Cottonwood as firewood?

Is cottonwood a safe wood for burning in a fireplace?


Yes, Cottonwood (Populus deltoides)is safe to burn in a fireplace. It is in the same family as other poplars such as aspen and does not have a good heating value. That being said, it is perfectly safe to burn in a fireplace.

If you are looking for a species that will do a good job heating your house with a woodstove or fireplace insert, I do not recommend only using cottonwood. However, if you are only burning it in the fireplace and are simply doing it for the ambiance, it will work fine.

Of course, like all firewood, it needs to be properly seasoned before it will burn well. Just don't expect the same heat output that you would get from hardwoods such as oak or beech.

I hope this helps!

-Firewood Matt

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Jul 24, 2015
True information is shared NEW
by: Frazier

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Apr 13, 2014
Be a good woodburning neighbor NEW
by: Anonymous

Yes you can burn cottonwood as heat. It also is given away to anyone who wants to hall it off. In the past you would not burn cotton wood or around close neighbors. It is full of particulates when burned. the wood is very Smokey and smells horrible. It permeates the neighborhood with its smell. It will cause Kerasotes in your fireplace it the tenth degree. The local BBQ restaurant use it for their Smokers. I offered them my huge cottonwood tree and they said they would take it if I deliver it. Really you cant give the stuff away. Please be considerate of your neighbors and listen to you Grandparents wisdom. Be a good neighbor and don't burn Cottonwood. They would not do it in the old days....

Oct 05, 2013
Good to mix NEW
by: Ken from Montana

I mix it with pine or fir because it emits little if any creosote, thus keeping the chimney clean. Pine and Fir burn longer, but they contain sap that turns into creosote. Of course, any wood, when wet, will emit smoke and creosote.

People say it makes lots of ash, but I don't find that to be true. I get a nice hot fire when I mix cottonwood with softwoods like pine.

There is no hardwood here in Montana where I live.

Apr 30, 2012
by: Anonymous

would like to know how clean cottonwood burns with respect to creosote in fireplace chimney stack.

Jan 18, 2012
by: Anonymous

I have burned Cottonwood for years with no ill effect. It burns hot, lasts longer than softwoods, and only occasionally smells bad. I know everyone says Oak, but here in Montana all we have to burn regularly is Ponderosa Pine, and Cottonwood with the occasional Ash thrown in. We have winters down to the double digits below zero and Cottonwood and pine keep us nice and toasty.

Apr 25, 2011
Let's be friends with cottonwood!
by: Ludvik Kaaber, Vestfirdir, Iceland.

It is strange how much prejudice and even vilification this quite innocent being, the populus trichocarpa, has met with. I have read somewhere on the net that it only supplies the exertion heat from hauling it around, that it rots before it dries (and takes eons to dry), and that it smells like cat's urine when burned. With some ill-will one may concede to the last statement, but generally speaking cottonwood makes fine firewood, and its relatively low energy value enables one to adjust the heating to other factors, such as outdoor temperature, sunshine through the windows, etc.

For my use, cottonwood takes 4 years to prepare - two years in the open to begin a breaking down of the cell walls, and then two years to dry. This of course depends on local conditions - I never get very hard frost in winter, but the summers are quite cool.

Editor's Note

I agree that cottonwood can be a suitable firewood species. Most people are just searching for better species, but it does make adequate firewood. I agree with everything that you've said above with the exception of the 4 years time to prepare for burning. I realize that each locale is different, but generally speaking, cottonwood should be ready for burning 1-2 years maximum after it has been felled.

-Firewood Matt

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