Is Poplar Good Firewood?

If you own a log burner, fireplace or fire pit, you may be looking for some different affordable woods to burn. You might have been asking yourself, is poplar good firewood?

Let’s face it, what we want is to burn affordable wood, not burn a hole in our pockets just to keep warm. So, it is a good idea to be on the look out for better, more affordable woods to burn at home.

With that being said, you do need to be careful, as burning the wrong kind of firewood may end up being a disaster.

So, what is poplar wood? It originates from the Poplar tree which is a type of tree that typically grows in climates that are temperate as the Northern Hemisphere. They grow rather fast and do not live very long.

Two common well known species are white poplar and black poplar. However, cottonwoods and aspens are among the variety of poplar trees.

The wood from the poplar tree is soft, very flexible and is used by many manufacturers to make crates, cardboard, veneer, boxes, matches, boats, snowboards and paper products. It is most commonly used for pallets, plyboard and paper.

Landscapers tend to use poplar trees for privacy screens or windbreaks, as they are pretty to look at and they grow very fast.

Types of Poplar trees used for firewood

The various types of poplar trees found in North America are:

  • Eastern poplar
  • White poplar
  • Black poplar
  • Balsam poplar
  • Lombardy poplar

White Poplar Firewood

White poplar trees are used on the coast as a wind break as they can endure winds from the ocean and are able to grow in sand along the coast.

Good ground cover comes from the suckers that grow from the base of the tree and will ultimately make a solid brush of trees.

The wood from white poplar is soft, light but not predominantly tough.

Historically used in medicine, mainly the bark which has anti-inflammatory properties, antiseptic and astringent.

When taken within it was used to treat a variety of problems such as lower back pain, digestive issues, gout and rheumatism.

Outwardly, the bark was made into a compress to help hemorrhoids, chilblains and wounds. Today, leaves from the white poplar are good to use for tooth decay.

Is white poplar Good Firewood

Theoretically, yes, you can use white poplar for firewood, however it does need treatment first. Many people do not choose to use white poplar for their firewood because once it is lit it does not last too long.

Even though poplar burns hot, it just does not last. So, if you are looking to heat and keep your home warm for the entre night, choosing white poplar firewood it is not recommended.

On the flip side of that, if you are just looking for bright, fast burn, white poplar could be the perfect option. One log of white poplar will typically burn for about a couple of hours, and it is really easy to ignite as it is ranked as a softwood. Remember, that poplar wood does need to be treated prior to burning it.

Poplar, being a softwood absorbs a lot of moisture. Even though it typically does not contain a lot of messy sap, which is a huge contributor the build-up of creosote, it does need to be seasoned for at least six months because of the moisture it holds.

If you do choose poplar as firewood, it will require some effort to prepare your logs before you burn them.

After splitting poplar logs, they need to be off the ground in order to protect them from becoming wet and this will also allow good air circulation to dry them out. When the logs are lifted from the ground it also protects them from rotting.

Many firewood enthusiasts do like using poplar firewood even though it does have some advantages.

One thing that is advantageous in using poplar for firewood is its short seasoning time and availability. There are many poplar trees in the forests and you can even grow your own right in your backyard, so then you have your very own firewood supply.

They grow pretty fast, so once you cut one down, you can start another effortlessly.

Six months might seem like a long time for seasoning, but it is actually a very short time considering many other kinds of wood take much longer.

If you are using your log burner or firepit for short periods of time, then poplar is a perfect choice as it does not burn for several hours after you are finished.

Just throw in a few logs, watch them burn and then they are done. You will not have to be concerned about waiting for it to be appropriately put out or wasting fuel.

White poplar firewood makes a fast, hot fire and is great to use for kindling as it lights very easily. In comparison to beech or oak, it is not the best wood for burning overnight as it does not have good coaling qualities. Throw a log on a pile of coals to start your morning fire fast.

Black Poplar Firewood

Where did black poplar get its name? Black poplar when matured is a large, spreading tree. Its name comes from its brown-grey bark that, as it gets older, most times looks black.

The knotted trunk has tuberous growths and very distinguishing burrs while its bark is deeply perforated leaving the tree with an esteemed look.

 Is Black Poplar Good Firewood?

Black poplar is good for firewood. It ignites fast when it is dry and will warm your home during the winter season. It is a great choice for campfires, as it does not last, so campers do not have to worry about waiting forever for the camp fire to go out.

Lombardy poplar Firewood

The temperatures are reasonable, Lombardy popular is a good choice for an early or late season firewood. It can also be mixed with other better-quality hardwoods.

Balsam Poplar Firewood

Balsam popular can only be found in swampy locations. This particular poplar contains much more aroma than other kinds of poplar. Using balsam for your firewood is a good option.

Eastern Poplar Firewood

Eastern poplar is grown throughout southwestern, central and eastern U.S. It is an enormous tree that grows over 100 feet tall. If you’re in need of a short fire, and an hour is all you can spare then eastern poplar is a good option. No time will be wasted trying to light it and you will not waste a good log as it burns quickly.

Is Poplar a Hardwood?

Poplar is considered a hardwood, but it is not real hard. The terminology softwood and hardwood are a bit deceptive. Agriculturally speaking, poplar is an angiosperm which is denoted as hardwood. Conifers like cedars and pines are gymnosperms which are denoted as softwoods.

Is Poplar Hard to Split?

You will not need anything elaborate to split poplar wood. It is actually very easy to split. Get your axe ready and get it done lickety split. While cutting it keep it in larger chunks as it puts off less BTUs than other type woods.

When you are finished splitting the wood, put it in a wood rack outdoors. It needs to be protected from the rain and snow, but be sure to face it towards the sun and wind. Positioning it correctly helps to dry it out faster.

Seasoning Poplar Firewood

One of the advantages of poplar firewood is its short time to season it. In just a quick six months the poplar wood is seasoned and ready to burn. If you use it before it is seasoned it will be highly smokey. Ideally, ten months is the best amount of time, but it will be ready in six.

How does Poplar compare to other types of firewood?

When it comes to a camp fire or heating indoors, poplar firewood burns for just a couple of hours making ineffective for that purpose. Typically, those that use a fireplace, log burner, or fire pit are looking to enjoy it or longer periods of time; poplar would not be the go to as it burns much too fast.

Hardwood trees like most fruit trees, birch maple, ash and oak are the much better choice for burning woods. It will provide a longer, hotter fire. These types of woods have the least sap and pitch and are normally cleaner to deal with.

Red and white oak trees are the best for firewood. These oaks produce wood that are valued for their density and strength, and due to their density, it produces the best heat.

Is Poplar Firewood Expensive

Fact is, poplar is actually one of the less expensive hardwoods, which makes it a perfect choice for those new woodworkers just beginning to work with hardwoods. Poplar is much easier to work on saws, lathes and routers.

Poplar is frequently used for panting furniture as it is easy to paint because of its fine pores. The results are easily attained and have a pretty finish.