Hackberry Firewood: Pros, Cons, Identification, Uses, And Burning

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The hackberry tree doesn’t sound like it’s very good as firewood (maybe it’s the hack part?).

Still, it’s a popular choice. So what is hackberry wood, and is it good for burning? 

While it doesn’t have the BTUs of oak,  hickory, or ash firewood, it’s still a decent burning wood that’s easy to split and produces little smoke and sparks.

We’ll clear up any confusion and tell you everything you need to know about hackberry firewood. We’ll look at what kind of tree it is, the benefits and drawbacks of burning it, and some of the most commonly asked questions about hackberry firewood.

Characteristics Of Hackberry Wood

Four species of hackberry tree are found in North America, although there is slight variation in their appearances.

The differences are so little, however, that mixing and selling types of hackberry together is a common practice. 

Hackberry wood was initially used to make the hoops for barrels but is now used in constructing furniture, cabinets, crates, and pallets. The wood is pale in color, ranging from light yellows to greys, with a course, straight grain. 

Hackberry wood is also known for its strength and durability, making it an ideal material for constructing sturdy items that will last for many years.

Despite its many positive qualities, hackberry wood is not without its drawbacks. For example, the wood is susceptible to rot and insect infestation, so finding boards free of defects can be challenging.

For these reasons, hackberry wood is typically only used for smaller projects or pieces that will be finished with a protective coating.

But feeding fires?

That it can do. 

Is Hackberry A Hardwood Or Softwood?

hackberry tree

Hackberry is classified as a hardwood because of its wood density and strength.

According to Gene Wengert at the Woodworking Network, hackberry is a little stronger and stiffer than many other hardwood species; it is quite similar to elm in firmness and just a little below ash.

Unfortunately, its perishability is relatively high, and it isn’t very durable because of its susceptibility to fungi infection, rot, and insect attacks. While this is bad news if you’re planning to build something out of it, it’s not an issue if you’re using it for firewood.

Is Hackberry Good Firewood?

Hackberry wood isn’t the best option for firewood, but it’s far from the worst.

Its biggest downfall is the amount of BTUs it produces, which is moderate at best. 

However, it’s easy enough to split, produces low smoke and few sparks, and leaves behind quality coals. These coals help retain heat even after the firewood burns up.

But in terms of storing, hackberry must be kept in a dry place protected from the elements to prevent rot and insect infestation.

Due to its low moisture content, hackberry firewood dries relatively quickly. However, you should still aim to season it for about a year to see the best results when you burn it.

I love burning hackberry wood in the early fall.

With the colder months around the corner, it reminds me of summer bonfires, and the low smoke content means that any fall gusts won’t spread smoke everywhere! 

Hackberry BTUs


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A cord of hackberry firewood has a BTU rating of 21.2 million.

This is significantly lower than the best firewood options, like white oak and hickory, which both produce closer to 30 million BTUs.

While it’s not the best choice for heating your home, mixing it with other woods can help offset the lower heat output.

This, combined with hackberry’s low smoke and spark production, makes it a good option for those who like wood-burning stoves or fireplaces.

Benefits of Burning Hackberry

Many people enjoy burning hackberry firewood during the winter because its heaviness and good coal production help extend the burn time. 

Despite its density, it’s still easy to work with and doesn’t weigh much. Once it’s lit, hackberry firewood burns steadily, granting a consistent source of heat to get you through the winter nights.

Additionally, hackberry wood is ideal for indoor fires due to its low spark and smoke production. Thanks to its lower moisture content, seasoning hackberry firewood is also a relatively quick and painless process.

Drawbacks of Burning Hackberry

The only real drawback to burning hackberry firewood is the lower BTU output, which means that it won’t produce as much heat as other woods. 

As we mentioned earlier, you may want to consider mixing it with other wood to achieve the same heat level as you could with options like oak or hickory.

If you live in a climate where temperatures drop significantly during the winter, you may find that hackberry firewood doesn’t provide enough heat to keep your home comfortable, but if you just need a little warmth, hackberry is a wonderful indoor-fire option. 

Hackberry Firewood FAQs


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*Hackberry slabs are very nice

Have more questions? Here are a few answers to help you out!

Is hackberry good for smoking meat?

Hackberry wood is a popular choice for smoking meats because it imparts a mild, sweet flavor.

People enjoy it with pork, chicken, and fish especially. The smoke is also relatively light, so it won’t overwhelm the taste of your food.

Is hackberry wood toxic?

No, hackberry wood is not toxic. The trees even produce berries that are edible for humans and animals alike.

However, hackberry has been known to cause skin irritation in some people, so it’s always best to wear gloves when handling the wood.

Can hackberry wood be used for furniture?

Yes, hackberry wood can be used for furniture; however, it’s best for smaller projects.

This is because hackberry is considered a non-durable wood, which means that it’s not the best choice for large pieces of furniture that will see significant amounts of wear and tear.

If you do use hackberry wood for furniture, make sure that it is well-sealed to prevent rot and insect infestations. 

How do I season hackberry wood?

Seasoning hackberry wood is relatively simple, thanks to the low moisture content.

First, split the logs into smaller pieces and stack them in a dry, well-ventilated area. Keep an eye on the wood and make sure it’s completely covered if it starts to rain or snow. 

After about a year, your hackberry wood will be ready to burn.

Can I use hackberry wood in a fireplace?

Yes, you can absolutely use hackberry wood in a fireplace!

Due to the low smoke and spark output, it’s an ideal choice for indoor fires. Just season the wood first to prevent any unwanted smoke or smells.

Hackberry Firewood

All in all, there’s nothing wrong with using hackberry as firewood.

Can you find better options?

Yes, but hackberry splits easily and burns well, producing little smoke and sparks.

Just be aware of the lower BTU output and mix it with other woods like black locust and walnut if you’re looking for higher heat. 


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