Trees come in handy and especially when planted in a home compound. They help curb soil erosion, provide timber, shade, and firewood. While not every tree species make good fuelwood, Sycamore is among the few trees often used for firewood. It is fast-growing and can thrive anywhere but tend to do well in rich, well-drained, and humid soils. If you are a wood heat fan, you’ve probably planted a few at your home. Perhaps you thought they might be useful come winter. But is Sycamore good firewood? Let’s enlighten you before you chop down every Sycamore tree in your compound. Yes, Sycamore has proved good for firewood; however, not in all situations. It burns well in a wood stove. It’s also fast and easy to set on fire, provided the temperatures are not too low. So if it’s the only firewood you have during chill temperatures, you would have to get something else. Burn Sycamore in warm temperatures, and it’ll produce decent heat similar to what you’d get from walnut. However, it can’t match the heat you get from ash and oak trees. Sycamore burns fast, so burning it alone won’t offer you the prolonged, gradual heat you’d get from other hardwoods. So, if you want better results, mix it with other slow-burning wood, and you’ll enjoy the heat for an extended time.
Sycamore trees serve as great wind barriers and are highly tolerant to pollution. They are common in the United States and can endure diverse settings. So, you’ll likely spot them almost everywhere. There are different types of sycamore trees, and each type is grown for a particular purpose. Some are great for woodworking, others for decorative purposes. However, Sycamore is primarily used for designing furniture and crafting musical instruments. But can also be used in wood flooring and making kitchen utensils. Other than all these, you can use Sycamore for firewood.
What Makes Sycamore Good for Firewood?
Some characteristics are common among tree species that are good for firewood. One is the British Thermal Unit (heat output) – used by many in establishing trees that produce great heat when burned. Other qualities include splitting, seasoning, burning, and coiling. Let’s explore each of these features to help establish if Sycamore is a preferable option for firewood.
1. Heat Output or BTU Output
BTU is the unit measure of heat often used in the engineering field. BTU output, in this case, refers to the amount of heat a Sycamore will produce if burned. Typically, some tree species have greater heat values than others. Nevertheless, the BTU output of the best firewood ranges somewhere between 20 Units and above. That makes the Sycamore tree relatively good. It has a heat output of 19.6 BTUs, ranking among the best trees that make good firewood. It emits the same amounts of heat as Elm and Walnut trees. However, it can’t match what’s generated by most of the top leading firewood species like the Oak and Ash trees.
Seasoning is the process of allowing the moisture content in the firewood to evaporate. Wood that has been given ample time to dry will burn easier, smoke less, and produce greater energy output than unseasoned firewood. So, giving Sycamore firewood adequate time to season (6-12 months) will ensure you get maximum efficiency from it. Sycamore tree has high amounts of water, so if not well seasoned, the combustion will be poor, and it’s likely to emit lots of smoke when lit. Seasoning will help drain the moisture to about 20% or lower, and your firewood will light up faster and generate a higher heat value. However, be patient when seasoning Sycamore firewood, as it can take longer to dry out due to the large amounts of water it holds when fresh. A moisture meter will come in handy in monitoring the progress of your firewood seasoning. You want to be sure the firewood is of the best quality before burning it.
Splitting is the cutting of bulky pieces of firewood into smaller, manageable chunks. This helps accelerate its drying process. Sycamore can grow into large trees, up to 75-100 feet tall and 40 -70 feet width-wise. Cutting it can be challenging unless you use special tools like hydraulic splitters. Once split, the Sycamore firewood will dry faster. As a result, the logs will catch light more quickly, produce better heat and emit less soot. So after splitting Sycamore, stack the firewood tidily in an area with maximum air circulation and sunshine, leaving spaces between the stacks to ensure the firewood desiccates completely.
We all want firewood that will light up without trouble and keep the flames going for some time. Sycamore catches fire much easier. However, its’ fire is short-lived. Add well-seasoned and split Sycamore to other slow-burning firewood, and you’ll have no trouble starting the fire and keeping it burning. But remember, Sycamore will emit minimal sparks when burned. So it’s not the type of wood you’d want to burn near flammable stuff. It also emits relatively small amounts of smoke even when adequately seasoned. However, the smoke quantities will be higher than what’s produced by premium firewoods such as Oak but less than that from other firewoods like Pine. When Sycamore emits high smoke levels when burning, it’s an indication your firewood is not dry enough and requires further seasoning.
When you burn wood, it produces coals which are hot lumps of glowing solid fuel. The formation of these embers is called coaling. Firewood that burns for longer has excellent coaling properties. Sycamore does not burn for long but has effective BTU. As a result, its coals are pretty good, though they are lower in quality than those generated by firewoods with low BTU like cherry.
Do you think it’s worth spending your time and energy planting or chopping Sycamore for firewood? You now know all the qualities of Sycamore trees. Some of which make it a great firewood species for indoor burning. Sycamore may not be the better option for your home heating. But if mixed with top tire firewoods like Ash and Oak, it’ll give better results. So, before choosing Sycamore firewood, evaluate the elements discussed above to determine if it will meet your needs.