Is Sycamore Good Firewood? A Scientific Explanation

As temperatures drop, there’s nothing quite like cozying up to a roaring fire. But choosing the right firewood can be overwhelming with so many options available. One alternative to consider is sycamore, a versatile and readily available hardwood. So, is sycamore good firewood?

Get ready to stoke the flames of knowledge as we delve into the properties, advantages, and disadvantages of using sycamore as firewood.

Does Sycamore Make Good Firewood?

Sycamore is a hardwood with a high heat output and a moderate burn rate, making it suitable for wood stoves, fireplaces, and other wood-burning appliances. Sycamore wood produces a pleasant flame with minimal creosote buildup, which can help reduce the risk of chimney fires.

However, like any firewood, it needs seasoning and drying before use to maximize its efficiency as a heat source and minimize smoke and emissions.

On average, sycamore tree firewood can cost between $200 to $400 per cord. This price can vary depending on several factors, including the region, availability, and local demand.

Properties of Sycamore Wood

Sycamore trees (Platanus occidentalis) are large deciduous trees native to North America. These trees are known for their distinctive appearance, with their smooth, white bark that peels off in patches, revealing a mottled surface underneath.

Sycamore trees can grow up to 100 feet tall and have a broad canopy with large, maple-like leaves. Their woods have the following properties.

Density and Hardness

Sycamore wood has a Janka hardness rating of 770. Its density varies depending on the specific species and location but typically ranges from 29 to 45 pounds per cubic foot.

This places it in the mid-range of hardwoods in terms of density, falling between popular firewood choices like oak and maple.

Moisture Content

Sycamore wood has a relatively high moisture content when freshly cut, typically ranging from 30% to 50%.

Firewood should ideally have a moisture content of around 20% or less to burn efficiently. Proper drying and seasoning are essential for sycamore to burn well.

Burning Efficiency

Sycamore tree firewood is known for its good burning efficiency. It tends to burn evenly and produce a relatively high amount of heat compared to other wood types.

This feature makes it a popular choice for firewood or wood pellets used in wood stoves or fireplaces.

Heat Output

Sycamore firewood has a heat output ranging from 20 to 25 million BTUs per cord, making it a good option for heating. It can generate a significant amount of warmth when burned.

Resin Content

Is sycamore good firewood? When answering this question, examining the wood’s resin content is vital.

Sycamore firewood has a low resin content, meaning it burns with minimal creosote buildup. The low resin content of sycamore wood makes it a relatively clean-burning wood that produces less creosote buildup, reducing the risk of chimney fires and ensuring efficient burning.

Smoke Production

Sycamore wood produces moderate to low amounts of smoke when burned. Smoke production can affect air quality and be a concern for indoor wood-burning applications.

The moderate to low smoke production of sycamore wood makes it a good option for wood stoves or fireplaces in homes where indoor air quality is a priority.

Why Is Sycamore Good Firewood?

Sycamore is considered good firewood for several reasons:

Relatively High Heat Output

Sycamore wood has an acceptable heat output. This makes it an excellent choice for keeping your home warm during colder months or cooking over an open fire.

Easy to Split

Sycamore wood splits easily, making it convenient to split into smaller pieces for firewood. This feature makes it easier to handle and stack, saving you time and effort in preparing your firewood.

Low Moisture Content

Sycamore wood typically has a low moisture content. The low moisture content allows this wood to burn more efficiently and produce less smoke. This can help reduce creosote buildup in your chimney and decrease the risk of chimney fires.

Long Burn Time

Sycamore wood has a relatively long burn time. It can provide sustained heat over a longer period. This can be particularly beneficial during colder nights or when you want to keep a fire burning for an extended time.


Sycamore trees are relatively common in many regions, so sourcing sycamore wood for firewood can be relatively easy and cost-effective, depending on your location.

Aesthetically Pleasing

Sycamore wood has a light color with attractive grain patterns, which can make it visually appealing when used in a fireplace or wood stove.

It’s advisable to properly season and store sycamore wood to ensure optimal burning performance and safety. Following local regulations and guidelines for harvesting and burning firewood is also a good idea. 

