Hickory Firewood

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Hickory firewood is one of the top choices for many people and often thought of as the number one species for firewood.

The tree can live for up to 300 years and grow up to 100 feet tall.

Hickory is a very hard dense wood making it difficult to cut and split

In fact the seventh president of the United States, Andrew Jackson, was nicknamed "Old Hickory" because he was said to be as tough as hickory.

Due to the dense fibers, hickory burns hot and stays burning a long time.

The wood is often difficult to start due to its density, and requires about one year to properly season.

The hickory tree is well known for its fruit.

The tree produces an oval shaped nut which is desirable to both humans and wildlife.

Squirrels, deer, raccoons and many other animals enjoy the hickory nut as part of their diet.

It takes about 40 years before the tree begins to produce the desirable nut.

The pecan, which is also part of the hickory family, produces the most desirable nut.

The pecan is grown commercially and generates millions of dollars in revenue.

An item that can be found at your local grocery store, the pecan is enjoyed by many people.

The hickory tree is a popular lumber choice due to its strength.

Tools, furniture, flooring and equipment are often made from hickory.

It's a common choice for tool handles because of its strength and flexibility.

Hickory wood is also a popular choice for barbecues and smokers because of its distinct flavoring.

Common Hickory Species

Although there are several species of hickory, some common species are:

  • Shagbark hickory
  • Shellbark hickory
  • Pignut hickory
  • Bitternut hickory

Typically, hickory firewood is identified by its flaky bark.

This bark is quite distinctive, particularly if you are trying to identify a shagbark hickory.

Shagbark Hickory

The bark is generally gray and ridged, peeling easily from the tree when it is mature.

It can also be identified by its nuts and leaves.

Hickory nuts are sweet tasting while the leaves are long and contain about 17 pointed leaflets.

These grow in opposite directions on each leaf stem.

Hickory trees can generally be found all over the Midwestern and Eastern portions of the United States.

Here, they grow naturally along rivers, streams, and in bottomlands.

They are often found growing in moist soil and, in addition to being used for firewood and for smoking, they are often used as shade trees in public parks and other spaces.

Cutting And Seasoning Hickory Firewood

Hickory is a very dense, heavy, straight grained tree making it an excellent choice for firewood. 

For best results, let the wood season for at least one year

This will ensure the wood is dry allowing it to burn more efficiently. 

12 months is the ideal period of time to dry hickory out entirely although you can burn it before then without having to worry about too much creosote buildup.

Of course, the more time you can allow your firewood to season, the better.

This will produce a wood that lights easily and is low in smoke.

Keep in mind hickory is difficult to split so a good manual or hydraulic splitter will make the process much easier.

Burning Hickory Firewood

Hickory firewood is easy to light and produces fires that are hot and long lasting.

It is great for burning in both the hearth as well as in a wood stove.

Because it burns cleanly, you don’t have to worry about it giving off any harmful emissions that might make you sick.

Many people burn hickory in their fireplaces to help them get the most amount of warmth possible out of their fireplaces.

It offers the classic firewood crackling sound without sending out a lot of sparks.

You can burn it by itself or in combination with any other kind of firewood.

The same qualities that make hickory a top choice for indoor burning also make it well-suited for outdoor fire pits.

It has a pleasant aroma and high heat output so it’s great for use for warmth or for cooking.

There’s nothing quite like the smell of hickory burning in a fireplace or fire pit!

If you haven’t smelled it yet yourself, know that it is similar to the scent of freshly baked ham. It’s sweet and savory yet not overbearing.

Since it’s low in smoke, you don’t have to worry about it fogging you out of the house and home, either!

All in all, hickory is a great firewood type with all kinds of applications.

It offers a subtle flavor that won’t overpower your food, making it a wonderful choice for cooking meats like bacon, or for use in smoking.

It also is wonderful when it comes to providing warmth and ambiance.

Be sure to add this firewood type to your drying shed today!

Shagbark hickory will produce 27.7 million BTUs per cord.

Bitternut hickory will produce 26.5 million BTUs per cord.


About the Author

Nick Greenway

Obsessed with firewood, Nick is behind over 350+ of Firewood For Life's articles, as well as countless reviews, guides and YouTube videos to help readers like you reduce heating costs and create the perfect fire.