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Can Arborvitae Be Used for Firewood?

can Arborvitae be used for firewood

When it comes to choosing the right wood to be used as firewood there are many things to take into consideration. These can include how much heat you need, the moisture level of the wood, the condition of the wood (e.g. if it is rotten) and if it will give off any harmful gases.

Can arborvitae be used for firewood? The answer is yes. Here we will explore the use of arborvitae as firewood, covering everything from how well the wood burns to the smell and safety precautions to take when burning this for firewood.

Arborvitae is a member of the cypress family (evergreens). It is a slow-growing tree that typically reaches a maximum growth of 12-24 inches per year. There are five species in total, with two being commonly found in North America and the other three being native to the East Asian regions.

How Does Arborvitae Wood Burn?

One of the first things to consider when choosing an appropriate firewood is the season, temperature and weather conditions. Although evergreens will look a lot healthier (and more alive) than their counterparts they are particularly susceptible to what is known as “winter burn”.

The part of the arborvitae that is above snow level will be subject to this burn which can often be spotted thanks to the orange color that it turns the plant.

If you find an arborvitae that is entirely orange and almost brown in color then there is a good chance that this tree is dead. In this instance, you will only have rotting wood. However, if the tree is healthy how does it burn as firewood?

Arborvitae is a type of softwood and so it burns very quickly. There is also a decent amount of resin in the wood which when alight can produce a lot of smoke. So, overall the wood is perfectly fine to burn and will put out a decent amount of heat, but if you have other alternatives for firewood then these may be a better choice. 

You should also only use arborvitae wood for firewood in an outdoor setting. The amount of smoke that it can give off makes it a bad choice for an indoor fire burner or for use in a wooden stove. Instead, if you do choose to use it as firewood only do so outside where the amount of smoke will not cause ventilation problems. 

In fact, arborvitae makes a great kindling wood for when you start the fire but if you want to start a safe and controlled fire then adding another type of wood with a lower resin content after the fire is alight will be a better option.

This is because the resin is extremely flammable and so if you choose to have the fire made out entirely of arborvitae then you will need to be careful of sparks and embers flying out of your fire. You should ensure that you take the proper safety precautions when choosing to use arborvitae for exactly this reason.

Everybody should have an emergency fire starter kit in their arsenal. This 5-in-1 fire starter kit by Swiss Safe will start a fire instantly. You will get over 15,000 strikes as well as a built in compass, whistle, and a steel scraper.

What Does Arborvitae Wood Smell Like While Burning?

Arborvitae wood has a lovely smell and so it is often used in woodcraft. When burned the wood will give off a light delicate scent, nothing too overpowering. 

However, the wood can give off a lot of smoke so make sure that you do not sit too close to the fire in order to avoid excessive smoke inhalation.

The smell of the burning resin from inside the wood will produce this wonderful scent. The smell is so pleasant that it is often extracted as used as a scent for essential oils and a whole host of other beauty products. 

Is Arborvitae a Good Choice for a Campfire?

If this is your only available option for firewood then yes, arborvitae can be used as firewood. But, is it a good choice? The simple answer is that it makes a great kindling wood. It is very quick and easy to burn but it can be very dangerous when used in large quantities and if it is kept alight for a long time.

If you are planning to light a campfire in proximity to your campgrounds, either for cooking purposes or simply as a source of heat, then arborvitae will not make a good choice for your firewood. It is simply too dangerous. It is very possible that the lit resin will explode and spit out of the fire onto someone’s skin or clothing, or even onto a tent.

If the material is flammable then this is simply a recipe for disaster. In this instance, arborvitae is only a good choice for a campfire if you do not plan on being within its proximity. 

If you are looking to build a campfire for any of the aforementioned purposes and need to be close to it one of the best things to do, if you have arborvitae wood to use, is to use it to get your campfire going. Once your fire has started you should all the arborvitae wood to burn whilst adding another, safer type of wood.

This will then ensure that you can build a campfire quickly and easily but still remain safe from any spitting or flying sparks.

Final Thoughts

Although arborvitae gives off a very pleasant smell when burned it does not necessarily make it a good choice for firewood. The wood will burn easily and quickly, making it a good starter wood.

However, the high level of resin contained within the wood means that it can become a safety hazard if a large amount of the wood is used or there are people or objects in close proximity to the burning wood. The hot resin can explode within the fire, spitting embers out of the campfire.

So, although using arborvitae as firewood may seem like a good idea due to its nice smell, if you have other types of wood available to use as firewood you may be better off choosing to burn one of these instead. The other type of wood can be much safer for you and everyone around you.

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