Many people have wondered whether they can use bamboo as firewood or not. This comprehensive post supplies answers to this question. We have searched wide and compiled the pros and cons of using bamboo as firewood. Get ready to learn about all the different sides to burning bamboo.
Can you use bamboo as firewood? You can use bamboo as firewood. Freshly cut bamboo dries faster than wood from trees and burns very fast when lit with fire. What’s more, it gives off very high heat levels. However, burning bamboo could be dangerous because of the enclosed air spaces within its stalks. Enclosed air spaces can cause explosions, so you should always split bamboo to release the enclosed air before using it as firewood.
Bamboo is good firewood and you can use it as burning material for your stove. However, bamboo may not be best suited for everyone. There are several factors to consider before you choose bamboo for firewood. As you read on, we will list and explain these different factors and leave you to make your decision.
Benefits of Burning Bamboo for Fuel
Bamboo is easier to cut down and split than hardwood. It also dries faster after cutting it down and generates more heat while being burned. Kindling a fire with bamboo is way easier than it is for hardwood. You wouldn’t need stubble or any form of extra help to kindle the fire. What’s more, using bamboo as firewood instead of hardwood solves part of the deforestation problem currently plaguing our world.
As you read on, we will explain these benefits further:
Bamboo Firewood is an Easier Alternative to Hardwood
Bamboo is easier to cut down than any kind of hardwood tree you can think of. And once you cut it down, it doesn’t take long to dry. Remember that you cannot use either wood or bamboo for firewood until it dries. Also, splitting bamboo requires far less energy and stress than splitting hardwood.
Bamboo Generates Heat Quickly
Bamboo burns faster than hardwood and generates more heat. Its impressive heat output makes it a great option for firewood. Because of this feature, you can also use bamboo at your fireplace during cold seasons. Hardwoods warm up slowly, but bamboo generates quick heat at high levels.
Bamboo is Highly Combustible
Many people advise against planting bamboo in home gardens because it is highly combustible. Bamboo fire is easy to kindle so it may aggravate fire incidences in the home. But this has a good site too – you can count on bamboo as your easy-to-kindle firewood. If you combine bamboo with hardwood timbers, bamboo will kindle first and help kindle the other woods. You can also read this article titled, is a fire pit considered an open fire? Check out the article for an in-depth discussion about the topic.
Why is Bamboo not Burned by Some People?
Many people refrain from burning bamboo because of wrong and unfounded beliefs. But then, there are a few genuine concerns. For instance, burning bamboo can cause an explosion. But this will only happen if you didn’t split the bamboo to release the air spaces in its stalk before burning it. Bamboo also leaves lots of ashes behind after burning, and packing the ashes can be stressful. What’s more, some religions and cultures consider bamboo to be a sacred plant and prohibit burning it for any reason.
Burning bamboo for firewood has many good sides, but it has a few downsides too. Aside from these few downsides, people avoid burning bamboo for many other reasons. We will discuss these different reasons in the section that follows:
Burning Bamboo Can Cause Explosions
There have indeed been fire explosions as a result of burning bamboo. This fact scares many people off from burning bamboo for fuel. Nobody wants a fire explosion in their house. However, you can prevent this by simply spitting bamboo before you start burning it. Learn how to burn bamboo. You can check out this guide to burning bamboo that we have written for more tips and information.
Why Does Bamboo Pop When Burnt?
Bamboo pops when burned because the air spaces within its stalks burst open while it’s burning. Since bamboo grows very fast, it traps lots of air inside its stalks. While bamboo is burning, these air spaces expand and compress within the bamboo stalk. The pressure keeps increasing until the space bursts, giving out a loud noise.
When the air spaces burst open, the air fuels the fire even more. That’s why explosions usually accompany the large pops. These explosions could be very dangerous for the stove, the house, and the people in it.
✅ Video – Bamboo Gets its Name Because it Goes BAM When in a Fire
Watch this video to have a feel of what bamboo popping looks like while burning bamboo. The video is the footage of some parts of a bamboo forest being burnt down in Texas. Click the play button now and watch what it looks like.
How to Burn Bamboo Safely and Prevent Explosions?
