After a long day cutting and splitting wood you can end up with a lot of loose bark. It falls off throughout the day and really starts to accumulate. So after cleaning up your lawn and piling it all up, what can you do with the bark? Can you burn bark in the fireplace?
Yes you can burn bark in a fireplace. Bark is a great firestarter and it can be used alongside other kindling. It puts out a surprising amount of heat, but it burns fast so make sure you have regular logs ready to go. Just get ready to clean up some ash afterwards, because burning bark can get messy.
While I don’t recommend going out of your way collecting and harvesting bark, it is a nice firestarter. There are a few downsides, but if you have a big pile of bark to get rid of burning it is a viable solution. Continue reading to find out why I think collecting bark is a waste of time.
Is It OK To Burn Bark In a Fireplace?
Lots of people burn bark in their fireplace without thinking anything of it. It burns hot and makes a great firestarter, but is a little extra heat worth the downsides? Only you can be the judge of that.
Bark is yet another fuel source that can be used to fuel your fire. It lights up fast and burns way hotter than regular old firewood. That can be both a good or bad thing depending on how you’re using the fire.
I like to use bark early on as I’m building a fire and trying to get my full sized logs to light. It’s nice to toss in when you want some extra heat from your fire on especially cold nights. About 15 minutes of extreme heat may be all it takes to get the chill out of your house.
The only other time I’ll use bark is when I’m cooking over the stove and want kick the heat up a notch. I rarely cook in the fireplace, but my cheap folding campfire grill (this one) really came in handy when I lost power for a week this winter. Yes I could have cooked on the grill outside, but why bother when I already had a fire going.
Should You Collect and Remove Bark From Firewood?
Personally, I wouldn’t bother collecting and trying to remove bark from firewood. Gathering up some bark to clean up the yard is fine, but going out of your way to collect it is a waste of time. There are so many better options to use for kindling that harvesting/collecting bark doesn’t make sense.
It really doesn’t take all that much time to collect some bark since it falls off logs as you’re cutting/splitting them. Some people may enjoy the process since they’re cleaning up the yard.
Gathering bark up isn’t what bothers me. It’s the stacking and finding a place to store it so it doesn’t rot in a year or two. I haven’t figured that part of the equation out yet. We have a small kindling box that bark goes in, but the rest gets taken out for compost.
The amount of work it takes to gather up and store bark isn’t worth it. Tossing bark on a fire may give you a 10-15 minute heat boost if you’re lucky. That’s nice for starting a fire, but that’s about it. Take the time you’d spend gathering bark and do something you actually enjoy.
Burning Bark Is Usually Safe But Messy
Burning bark is generally safe if you know what kind of wood your dealing with. There are a few species of trees that burn extremely hot and may burn holes in the bottom of a wood stove, but those are rare. Just keep an eye on your fireplace and change things up if you notice any problems.
There are 2 major issues that people worry about when burning bark. Bark burns really hot so it gives off lots of ash, which isn’t a big deal. Wet bark will also give off way more creosote than regular sized firewood.
It Gives Off Creosote
Wet bark is notorious for giving off creosote. The term creosote commonly refers to all the tar, creosote, and soot that’s left behind in your chimney after burning wood.
They refer to the black reside as creosote, but it’s mostly tar(I won’t get into that). All that black gunk clogs up your chimney and can cause serious damage to your chimney and possibly fires. Years of wood burning fires can add over 100 pounds of creosote to the chimney.
Whether or not bark gives off more creosote than wood is up for debate. We know that wet bark gives off loads of creosote, but dry bark burns so hot that it gives off very little. So give your bark a few months to dry if you’re trying to eliminate creosote buildup.
Get Ready to Clean Up Ash
Bark burns ridiculously hot and fast. That’s great for starting a fire and giving off heat, but you’ll end up with loads of ash. Think along the lines of ash from burning cardboard or paper. Plan on cleaning up a full fireplace of ash after every fire.
How I Dispose Of Bark
I usually save about 10 percent of the bark that falls off logs as I’m cutting and splitting wood. Saving any more than that ends up being a waste. Bark rots way faster than traditional logs and tends to attract bugs. So how do I dispose of all the extra bark?
It really depends on what time of the year I’m harvesting wood. Early in the season I’ll toss all the bark in my flower gardens to use as a light coat of mulch. It looks ugly so I top it off with the pretty dyed stuff that I get delivered from the nursery.
Later in the season I’ll take a pile back to the woods and spread it around to compost naturally. It shouldn’t take longer than a season to decompose back into the earth. I may also use it to fill up random holes in the yard that I’m constantly tripping into. Not sure what your options are if you don’t have any woods to dispose it in. Probably just burn it.