Crabapple trees grow in most parts of the world but flourish in temperate climates. Although they can live for up to 70 years, you may have an old tree that needs felling.

If you’re wondering whether crabapple makes good firewood, then keep reading. We look at the wood’s pros, cons, and whether it’s worth the effort to split.

Is crabapple good for firewood?

Crabapple trees provide excellent firewood that gives off good heat and produces great coals. It provides a pleasant, sweet fragrance that meat smokers enjoy. Crabapple burns fine, but splitting may be a challenge, and the thorns can be a nuisance to work with.

  • High heat output, suitable for the depths of winter.
  • Excellent fragrance that’s ideal for cooking.
  • Gives off minimal smoke or sparks.
  • Has similar characteristics to apple tree firewood.
  • Dense, knotty wood that can be difficult to split.
An infographic showing crabapple firewood data
Dashboards stats for crabapple firewood.

Crabapple firewood burn qualities

1. Heat output

Crabapple rates above average for heat output, producing 27.2 million BTUs per cord. This wood will keep you warm, whether next to the fireplace at home or sitting around a campfire.

The wood from a crabapple tree has a slightly lower BTU rating than popular hardwoods like beech at 27.5, Gambel Oak 30.7, and Osage Orange 32.9. But it outperforms other popular types of firewood like maple and ash. It is a much better option than most softwoods.

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

Wood varietyHeat per Cord (Million BTUs)
American elm20.0
Gambel oak30.7
Osage orange32.9

2. Smoke

Crabapple firewood burns clean, so toss it in the fire without fear of smoking out the home. The smoke is light, with a mildly sweet and fruity fragrance. The wood’s subtle flavor is best used with milder foods. It is ideal for smoking food like chicken, beef, fish, and pork.

Crabapple wood needs seasoning before burning. Throwing greenwood into the flames will create a lot of unpleasant smoke.

3. Ease of splitting

Splitting crabapple for firewood ranges from easy to moderate. Some logs are straight and don’t take much effort to split. However, some trees become twisted and knotted with gnarly fibers that are challenging to work with. If the wood is tough, you’ll need a splitting axe or maul with some power.

Whatever the wood’s condition, process it as soon as possible after the tree is felled. The wood is usually easier to split, and it will season much quicker than if left as whole rounds.  

4. Sparks

Crabapple firewood burns clean without popping and sparking too much. This is a good feature as embers that pop have the potential to burn the carpet and may also start an unwanted fire.

Always burn fully dried firewood for the best results. All unseasoned wood has the potential to pop and spark excessively. 

5. Aroma

Crabapple gives off a subtle sweet fragrance that doesn’t overwhelm the house. Most people consider it a pleasant scent. 

Crabapple is a popular choice for smoking, barbecuing, and roasting. It rates alongside other favorites like peach, apple, maple, and quince. If you enjoy a more intense, bitter-tasting flavor, consider adding hickory or mesquite to the fire.

6. Coaling

The coals produced by crabapple firewood are reasonable, outperforming most softwoods like spruce and fir. The fire should keep burning slowly without needing to constantly add more wood.

Crabapple doesn’t provide coals that burn as well as popular hardwoods like oak, beech, and maple.

7. Creosote build-up

Seasoned crabapple is a hardwood that contains very little resin and sap content. It burns clean and produces low levels of creosote, which means less chimney cleaning is required. Find out more about softwood and hardwood firewood here.

A fully-grown crabapple tree in a park with pink blossoms
Mature crabapple trees can provide a reasonable amount of wood.

Tips for seasoning crabapple

Follow these handy tips to speed up crabapple firewood seasoning:

  • Protect the stack: use a tarp or wood shed to shelter the wood from rain and snow.
  • Stack in a good spot: face the exposed wood towards the wind and avoid damp, shady areas.
  • Raise the wood: lay the wood on some pallets to allow airflow and keep it away from moisture, disease, and pests.
  • Split the firewood: split the logs to increase the surface area exposed to wind and sunlight.
  • Space out the rows: create a series of stacks with small gaps between them to assist air circulation.

Commonly asked questions

How long does it take to season crabapple firewood?

It is best to allow 18-24 months for crabapple firewood to season properly. After this time, the wood should burn cleaner and give off more heat.

How do I identify a crabapple tree?

Crabapple trees have rough and cracked greyish bark. Their round or oval leaves form an alternate pattern and have pointed tips. When the tree’s flowers appear, they are white or pinkish, with five petals.  

Crabapple trees growing on a flat grassy area during a pleasant sunny day
Crabapples grow well in temperate climates.

Fast facts about crabapple trees

  1. The scientific name for the crabapple tree is Malus, from the family Rosaceae.
  2. There are around 30-55 species of crabapple, including Prairie crabapple (Malus ioensis), Shrub apple (Malus brevipes), Southern crabapple (Malus angustifolia), and Sweet crabapple (Malus coronaria). Source.
  3. The trees typically take 3-4 years to produce fruit and can live for 70 years.
  4. They are primarily grown for their appearance as ornamentals.
  5. Their fruits are very sour, but they’re good for making jams and jellies or added to pies.

Summing up

Crabapple trees are well worth the effort to split for firewood. Once seasoned, the wood emits a lot of heat, burns clean, and produces good coals.

One of the biggest strengths of crabapple firewood is its lovely fragrance, but always season the wood sufficiently before using it.

The challenge with crabapple firewood is finding it. Trees are mainly grown for landscaping rather than firewood, so they aren’t readily available.

If you have an old crabapple on the property, watch out for the thorns as you fell, buck, and split the wood. Not all species are coated in spikes, but the ones that are can cause nasty injuries.

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