Orange trees are grown for their fruit, but what’s the best use for this variety of citrus when they stop producing? While the wood is suitable for woodwork projects, you may want to know if an orange tree makes good firewood. This guide looks at what’s good and bad about burning this wood.

Important: This is an article about the citrus orange tree, not the Osage Orange, a very different type of tree. Check out our article on Osage orange firewood here.

Is orange good for firewood?

The wood from an orange tree makes first-rate firewood whether you need it for heating a home or cooking. It is a hardwood that gives off a mildly sweet fragrance in the fire.

Orange trees don’t grow thick trunks, meaning you’ll get firewood that requires minimal work to split. Their size also means seasoning time should take less than a year. Once dry, orange will burn clean and provide slow-burning coals.

  • Produces good coals and burns clean.
  • Requires 8-12 months to season properly.
  • Excellent for smoking and barbecuing.
Infographic showing dashboard stats and data for orange firewood
Dashboard stats for orange firewood.

Orange firewood burn qualities

1. Heat output

Heat efficiency is worth considering when you’re weighing up using a new type of firewood. Staying warm is critical, whether relaxing at home or huddling around a campfire.

Orange wood gives off 26.4 million BTUs of heat per cord, which is impressive. As a comparison, apple provides 27.0, and pinyon is 27.1. It offers much better heating efficiency than pine, spruce, and other softwoods.

Whatever the weather throws at you, orange will keep you warm. Use it in the shoulder season or the depths of winter. But keep in mind its density makes it slow to catch alight, so using a softwood for kindling may help.

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

Wood varietyHeat per Cord (Million BTUs)
White pine15.9
White ash24.2
Black locust27.9
Osage orange32.9

2. Smoke

Smokey wood is unpleasant and causes sore, red eyes, so taking the time to properly season orange firewood is a must. Dry orange will burn clean and produces low levels of smoke.

Orange tree wood that hasn’t been dried will have high water content. It will smoke excessively as it burns. Unseasoned wood is also inefficient as the fire wastes energy, evaporating water instead of giving off heat.

3. Ease of splitting

The orange tree isn’t difficult to split as they don’t develop thick, gnarly trunks. A splitting axe or maul should make easy work of most trees.

The tree’s crotch is where several limbs come together into one knotted mess. This area will take more effort to split. Some people wait for a cold day, which makes breaking apart the wood a little easier.

4. Sparks

Some types of wood, especially softwoods, give off a lot of sparks as they burn. This feature isn’t a big problem inside a wood stove. But if you’re camping or have an open hearth, excessive popping and sparks can create a fire hazard. For some, too much popping makes it hard to relax.

Orange produces very few sparks as it burns, so you can light the fire and relax. Any firewood can be unpredictable, so never leave fires unattended outdoors.

5. Aroma

Orange gives off a pleasant fragrance as it burns, which most people enjoy. Like other fruit trees, it provides a sweet, slightly fruity aroma that’s very mild.

Orange wood adds delicious flavor whether you love to smoke, grill, or spit roast. It pairs well with meat like pork, poultry, vegetables, and seafood. Mild food is best that doesn’t overwhelm the flame’s subtle smokey taste.

Home chefs who enjoy stronger flavor may want to combine orange with hickory which has more punch. The orange wood’s sweetness helps balance slightly bitter hickory flavor notes.

Did you know? We created a handy resource that reveals the best types of wood for cooking.

6. Coaling

Orange is a hardwood that is great for coaling and doesn’t leave a lot of ash to clean up the following day. However, the pieces of wood from an orange tree are often relatively small, so you’ll need to feed the fire more often than if you used hickory or oak.

7. Creosote build-up

Creosote is an unpleasant tar-like substance deposited inside chimneys as the fire burns. Some firewood varieties, such as pine, produce a lot. That means you’ll need to clean the chimney more often.

Like most hardwoods, seasoned orange burns clean and leaves very little creosote on the chimney. No matter what firewood you choose, regular chimney maintenance is a good idea to reduce the likelihood of unwanted fires.

An orange tree on white background
Citrus trees produce minimal creosote once seasoned.

How long does it take to season orange tree wood?

To season orange firewood, allow 8-12 months of seasoning time. If you leave it longer, you’ll get an even better fire.

Seasoning time is reduced for old orange trees that have been dead for months. They’ve had time to dry out, so seasoning may only require 6 months.

Tips for seasoning orange

A warm, dry climate helps speed up orange firewood seasoning. Further accelerate the curing time by following these tips:

  • Space out the rows: build stacks in rows with a 3-5″ gap between each one to encourage airflow.
  • Stack is the right spot: face the stack towards the wind and avoid damp areas that don’t get sunlight.
  • Split the wood: chop up large pieces to increase the surface area exposed to sunshine and wind.
  • Raise the stacks: stack the wood on pallets to create airflow underneath.
  • Cover the wood: use a woodshed or tarp to protect the wood from rain and snow while keeping one side exposed to the wind.

How do other fruit trees perform as firewood?

Closeup of oranges growing on a branch with an orange tree orchard blurred in the background
An aging orange tree orchard will provide a lot of firewood.

Commonly asked questions

What’s the difference between Osage orange and orange?

The Osage orange and orange tree are two different species. While the Osage orange produces inedible fruit, its firewood is one of the best varieties available, with a very high BTU rating of 32.9. The citrus orange tree provides edible fruit, but its BTU rating is a lower 26.4. Overall, the firewood from an Osage orange is superior to an orange tree, except if you want to smoke food.

What is the best way to smoke orange wood chips?

To add a unique smoky flavor to food, place orange wood chips in a smoker box or wrap them in aluminum foil with a few holes, then position them over the heat source. Try to wait until the food is cooking before adding the wood chips.

Summing up

Orange trees produce excellent firewood with a BTU heat rating of 26.4 million per cord. In the fire, it has low sparks, decent coals and gives food a delicious smoky flavor.

Small orange trees won’t provide a lot of wood. In this case, you may want to save it for smoking or grilling. The wood supply will last longer, and your food will be the envy of the town.

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