Ficus is the collective name for over 850 species of shrubs and trees. Commonly known as fig trees, they are mostly evergreen hardwoods found in warm climates.
These trees make excellent shade trees and produce delicious fruit, but can you burn the wood from an old tree? This guide looks at whether ficus firewood is worth burning so you don’t waste time splitting an unusable fuel source.
Is ficus suitable for firewood?
Ficus is a reasonable choice of firewood that is easy to split and provides moderate heat output. It is a hardwood that will burn clean with minimal smoke if given time to season. Outside warm climates like Florida, the ficus is typically a small tree, so its biggest complaint is not providing enough wood.
- Gives off moderate heat output.
- Burns clean with a pleasant smell.
- Low amount of popping and sparking.
- The sap can irritate cats and dogs.
Ficus firewood burn qualities
1. Heat output
The level of heat wood gives off as it burns is important to consider. Knowing whether you can burn it through the depths of winter in cold states is good. Lower-quality wood is still okay for burning, but it’s best for kindling, shoulder season wood, or combined with premium hardwoods.
Ficus provides moderate heat in the fireplace, giving off 21.4 million BTUs per cord. That’s similar to birch, hackberry, and Kentucky coffeetree. However, it doesn’t compare to popular firewood varieties like beech, oak, and black locust.
Check out the following table comparing the heat output of ficus to various other common types of firewood.
|Wood variety||Heat per Cord (Million BTUs)|
Most hardwoods like walnut, apple, and ficus produce minimal smoke once seasoned. They create a clean-burning flame that is suitable for campfires and open fireplaces. People sensitive to smoke won’t end up with sore, red eyes.
Ficus needs proper seasoning before use in the fire. Burn it too early, and you’ll get stinky-smelling plumes of smoke. Also, the fire will waste all its energy burning off water rather than emitting heat.
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3. Ease of splitting
The ficus tree is typically easily split by hand with a maul or splitting axe. It’s best to chop the wood still green before it turns much harder. Early splitting also speeds up the seasoning process as more firewood surface area is exposed to wind and light.
Remember that knotty parts of a ficus tree and the crotch will be much harder to split. This tough, gnarly wood may need the help of an hydraulic splitter.
Ficus gives off only a few sparks as it burns, making it a better option than softwoods like pine and juniper. The embers are unlikely to pop from the fireplace and burn the carpet or your favorite rug.
Ficus is a good choice for campfires as there is less chance of random sparks causing a bushfire. Whatever wood you choose, never leave fires unattended in the outdoors.
Fig wood provides a unique spicy, sweet fragrance as it burns. Some describe it as having a slight floral scent.
Ficus wood is a fruit tree that is excellent for cooking with grills, roasters, firepits, and smokers. Use it to add delicious flavor to meat, seafood, poultry, and pizza.
The wood burns hot and fast, so adding wood chips once the food is already cooking is a popular method. Take advantage of a slower-burning fuel like oak for heat.
Using fully-seasoned wood is essential when cooking, as green ficus has significant sap and resin.
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Ficus is a fast-burning wood that doesn’t produce good coals. It gives out heat longer than softwoods like spruce but pales in comparison with other popular types of firewood. For a long-lasting fire, try combining ficus with oak which has exceptional coaling properties.
7. Creosote buildup
Creosote is a black tar-like substance that attaches to the chimney as the fire burns. Some wood, like pine, produces more than others. That means the chimney needs regular cleaning to reduce blockages.
Once ficus is completely dried, it won’t give off much creosote in the fire. Whatever firewood you burn, cleaning a chimney once a year is the best practice. Regular maintenance could prevent a house fire.
The pros and cons of burning ficus
- Burns clean with minimal sparking.
- Excellent aroma for cooking with.
- Mostly easy to split by hand.
- Doesn’t burn as long as oak or beech.
- Can be hard to find good-sized trees in many areas.
Tips for seasoning ficus
Ficus takes around 12-18 months to season, but following these tips can reduce the waiting time.
- Position correctly: avoid shady, damp areas and face the exposed wood stack towards the prevailing winds.
- Raise the stack: place the wood on pallets to create airflow.
- Split before drying: increase the surface area exposed to sunlight and wind by splitting logs.
- Make space between rows: build stacks with a 3-5″ gap between each to encourage air circulation.
- Criss-cross the layers: stack the wood in opposing directions to encourage faster drying.
- Cover the stack: use a woodshed or tarp to protect the piles from the elements but keep one side exposed to the wind.
5 facts about the ficus tree
- The scientific name for the common fig tree is the Ficus carica from the family Moraceae.
- Although the tree’s sap can cause irritations to humans and animals, it is safe to burn once the wood is seasoned.
- Fig wood isn’t popular for woodworking projects as it doesn’t have many interesting color variations.
- There is no distinction between the sapwood and heartwood; the grain has a slight wave.
- The wood is soft, making it easy to use for carving and making items like boxes and bowls.
Ficus is suitable for burning and provides 21.4 million BTUs per cord. Once dried, it burns clean without popping and sparking. The best part about ficus firewood is its aroma, which is excellent for adding mouth-watering flavor to food.
Perhaps the biggest problem with burning ficus is that it burns fast. Used on its own, you’ll have to constantly add more wood to keep the fire blazing. Instead, we recommend using it with other denser varieties or for kindling.