Is Sassafras Good Firewood For An Indoor Fireplace?

If you want to heat your homestead, you need a fireplace fueled by a clean burning firewood.

Seems simple enough, right? Well, the thing is, not all firewood is equal when it comes to your health and safety.

In fact, some firewood produces so little heat, it’s not even worth being used for much more than kindling. And in some cases, certain wood species are simply too toxic to burn in your fireplace in the first place.

So, where does that leave Sassafras wood as a source of firewood for your homestead?

Well, in this post, we explain what you should be checking for when it comes to choosing clean burning firewood. You’ll also learn why a certain compound inside Sassafras, makes this lumber unsuitable for your fireplace.

is sassafras good firewood

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What Type Of Wood Burns The Cleanest?

Good firewood is dry, doesn’t have much sap in it, and does not come from a poisonous or toxic tree.

Also, if you want firewood to truly heat your home, it needs to burn for a while. So, firewood needs to come from a fairly dense tree species.

With all of this in mind, the best firewood comes from hardwoods such as White Oak and Birch. They hit the mark on all counts. And, what’s more, they are both abundant (and affordable) North American lumbers.

Related Post: Is Crepe Myrtle Wood Any Good For Firewood?

What Can You Do About Smoke? How Do You Minimize The Amount Of Smoke?

Well, as long as wood is fairly dry, then it won’t produce a lot of smoke.

Wood that has moisture in it produces thick smoke, because the moisture vaporises as that log burns. And that extra steam turns smoke into thick lung-choking emissions.

This is why wood needs to be seasoned before you throw it on the fire.

Seasoning wood simply involves allow wood to naturally dry out for a few months. This process, (which can take around 6 to 12 months), will greatly reduce the moisture content in freshly logged wood.

You can learn more about seasoning wood by checking out our post: How To Season Wood (7 Tips)

And What Do You Mean By ‘Moisture Content’?

Moisture content refers to the percentage of water in a given piece of wood. Measured using a Moisture Meter, freshly cut wood has a moisture content of 100%.

IMAGE OF A MOISTURE METER

But, after seasoning, woods moisture content will have greatly reduced, down to less than 20%.

And What Kind Of Wood Should Not Be Used In An Indoor Fireplace?

Always avoid using wood that comes from poisonous trees, (such as the Yew tree). The poisonous compounds in these trees can collect in the soot, ash and fumes. And this is simply not something you want collecting around your fireplace.

You should also avoid using woods that have a lot of tree sap or pitch in them. That’s because these tree’s pose a fire hazard.

You see, timber such as Cedar and Pine, are saturated with these natural tree resins. And those sticky resins can collect in the soot lining your chimney flue. This, in turn, can cause blockages.

And those blockages greatly increase the risk of a chimney fire starting.

Okay, But What About Sassafras Wood? Is It Safe To Use In My Fireplace?

Well, Sassafras wood should not be used as firewood due to a carcinogenic compound called ‘Safrole’. Safrole is a natural compound found in ingredients such as black pepper, and even nutmeg.

In tiny doses, it doesn’t pose much of a health risk. However, in high concentrated amounts, it can cause vomiting, hallucinations, and liver damage. Which is why the FDA (U.S. Food and Drug Administration) has banned Safrole from being added to consumable products.

Now, parts of the Sassafras tree have high concentrations of Safrole in it. So, if you burn Sassafras wood in your fireplace, this carcinogenic compound may gather up in that smoke and soot.

So, What Does This Mean For My Plan Of Using Sassafras Firewood?

Basically, using Sassafras wood as fuel, just isn’t worth the risk. Especially when you have better, (and much safer), firewood options in the form of Oak, Birch, and even Mulberry wood.

Related Post: Is Mulberry Wood Any Good For Carving? (Solved!)

To Wrap Up, Here Are The 3 Key Takeaways From This Post…

  • 1). Good firewood should be dry, and produce plenty of heat. But, most importantly, it should not come from poisonous or otherwise toxic trees.
  • 2). Sassafras has high concentrations of Safrole, which is a highly carcinogenic compound. This makes Sassafras wood an unsuitable choice for firewood.
  • 3). If you want clean burning affordable firewood, then opt for using White Oak or Birch wood in your fireplace.

References:

Wood Smoke Awareness | EPA.gov

Sassafras | WebMD

CFR – Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 | FDA.gov