Poplar is a light wood that is quick burning, making it not ideal for firewood.
Before purchasing Poplar firewood, double-check its origin tree. Most ‘Poplar lumber’ in hardware stores is Yellow Poplar wood, which comes from the Tulip tree (unrelated to actual poplar trees).
No matter the occasion, Poplar firewood is excellent as a firestarter since it lights easily and burns fast. It’s just not good as your primary source of fuel once the fire has started.
Read on to learn all about Poplar firewood and its various uses!
The Poplar Tree
The Poplar tree is native to the Northern Hemisphere and grows in North America, northern Eurasia, and even North Africa.
Most people commonly know it by its subspecies; Cottonwood, Aspen, and Basalm Poplar.
Each subspecies of Poplar is remarkably adaptable to its environment with its own set of unique features; for example, Cottonwood trees hold up well against flooding.
Flooding resilience is perfect for the effects of climate change on Cottonwood trees’ Northeast coastal home in the United States.
Poplar lumber is soft and ideal for thin, small woodworking or lumber products like paper and cardboard.
However, most lumber labeled “Yellow Poplar” or “Poplar” comes from the Tulip tree. Tulip trees are unrelated to Poplar trees, so check that the Poplar wood you buy is genuinely from Poplar trees.
Poplar trees derive their name from the Latin word Populus, which means people, nation, or state. People during the Roman Empire used to gather for public meetings around densely-growing Poplar trees, which earned them their title as the tree of the people.
Poplar trees have tremendous malleability.
Scientists are experimenting with genetic modifications in Poplar trees to improve air pollution and alter the effects of climate change. Researchers at the University of Arizona found a way to suppress a harmful gas poplar trees emit without hampering the tree’s growth.
Poplar is a softwood that dries relatively quickly.
Below are all the basics you need to know about Poplar firewood.
1. Splitting Poplar Wood
Whether you work with a log splitter or an axe, Poplar is so soft that you should not have trouble splitting it.
Because it’s so easy to split, many people simply use a good splitting axe or splitting maul for the task.
For the most part, Poplar firewood that comes to consumers is from the trunk; Poplar trees do not produce branches until much higher up, which means that the Poplar firewood you buy is a thick, high-quality trunk wood.
2. Burning Poplar Wood
When you use Poplar as firewood, be prepared for a quick burn.
Poplar is a thin, softwood that almost behaves like kindling. It has low British Thermal Unit (BTU) ratings. Oftentimes, the tree does not show up on the chart at all, which means Poplar takes very little time to burn.
In comparison, birch, maple, and oak firewood rank high on the BTU scale. Firewood from these trees takes longer to light, but eventually, they create hot flames and great coals.
On its own, Poplar does not burn long enough or coal well enough for users to get a robust firewood experience from it. However, Poplar firewood works well when users mix it with other woods.
Because it essentially acts as kindling, Poplar firewood can get a fire started quickly, help revive a dying-out fire, or even buy you some time as you locate and prep some slower-burning firewood.
3. Poplar Firewood Price
Depending on your location, Poplar firewood is relatively inexpensive.
Because Poplar has earned a reputation for being fast-burning firewood, people tend to go for firewood with higher BTUs, which keeps demand and prices for Poplar down.
Because there is little demand for it, most firewood businesses don’t even bother stocking it. It’s a wood that’s mostly used by those with poplar trees on their property who are taking them down anyway.
Campfire Or Wood-Burning Stove
This wood’s low BTUs make it an iffy choice for wood-burning stoves.
If you are building a campfire or using a wood-burning fire pit that you only want for a few hours, Poplar wood – when mixed with some other coal-producing wood – can create a fire that is hot enough to cook on and dies quickly enough when it is time to turn in.
For folks who rely on their firewood to heat a house or an oven through a wood-burning stove, Poplar firewood may not be the best choice.
In fact, Poplar firewood has earned a catchy nickname: gofer wood. As soon as you put it into the fire, you have to go for more wood.
The consensus is: do not rely on Poplar wood for a roaring, lasting bonfire, but consider mixing it in with your existing long-burning firewood for a pleasant experience.
Poplar Firewood FAQs
Still not sure if you should reach for Poplar tree wood?
Here are some frequently asked questions (and answers!) to help you decide.
Is Pine or Poplar Better Firewood?
Similar to Poplar, pine makes for great kindling.
In addition to being a softwood, pine has a lot of sap that helps ignite the fire. Pine might be the all-around better choice as a fire-starter, but Poplar also works in a pinch.
Is Poplar a Toxic Wood?
True Poplar trees (from the Populus family) should pose no toxic or allergic reactions to the people who handle them.
Some folks report that cutting and burning Yellow Poplar (from the Tulip tree family) can cause some mild respiratory symptoms, though that is rare.
Remember, Yellow Poplar is an entirely different wood, coming from the tulip tree species. It differs from Poplar trees in that it is hardwood.
Is Poplar Good for Fireplaces?
Poplar is an excellent choice to mix in with other firewood for a fireplace since it burns easily, creates a pleasant flame, and can be extinguished quickly.
For almost any fire that does not need to burn long and hot (like in a wood-burning stove to heat your house), Poplar firewood is inexpensive, easy lumber to add to your firewood mix.
How Long Does It Take to Air-Dry Poplar?
In general, Poplar wood dries faster than other firewoods.
However, to be certain that your Poplar firewood is completely dry, give it several months to a year before you use it.
You can also use a good firewood moisture meter to test whether or not it’s ready to burn.
Poplar Wood Has A Use
Poplar firewood has a reputation for being an unreliable wood because it does not produce coals and burns quickly.
However, every wood has a role to play, and Poplar is no exception.
Consider using Poplar firewood as a firestarter, as kindling, or to mix in with other woods with higher BTUs.
Seasoned firewood of all kinds isn’t to be passed over!
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