Is Bamboo Good Firewood? Pros and Cons

Is Bamboo Good Firewood? Pros and Cons

Does bamboo burn in fireplaces and wood stoves? Yes, it does. Is it good firewood? Now, that is a somewhat tricky question worth looking into.

While I think bamboo is a great material for burning, it`s not going to be the best option for everyone. There are definitely some things to know before deciding whether to put bamboo into your fireplace.

I will list the main pros and cons of burning bamboo here. I think this will be the easiest way for you to evaluate and decide for yourself whether it`s a good choice for your personal preferences.

Pros of burning bamboo

Easy to cut, split, dry, and use if it grows on your property

If you have woody bamboo growing on your property or nearby, using it for firewood is a great option because it is free and easy to process. Splitting bamboo is crucial for the safety of your stove and home. I will talk a bit more about that a little later in the article. The good news is – splitting bamboo is much easier and faster than any hardwood.

Gives off a lot of heat quickly

Bamboo is perfect for those times when you have been away from home or cabin and no one has taken care of heating it for you. You arrive, it`s cold, but you have some bamboo handy and you put it in the fireplace.

The heat output of bamboo is impressive and It gives a good boost of temperature in the house quickly. No one really wants to sit in a chilly house for a couple of hours before it warms up slowly. And this solves that issue.

Convenient to use for starting the stove

There are many people who swear by kindling with bamboo. It burns hot and easy. For many, bamboo is available in a limited amount so this is the best use for it. Because it gives out a lot of heat quickly it helps the other wood you put in the stove to catch fire faster. Sure, it burns out relatively quickly but you normally don`t expect the kindle to burn for a long time. As long as it does its job, you`re happy, right?

It`s especially convenient if you have dry bamboo scraps laying around. Any scraps or even tools made of bamboo can be used as kindling if you`re not too keen on throwing them in the compost.

Can be burned together with other woods

Bamboo burns hot and fast. Which is great but sometimes not ideal. So the fact that it can be burned together with hardwoods that will keep going in the fire for a long time is perfect.

This is a winner combination of an initial kick of heat that comes from the fast burning bamboo and the slow and steady heat that the hardwood gives out.

Cons of burning bamboo

Can explode in the fireplace if not used correctly

In my opinion, this is the main con that scares people off of using bamboo as firewood. No one wants an explosion in their home.

So, why does bamboo explode and how to prevent that?

Because of the way bamboo naturally grows, there can be a lot of trapped air in bamboo. It is inside the hollow internodes, that are divided by nodes that are like “lids” that don`t let it out.

This leads to steam building up causing large “pops” and explosions as the wood burns, which could be dangerous. In the worst case scenarios, it can lead to broken stove glass or creosote fire. Not the dream of any house owner.

Some people say you should drill “steam vents” into the wood before using bamboo in your living room fireplace. I think that is a bit too inefficient and I prefer the simple splitting – it definitely ensures that there are no closed of airbags trapped inside of the stems. Safe and simple.

Remember – if you burn bamboo ALWAYS make sure it`s split and the air is not trapped inside the stems!

You can split bamboo using any regular ax. However, if you are working with big amounts of bamboo poles you might want to use more efficient tools like a bamboo hatchet or bamboo splitter available on Amazon.

Specialized tools like these will make it so much easier and faster.

Also, keep in mind that green bamboo splits easier. If possible, don`t wait until it dries before splitting.

Burns fast

Another con to using bamboo as firewood is that it burns fast.  If you decide to use it as your sole burning material you would need to feed the stove very often, approximately every 20 minutes. Not too convenient.

A solution to this issue is what I mentioned earlier – use it together with slow-burning hardwoods.

Leaves a lot of ash

This is pretty self-explanatory. Bamboo will leave more ash to clear out than hardwoods. So this is a bit of an inconvenience.

Bamboo charcoal briquette

I think bamboo charcoal is better known for its air-purifying qualities and use in cosmetic products. But did you know it is also used as a fuel and can substitute the traditional wood charcoal?

Bamboo charcoal comes from pieces of bamboo plants, harvested after at least five years of growth, and made by burning in ovens at temperatures ranging from 800 to 1200 °C.

This is a great alternative to wood charcoal. The consumption of wood charcoal has led to deforestation in many regions and has had a devastating consequences to the local flora, fauna, as well as human populations.

Bamboo is a much more sustainable material for producing charcoal as it can be used starting from age 5 which is far sooner than any wood used for the same purpose.

The amazing thing about switching to bamboo charcoal for your BBQ is that it can be produced using the same equipment that`s already there for the wood charcoal making purposes.

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