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Silver maples are attractive, fast-growing trees, which makes them suitable for a variety of landscapes. But, like many other maple cultivars, silver maples can be somewhat brittle and may topple over or drop branches in a strong wind.
It’s not unusual to lose a silver maple tree when the storms of spring rush in. If you have a downed silver maple, and you’re hoping to use the logs to keep you warm over the winter, you may be wondering, is silver maple good firewood?
Silver maple is generally easy to split and dries quickly, which makes it suitable firewood. The silver maple burns warm and clean, producing little smoke and a benign odor.
How long do silver maple trees live?
Silver maples typically live from 100 to 130 years, but in ideal conditions, they may survive for up to 200 years. Meeting all of your silver maple’s growing requirements will ensure the tree is around for as long as possible. Regular pruning can help, too, as this shapes the tree and stimulates regrowth.
Unfortunately, because silver maples have shallow root systems and are prone to wind damage, many do not reach their full lifespan.
Silver maples that are not protected from harsh winds can topple over easily once they reach about 30 to 50 years of age when they start to become top-heavy. These trees may also fall during periods of excessive rainfall.
If you’re thinking of planting a silver maple, be sure to place it in a somewhat sheltered area, where it will be protected from severe winds.
Is silver maple hardwood or softwood?
The silver maple (Acer saccharinum) is considered a hardwood, like oak trees and hickory trees. However, it is a much softer hardwood by comparison.
The silver maple is somewhere between the softness of evergreens like pines and spruces, and the hardness of cedars and beeches.
Because the silver maple is softer than other hardwood trees, yet harder than many softwoods, it’s highly versatile. So whether you want to use silver maple as firewood, or turn it into furniture and cabinetry, this tree will suit your needs.
Is silver maple easy to split into firewood?
Generally speaking, yes, silver maple is very easy to split. But this is just a rule of thumb. While younger trees tend to be softer and more pliable, older trees can be tough and difficult to work with.
Young silver maple trees, and smaller silver maple branches, can easily be split by hand. So if you’re cutting up a downed tree, you shouldn’t have too much trouble. Use a chainsaw to cut larger pieces into smaller ones, and an axe to split them into pieces.
If you’re working with an older tree, you may have more trouble. Older silver maples can become gnarled near the center of the trunk. The logs can be especially hard to split by hand, so consider using a hydraulic splitter to do the back-breaking work for you.
Should you remove the bark from silver maple logs?
Silver maple bark provides insects, like borers and sap-suckers, with an excellent hiding place. These bugs snuggle up in your firewood, where they eat and reproduce as you wait for the logs to dry out.
For this reason, you should remove the bark from your silver maple logs.
The bark of the silver maple tree also contains creosote, a carbon-based chemical that can be dangerous when burned and inhaled. Creosote can also create build-up in your chimney, which can be a serious fire hazard.
It’s nearly impossible to remove the bark by hand when the wood is still fresh, so you’ll need to let your silver maple logs dry for a while before peeling the bark off.
When you see the bark flaking away from the wood on its own, it’s ready to be removed. Tear off as much of the bark as possible. You won’t be able to get all of it off the logs, but that’s okay. The logs are still safe to burn.
How fast does silver maple dry out?
One of the great things about using silver maple as firewood is that it dries out fast. Trees that fall over in the spring, if properly stored, will be dry and ready to burn by fall.
Be sure to stack your silver maple logs in a bright, sunny location to help them dry out. Keep the logs up off the ground, not only to keep them from rotting, but also to avoid attracting unwanted pests, like scorpions, snakes, and ants.
Stack the wood with the split sides facing down, that way the open pores won’t trap moisture. Make sure the wood is stored in a well-ventilated area, and cover the logs with a tarp to protect them from heavy rain.
Ideally, your silver maple logs should have a moisture content of 15% to 20%. This will allow the logs to burn longer without producing a ton of smoke.
For optimal burn, it’s best to let your silver maple season for 18 months, but it’s okay to burn them sooner than that if you need to.
Does silver maple provide good heat?
If you’re wondering, is silver maple good firewood? The answer is yes, and that’s largely because these logs provide such good heat!
The silver maple generates 20 million BTUs per cord on average, which is more than your most evergreen trees.
The silver maple tends to burn more quickly than some other maple cultivars, like the Autumn Blaze maple. However, these trees can continue burning for hours, especially when mixed with hardwoods. It’s also worth noting that silver maple trees light quickly.
The silver maple may not burn as hot as other hardwoods, like aspen. But it does burn hotter than softwoods. It produces a moderate amount of heat that’s perfect for cold autumn days and cool winter nights.
Does silver maple burn clean?
Everybody loves a fireplace, but nobody likes breathing smoke. Fortunately, the silver maple burns clean, so you can enjoy the heat without hacking up a lung.
The silver maple tree has a relatively low moisture content. As low-density hardwood, these trees don’t produce much smoke. Any smoke they do produce tends to be thin and gray, not dense and black.
Silver maples produce flaky coals that break down easily when stirred. The coals of silver maples are the weakest of other maple cultivars, so if you want your fire to burn longer, mix your silver maple logs in with some hickory and oak, too.
What does silver maple smell like?
Silver maple trees burn very cleanly. So if you like the heat of a fireplace, but not the smell of one, these trees are an excellent choice for firewood.
Like other maples, silver maples smell sweet when burned — but not nearly as sweet as some maples, like sugar maples. You may also pick up on spicy notes and a scent similar to that of burning paper.
Silver maple logs don’t contain much moisture or sap, so they don’t crackle and pop. Because these logs don’t produce many sparks, this makes them an excellent choice of firewood for open fireplaces.
You can even use silver maple firewood for cooking, whether you want to roast marshmallows over a campfire or make a savory beef stew on your stove.
Overall, silver maple firewood produces an inoffensive, benign fragrance that will help get your home ready for the holiday season.
How long does silver maple burn for?
Silver maple wood doesn’t burn as slowly as oakwood. But, it does burn much more slowly than softwood trees.
In general, a single silver maple log will burn for 1 to 2 hours.
Mixing the logs with softwoods will extend the softwood’s burning time, and produce a hotter fire. And adding a few hardwoods to your silver maple logs will produce a stronger fire overall.
Whether you’re looking for logs to burn in a stove, build a campfire, or fill an outdoor fire pit, silver maple is perfect for your need. The denser you stack the logs, the longer the fire will last.
Is silver maple firewood expensive?
How much silver maple firewood costs depends on how abundant it is in your region. If you live in an area where silver maples are grown on every corner, you can expect to pay less for the firewood. But, naturally, if silver maples are hard to come by in your region, you’ll likely have to pay more for it.
Silver maple firewood is usually in the middle of the price range, at around $100 to $200 a cord.
Silver maple is considered a mid-quality firewood, so it’s cheaper than hardwoods like oak and hickory, but more expensive than softwoods like willows and evergreens.
Is silver maple firewood a good choice for you?
If you live in a region that doesn’t experience harsh winters, or if you only get a few truly cold days per year, then a cord of silver maple firewood is well worth the investment.
Although silver maple doesn’t burn as hot or last as long as other hardwoods, it’s definitely a step up from softwoods.
The silver maple’s versatility as firewood makes it a good choice for fireplaces, wood-burning stoves, fire pits, and more. But, ultimately, it’s up to you to decide whether or not this tree is the right one for your needs.