Tips on Burning Softwoods

Q: I notice that your fuelwood chart lists many softwoods (fir, pine, etc.). Although I haven’t seen anything specific on your website regarding this subject, I always understood that one should NEVER burn softwoods as fuel. I would be very interested to hear your comments. You have a superlative website, and I really wish you made housecalls to Norristown, PA.
Robert Monaco

Sweepy A: You hear all sorts of negative things about softwoods. Some have basis in fact, and some don’t. The folks who live here in the Pacific Northwest, and other places where hardwood species don’t proliferate, burn softwoods like Pine, Alder and Douglas Fir out of necessity. Contrary to popular folklore, we softwood-burners haven’t blown ourselves up, and our children don’t have webbed toes. Here are some legends you hear about softwoods, and the facts.

1) Softwoods cause more creosote to form in the chimney.
False. The creosote issue is about water content, not resin content. The high resin (pitch) content of certain Fir species actually gasifies readily, and burns hot and clean. It doesn’t “turn into creosote” in the chimney, as some folks would have you believe. HOWEVER: high resin content can allow wood to burn readily while still not dry enough to burn properly. Often, people simply don’t give Fir enough time to season, and wind up burning it while its moisture content is too high. Which results in heavy creosote formation, and the popularity of this piece of folklore. READ FULL STORY >>