The eucalyptus tree is a fast-growing hardwood that can reach heights of over 300 feet. In the United States, they’re not always easy to find so they’re not such a popular firewood. Introduced from Australia, there are plantations found in the southeast states and California.
If you’ve got an old eucalyptus that’s ready to be felled or there’s a seller nearby, you may be wondering whether it burns well? In this guide, we’ll take a close look at whether eucalyptus makes good firewood and how it compares to other popular varieties.
Is eucalyptus good for firewood?
Eucalyptus makes excellent firewood that burns hot and provides great coals. It gives off a pleasant fragrance as it burns and doesn’t produce much smoke if the wood is well seasoned.
- Burns extremely hot and clean
- Easy to split when green (most of the time)
- May be hard to find in many states
- Is known to spark and pop
Eucalyptus firewood burn qualities
1. Heat output
An important consideration when you’re choosing firewood is the amount of heat it gives off. Whether you’re in the outdoors camping or huddled around the woodstove at home, the main goal is staying warm.
Eucalyptus provides around 34.5 million BTUs per cord which is very high. That’s higher than Osage orange, oak, and black locust which are all exceptional firewood options.
The oil content in the wood is a big factor in this high BTU rating. It results in wood that emits plenty of heat and is also highly flammable.
Keep in mind that there are over 700 species of eucalyptus so the heat may be lower for you. However, it is fair to say that this type of wood is one of the best for its heat.
Check out the following table comparing the heat output of eucalyptus to various other common types of firewood.
|Wood variety||Heat per Cord (Million BTUs)|
Eucalyptus firewood will usually produce low levels of smoke. You don’t have to worry about getting smoked out if you’ve got an open fire.
Firewood should always be well seasoned before burning. Wood that is still green will contain a lot of water that creates smoke as it burns. Unseasoned wood is less efficient and uses its energy to evaporate water instead of keeping you warm.
3. Ease of splitting
Most people find that splitting eucalyptus is an easy job so long as it’s green. Once the wood has dried out it turns incredibly hard, making the job of splitting tough work.
If you’re faced with splitting seasoned eucalyptus, then try to wait for a frosty cold morning. This will make the task of splitting easier on your arms. You could also invest in a high-quality splitting axe or heavy-duty maul to make the job less of a struggle.
Splitting the limbs will be tougher than the trunk wood. The branches grow far from the tree and need to support a lot of leaves. They often end up twisted and are more of a challenge to process. Even a hydraulic power splitter will end up mushing its way through the wood fibers rather than creating a clean split.
Eucalyptus firewood does produce some sparks as it burns, but if it is fully seasoned these are reduced. It’s much better than options like pine or mulberry, which is good because there’s a lower risk of carpet burns or unwanted fires.
Although eucalyptus doesn’t give off a lot of sparks, always use caution if you’re camping or have an open hearth. It only takes one random spark to create a fire hazard.
Eucalyptus firewood gives off a pleasant fragrance once it’s tossed into a fire. The aroma will vary depending on the variety of eucalyptus, but it’s generally mild, sweet, and slightly medicinal.
Meat smokers and barbecue enthusiasts may enjoy using eucalyptus for cooking food. It is great for cooking with and Australian have been using it for many years. One variety that’s ideal for smoking and barbecue is yellow box firewood.
Firewood that has good coals will provide longer-lasting heat. It also means you don’t have to keep throwing more wood into the fire to keep it going.
Eucalyptus is one of the best for coaling. It compares with the best types of firewood like oak, beech, and Osage orange.
Most people also find that there is very little ash that needs to be cleaned up.
7. Creosote build-up
Creosote is similar to black tar that gets deposited on the inside of chimneys. Firewood creates different levels of creosote, depending on the variety. Higher levels mean you’ll need to clean out the chimney regularly.
Well-seasoned eucalyptus will produce moderate levels of creosote as it burns. This is caused by the high oil content in the wood.
How long does it take to season eucalyptus?
Eucalyptus will take at least 12 months to season in warm, dry climates while 18 months is recommended for those living in cooler, damper areas.
If you burn eucalyptus firewood too soon it will result in a smoky fire with less heat output. Split eucalyptus will dry out much quicker than large rounds.
Tips for seasoning eucalyptus
To speed up the seasoning of eucalyptus, check out these handy tips.
- Create gaps: build stacks with a 3-5” gap between each one to increase air circulation.
- Raise the wood: lay the split eucalyptus on blocks to create airflow underneath the stack.
- Cover the wood: use a waterproof cover to protect the firewood from rain and snow.
- Chop the firewood: splitting eucalyptus increases the surface area that’s exposed to elements like heat and wind.
- Position correctly: reduce the drying time by steering clear of shade and utilizing wind-prone areas.
- Fell at the right time: fell eucalyptus trees between winter and early spring when sap and moisture are reduced.
Fast facts about the eucalyptus tree
- Eucalyptus trees, also known as gum trees or eucalypts, are evergreens that are part of the myrtle family (Myrtaceae).
- Some eucalyptus trees will reach 330 feet in height while the shrubs (mallees) don’t usually exceed 33 feet.
- The trees have aromatic leaves that are the main food source for koala bears in Australia. These leaves produce oil that’s used to make essential oils.
- The bark on eucalypts is often smooth and peels off easily.
- Gumnuts are the fruit that grow on eucalyptus trees.
- Eucalypts are extremely fast-growing trees that can grow 8 feet in one year. Faster growing species include Eucalyptus neglecta (Big O), Eucalyptus parvula (Funky Monkey), and Eucalyptus pauciflora (Mappa Tassie).
- The rainbow eucalyptus (Eucalyptus deglupta) and lemon eucalyptus plant (Eucalyptus citriodora) are two popular varieties of eucalyptus.
- Eucalyptus trees mainly grow in Australia, but they can also be found in Asia, North and South America, and Europe.
Is eucalyptus firewood poisonous?
Although you may read online that eucalyptus trees are toxic to burn, it’s the leaves that will cause harm if you eat enough of them. They contain eucalyptol (cineole) which is an organic compound that’s toxic in high doses. Eucalyptus leaves are poisonous to humans and most animals.
Keep in mind, that much of Australia’s forests are eucalypts. During bushfires, whole communities have their towns filled with smoke. While smoke can cause respiratory issues, there is no toxic effect that kills people en masse.
Based on heat output and coaling, properly seasoned eucalyptus firewood is one of the best options. At 34.5 million BTUs per cord, that’s impressive heat that beats oak and Osage orange.
The biggest problem with eucalyptus firewood is that it’s hard to get your hands on if you’re outside Australia. Some parts of the United States, like California, have large forests of eucalypts planted. But most other parts of the world don’t have a lot of supply.
If you can get hold of eucalyptus firewood then it’s worth using. There’s no unwanted smoke or excessive sparks to deal with. If you’re offered seasoned logs that haven’t yet been split, we’d advise you to run for the hills. It becomes extremely hard once dried out and splitting is a major challenge.