If you’re new to burning wood for heat or curious about the properties of Poplar as a wood for warmth or cooking, this is the guide you need. We’ve culled all our firewood expertise to give you info about every aspect of Poplar wood, from heat output, scent, smoke, seasoning time, and the best uses for each variety.
Poplar Firewood Details
BTU: 13.7 Heat per Cord (Million BTUs)
Weight: 2080 lbs./ Cord (Green)
Seasoning Time: 6-12 months
Resin / Sap Content: Low
Splitting Difficulty: Low
Smell: Sweet, Nutty
Varieties of Poplar
Despite there being over 30 types of poplar trees in the world, there are only four common types of poplar trees in the United States. You might find any one of them in your poplar firewood type.
Also known as silver poplar, this tree grows to over 100 feet tall. It has smooth, greenish-white bark and black fissures at the base of adult trees.
Another tall tree, the Eastern poplar also grows to be over 100 feet in height. It doesn’t only grown in the Eastern U.S, as it’s also found in the central and southwestern parts of the country.
If you want to identify a Lombardy poplar, simply look at the shape. It grows like a pyramid.
You can only find balsam poplar growing in swampy areas. Far more aromatic than other types of poplar, balsam poplar is a great firewood choice.
BTUs of Poplar Firewood
Poplar firewood burns hot, but it doesn’t last long. Typically, poplar has between 13.7 and 14.7 BTUs per cord. It’s not often listed on BTU charts because it has such low BTUs. Poplar produces a similar amount of BTUs as aspen and cottonwood.
Because poplar doesn’t burn for very long, it’s not the best choice for home heating. You won’t see a poplar fire burn overnight. It’s hard to say how long a cord of poplar might last, but you should expect to need twice as much poplar as you do other types of firewood. Usually, a log will give you about two hours of burning from start to finish.
You should also know that poplar doesn’t make many coals. If you’re looking for a fire starter, it’s a good option because this wood is easier to light than oak and other hardwoods.
Seasoning Time of Poplar Firewood
One of the highlights of poplar is the wood’s short seasoning time. In as little as six months, your poplar wood could be ready to burn. You can use poplar as firewood when it’s green, but it’s very smoky. The ideal length of seasoning for poplar is about ten months.
At most, poplar takes about 12 months to season. For the best results, split the wood and stack it off the ground. Allow proper air flow, or the wood will remain moist and green. If you keep poplar on the ground, it will eventually rot.
Ideally, poplar used for firewood should have a moisture content of under 20%. However, this isn’t unique to poplar. It’s true of all firewood types.
Resin/Sap of Poplar
It’s true that all trees produce sap. But poplar trees don’t have much in the way of sap production, which makes it easy to work with. When you’re splitting your wood, you won’t have sap all over.
Smoke from Poplar
Poplar produces a moderate amount of smoke, as well as some sparks. If you’re only using it to start your fire, the poplar won’t cause too much smoke. But burning solely poplar results in more smoke than you may be comfortable with.
As with all firewood, poplar causes creosote. It forms a moderate amount, and does require you to call a chimney sweep at least once a year.
Smell of Poplar
When freshly cut, poplar has a controversial smell. Some people love it, while others hate it. You could say that it has a sweet smell when it’s fresh. Once the wood is seasoned, it doesn’t have a very strong scent.
Still have questions about poplar? Learn everything you need to know about using poplar for firewood.
What are the Advantages of Using Poplar?
If you ask some firewood connoisseurs about poplar, they’ll tell you to avoid it at all costs. However, poplar does have some advantages. It’s easy to process and doesn’t weigh too much. Furthermore, it catches easily.
Another advantage to poplar is its wide availability. Unlike some other popular firewood types, poplar is readily available. In fact, you might have some in your backyard. It’s better to use the wood in your yard that it is to let it rot, so why not process it?
Finally, firewood is a great choice for short fires. If you only have an hour to sit in front of a fire, poplar is the way to go. You won’t waste a good log or spend excess time trying to get it lit.
When Should You Use Poplar?
There are a few scenarios in which poplar firewood is the right choice. For instance, you might be out camping. Most campgrounds sell poplar because it burns for the ideal amount of time. Lasting about two hours, your fire won’t burn through the night unattended. Not will you need to spend your time putting out the fire. The wood burns itself out after an hour or two.
Another use for poplar is as a fire starter. If you keep some poplar in a rack next to your fireplace, you can use it to get your fires started. As kindling, poplar is highly effective.
In the summer, you might enjoy using poplar for your fires. At this point, you won’t need the fire for warmth and you may not want it to last too long. Poplar is often the top pick for later spring, summer, and early fall fires.
How Should You Process Poplar?
Because poplar is particularly easy to split, you don’t need any fancy tools to work with it. Pull out your axe and you can get to work. When you cut it, keep the wood in big chunks. Unlike other wood that puts off more BTUs, you should keep poplar in large pieces.
After you split the firewood, place it in your outdoor firewood rack. It should be sheltered from the snow and rain, but facing the wind and sun. With the right positioning, your firewood will dry out quickly.