Walnut is one of the most common woods in North America.
It has wide application in the timber industry and chances are your furniture is made of it. The wood is dense and strong, almost rivaling Oak.
Walnut is an extended family of several trees with Black Walnut and English Walnut being the two most common varieties in North America.
So, Can You Burn Black Walnut Wood in A Wood Stove?
Yes, certainly. But there’s another side of this wood you should know before shoving some pieces in your stove. For instance, it is one of the costliest firewood you could lay your hands on. It also oozes Juglone, a toxin, that you should keep away from kids. Fortunately, this toxin has been found to dissipate with prolonged exposure to air and can’t be carried in smoke.
Here is why Black Walnut is great for your wood stove:
1. Dense Wood That Burns Hotter and Takes Short to Season
Black Walnut comes with all attributes you want in firewood.
Being a hardwood, it is dense, burns with a considerably hot flame, and lasts longer compared to softwoods.
However, it must be left alone to season between six months and a year.
The wood should be split before drying to cut the moisture content and speed up the drying process.
If you want the best results with Black Walnut, let it dry until the moisture content drops below 20%.
The wood can still burn with moisture content slightly above 20% but it will be hard to light and even keep blazing.
2. Average Energy Density but Still Impressive
As for BTU rating / energy density, Black Walnut delivers the desired level of heat you need to warm your home.
In fact, the wood’s medium density puts it above some of the commonly used firewood such as Green Ash, White Elm, American Elm, and Black Cherry.
With 24 million BTUs/cord, it falls somewhere in the middle of BTU ratings for most often used firewood.
Eucalyptus remains perched at the crest with 34 million BTUs/cord followed closely by Osage-Orange with 32 million BTUs/cord.
The Ohio Buckeye occupies the bottom with 12 million BTUs/cord.
While the BTU rating places Black Walnut below some of the most cherished hardwoods like Oak (meaning Oak wood produces a hotter flame in comparison), Walnut comes across as a better alternative to softwoods like Cedar.
3. Clean, Fume-Free Burn
You want firewood that won’t turn your room into a smoky hell.
Walnut is one of those woods you’d put in the stove and never worry about irritant fumes.
If you have ever burned it before, you may have found the aroma to be highly appealing.
Walnut nuts and leaves are unmistakable with their characteristic pine and earthy, citrus-like smell which can also be detected in a well-preserved wood.
A well-seasoned wood lets out an aroma that approaches the furniture polish during burning.
4. Quality fire quality, less creosote.
On top of the enticing aroma, Black Walnut firewood burns quietly without sparks or smoke.
However, don’t use the wood until the moisture content drops below 20%.
The greener your Walnut, the more the smoke. Moist smoldering Black Walnut is more likely to leave a lot of creosote in your chimney.
If you let it accumulate past the tipping point, you risk starting a fire in the chimney.
It is worth mentioning that creosote formation is not a reserve for Walnut wood.
Virtually all types of wood produce creosote.
Walnut is a hardwood, meaning it burns slowly for a long time, allowing smoke to linger in the chimney and build more creosote.
The best way to keep creosote formation to a minimum is to season your wood completely before shoving it in the stove.
5. A Common Wood That’s Easy to Source
This may not apply to every region but Walnut is one of the easiest woods to source in North America.
Both the English and Black Walnuts are abundant in the U.S. and south and southeast Canada.
Most of the Walnut orchards in the country are in California, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Minnesota, and Indiana.
However, it is worth mentioning that Black Walnut supplied in North America is facing challenges no one would have imagined a few years ago.
These challenges have caused the prices to skyrocket even higher to make Walnut costlier than any other hardwood you know. Walnut is now rarer (comparatively).
Just 1% of the total hardwood stock in America is Walnut. Furthermore, this wood has wide application in the furniture industry – it makes more sense to create a cabinet out of it than burn for warmth in the winter.
Prices of most hardwoods, not just Walnut, began to skyrocket back in 2018 in the wake of wildfires in the country.
Also, trade disputes between the U.S. and Canada interrupted the supply chain although things are starting to improve.
Does It Mean Walnut Makes Great Firewood?
No. Let’s just say “average.”
Honestly, settling for one kind of firewood getting satisfied with all it has to offer is hard.
Some woods burn just as you would want them to, except for the smell. Black Walnut, however, gives comes with less to worry about.
Some users may appreciate Black Walnut’s low smoke signature and ability to burns faster but others may take issue with medium-low BTUs / energy density instead.
While it doesn’t produce smoke to a level you’d consider bothersome, the flame doesn’t last anywhere close to what most of its hardwood counterparts deliver.
The smell is great but the low wood density (hence low BTU rating) can be a concern for some users. That’s disappointing because (if you were to compare) some softwoods like pine and fir are denser and have higher energy densities.
Another way of checking whether a given wood can make great firewood is checking the ease of splitting.
Of course, the amount of moisture present in wood can have a say on the ease of splitting – the more moisture it has the harder it is to split.
Though it’s hard to get rid of all the water in the wood, good firewood should be easy to split at 20% moisture content or less.
Fortunately, Black Walnut losses water quite fast and give you an easy time splitting whether you prefer an electric splitting machine or axe.
Just make sure it’s sufficiently dry. Still, if you compare it to most other hardwoods, splitting a log of Walnut is noticeably easier.
So can you burn black walnut wood on a wood stove? Yes, certainly.
But there’s another side of this wood you should know before shoving some pieces in your stove.
While its BTU rating is satisfactory, it is one of the costliest hardwoods out there.