There are two ways to prevent bamboo fire explosions. The first and most effective is to split the bamboo before burning it. Some people also say that drilling “steam vents” in the bamboo stalks also works. But then, steam vents could miss out on some of the enclosed airbags.
To split bamboo, a regular ax would be good enough. But if there are lots of bamboos to split it is better to use a more efficient tool. You should consider using a bamboo splitter or bamboo hatchet. These specialized tools will make the job faster and easier for you.
What’s more, it is easier to split green bamboo than dried bamboo. So if possible, try to split the bamboo while it’s still green, before it dries.
Bamboo Firewood Requires Constant Feeding
Another con to using bamboo as firewood is that it burns fast. This means that if bamboo is the only firewood material you use for your stove, you will have to feed in new firewood very often. On average, you would need to feed the stove at 20 minutes intervals.
You can solve this problem by mixing bamboo with hardwood. Hardwood burns more slowly, so it will complement the fast-burning bamboo.
Bamboo Leaves Lots of Ashes Behind
Because bamboo burns very fast and you need to feed it very often, it leaves lots of ashes behind. Clearing out plenty of ashes requires more time and effort, and some people find this stressful and inconvenient.
Myths and Wrong Beliefs about Burning Bamboo
Some people claim that bamboo contains heavy metals that can cause DNA mutation when you use it as firewood. Risks of cancers and other health hazards are also quite popular. Some people even say that bamboo ashes are acidic, which will wreak havoc and destroy the stove. These claims are all false. Some religions and cultures also prohibit the burning of bamboo because they consider it a sacred plant.
The following are myths and wrong beliefs about why bamboo should not be burned. None of these have any evidence to back them up.
Bamboo Burning has More Serious Health Hazards than Hardwood – False!
Some people claim that bamboo contains heavy metals, such as lead, arsenic, copper, and nickel. They believe that when you burn bamboo, these heavy metals become harmful toxins and escape into the environment. Some even believe that because of these heavy metals, bamboo burning can cause DNA mutation and some cancers.
These claims are not backed by scientific evidence. The International Tree Foundation recommends Bamboo as an alternative firewood material to hardwood in Africa. One of their reasons is that millions of African women and children die from inhaling smoke from hardwood burning every year. So they recommend bamboo as a safer alternative.
That is not to say that bamboo is 100% safe and has no health risks. As with all forms of smoke, it is not safe to inhale bamboo smoke, but it’s still safer than hardwood smoke. So, these claims falsely exaggerate the health risks of burning bamboo.
Bamboo Ashes are Acidic Instead of Alkali – False!
Some people claim that bamboo ashes are acidic instead of alkali. They claim that the acid nature of bamboo ashes will destroy your stove and affect the soil. But this claim is not true. Experts have shown that bamboo ashes are alkali.
Can You Burn Bamboo to Get Rid of It?
If bamboo has invaded your home, you should not burn it to get rid of it. Simply cut it down and find ways to stop the invasion. If you try burning down bamboo, the air spaces in it will pop open and that could cause fire explosions.
Some bamboo species are quite invasive and spread very fast. But the U.S has passed a law banning the planting of these species in residential areas. So, if bamboo invades your home, it’s likely someone in your area is breaking the law. Cut down the bamboo and report the incidence to the authorities. Do not attempt to burn it down.
Does Bamboo Explode in Fire?
Bamboo explodes in fire because of its air spaces, locked up inside the stalk. As bamboo burns, the trapped air spaces start expanding and compressing. They end up bursting open with great force and causing a fire boom. This can cause explosions and worsen fire incidences. Learn the difference between bamboo and sugarcane by reading this article that we have written titled, bamboo vs sugar cane.
What Wood Should You Not Burn?
The two types of wood you should avoid burning are softwood and woods from endangered tree species. Common sources of softwood include cypress, firs, and pines, among others. These woods burn very rapidly and create lots of smoke and ashes. They will cause rapid soot coating in your chimney and leave lots of work (parking the ashes) for you after burning. What’s more, endangered species should be preserved from extinction, so you should not burn them.
Now, you know that you can use bamboo as firewood. But make sure you dry the bamboo and split it before you start burning. That way, the burning will be safe and there will be no explosions.