Is Cottonwood Good Firewood? Nah…not really

  • There are mixed opinions about whether cottonwood is good for firewood
  • This is because it has a low BTU rating- you can still use it for firewood, but it doesn’t burn as well as more traditional firewood like oak or beech
  • When green, it tends to be stringy and wet, which makes it hard to move and split up
  • It also needs to season for 1-2 years to make it useable firewood

So is it good firewood?

Cottonwood is usually less dense as compared to other hardwood trees. Therefore, firewood cut from cottonwood burns faster and leaves a lot of ashes.

Nevertheless, it is important to create decent coal beds, which results in the fire burning slowly instead of a softwood fire. Cottonwood is regarded as moderate as far as using it for firewood is concerned. It is hardwood and easier to split when seasoned properly, produces a fair flame, and burns relatively.

BTUs it provides

It is crucial to season cottonwood to attain a better BTU. A cord of cottonwood provides approximately sixteen million BTU, meaning it is 50 percent less heat than a cord of oak firewood. Also, it is lesser compared to other softwoods, which produce around twenty million BTU for each cord.

Where you can find it

Cottonwoods mostly grow in Texas, California, southern Colorado, and Mexico. Identifying cottonwood trees and telling apart the respective species can be quite hectic or hard.

Cottonwood trees can be found in the southwestern, central, and eastern states of the United States.

Cottonwood, poplar, is found in Mexico and on the east coast of southern Canada. Cottonwood hard trees are mostly located in deciduous forests. Cottonwoods possess an impressive growth rate, and they grow approximately three feet.

Properties of the tree

Cottonwood has a faster growth rate. Cottonwood possesses the ability to be resilient when the temperatures get extreme. In most cases, cottonwood is popular for its wide-spreading shade. Also, cottonwood has a pretty golden-yellow fall color.

Cottonwood has a short-lived lifespan and seldomly survives beyond eighty years. It has wide-triangular-shaped leaves, 3-5 inches in length/width, and an ovate in outline. Cottonwood is lighter in weight.

Lastly, cottonwood can grow up to one hundred feet tall, and the wood is soft, has lower stock resistance, weak in compression and bending, and is readily available.

Quality of the fire

Cottonwood firewood can be regarded as moderately good since hardwood is easier to split when seasoned well. Cottonwood produces a good amount of heat and is burnt relatively clean.

How easy is it to chop up firewood?

Cottonwood is hard to split when it is still green, and when it is not seasoned well, it produces a very unpleasant smell. Usually, cottonwood is stringy, very wet, and heavier when green; hence, it is hard to split when wet. When cottonwood is wet, it tends to absorb the splitting axe instead of splitting apart.

Is cottonwood good for cooking?

Cottonwood can be regarded as mild wood; therefore, it can be used in a smoker and cooking during camping. It is reported that it provides a mild flavor from the smoke, which does not alter the flavor of your food.

Can you grill with cottonwood?

You must add other chunks of wood when you decide to use cottonwood as a fuel source. Although, cottonwood will provide a good flavor to your food.

For how long should it be seasoned?

You must season your cottonwood firewood for approximately 3-6 months after splitting. When leaving it in rounds, make sure to season it for at least 1-2 years. Generally, you can obtain the most energy from cotton firewood by seasoning the firewood properly. After you season your firewood well, the firewood will only have around 20% moisture content.


Cottonwoods are generally situated in wetter climates and areas with high rainfall rates to enhance the multiplication rate during the summer when individuals are outdoor. Generally, they produce a good amount of heat and burn quickly. Cottonwoods can be used for large backyard fires or campfires. Cottonwood can be used during camping to keep away the bugs.


One of the major disadvantages of cottonwoods utilized as fuel is that they heavily produce lots of sparks and smoke. Hence, cottonwoods should not be used as fire fuel in fire pits and at home.

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