Is Chinese Elm Good Firewood? (Explained Why Not)

Firewood is the other name for fuel wood and is known to be the wood used as fuel with low calorific value. Though woods have innumerable purposes, not all can be used as firewood. There are several types of firewood available, but the main characteristics of good firewood that differentiate the good from the bad come down to two main aspects, density and water content.

The wood would burn better and produce more heat if it is dense and dry. This is why hardwoods are always preferred more as firewood than softwoods because of their density and low quantity of sap or pitch. Is Chinese elm good firewood? let’s find out.

Is Chinese Elm Good Firewood? all you need to know

Is Chinese elm good firewood?

Chinese elm is not a good firewood compared to other firewood. Chinese Elm is also famous as Lacebark Elm. Among the different types of elm woods available, these are the ones that are very difficult to splinter. They are a great option for making furniture, baseball bats, and also to make hardwood flooring; however, when it comes to using them as firewood, they are not the ideal choice.

Though you can still use it during camping or as an indoor stove, because of its low heat production, they are considered to be low-quality firewood. Moreover, they are pretty challenging to split, take considerable time to season, and produce less smoke. 

Most firewood takes a year to season, but when it comes to Chinese Elm, it takes a couple of years to season perfectly before they are ready to use as firewood. When it comes to smoke and sparks, they fall in the middle compared to other firewood.

If, in any case, they produce extreme smoke, it signifies they are not dried properly. Since they have low sap content, they do not produce much creosote compared to willows. When they are burned, they produce a spicy, peppery scent. 

The moisture content of Chinese Elm is high, so it takes a lot of time to dry the wood completely. Due to the tough nature of Chinese elm, it usually burns very slowly, and due to the slow-burning procedure, it generates lots of ash, so cleaning that dirt is quite a complex job. Since it produces low heat, they are best for moderate temperature and are not ideal for places with freezing temperature. 

But they are still chosen as firewood because they are quite easily available and not extremely expensive. They also do not spark much and generate very low smoke unless they are not dried properly, which doesn’t happen quite often. 

Elm Firewood BTU

When it comes to using Elm as firewood, they are not the ideal choice as it produces very less heat compared to other firewood and is very difficult to split. Elmwood’s average BTU (British thermal unit) is 20 million per cord, which is considered much lower than other hardwoods.

But elm is a great choice when they are used for indoor stove burning or camping. If you consider the firewood Hickory, it produces 28.5 BTUs, much higher than Elm but falls in the same class as elm. 

Though they will burn for a long time, the heat output won’t be much. Hence, if the heat is on priority for you, then definitely Chinese Elm won’t be the ideal choice. 

Elm Firewood BTU

Apart from the heat generation, two other aspects of Chinese Elm are considered when used as firewood. That is the smell of the wood when they are burned and also the sap content. 

  • Smell: When it comes to the smell produced from burning Chinese Elm as firewood, it usually falls in the middle of the spectrum. They have a spicy, peppery smell when they are burned; hence they are not used much for barbeques. Also, the smell depends on the wood’s location and would have an awful smell if they are grown in a swampy area. 
  • Sap Content: One great quality of Chinese Elm is that due to its low sap content, it generates much less creosote and produces less smoke if seasoned perfectly before being used as firewood. 

Which Elm Wood Varieties Are as Good As Firewood?

Though Chinese Elm is not considered an ideal choice when choosing firewood because of its few remarkable characteristics, they are extensively used as firewood. Different types of Elmwood are available worldwide, such as Chinese Elm, Siberian Elm, American Elm, and Red Elm.

Which Elm Wood Varieties Are as Good As Firewood

They all have slightly different properties than others. The Chinese elm takes a lot of time to burn and produces low heat, so they are perfect for areas with moderate temperatures. The American elm is very easily available though they are very hard to split and produce excellent coal but less heat than Siberian elm.

The Red elm, on the other hand, is considered to be the best of the elm as firewood as it generates more heat than its other types and is also very easy to split, and is quite invasive. Hence they are the best elm to be used as firewood. 

Benefits of using Chinese elm as firewood

If you can ignore the hardy nature of Chinese Elm, they are very easily available and not much expensive making them considered to be used as firewood. Chinese Elm does not produce much heat when burned, so if you are using them as firewood in an area with moderate temperature, it would be a perfect choice.

It would keep the room temperature moderately warm and not much heated up. Moreover, they also take a lot of time to burn. Hence you don’t need a huge quantity to purchase to use them as firewood. You can burn them the entire, and still, you can find there is elm wood remaining yet to be burned.

They produce very little smoke and sparks very little, which is considered very safe when used as firewood indoors and outdoors. So if you have naughty kids around, it would be very safe to use Chinese elm as firewood. 

Drawbacks of using Chinese elm as firewood

Though Chinese elm is great as furniture, they are not ideal as firewood. The main reason is they are very hard, hence very difficult to split. And if not split properly and seasoned perfectly, they won’t be used as firewood.

They also have high moisture content, absorb water very fast, are more prone to rot, and retain wetness for much longer, producing less heat, which is not ideal for a location with a freezing temperature. Since it takes a long time to burn, there will be lots of dirt and ash around, and cleaning them would be quite challenging.

However, the biggest drawback is the seasoning time of Chinese elm takes a couple of years, unlike other hardwoods, which take a year. So if they are not seasoned properly, they would produce a lot of smoke and spark and generate a bad smell when burned. They have a spicy, peppery smell when burned; hence they cannot be used for barbeques. 

You May Also Like: Is Willow A Good Firewood? | Is Honey Locust Good Firewood? | Is Box Elder Good Firewood?

Frequently Asked Questions (fAQs)

How long does it Take Elm to Dry?

Elm trees live for a long time, over 300 years in most cases. But it takes almost more than a year to two years to dry completely before they are used as firewood. Hence it is always advised if you use elm as firewood, immediately split it so it can be seasoned quickly.

What Is The Burning Capacity Of Elm Wood?

The burning capacity of Elmwood is 20 million BTUs per cord which is appropriate for low-temperature heat. They take a lot of time to burn, and though they are seasoned properly, they would generate less heat when burned compared to other firewood available.

Do elm trees make good firewood?

The elm is a moderate choice for being used as firewood. They produce low heat and take a lot of time to burn. Hence they are the best choice for areas that have moderate temperatures and keep your home warm and cozy for a long time.


In this article, we have learned is Chinese elm good firewood or not?. Though they are not an ideal choice for oak or hickory, they can still be used as firewood. They produce less smoke, spark, and low creosote if they are seasoned properly. However, if they are not seasoned properly, they can produce immense smoke and bad smells.

Hence it is mandatory to season the Chinese elm for more than a year to almost 2 years if you want to use them as firewood. So trust me, if you are staying in a place with moderate temperature, Chinese elm would be a great choice for firewood as it doesn’t produce much heat and burns for a long time.

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