Ginkgo wood is one of the oldest wood types in the world. The tree is practically a living fossil, meaning that ginkgo wood has been used throughout the globe for thousands and thousands of years. In Japan, it has been used as firewood, but should we use it as firewood today?
Although you technically can use ginkgo wood in your campfire, you should choose another wood type instead. It won’t produce the type of fire you want.
Plus, it is an endangered species. To learn more about using ginkgo wood as firewood, read on.
About Ginkgo Wood
Ginkgo is one of the most interesting trees. All of its other family members are extinct and it is an incredibly old tree. Some fossils within its genus date back 200,000,000 years. In other words, the ginkgo is a living fossil. There are even numerous fossils throughout the world with a ginkgo leaf imprint on them.
Early in human history, ginkgo was used a lot for traditional medicine, food, and other items. It has since become an endangered species because of its age, rarity, and potential adverse effects. Still, ginkgo trees can be found all over the world today, far beyond their native Chinese origins.
In comparison to other plants, ginkgo leaves are one of the most unique. They are shaped like fans and veins radiate out from the blade. In the fall, the ginkgo leaves turn into a beautiful saffron color that is impossible to miss.
Ginkgo Wood as Firewood
Ginkgo wood is an incredibly old and unique tree that is native to China. It is the only living species within the Ginkgophyte family. Because of its scarcity, it is primarily used for traditional medicine and expensive collectibles or items, like chess sets.
Today, ginkgo wood is not a very popular firewood choice because it burns quickly, isn’t native to the US, and is endangered. Nevertheless, it may be a good choice for kindling.
Burning Ginkgo Wood
Even though ginkgo is practically a living fossil, very little is known about its wood property. This is largely because studying wood properties is an incredibly modern phenomenon. Given that ginkgo wood is so rare, most people do not want to cut it down to study the wood.
One thing that is known about ginkgo wood is that it is a softer wood. Because it is softer, it is not very dense and burns quickly. These two facts mean that ginkgo wood is not the ideal wood choice for firewood.
It can be a great choice to use as kindling. Because it burns so quickly, it can really help to get your fire going. Place it at the base of the fire surrounded by hardwoods so that your fire can grow quickly. Still, it won’t retain a fire as well as most other wood types unless you surround it with hardwoods.
How Does It Burn?
As we mentioned above, ginkgo wood burns really quickly. Given that it is a softwood, it is not considered dense. This means that it will catch on fire quickly, making it a great kindling option. Do not expect ginkgo wood to last very long in a fire.
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How Hot Does It Get?
Interestingly, the BTU of ginkgo wood is unknown. Many people estimate that its BTU rating is similar to green ash, which is around 20 BTUs per cord. This is an incredibly low BTU rating, which is due to the soft and less dense nature of the wood.
If you are creating a fire in the summer or on a warm night, then a low BTU won’t matter much since it simply tells you how hot the fire will be. If you are camping when you know it’ll be cold, however, you certainly want to select wood with a higher rating.
What Does It Smell Like When It Burns?
Ginkgo trees are considered to be rather smelly. Most of their smell comes from the leaves and berries. More specifically, it is the female trees that smell so strongly. Most people compare this smell to poo, vomit, or dirty clothes.
Still, burning ginkgo trees will not lead to this smell. Since the smell is more associated with the leaves and fruit, those items are to be stripped off the wood before you burn it. The wood has a unique odor windburned, but it is nothing like the ginkgo fruit.
Potential Risks of Burning Ginkgo
When talking about burning ginkgo wood as firewood, we need to talk about the risks associated with it. Most importantly, ginkgo wood is considered endangered. You should not burn ginkgo wood as a result. Instead, opt for a tree that’s not at risk.
Even if ginkgo trees were not endangered, you shouldn’t burn them in the states. Most national parks do not allow you to burn wood not native to the area. That’s because bringing in wood can lead to pests and other issues. Given that ginkgo wood is not local to the states, you should select a native wood for the safety of our parks.
Should I Use Ginkgo as Firewood?
Even though you can use ginkgo as firewood, we don’t recommend it. It is an endangered tree, and it is not local to the states. Not to mention, it doesn’t make great firewood and it doesn’t create a large heat output. In other words, the risks outweigh the potential benefits. You should go with a more reliable firewood type instead, like Maple, Hickory, or Oak.
If you absolutely must use ginkgo wood for your campfire, then you can. However, we recommend avoid using this ancient wood for campfires purely because it isn’t the best option, isn’t native to the states, and is endangered.
Instead, select more reliable firewood. You will enjoy that fire much more, and you won’t be wasting endangered wood or potentially exposing your area to unwanted invasions.
You can use ginkgo wood in other ways, such as in woodworking projects if you absolutely must use old ginkgo wood.