Can You Burn Wood With Bark On It?


If you’re new to cutting, splitting, and stacking wood you may be wondering what you should do with the bark. Can you burn wood with bark on it? Or do you need to strip it off before burning?

Yes you can burn wood with bark on it. Wood with the bark on it will take longer to dry, but you will additional material to burn. Some people like to remove the bark, but I wouldn’t bother since it takes a long time. It’s better to wait an extra month or 2 and just burn the wood with the bark on it.

So you can burn bark, but what about all the bark that falls on the ground? Should you collect all of it and use it in campfires? Is there ever a time when you should strip off all the bark? I’ll answer all those questions and more in the rest of this post.

Should I Burn Firewood With The Bark On It?

There’s no reason to take the bark off your wood before burning it. It might burn fast, but it’s just extra wood to toss on the fire. I don’t know a single person that removes bark before tossing it in the fire.

Just make sure the wood is properly seasoned and the fire is hot. You don’t want to deal with all the creosote and soot that comes from improperly seasoned wood.

The only reason people remove bark is so that it doesn’t rot and you don’t bring in bugs. Firewood rot is somewhat of a concern, but doesn’t come into play if you cover up the wood.

Look at the curve on the bark pictured above if you don’t understand what I’m talking about. Water pools up in the gap, gets trapped, and slowly rots the wood from the inside out. That’s why most people recommend stacking firewood with the bark up instead of down.

Buy a Propane Torch To Make Starting Fires Easy

Everybody has dealt with firewood that just won’t seem to stay lit. Bark might burn hot, but it takes much longer to dry out your firewood. Green firewood is a serious pain in the butt to light. It’s just way too wet to catch on fire.

I no longer deal with newspaper, kindling, etc, when starting a fire. Now I use a propane torch that’s basically a mini-flamethrower. It’s perfectly safe to use inside the house and will light your fire up instantly regardless of the moisture content.

I bought my propane torch at Harbor Freight for $30, but I’ve been eyeing this Flame King Torch that comes with an easy ignitor(don’t have to deal with a lighter). You’ll never make a fire the old fashioned way again once you start using a propane torch.

Is It OK To Burn Bark On It’s Own?

You shouldn’t run into any problems burning bark in a fire. It’s just additional wood to toss on the fire. I use it just like any other type of kindling that you would use to start a fire. Just toss it in alongside newspaper and light it up. It will burn fast and hot so make sure you have a few regular sized logs on top.

The only downside to burning bark in an inside fireplace is all the ash and creosote it leaves behind. It’s basically like trying to burn a bunch of cardboard. You will have to clean out the bottom of your wood stove or fireplace if you burn a lot of loose bark.

Bark Will Burn Hotter Than Regular Firewood

While I wouldn’t try to build a fire solely with bark it does burn extremely hot. It burns fast like traditional kindling and makes a perfect fire starter. Hemlock bark has even been known to burn out the bottoms of wood stoves with how much heat it produces.

Should I Collect, Stack, and Burn Bark?

There’s nothing wrong with burning bark, but it doesn’t give off much heat. It’s just not worth peeling off and collecting it. It takes way too long to collect and doesn’t give off much heat.

Some people say that bark gives off creosote and will clog up your fireplace. That’s partially true, but shouldn’t really happen if the wood is dry. However, it will give off a ton of smoke and create lots of ash that you’ll have to clean up. Nobody wants to deal with that mess. It’s just wasted time that could be spent doing something fun.

Saving Bark Is A Waste of Time

How much extra time do you have after balancing life and work? Is it really worth taking the extra time to strip and stack bark?

You must have a lot of time on your hands if you’re even considering stripping the bark from the wood you burn! The only time I would consider taking bark off is if it’s really lose. Don’t let it fall off between the door and your fireplace.

I’ve had a constant battle with my wife since installing the wood burning stove. Random bark scraps falling on the floor are the least of my worries when I wake up at 5am for work. I should clean them up, but you can’t even run the vacuum that early in the morning. Unfortunately, that’s a battle I’ll never win.

Take Off Bark That’s Easy to Pull Off

There’s a definite benefit to removing all the bark. The wood will dry out faster, it’s less likely to rot, and you won’t get as many bugs.

If you burn the wood in an indoor fireplace, you’re better off removing the bark if it comes off easily. Don’t waste a bunch of time peeling and pulling bark, but yank it off if it’s just hanging there. You don’t want to bring in all the nasty critters that may be crawling around under the bark.

You Can Always Burn The Bark As Kindling

You can always toss the wood in your fireplace if you strip the bark and let it dry. It’s basically like using cardboard to start a fire. It’s gonna burn up quick and make lots of ash.

That’s why I just use it for kindling when first making the fire. It doesn’t have the same density of actual wood so it starts faster and burns shorter.

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