Having some excess bamboo culms is not a bad thing. You can craft with them or use them as firewood.
Chances are that you’ve considered adding bamboo to your outdoor fire pit, cooking stove, or indoor fireplace. But maybe you’re not quite sure if it’ll make good firewood. While bamboo burns well and fast, it might not be the perfect option for everyone.
So, you probably want to know more before using bamboo as firewood. I am glad you are looking into it because it can get very dangerous when it’s done improperly.
There are many pros and cons of using bamboo as firewood, I’ll be mentioning them below.
Pros: 8 reasons why bamboo is great as firewood
Let’s look at the benefits of burning bamboo instead of wood.
It’s easy to cut, split, dry, and use
Bamboo is the easiest wood to split, dry, and use for firewood. Having a log of hardwood is a lot of work especially in times of urgency.
If you have woody bamboo growing close to your property, using it for firewood would be very easy. It’s much better to split your bamboo.
This is a crucial step if you plan to use bamboo indoors as firewood. We’ll talk about the dangers of not splitting bamboo before adding it to a fireplace later.
A proper fire starter
Hardwoods are difficult to light. Most times, it takes a lot of time to kindle a fire with hardwood.
Since bamboo burns easily, it’s best for starting other woods. You don’t expect the kindle to burn for a long time but enough to help the hardwood in the stove to catch fire very fast.
Bamboo is particularly convenient if you’ve got dry bamboo scraps laying around. Any scraps or even tools made of bamboo can be used as kindling if you’re not too keen on throwing them in the compost.
Gives off a lot of heat quickly
Even though it doesn’t retain heat for a long time, it’s undoubtedly the fastest heat supply you’d need in a time of emergency. Imagine coming back home into a very cold room.
Most likely during winter, you don’t want to wait for an hour or two before you can get some warmth. Bamboo is just the right goto in such situations. The heat output of bamboo is impressive and it boosts the temperature in the house quickly.
Bamboo is sustainable
Bamboo has a remarkable growth rate in the plant world. Its regeneration is much quicker than that of other woody plants. This makes bamboo a sustainable choice.
Bamboo is undoubtedly a fast-growing and renewable tree-like grass. It needs little maintenance and it doesn’t need any pesticides to grow. So you’ll hardly run out of firewood and you’ll find it an eco-friendly option.
Most gardeners probably have a woody bamboo plantation in their compounds or around their neighborhood. It’s free and easy to access, unlike hardwood.
When you want to cook for a long time. I’m sure you will not want to spend so much on gas or electricity bills. Why should you?
Most of the time, we just forgo the preparation of more time-consuming meals if we remember what it cost us. So why not go for bamboo firewood?
All you need to do is to cut it, split it and dry it. And there you have firewood, ready to use!
Ideal for campers
Bamboo provides a unique solution for anyone who loves camping. It’s easier to ignite and helps the charcoal to catch fire.
So, when you’ve caught your fresh fish, bamboo firewood comes in handy. You can also ignite them for making snappy dishes and warming up foods.
Can be burned together with other woods to produce quick and sustained hot flames
Another great benefit of using bamboo as firewood is that you could easily burn it together with hardwood. This would create a perfect fire that’ll last much longer.
While bamboo burns very fast and hot. It may not be ideal since its fire dies quickly. Hardwood itself burns slowly but steady. And can be used on the stove for a very long time.
Combining the two is just like cross breeding of crops as found in gardening. You end up with a mixed positive outcome from both.
The product of this nice marriage is a hot, fast, and steady flame. As opposed to the fast and dividing fire as in bamboo or slow but steady fire as in hardwood. It’s an interesting secret.
For those who are going to be cooking or boiling something for a longer time: All you want is a steady flame and you don’t want to bother about restocking the fire too often. At the same time, you don’t want it to take forever to do.
A mix of dry bamboo and hardwoods ensures it burns fast and steadily so that you won’t get bothered by it burning too slow or the fire dying quickly. A perfect match.
May cause less harmful fumes compared to burning wood
Bamboo may be less toxic than burning wood. Burning itself produces harmful fumes. This is no news. Bamboo seems to perform better when compared with wood. We are going into more detail later in this article. However, there aren’t many studies that show proper figures and tests. I will update this as soon as I find more detailed research.
Cons: 3 reasons why bamboo is not good for burning
Bamboo burns out very fast
Bamboo sticks are very light when compared to hardwood. While it gives you a fire it burns out too quickly as well. You can’t expect to use bamboo for a long time on the stove.
