If you are confused about using alder as firewood, then this article is for you. Alder is a hardwood tree found in moist surroundings, and it belongs to the birch family. The most common species of alder wood are red alder, found in North America and black alder, found in Europe.
The root nodules of alder are capable of producing nitrogen. It helps in increasing the fertility of the soil. Their roots bind the soil particles on the river edge to prevent soil erosion due to water. Americans also use the bark of alder for treating poison, insect bites, and oak injuries.
[Related Article: Birch Firewood]
Is Alder good firewood?
Alder burns cleanly, and it does not produce much smoke and ash if you have seasoned it properly. It is one of the cheapest options because it grows rapidly and is available in plenty.
It takes less time for drying because of its thin bark. You have to dry it mechanically; otherwise, it will rot if left out in the air for natural seasoning. It has a maximum heating intensity of 4878 kcal/kg.
It is lighter in comparison to other firewood. So, if you are traveling, then alder firewood is a perfect choice for you. Alder produces a sweet and pleasant smell even when it is not burning.
It can add a sweet fragrance to your room. It does not produce much heat while burning. Most people prefer to burn it in spring or autumn when the temperature is not extreme.
It burns with a sparkling red light, which makes it perfect for Christmas parties. This red-colored wood can give an impressive look to your living room. It burns very quickly and can heat your room in a few minutes. It is perfect for emergencies and lighting fire in the open spaces.
Splitting Alder firewood
It is easy to split Alder wood because of its soft and grained texture. It has a very thin bark, which makes it easier to remove from the wood. You can use an ax or a log splitter for splitting the Alder wood. Log Splitter is a gas-powered engine. It can easily cut your woods without consuming much time.
Splitting dry wood is easy, but your alder firewood might rot till then. So, it is better to cut them while they are wet and leave them in the open sunlight for drying. Make sure to split it in the size that is good for your furnace or woodstove. A size of 3 to 6 inches is best for most of the furnaces.
It is better to split the wood into smaller pieces as it allows the air to pass through the logs. You can also cut some smaller pieces to use in a mixture or inside wood-burning lighters. Alder gives a smoky smell while burning so it can be used for barbecuing. No doubt, it is used by caterers for producing smoky meats and fishes.
[Related Article: How To Split Wood By Hand]
How long to season Alder firewood?
Seasoning refers to the drying process of firewood, and it makes it easier to burn the firewood. Seasoned firewood produces less smoke and ash in comparison to wet firewood. Ideal seasoned firewood has a moisture content of 10 to 20%. Alder firewood takes around a season or 6 to 8 months for drying up.
Splitting the alder before seasoning can fasten up the process. Bark on the log prevents the evaporation of moisture content in the wood. So, it is better to remove the bark before seasoning.
Make sure to keep it away from the ground as it will decay the wood. Cover the wood stacks with plastic sheet or tarpaulin if you live in a humid place. This will help in keeping away the moisture.
You can check for the cracks to judge if the wood has been seasoned properly. Perfectly seasoned wood has a darker tone of color. In case you haven’t removed the bark, then it will start losing on its own after seasoning.
You can also cut a piece of wood and check the smell to know if it has dried properly. A block of dried wood is less smelly than wet wood.
You can also crack the pieces of wood and hit them together. If it sounds hollow, then the wood has dried up. Dried wood is also lighter than greenwood. If you are still not sure, then you can fire a small piece of wood to check. Wet wood takes a lot of time to light and produces smoke.
You might want to look into a moisture meter to test the moisture content before you burn it. You can find them on Amazon for a decent price. Here is a link to the one I have. Moisture Meter (Link To Amazon).
Alder firewood BTU
BTU refers to British Thermal Unit. It is used to measure the amount of heat required to increase the temperature of 1lb of water by one degree Fahrenheit. BTU of softwood is lower than the hardwood. Alder firewood produces 17.5 to 19.5 BTU per cord.
More BTU means the firewood produces more heat from less quantity. BTU of Alder firewood is lower in comparison to other woods. It makes it suitable for the moderate temperature.
Seasoned firewood has a better heating capacity than green firewood. So, if you want a high amount of heat, then make sure to season your alder wood well.
[Related Article: BTU Of Firewood This article includes a BTU chart of the most popular firewood]
To sum it up
Alder is one of the cheapest firewood in the market as it is readily available. It is suitable for moderate temperature and should be used only after drying up. It should be seasoned for 6 to 8 months.
Mechanical methods of seasoning should be used for alder wood. It starts getting damped if stored for longer. Wet alder produces a lot of smoke and does not burn properly.
Seasoning should be done after the splitting process, as small pieces take lesser time for drying. It is better to remove the bark before seasoning as it prevents the moisture from evaporating from the logs.
Alder wood does not have a high BTU per cord, but it has all the qualities of good firewood. It can be seasoned easily without making much mess. So, if you are looking for firewood for camping, then alder is the perfect choice for you.