoods, Bradford pear doesn’t leave much creosote as it burns. The flames are clean and hot, exactly what you’d expect from top-performing firewood.

Illustration of a grove of Bradford pear trees
A grove of Bradford pear trees.

How long does it take to season Bradford pear firewood?

Bradford pear requires around 12-18 months of seasoning time, although if you leave it for 24 months, you’ll get a hotter burning wood with less smoke.

Seasoning time is reduced if you have an old pear tree that has been dead for years. They’ve already dried out, so you may only need to season this wood for eight months.    

Tips for seasoning Bradford pear

A hot and dry climate will help speed up pear tree seasoning. As that isn’t possible for everyone, accelerate the drying time further by following these tips:

  • Position correctly: speed up drying time by avoiding shady spots and aiming the stack toward the wind.
  • Space out the rows: create a series of stacks with a 3-5” gap between each to assist with airflow.
  • Cover the stack: use an outdoor cover to protect the wood from the elements while keeping one side exposed to the wind.
  • Split the firewood: splitting large logs will increase the surface area exposed to wind and sunlight.
  • Elevate the wood: lay the firewood on planks or pallets to create airflow beneath the wood.
A lane that is lined on each side by pear trees
Bradford pear trees bloom in early spring.

Commonly asked questions

When is the best time to fell a pear tree for firewood?

Try chopping pear trees and splitting the firewood between winter and early spring. This cold part of the year means there’s lower sap and moisture content, resulting in wood that seasons quicker.

A man pruning a pear tree on a fine day
Always use caution when chopping pear branches with a chainsaw.

Is pear firewood good for smoking meat?

Pear is a good option for smoking meat, giving food a mild flavor that isn’t overly sweet. It is excellent used for cooking fish and poultry. Other options for meat smoking include apple, mesquite, and hickory wood.

How can I identify a pear tree?

To identify a pear tree, look for a teardrop-shaped tree with a height of around 30-60 feet. In early spring, look for a tree with showy white flowers. The oval or heart-shaped leaves alternate and are often tufted on short branchlets. A Bradford pear tree’s bark is greyish-brown with shallow ridges and burrows. Its branches are sometimes thorny. 

Closeup of Bradford pear tree blossoms on a sunny day
Pear blossoms are easy to identify.

5 fast facts

  1. The scientific name for the Bradford pear is the Pyrus calleryana from the family Rosaceae.
  2. Bradford pear trees are commonly used as ornamentals and for shade.
  3. The fruits are small, hard, and woody; they are considered inedible as they’re packed with cyanide-laced seeds.
  4. Bradford pear trees are a cultivar of the Callery pear tree.
  5. They typically have too many closely packed upright branches, which results in frequent breakage.

Summing up

Bradford pear firewood is excellent for the fire, providing good heat and clean burning flames. It also has good coals, low sparks, and a pleasant fragrance. Pear firewood is one of the best all-rounder firewood varieties and is also helpful for cooking.

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