Have your chimney inspected and cleaned regularly by a professional to prevent creosote buildup and chimney fires.

Guide to Seasoning Sycamore Firewood

If you have recently acquired sycamore firewood and are looking to season it for optimal burning, here’s a guide to help you get started:

Cut the firewood: Cut the sycamore logs to the desired length for your fireplace or wood stove. The standard length is usually around 16-18 inches. However, you can adjust the size based on your needs.

Split the logs: Splitting the logs will help expose the inner wood, allowing it to dry more quickly. Use a maul or a splitting axe to split the logs into smaller pieces. Aim for pieces that are about 4-6 inches in diameter.

Stack the firewood: Find a well-ventilated area, such as an open shed or a covered woodpile, to stack the firewood. Create a stack that allows air to circulate the wood, which will help it dry more effectively. You can stack the firewood in a crisscross pattern or use a firewood rack to keep it off the ground.

Leave space between the logs: Make sure to leave space between the logs in the stack to allow air to flow through and promote drying. Avoid tightly packing the logs together, as this can slow down the seasoning process.

Cover the stack: Use a tarp or a waterproof cover to protect the top from rain and snow. This will help prevent moisture from soaking into the wood and slowing the seasoning process. Make sure to leave the sides of the stack uncovered to allow for proper airflow.

Allow the wood to season: Sycamore firewood typically takes about 6-12 months to season properly, depending on the climate and moisture content of the wood.

During seasoning, the wood will gradually lose moisture and become lighter. You can check the moisture content of the wood using a moisture meter, and once it reaches around 20% or lower, it is considered seasoned and ready for burning.

Test the wood: Before using the seasoned sycamore tree firewood, perform a burn test to ensure it is fully dried and ready for efficient burning. Burn a few pieces of wood in your fireplace or wood stove and observe how well they burn. Seasoned wood should ignite easily, produce less smoke, and generate more heat than unseasoned wood.

Store the firewood: Once the sycamore firewood is properly seasoned, you can store it in a dry, covered area for future use. Keep the wood off the ground to prevent moisture absorption, and cover the top of the stack to protect it from rain and snow.

Pros and Cons of Sycamore Firewood

Sycamore tree firewood can be a good option for heating your home but it has some drawbacks. Below are the pros and demerits of this firewood.

Pros Sycamore as Firewood

  •  High heat output
  • Availability
  • Easy to split

Cons of Sycamore as Firewood

Lower Burn Time

While sycamore firewood produces high heat, it burns relatively quickly compared to other hardwoods. You may need to replenish the firewood more frequently, which can be inconvenient if you’re looking for longer burn times and less frequent wood stacking.

High Moisture Content

Sycamore wood can have a higher moisture content than other hardwoods, resulting in increased smoke and creosote production when burned. The high moisture can lead to more frequent chimney cleaning and maintenance to prevent creosote buildup.

Lower Overall Energy Content

While sycamore wood produces high heat output, it has a lower overall energy content than hardwoods like oak and hickory.

You may need to burn more sycamore wood to produce the same amount of heat as you would with denser hardwoods, resulting in more frequent wood replenishment and potentially higher costs.

Potential for Splitting and Cracking

Sycamore firewood can be prone to splitting and cracking as it dries, making it less durable than other hardwoods. The wood may require more careful seasoning and storage to prevent excessive splitting, especially if you plan to store the firewood for an extended period.

Smoke and Odor

Some people find sycamore firewood produces more smoke and a stronger odor than other firewood types. This can be a consideration if you’re using firewood for indoor heating, as it may result in more noticeable smoke and odor in your home.

Variable Quality

The quality of sycamore tree firewood can vary depending on the specific tree, location, and how it’s seasoned. Some sycamore wood may have more knots and irregularities or be less dense than other hardwoods, affecting its overall burning characteristics and efficiency.

So, Is Sycamore Good Firewood?

Sycamore is decent firewood due to its moderate heat output, ease of splitting, and availability. However, its lower energy, higher moisture, and tendency to decay may make it less optimal than other hardwoods.

Proper seasoning and storage techniques can help mitigate some disadvantages, but sycamore may not be the top choice for high-quality firewood.

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