British Thermal Units, or BTUs, is the standard of measurement for heat output in firewood. Pine falls into the lower end of the BTU spectrum for firewood with an average of 14 million BTUs per cord. Compared with the top woods such as ash at 24 million or birch at 20 million, pine is a lower quality firewood for sustained or longer burns.
Pines are considered softwoods. Having a faster burn time and lower heat output, pine is a good choice for starting the fire but a poor choice for a long, sustained burn. Choose pine for kindling or mid-size logs in the beginning stages of building a fire.
Creosote and Smoke
With a high "pitch," the sticky liquid in the trees tissues, pines produce more smoke and creosote than most hardwoods. Creosote buildup in chimneys is a dangerous hazard.
Pine pitch is a great fire starter. It is extremely flammable and burns fast and hot. Choosing pine for a fire starter is a great option for fire building.
Good and Bad
Pine as firewood is a mixed blessing. Using it for a fire starter is a perfect choice, but for a wood stove or overnight burn, leave the pine behind and go with a hardwood such as ash or birch.
Article Written By Eric Cedric
A former Alaskan of 20 years, Eric Cedric now resides in California. He's published in "Outside" and "Backpacker" and has written a book on life in small-town Alaska, "North by Southeast." Cedric was a professional mountain guide and backcountry expedition leader for 18 years. He worked in Russia, Iceland, Greece, Turkey and Belize. Cedric attended Syracuse University and is a private pilot.