Privet is an invasive semi-evergreen species that crowds out native vegetation. While they often don’t grow much bigger than a small shrub, some develop trunks thick enough for firewood.

Is this wood worth the effort to split? This guide will review privet firewood and compare it to other popular varieties.

Is privet good for firewood?

Privet is a reasonable choice for firewood, providing moderate heat output and good coaling properties. It is a dense hardwood that gives off minimal smoke and is safe to burn. While privet grows quickly, it is typically a shrub, so getting enough wood is the biggest issue.

  • Low sparking and popping.
  • Burns clean with a mild smell.
  • Emits moderate heat output.
An infographic showing privet firewood data
Dashboard stats for privet firewood.

Privet firewood burn qualities

1. Heat output

Privet offers good heat efficiency producing 24.5 million BTUs per cord, making it comparable to yew, red oak, or mulberry. It is useful for heating in the shoulder season or the depths of winter. Privet is more efficient than magnolia, poplar, basswood, and most softwoods.

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

Wood varietyHeat per Cord (Million BTUs)
Black walnut22.2
Red oak24.6
Bur oak26.2

2. Smoke

Properly seasoned privet won’t give off much smoke. It creates a clean-burning flame that is great for campfires or open fireplaces. Those sensitive to smoke shouldn’t get sore, red eyes burning this wood inside.

Most hardwoods like oak, maple, and privet produce low levels of smoke once seasoned. Burning it prematurely will create a lot of smoke, so follow our guide on how to store firewood for the best results.

3. Ease of splitting

Privet grows fast but doesn’t develop a large trunk. This combination of factors makes it easy to split compared to some tree varieties like elm.

If you get landed with a knotty trunk, it’ll make splitting a bigger challenge. In this case, a decent splitting axe or maul should take care of the job.

The wood is typically easier to process while it’s still green. By processing the wood after felling the tree, you’ll also reduce the seasoning time significantly.

4. Sparks

Dry privet won’t spark much as it burns; it’s better than softwoods like pine or juniper. This feature makes it a safer option for campfires and open fireplaces. If you find it hard to relax as a fire sparks and pops, privet will provide a better experience.

5. Aroma

While some firewood like cedar has a heady fragrance as it burns, privet doesn’t give off much smell. Some people, especially those with allergies, will enjoy this mild-smelling wood.

6. Coaling

Privet is a dense hardwood and produces good coals as it burns. It will give out heat longer than softwoods like pine, but privet doesn’t compare to maple or black locust.

To keep the fire burning longer, try combining privet with ever-popular oak firewood which has better coaling properties.

7. Creosote buildup

Creosote is an unpleasant black substance deposited on the chimney as the fire burns. Some wood gives off more than others, meaning the chimney needs regular cleaning.

Well-seasoned privet doesn’t contain much resin or sap, so it leaves low levels of creosote on the chimney. Getting a chimney cleaned at the end of each winter is still good practice.

A single privet shrub growing in a park on a sunny day
Privet is an invasive species in many countries.

Tips for seasoning privet

Expect privet takes around 12 months to season, although it may take longer in cold, wet areas. You can reduce the waiting time for privet to season by following these tips.

  • Position well: avoid shady areas and face the cut ends in the direction of wind and sunshine.
  • Raise the wood: place the firewood on 2x4s or pallets to create airflow.
  • Split immediately: increase the surface area exposed to the elements by splitting logs before stacking.
  • Criss-cross the layers: stacking the wood in opposite directions will help it dry faster but uses up more storage space.
  • Cover the stack: use a waterproof tarp or woodshed to protect the piles from the elements while keeping one side exposed to the wind.
  • Space out the rows: build stacks with a 3-5″ gap between each to encourage air circulation.

6 fast facts about privet

  1. The scientific name for the privet is Ligustrum from the family Oleaceae.
  2. Varieties include the Common privet (Ligustrum vulgare), Chinese privet or Glossy privet (Ligustrum lucidum), and Oval-leaved privet (Ligustrum ovalifolium).
  3. There are around 50 species of privet worldwide.
  4. Privet grows in the form of a small tree or shrub and may reach a height of 15-20 feet.
  5. In some varieties, the flowers look beautiful but have an unpleasant fragrance.
  6. The fruits are inedible for humans, but birds will eat them.
White blooms growing on a European privet (Ligustrum vulgare)
A flowering European privet (Ligustrum vulgare).

Summing up

In many parts of the world, privet is invasive and often doesn’t get chopped down before reaching maturity. If you discover a stand of these trees, you may find that they provide a decent stash of wood for the fire.

Privet is well worth burning and provides 24.5 million BTUs per cord. It produces good coals and burns clean without popping and sparking. Popular types of firewood like oak and hickory are better choices, but if you can get it for free, then take it.

Similar Posts