fuel in the hearth

Alder is often sold as firewood due to its abundance, easy access, low cost and good profit margin for sellers, but its not a very good wood fuel unless very well cured, or you are making charcoal for cook outs or smelting.


East to split.


Usually needs a lot of other wood kindling to fire it up as the wood tends to smoulder at first.


Sparks a bit.


Can be a smokey, so needs to be well dried.

heat quality?

Usually not very good as it is a wet wood, but because it is plentiful some wood fuel traders do carefully and thoroughly season and dry alder. Even so, at it's best Alder does not give off the heat that several other woods do. Also, very dry Alder is quite fast burning so spend a bit more cash on a better wood fuel that burns slower, give more heat, and actually becomes the best value choice.


Subtle fragrance, when it eventually gets burning.

as a biomass fuel?

Alder has become one of the most popular biomass woods, which is surprising considering it is not the best hearth wood. When kiln dried, Alder can actually be excellent.

To kiln dry wood, you would need dry shed with racks to stack the alder wood on, a device to blow air through the logs, a quartz heater and extractor fan. It takes a year to turn green alder into wood chip quality alder.

The alder then has to be put through a wood chipper, which costs at least €5000, and most people buy chippers that cost at least €8000

The chips can be made into wood pellets too, using a pellet making machine costing at least €2000.

The investment can soon have a good return as a bio fuel as ready made chips of pellets delivered costs at least €200 a ton and most homes in Ireland would use up at least 6 tons a year. So it takes about 10 years to be ahead of investment.

Really, wood chips and pellets are best for serving heat to schools, hospitals, retreat centres and communities rather than for individual homes so investment is returned in just a couple of years.

to read about Alder used in spiritual celebration and divining, please click here