The dogwood tree is a flowering deciduous that is native to the eastern parts of the United States, Europe, and eastern Asia. Its hard, shock-resistant wood is an excellent option for making mallets, golf clubs, and archery bows. But how does it perform in the fire? We’ve created this handy dogwood firewood guide to see how it compares with other popular varieties.

Does dogwood make good firewood?

Dogwood makes excellent firewood that gives off a lot of heat and provides decent coaling properties. As a slow-growing tree, the wood requires plenty of seasoning; but the result will be a fuel that provides heat through the night.

  • Provides high levels of heat as it burns
  • Is sometimes a challenge to split by hand
  • Burns clean with low sparks and smoke
  • Creates good coals, similar to oak
An infographic showing dogwood firewood statistics

Dogwood firewood burn qualities

1. Heat output

If you’re looking for the best firewood, then heat output should be an important consideration. It’s especially important for those that must deal with freezing cold winters. Whether you’re relaxing at home or enjoying the great outdoors, you’ll want to stay warm.

Dogwood offers impressive heat output that’s in the ballpark of hickory, oak, and Osage orange. The amount of heat ranges depending on the variety:

  • Flowering dogwood provides up to 31.1 million BTUs of heat per cord.
  • Pacific dogwood provides up to 27.4 million BTUs of heat per cord.

This heat may be too high in the shoulder seasons. One option you may want to consider is combining dogwood with low-BTU wood like catalpa or alder. 

Check out the following table that compares the heat output of dogwood to various other common types of firewood.

Wood varietyHeat per Cord (Million BTUs)
Black walnut22.2
White ash24.2
Honey locust26.7
Pinyon27.1
Pacific dogwood27.4
Beech27.5
Black locust27.9
White oak29.1
Flowering dogwood31.1
Osage orange32.9

2. Smoke

Dogwood that is properly dried will burns clean and produce very little smoke. It is suitable for open fireplaces, wood stoves, or outdoor campfires.

Always season dogwood before it’s added to any fire. Too much water content will result in a lot of unnecessary smoke. Burning unseasoned wood means the fire uses most of its energy evaporating water instead of keeping the room warm.

3. Ease of splitting

Dogwood can sometimes be a challenge to split by hand. It is a dense type of wood that turns extremely hard once it dried. You’re best to split this firewood while it’s green.

Some rounds may be almost impossible to split as they’re from the crotch of the tree. This is an area where the trunk and branches knit together to form a knotty, gnarly section. If you get landed with the crotch, then a heavy-duty maul or hydraulic splitter may be needed.

4. Sparks

Dogwood firewood produces very few sparks as it burns. It’s a much better option than sappy trees like pine or mulberry.

Less popping and sparking mean you’re unlikely to have embers burning the carpet or your skin. Anyone camping in the great outdoors is unlikely to cause a forest fire from an errant spark. Of course, staying vigilant with outside fires is still a must.

5. Aroma

Living dogwood trees give off a pungent fragrance that people either love or loathe. The fragrance given off by burning dogwood is milder and most find it pleasant.

For cooking meat and other food, dogwood will work well. Its coals are suitable for meat smokers, grills, and pits. However, you won’t get much added flavor from burning dogwood. Consider trying mesquite or hickory for this.

6. Coaling

Dogwood produces excellent coals that give off heat through most of the night. It’s a handy feature, meaning you don’t have to keep throwing logs on the fire all night.

We consider dogwood comparable to the firewood heavyweights like oak and beech for coaling. Add a large log before bed, and you shouldn’t need to restart the fire from scratch the next day.

7. Creosote build-up

Creosote is the unwanted sooty substance that gets deposited on the inside of your chimney as the fire burns. The faster the buildup, the more often you’ll need to clean out the chimney. Like most hardwoods, sufficiently dried dogwood gives off very low levels of creosote.

Tips for seasoning dogwood

To speed up the seasoning of dogwood follow these quick and easy tips.

  • Raise the wood: Create extra airflow beneath the wood and reduce rotting by stacking it on pallets.
  • Split first: chop the logs into small pieces of wood to expose more surface area to sunshine and wind.
  • Separate the rows: stack piles of wood with a 3-5” gap between rows to help air get through.
  • Cover the wood: a cover such as a tarpaulin will help keep the snow and rain out.
  • Position correctly: Avoid shady spots for your wood and face the exposed wood towards the wind
A mature dogwood tree
Dogwoods make great ornamental trees.

Commonly asked questions

How long does dogwood need for seasoning?

Dogwood is a dense wood that requires patience to season. In warm and dry climates, dogwood will season in 12 months. Cooler areas that get lots of rain should allow two years to dry. Split dogwood will dry out faster than logs.

If you’ve got an old dogwood tree that’s been dead for a while, it won’t need as much seasoning. Most of the water content will have already dried up.

When is the best time to chop dogwood for firewood?

Try to chop down a dogwood for firewood between winter and early spring. There is less sap and moisture in the wood at this time of year, so it’ll season quicker.

How can I identify a dogwood tree?

Dogwood trees can be identified by their scaly grayish bark which some compare to alligator skin. Its smooth-edged leaves are oval-shaped with a pointed tip. During spring, look for pink, red, or white flowers with four petals.

The wood has an interlocked grain with a narrow, reddish-brown heartwood. It has a wide sapwood area that is pinkish or cream in color. 

Red fruits growing on the Cornelian dogwood
Some dogwood species have red cherries.

7 dogwood tree facts

  1. The flowering dogwood tree has the botanical name Cornus florida and is a part of the family Cornaceae. The common dogwood or bloody dogwood has the botanical name Cornus sanguinea. The Pacific dogwood is the Cornus nuttallii.
  2. Other common varieties include the evergreen dogwood (Cornus capitata) and the creeping dogwood (Cornus canadensis).
  3. The tree makes a popular ornamental that produces attractive blooms.
  4. Its wood is one of the hardest domestic woods in North America and has excellent shock resistance.
  5. The lifespan of a dogwood tree is around 80 years.
  6. The dogwood can self-pollinate as it contains female and male reproductive organs.
  7. Native Americans used the roots and bark for medicinal purposes like treating malaria.

Summing up

It’s well worth the effort to split an old dogwood tree for firewood. The wood gives off a lot of heat, burns clean, and produces excellent coals. Splitting the wood can be a challenge if you don’t have a hydraulic splitting machine. If you’re going to split a large amount of dogwood by hand, make sure you’ve got a splitting axe or maul that’s right for the job.

You probably won’t find dogwood for sale from most commercial firewood sellers. With a short trunk that has an average diameter of one foot, the tree doesn’t provide much wood. 

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