So you just acquired a new wood stove and you can’t wait to put it to use.
Or you have been accustomed to one or few types of wood and now you want to try out the Box Elder wood.
Either way, box elder firewood may have crossed your mind.
So, Can You Burn Box Elder Wood in A Wood Stove?
Generally, no, but there are exceptions. For instance, if you are looking for the perfect kindle wood to get your stove started, the Box Elder firewood is one of the best woods you could settle even though it sucks in situations requiring a hot long-lasting flame. You can also use it if you run out of your preferred woods or you get it for free.
Also, unless you are superstitious, don’t hesitate to push a few logs of box elder in your stove if you must.
Have you ever asked yourself how it got that name – Box Elder?
This wood has been associated with witchcraft for hundreds of years. Many people believe that burning it can bring bad luck.
While it is a perfectly safe wood to burn indoors (no toxic or irritant fumes), it comes with a few flaws that you should keep in mind before using it in any circumstance.
For instance, it is gnarly and twisted and will give you a hard time splitting.
It’s typically very heavy when wet but noticeably light when dry.
Not A Great Wood for Winter Heating
It’s OK to shove a few Box Elder firewood in your wood stove for regular warming but not during the winter.
While it produces sufficient heat to warm an average room, you will need to keep replenishing the stove with more wood over and over because it burns too fast as a result of being lightweight.
If you would like to stay warm the entire night, the Box Elder isn’t appropriate as it lasts less than 10 hours before requiring replenishment.
Also, as mentioned earlier, this wood is sensitive to moisture and can get super heavy when wet. It’s certainly not a great wood to burn in the middle of the winter when the air is humid.
So, if you must burn Box Elder wood, say, you are short of better firewood, you better burn it in the fall or spring when the air is less humid and the temperatures are mild.
It Doesn’t Produce a Lot of Heat
Wood needs to be dense to release great heat energy.
Oak, for instance, is a common heating wood because of its high density and ability to release a lot of heat over a long period. Flames from dense woods also tend to be low and steady.
The fact that Box Elder firewood is very lightweight compared to most other woods means it produces not-so-hot and less steady flames – a major thumbs down.
For instance, fully dry Box Elder firewood releases utmost 17.5 million BTUs per cord while fully dry Oak releases between 24 – 39 million BTUs per cord. And that’s if you consider the fact that most of the wood stoves sold today operate at less than 50% efficiency.
Who Wants to Put Up with Bad Odors?
The Box Elder wood is known to give off a foul odor when burned, but not off-putting enough to force you out of the room. However, the odor tends to be more profound in badly dried wood.
If you must use it then ensure it is well dried. Better yet, you can mix it with another different wood, preferably a slow-burning Oak in a well-enclosed stove.
The odors can be worse if the wood is allowed to smolder, so consider starting your fire with another wood only to add your Box Elder firewood after the flames have established.
Another great way to prevent your wood from smoldering is to ensure maximum drafting and releasing much of the odor up the chimney.
For these reasons, box elder wood is best suited for wood stoves than campfires or open fireplaces.
The Good Side of Box Elder Wood
The Box Elder isn’t entirely an undesirable wood. It comes with a few benefits you won’t find in some of the best-rated woods out there.
Because of its low density, the Box Elder wood is one of the easiest woods to split and will dry within a year.
Most other types of Maples, Cottonwoods, and Sitka Spruce takes longer to dry and get ready for the stove.
Although it’s lightweight, its energy density (BTU content) of about 17 million BTU per cord isn’t too bad for wood of that density.
Yes – that’s a bit low compared to most woods but it’s impressive.
With this energy density, it beats many other kinds of wood that rank better in other factors including the American Basswood, Cottonwood, Butternut, Aspen, Catalpa, and Willow all of which releases less than 17 million BTUs per crop.
Another great thing about the Box Elder is that it’s common and grows fast. It is rarely planted intentionally but grows all over the place.
What Are the Best Woods for Wood Stove?
There are several useful sites with long detailed lists of the best woods for various purposes (camping, open fireplace, wood stove). Start with these:
In the Midwest of the United States, these are the best woods for any wood stove:
It comes with everything you want in firewood: burns with a hot flame, the coals are great, dries fast, and splits easily. It produces tons of ash though.
Best For The Hot Flame
This is one of those trees that burns with the hottest flames known for firewood.
The flame is hot but not as hot as what you’d get from Ash.
There are different types of Oaks but their flames are similar. They somewhat fall in the middle of the Black Locust and the Ash.
It burns very much like Oak, but is hard to split.
These woods burn the longest and are perfect for overnight heating:
Don’t waste your time and money on these:
It is prone to rot it even dries completely. Less dense.
Very much like Cottonwood, but 30 percent better.
In three words – “not worth it”
So, can you burn Box Elder wood on a wood stove?
Generally, no, but there are exceptions.
For instance, if you are looking for the perfect kindle wood to get your stove started, the Box Elder firewood is one of the best woods you could settle even though it sucks in situations requiring a hot long-lasting flame.
You can also use it if you run out of your preferred woods or you get it for free.