Madrone Firewood

Madrone firewood, also known as Pacific Madrone or Madrona along the West Coast of the United States, or simply referred to as Arbutus in British Columbia, is an excellent firewood choice.

The dense wood with its unique smooth bark makes madrone one of the best firewood types available.

The only real downfall to the wood is its limited range of growth.

Unless you live along the California or Oregon Coast Range, Puget Sound, or Vancouver Island, you've probably never been lucky enough to experience its great firewood qualities.

To lean more, lets take a closer look at the tree and its ability to produce such great firewood.

The Madrone Tree

The Pacific madrona is a broad-leaved evergreen tree that grows to a height of around 35-80 feet tall and can live for up to 200 years.

The tree flowers in the spring and produces strawberry red berries in the autumn which has helped nickname the tree the "strawberry tree."  These berries were once consumed by Native Americans and are a valuable food source for birds and larger animals such as deer, raccoons and even bears.

The madrone has thick green waxy leaves and a very unique bark.  As the tree matures, the orange and reddish colored bark begins to peel away in paper thin sheets leaving behind a smooth, green and silver appearance. This unique, smooth wood that's now exposed often feels cool to the touch.

Although the tree can produce beautiful wood for flooring and veneers, the durable wood warps easily during the drying process.  This unpredictable warping makes large pieces of madrone difficult to work with.

Madrone Firewood Qualities

Madrone firewood is a dense hardwood that burns hot, creates a great coal bed for overnight burns, and has a user friendly bark that won't make a mess on your living room floor.

Madrone is typically the most desired firewood in the area where it grows making it more popular than other hardwoods such as oak or maple.

One of our visitors had this to say about burning Madrone.....

Once it has turned "silver" there is no better firewood than Oregon Madrone. It is very hard and dense and it burns very hot when properly dried. I can load 3 pieces of aged Madrone into my wood store and it will hold the fire overnight. It keeps me warm all winter!

- Judy from Oregon

The wood produces very little ash when compared to oak firewood and with a BTU rating of around 30 million BTUs per cord, it ranks higher than a lot of other hardwoods.

Cutting and splitting madrone is easiest when the wood is still green and wet.  As the wood dries it becomes much harder resulting in dulled chainsaw chains and a lot more work with a maul or splitting axe.  To make splitting the wood easier, split it within the first couple of weeks while the wood is still wet.

After the wood has been split, stack the wood on an elevated surface such as 2x4 runners or pallets for about a year.  Madrone dries pretty quick and 1 year of seasoning time is usually enough to effectively season the firewood depending on the climate.


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