Lilacs are grown in most parts of the world, popular for their colorful purple blooms that look good in any garden. While they typically reach the size of a small shrub, some develop into trees with thick trunks. This guide looks at the quality of lilac firewood and compares it to other popular varieties.

Is lilac firewood any good?

Lilac is safe to burn and won’t give off harmful fumes. It makes good firewood that provides moderate heat output. Lilac is a dense hardwood that produces good coals and gives off minimal smoke. While lilac is a fast-growing plant, getting enough wood is the biggest issue.

  • Reasonable heat
  • Safe to burn
  • Low pops and sparks
  • Good coaling properties
An infographic showing lilac firewood data
Dashboard stats for lilac firewood.

Lilac firewood burn qualities

1. Heat output

Lilac offers moderate heat efficiency producing 24.0 million BTUs per cord. That’s comparable to white ash and red oak but lower than wood like apple, pinyon, and black locust.

Firewood from the lilac tree is helpful for heating in the shoulder season or the middle of winter. It is a better option than poplar, basswood, magnolia, and most softwoods.

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

Wood varietyHeat per Cord (Million BTUs)
Buckeye13.8
Catalpa16.4
Hackberry21.2
Black walnut22.2
Lilac24.0
White ash24.2
Privet24.5
Red oak24.6
Mulberry25.8
Yew27.0
Apple27.0
Osage orange32.9

2. Smoke

Taking the time to thoroughly season lilac will result in clean burning firewood. It will give off minimal smoke, making it useful for campfires and open fireplaces.

3. Ease of splitting

Although lilac trees grow fast, they don’t develop large trunks. They’re relatively easy to split compared to hardwoods with much bigger diameters.

Splitting the crotch won’t be as easy, but that applies to almost any tree. The branches and trunk twist together as the tree grows, creating tough wood. You’ll need a powerful splitting axe or maul to take care of the job.

Lilac wood is typically easier to process while it’s still green. You’ll also reduce the seasoning time significantly by splitting the wood soon after felling the tree.

Want to learn how to split wood the easy way? Check out our firewood splitting hacks to notch up your game.

4. Sparks

Dried lilac gives off minimal sparks as it burns. It won’t pop as it burns like juniper, pine, and other softwoods. People that can’t relax as a fire sparks will find lilac firewood provides a better experience.

Lilac is a safer option for open fireplaces in the home and campfires. There’s less chance of a smoldering ember landing on the carpet or starting a bushfire.

5. Aroma

Lilac flowers provide a fresh floral fragrance that descend into a putrid rotting smell as the blooms decay. Thankfully, the wood emits a very subtle, sweet scent as it burns. People sensitive to smells and those with allergies will enjoy this wood.

Home chefs will love the flavor lilac wood chips give to food. Its slightly sweet, floral smoke is perfect for adding flavor to fish, meat, poultry, and cheese.

6. Coaling

Lilac is a dense hardwood that produces reasonable coals as it burns. It provides heat longer than softwoods like spruce, but lilac doesn’t compare to oak or maple.

We suggest combining lilac with other slower-burning firewood. You won’t have to keep topping up the fire as much.

7. Creosote buildup

Creosote is a black sooty substance deposited inside the chimney as the fire burns. Some wood gives off a lot, meaning the chimney needs regular cleaning.

Well-seasoned lilac doesn’t contain much resin or sap, so it leaves low levels of creosote on the chimney. Even though lilac burns clean, we recommend cleaning chimneys regularly to avoid blockages and potential fires.

A lilac tree on white background
Lilac firewood burns clean and gives off minimal creosote.

Tips for seasoning lilac

Allow 12 months for lilac firewood to season, although a few extra months is recommended in cold, rainy climates. Reduce the seasoning time by following these tips. You can also learn more about firewood storage here.

  • Leave row gaps: build wood stacks with a small gap between each to promote air circulation.
  • Raise the wood: Use bricks, planks, or pallets as a base to encourage airflow and keep the split rounds away from moisture in the ground.
  • Position well: Face the cut ends in the direction of wind and sunshine while avoiding shady, damp areas.
  • Criss-cross the wood: stack each row in opposite directions to stabilize the pile and help it dry faster.
  • Split while green: Split the rounds before stacking to increase the surface area exposed to wind and sunshine.
  • Cover the stack: use a woodshed or tarp to protect the firewood but keep one side exposed to the wind.
A mature lilac tree in a garden with sunlight in the background
Some lilac species are a good source of firewood.

Fast facts about lilac

Gardeners often graft lilacs onto privet rootstock (Ligustrum ovalifolium), to speed up the growing process.

The scientific name for the common lilac is Syringa vulgaris from the family Oleaceae.

Varieties that grow into trees include Summer Snow, Ivory Pillar, Ivory Silk, and Chantilly Lace (Syringa reticulata).

Lilac grows as small trees or shrubs and may reach 25 feet in height.

Summing up

Lilac is a common shrub of tree that is well worth burning. It provides 24.0 million BTUs per cord and burns clean without popping and sparking. Popular types of firewood like hickory or maple are better options, but don’t waste it if you can get it for free.

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