The honey locust is a thorny deciduous tree that is native to North America. The wood is resistant to rot and is commonly used for making tool handles, fence posts, and pallets.

Do you have an old tree you’re thinking about splitting for firewood? Maybe it’s sold in your area and you’re wondering if it’s worth the money? In this guide, we’ll look at whether honey locust makes good firewood and how it compares to other popular options.

Is honey locust good for firewood?

Honey locust is an excellent type of firewood that gives off heat in the range of other hardwoods like black locust and beech. This easy-to-split wood produces excellent coals and burns clean with few sparks.

  • Rot-resistant wood
  • High heat output
  • Excellent coaling
  • Easy to split
  • Low smoke and sparks
Infographic of honey locust firewood statistics

Honey locust firewood burn qualities

1. Heat output

The amount of heat provided by the wood you choose to burn is an important consideration. Whether you’re huddled around a campfire or stretched out at home, staying warm is the main goal.  

The heat output provided by honey locust is 26.7 million BTUs per cord. This is impressive heat that rivals many of the popular hardwoods. Those living in really cold climates will get through winter using honey locust as fuel for the fire.

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

Wood VarietyHeat per Cord (Million BTUs)
White ash24.2
Honey locust26.7
Osage orange32.9

2. Smoke

Firewood that gives off too much smoke will give everyone sore red eyes. Even if you’re outdoors, the last thing you want is smoke billowing into your face.

Seasoned honey locust burns clean, giving off very little smoke. That makes it ideal for open fireplaces that don’t have a door to keep the smoke out of the room.

Firewood should always be well seasoned before burning it in the fire. Green honey locust contains water that will cause smoke to billow out at unpleasant levels. 

Burning unseasoned honey locust is also an inefficient use of the wood. It will use all its energy burning off water instead of radiating heat.

3. Ease of splitting

Honey locust is super-easy to split by hand using a splitting axe or maul. Chop the wood while it’s still green to make seasoning a quicker process. The job of splitting honey locust also becomes tougher as the wood dries, so get it done early on.

Like any wood, the honey locust’s crotch is much harder to split.

This area has multiple limbs joining in one spot, creating gnarly wood that’s full of knots. You can try chopping this wood by hand, but a hydraulic splitter will make life easier.

4. Sparks

Wood like hemlock and mulberry can give off a fireworks display as they burn. Sparking and popping may cause an unwanted fire or an ember could burn the carpet.

Honey locust produces few sparks, allowing you to get the fire started and then relax. Getting burnt by a random spark is unlikely with this firewood.

Even though honey locust doesn’t spark much, stay vigilant if you’re outdoors. An unattended fire in the forest can quickly turn into a much larger unwanted fire.

5. Aroma

Honey locust gives off very little fragrance as it burns. Most people find the wood is pleasant to burn indoors.

While honey locust is fine for cooking with, there are better options available. If you want to add extra flavor to smoked meat and barbecued food, then check out our review of hickory firewood. You can also read our article on apple firewood for a wood that gives off a more subtle aroma.  

6. Coaling

It’s useful to have firewood that creates great coals. You’ll find that fires burn longer without needing to have extra wood added. That means you can focus on other stuff without worrying about the fire going out.

Honey locust is a type of hardwood that creates excellent coals. Throw a log into the flames and it will put out heat all night. There may even be embers the next morning, making re-starting the fire a cinch.

7. Creosote build-up

Honey locust is a hardwood that produces very little creosote when properly seasoned. It burns clean as it contains low amounts of resin and sap. That’s important because tar-like creosote gets deposited inside the chimney and needs to be cleaned off. Thankfully, chimney maintenance will be much less frequent by burning honey locust.

5 tips for seasoning honey locust

To speed up honey locust firewood seasoning follow these simple tips:

  1. Stack away from shady spots and face the exposed wood towards the wind.
  2. Cover the wood with a tarp or place it under a shelter to protect it from the elements but keep one side exposed to the wind.
  3. Split the logs before seasoning to increase the surface area exposed to wind and sunshine.
  4. Build stacks with a 3-5” space between each one to promote airflow.
  5. Place the firewood on suitable blocks of planks to create airflow beneath the wood.
Honey locust tree on a white background
A young honey locust tree.

Commonly asked questions

How long does it take to season honey locust firewood?

People living in warm, dry climates should allow at least 12 months of seasoning time. Those in cooler areas are best to allow 2 years for their honey locust to season adequately. 

When is the best time to fell a honey locust for firewood?

When practical, fell honey locust trees and split them between winter and early spring. Through this cold part of the year, the wood seasons quicker as there is less water and sap.

How long does a cord of honey locust last?

Expect a cord of honey locust to last 8-10 weeks. However, this timeframe will vary depending on how long you keep the fire burning, the type of fire, and how dry the wood is.

How do I identify a honey locust tree?

The honey locust is easily recognized by its clumps of thorns found on its trunk. Its bark is reddish to grayish-brown once mature.

In spring and early summer, honey locusts produce whitish-green flowers in small clusters that are strongly scented.   

The leaves are light green and there is no leaflet at the top, unlike black locusts.

Close up of honey locust tree trunk and its thorns
The spiky thorns on a honey locust tree.

Black locust vs. honey locust

The honey locust tree has longer thorns and pods than the black locust. The blooms on the black locust are larger and showier than the less significant honey locust.

A black locust tree (Robinia pseudoacacia) is native to a few small areas of the U.S. while the honey locust (Gleditsia triacanthos) is from central North America.

Fast facts

  • The botanical name for the honey locust tree is Gleditsia triacanthos from the family Caesalpiniaceae.
  • Honey locusts are flowering deciduous trees that grow to heights of around 30-70 feet.
  • They are also known as sweet locust, bean tree, thorny honey locust, honey shuck, McConnel’s curse, and common honey locust.
  • It is a fast-growing, hardy tree that can thrive in many environments. However, it enjoys living near a large water source.
  • The barbs of a honey locust can grow to 8” in length.

Summing up

Honey locust is one of the best firewood varieties thanks to its heat output, ease of splitting, and excellent coals. It makes useful all-round firewood that has no glaring weaknesses.  

Keep in mind that this tree has some nasty thorns which can cause a serious injury. Take care when you’re working with this wood and be sure to wear appropriate work boots. The spikes will easily penetrate softer soles.

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