Birch firewood is pretty useful. There are several different species of birch and they are usually fast growing species. For the purpose of firewood, black birch and yellow birch are the best species to burn. White birch and grey birch are both average species.
All species of birch share several characteristics. They all have alternate branching patterns and lenticels on their bark. Lenticels are little horizontal lines on the bark that are used by the tree for gas exchange. Catkins are skinny flowers clusters that are present on all birches.
Bark is the best way to differentiate between the different species of birch.
White birch has bright white bark that horizontally peels off the tree. Yellow Birch has very similar bark except it has a yellow-bronze tinge to it.
Gray birch has bark that can vary from bright white to gray. It differs from white birch because it does not have the horizontal peeling look. Finally, black birch has dark colored bark that will eventually turn into large irregular scaly plates on mature trees.
Believe it or not, smell is one of the best ways to determine a particular species of birch. When you break a twig on a yellow or black birch, you will smell wintergreen. Gray and white birch will not have this smell.
Heating Value and Processing Ease
White Birch and Gray Birch both split very easily. Yellow and Black both split relatively easy, but do take a little more effort.
In terms of heating value, yellow and black are both above average. They burn both long and hot. Comparatively, white and gray are average species.
All species of birch firewood are worth using. I highly recommend using both yellow and black birch. They are top notch for heating value and ease of processing.
White and gray birch are basically average species. My recommendation would be to mix them in with other better species if you plan on using them.
Return to Firewood Types from Birch Firewood
Return to Firewood Home Page