Most apricot trees only live for 20-30 years before needing replacement. The wood is strong and durable, making it excellent for woodwork projects like knife handles, musical instruments, and carvings. But is the apricot tree good for firewood? This guide looks at whether it’s worth the effort to split.

Is apricot good for firewood?

Apricot is an excellent firewood that provides good heat output and gives off a pleasant fragrance as it burns. It is often heavier and more challenging to split than most fruitwood varieties. The wood burns clean and provides slow-burning coals once dry.

  • Burns clean and gives off useful heat.
  • Slow burning, creating good coals.
  • Great fuel for smoking and barbecuing.
  • Tough wood that may be hard to split.
An infographic showing apricot firewood data
Dashboard stats for apricot firewood.

Apricot firewood burn qualities

1. Heat output

Apricot wood gives off 27.9 million BTUs of heat per cord, which will keep you warm in the depths of winter. In comparison, apple provides 27.0, and pinyon offers 27.1 BTUs.

Firewood from an apricot tree offers slightly lower BTUs than popular hardwoods like oak and Osage orange. However, it provides better heating efficiency than softwoods like pine, fir, or spruce.

Whatever the weather throws at you, apricot will keep you warm. It’s perfect for the shoulder season or extra-cold winter nights. The wood takes some work to light, so use a quick-burning softwood for kindling.

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

Wood varietyHeat per Cord (Million BTUs)
Bradford Pear26.5
Black locust27.9
Osage orange32.9

2. Smoke

Smokey wood causes sore, red eyes and isn’t pleasant. Thankfully, apricot burns clean and produces minimal smoke. It is ideal for campfires, woodstoves, or open fireplaces.

Always season apricot properly before using it as fuel. Green wood is saturated in water content, so it will smoke in the fire. Unseasoned wood is inefficient – the fire wastes energy evaporating water instead of providing heat.

3. Ease of splitting

Splitting apricot wood ranges from easy to challenging. Some logs are straight, but it’s typically twisted or knotty. We suggest using a powerful splitting axe or maul to make the job easier. Consider investing in a hydraulic log splitter if you’ve got a lot of wood to process.

The tree’s crotch can be especially hard to split. That’s the area where several limbs come together into one knotted mess.

To make splitting easier, wait for a frosty morning. It makes the job a less back-breaking chore.

4. Sparks

Some wood pops and sparks excessively as it burns. This is fine with wood stoves, but it is not ideal if you’re camping or have an open hearth. Apricot produces very few sparks in the fire, so light it and relax.

5. Aroma

As apricot wood burns in the fire, it gives off a pleasant fragrance. It is considered one of the best firewood varieties for its scent.

Like most fruit trees, apricot provides a mild, sweet fragrance that’s fruity and doesn’t overwhelm. It is ideal for cooking with, adding delicious flavor whether you love to smoke, spit roast, barbecue, or grill.

Apricot wood pairs well with meat like poultry, pork, vegetables, and some seafood. Mild food is best as it allows the smokey taste to shine through.

Home cooks that enjoy stronger flavor may want to combine apricot wood with hickory or mesquite wood. The apricot wood’s sweetness balances the other wood’s bitterness.

Check out our list of top wood varieties for cooking here.

6. Coaling

Coals produced by firewood impact how long the fire will burn before more wood needs to be added. Apricot is a hardwood that has excellent coaling properties. While it won’t compete with oak or maple, the wood is still dense, slow-burning, and much better than most softwoods.

Apricot leaves minimal ash in the fireplace once the fire burns out. That means less cleanup the following day.

7. Creosote build-up

Creosote is a black substance deposited inside chimneys as the fire burns. It is highly flammable, so regular chimney cleaning may be needed to remove it.

Some types of firewood deposit excessive creosote. However, apricot is a hardwood that doesn’t leave much creosote. It burns clean so long as it has been given sufficient time to season.

Illustration of an apricot tree on white background
Illustration of an apricot tree.

How long does it take to season apricot firewood?

Allow 18-24 months of seasoning time for apricot firewood. Leaving it for an extra 12 months will result in a cleaner burning, warmer fire.

Seasoning time is reduced for old apricot trees that have been dead for months. They’ve had time to dry out, so seasoning may only require 12 months.

Tips for seasoning apricot

Hot, dry climates help speed up apricot firewood seasoning. Speed up the drying time further by following these tips:

  • Raise the stacks: lay wood on pallets to create airflow and keep a distance from moisture, insects, and disease.
  • Space out the rows: build piles in rows with a small gap between each one to encourage airflow.
  • Stack in the right spot: face the stack towards the wind and avoid shady, damp areas.
  • Cover the wood: use a woodshed or tarp to protect the wood from the elements while keeping one side exposed to the wind.
  • Split the firewood: Split the logs before drying to increase the surface area exposed to sunshine and wind.
An apricot orchard with many mature trees bearing ripe apricots
An apricot orchard can provide a lot of firewood.

Commonly asked questions

What is the best way to smoke apricot wood chips?

Place apricot wood chips in a smoker box or wrap them in aluminum foil with a few holes, then position over the fire. The chips lose flavor quickly, so add them once the food is cooking.

When is the best time to fell an apricot tree for firewood?

Try to fell and split apricot trees between winter and early spring. They will have less sap and moisture, which will speed up the seasoning.

How do I identify apricot firewood?

Apricot has a light brown heartwood which may have a reddish tinge and dark brown streaks. Its sapwood is a lighter shade and is typically a small section of the log. 

Cross-section of an apricot round showing the sapwood and heartwood
Cross-section of an apricot log.

5 fast facts about apricot trees

  1. The botanical name for the apricot tree is Prunus armeniaca. It is a part of the family Rosaceae.
  2. Apricot trees are common in many parts of the world, including the Middle East, Europe, Asia, Australia, and North America.
  3. The tree is native to parts of Asia.
  4. 95% of all commercially grown apricots in the United States come from California.
  5. Apricot trees have been around for at least 4000 years.

Summing up

Apricot trees produce excellent firewood with a BTU heat rating of 27.9 million. The wood makes good coals and burns clean with few sparks and minimal smoke. Apricot wood gives food a mouth-watering smoky flavor.

Depending on factors like age and location, some apricot trees can be difficult to split.

Small apricot trees won’t provide much wood. In this case, consider making wood chips and saving them for the grill or smoker. They’ll last longer, and your food will be the envy of the neighborhood.

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