Problems with eucalyptus firewood

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Those who enjoy fireplaces, wood-burning stoves and open fires have a number of choices when selecting wood. Eucalyptus burns hot, leaves little ash behind and has a pleasant aroma.

However, there are some problems associated with burning this wood species that make it less favourable than other hardwoods such as oak or ash.

Difficult to Work With

Firewood should be seasoned before using so that it will burn evenly and cleanly. Seasoning refers to splitting the wood soon after the tree is cut so that the wood can dry out. Eucalyptus trees have a high oil and water content, so the wood must be split and given enough time to dry out before being burnt. However, eucalyptus trees are difficult to split because they tend to twist as they grow, and the fibre is stringy.

Not the Best Choice for Cooking Stoves

Eucalyptus has a fresh, distinctive scent that many enjoy in an open fire. However, the aroma of burning eucalyptus has also been described as "medicinal." In addition to the aroma, burnt wood affects the flavour of foods. Eucalyptus is not a wood that most would choose for a wood-burning stove used for cooking.

Heavy Sparks

Due to the high oil content of eucalyptus trees, small pockets of oil can cause fires to spark unexpectedly even when the wood has been seasoned. The Napa Communities Firewise Foundation, a California-based non-profit organisation dedicated to mitigating the effects of wildland fires, reports that eucalyptus has been the cause of many fires in the region that have been difficult to control because of the high heat and flying sparks.

Fireplace Residue

Wood burning causes a tar-like substance called creosote to build up inside of a chimney. The high oil content of eucalyptus wood adds to this problem. Eucalyptus creates hard and sticky deposits inside of chimneys that can be difficult to remove. Over time this sticky build-up can result in a chimney fire. Homeowners are wise to have their chimneys professionally cleaned on a regular basis, especially when burning eucalyptus.