Pecans are spreading deciduous trees that can reach heights of 70-100 feet with plenty of direct sunlight. The tree is popular for its nuts and has an excellent grain for woodworking.

Are you wondering if pecan firewood is any good? We’ve created this guide to walk you through how it compares to other popular varieties of wood for your fire.

Is pecan good for firewood?

Pecan makes excellent firewood, offering plenty of heat and great coaling properties. The tree is closely related to hickory and so you’ll get similar burning properties and a pleasant fragrance.

  • Gives off a lot of heat, ideal for the middle of winter.
  • Produces top-quality long-burning coals that keep the house warm all night.
  • Burns clean with low levels of smoke and sparking.
  • Easy to split most of the time.
Infographic showing pecan firewood statistics

Pecan firewood burn qualities

1. Heat output

Pecan firewood gives off 28 million BTUs of heat per cord. That’s impressive warmth which compares with black locust and beech. Pecan is much hotter than aspen, alder, white fir, and chestnut.

Heat output should be your main consideration, whether you’re sitting around a campfire or relaxing at home. No one wants a fire that doesn’t fight off the cold weather. Thankfully, pecan will keep you warm on the coldest winter night.

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

Wood varietyHeat per Cord (Million BTUs)
White fir14.6
Black walnut22.2
Black locust27.9
Osage orange32.9

2. Smoke

Pecan gives off low amounts of smoke compared to smokier firewoods like pine and sycamore. If you’re sensitive to smoke, then this is a good choice for your home.

Keep in mind that pecan needs to be completely dried out or it’ll still smoke. If you can get a moisture meter, then that’ll let you know when it’s ready to be tossed in the fireplace.

3. Ease of splitting

In most cases, unseasoned pecan is relatively easy to split by hand. It has a nice, straight grain so specialized mauls or hydraulic splitters aren’t needed. Of course, using them will make the job easier!

If you let pecan season first, splitting will be much tougher. Older, gnarly pecan trees that have knots throughout are also hard to split. 

4. Sparks

You’ll notice very little popping and sparking as pecan burns. It is suitable for cooking, outdoor campfires, and open-air indoor fireplaces.

As with any firewood, keep an eye on the fire if you’re out in the forest. A bush fire is the last thing you want to be responsible for.

5. Aroma

The fragrance given off by pecan is excellent and will give your house a homely, welcoming feel. Meat smokers and barbecue buffs will also appreciate this wood that competes with hickory or apple for its smell. Its slightly sweet aroma adds a lovely flavor to food.

6. Coaling

The quality of coal produced by firewood has an impact on how well a fire burns and its duration. The coaling properties of pecan firewood are very good, rivaling other hardwoods like black locust and oak.

Throw pecan into the fire and your wood stove will give off heat all night. Re-starting coals the next morning is quick and easy with a little kindling. 

7. Creosote build-up

The buildup of black tar can block chimneys and create health issues in high amounts. It needs to be swept out at regular intervals. Thankfully, creosote won’t be such an issue if you burn pecan. It has very little sap and resin, so creosote residue will be low compared to softer woods like pine.

Closeup of the trunk of a Carya Illinoensis (pecan tree)

How long should I season pecan?

If you live in a hot, dry climate then 6-12 months will be sufficient time to season pecan. Allow 12-18 months in cooler regions that get plenty of rain.

Seasoned wood means it has been thoroughly dried. Burning pecan that has been seasoned is a good plan as it’ll burn hotter and have less smoke and sparks.

Tips for seasoning pecan

There are some useful ways to encourage firewood to season faster. Follow these tips to speed up pecan wood seasoning.

  • Elevate the wood: lay the pecan on pallets or planks to create airflow beneath the wood.
  • Cover the wood: use a suitable cover to protect your firewood from the elements while keeping one side exposed to the wind.
  • Split the wood: splitting logs into smaller pieces increases the surface area that gets exposed to sunshine and wind.
  • Space out the rows: create a series of stacks with a 3-5” gap between each one to assist with air circulation.
  • Stack in the right location: drying time will be much quicker when positioning the face of the stack towards the wind and avoiding shady areas.

How do I identify a pecan tree?

To work out if you’re looking at a pecan tree look at the leaves. They’re 12-20 inches in length with leaflets that are lance-shaped with curved tips. The leaf underside tends to be pale green while the tops are a darker green.

Another way to identify pecan trees is by looking at their bark. A mature pecan’s bark is reddish-brown while younger trees are gray.

Of course, the nuts are another giveaway if it’s the right time of year. While they’re growing on the tree, they’ll have thin green shells in summer and dark brown by the time fall arrives. 

How can I identify pecan firewood?

To identify pecan firewood, look at the sapwood which is a pale yellowy-brown shade. The heartwood is light to medium brown and usually has a reddish hue. The wood has a medium texture with a straight or wavy grain.

Facts about the pecan tree

  • The pecan tree can live for over 300 years if the conditions are right.
  • Texas, Georgia, Mexico, and New Mexico produce almost half of the world’s total pecan crops.
  • The botanical name for the pecan tree is Carya illinoinensis from the family Juglandaceae.
  • Pecan trees are native to northern Mexico and the southern United States. They are abundant in areas near the Mississippi River.
  • The trees are extremely difficult to transplant due to a series of deep taproots.
  • Mature pecan trees produce 70-150 pounds of nuts each year.

Summing up

The pecan tree is an excellent source of nuts, but when it comes to the end of its life it’s also great for firewood. You’ll get plenty of heat from pecan along with great coals. It’s also easy to split most of the time, making the job of chopping a large amount of wood more bearable.

Depending on where you live, pecan firewood is often difficult to find and could be costly. If you can get your hands on some then jump at the chance. It rates alongside other top woods like hickory. 

Similar Posts