Else you’d have to frequently monitor the burning when using it. You’ll need to feed the stove every 15-20mins. However, the solution to this is combining it with hardwood as mentioned earlier.
Leaves too much ash
Always burning bamboo means you should be ready to dispose of ash. That’s very inconvenient if you ask me. But hey, think about it. You can store the ash. And instead of disposing of it, use it for your garden, if you have one.
Ash is a source of calcium, magnesium, and potassium. It helps to improve the soil of your garden. Though not suitable for acidic plants like potatoes, strawberries, blueberries, etc. But it can improve plants such as lettuce, garlic, asparagus to a great extent.
Wrong burning of bamboo may explode on fire
This particular downside scares most people. No one wants to have an explosion at home. Do you? I don’t think so. It’s one of the greatest threats we all dread to think of.
These explosions sometimes are capable of breaking a stove glass or creosote fire. You won’t like such a gamble. But guess what? There’s something you can do about this.
Why does bamboo explode in a fire?
The reason for this is air trapped inside. The hollow space in the internode is filled with air.
Upon heating, the air expands and compresses within the stalks. Then, the air steams up, builds up in large pops, and explodes. Sometimes resulting in major damages.
This could be dangerous. In the worst cases, it can lead to broken stove glass or creosote fire. This is not a dream for any house owner. Scary right?
So, can anything be done about this? Yes, there’s a simple trick to prevent an explosion. This is simply splitting the bamboo with an ax. If you’ve got a lot of bamboos to split, a hatchet or splitter would be much more effective.
Additionally, it’s easier to split green bamboo. So, don’t wait until it dries. Split it and let it dry. This would save you time and energy, but most importantly the risk of having an explosion.
By splitting it up, you break up the spaces where air is normally trapped. This also makes it so easy to ignite and burn faster.
Is burning bamboo harmful or toxic?
Yes, but not as much as regular wood burning is. Burning always produces fumes that are harmful when inhaled directly or in high volumes.
While one source claims that bamboo contains lead and other heavy metals such as arsenic, chromium, nickel, cadmium, and copper, I couldn’t verify this with studies. So, whether or not bamboo gives out lead oxide plus other oxides in gaseous form, stays unproven.
Other sources claim that it is less harmful than wood burning. The burning of wood seems to pose even more health risks. According to washplus.org, wood-based burning causes an estimated two million deaths annually. Besides, wood-based burning increases the cutting of tropical forests and therefore greenhouse gases.
No matter what: It’s not advisable to burn bamboo indoors if there isn’t proper ventilation in place. It should be avoided if you’re asthmatic or have a lung disease. Continuous burning of bamboo especially indoors increases the risk of lung cancer.
Can bamboo be used for charcoal?
Bamboo charcoal comes from pieces of bamboo plants. They are mostly made from the Moso bamboo variety. They are usually harvested after growing for five years.
Bamboo can be converted to charcoal when burned in ovens between the temperature range of 1472 to 2192°F (800 to 1200°C). This process benefits environmental protection by reducing pollutant residue.
There are 2 types of bamboo charcoal:
- Raw bamboo charcoal
- Bamboo briquette charcoal
Raw bamboo charcoal is made of bamboo plant parts such as culms, branches, and roots. It’s produced using the culms, branches, and root of the bamboo. It’s mostly used in Asia, especially China and Japan, for cooking and drying tea.
While bamboo briquette charcoal is made of bamboo residue, for example, bamboo dust, saw powder, etc., by compressing the residue into sticks of a certain shape and carbonizing the sticks.
The bamboo charcoal is very porous and can absorb moisture, odor, and polluted air.
What are the uses of bamboo charcoal?
Bamboo charcoal is becoming even more popular across the world for a good reason. Aside from the fact that it is used as fuel for cooking, it’s also used as a component for medicine and hygiene products.
A lot of people have found it as the perfect option for skincare and teeth whitening. Plus, it is used as a dehumidifier and air purifier.
Activated charcoal, which is usually granulated into a fine powder and injected with steam, has a lot of health benefits.
Besides, mixing activated bamboo charcoal granules has countless pores that’ll help to absorb excessive moisture. This moisture gets released back into the soil when it gets dry. This provides better aeration for grass, plants, and vegetables.
Overall, bamboo makes great firewood. Withstanding few cons mentioned and using the tricks already discussed here, bamboo is the perfect option for your outdoor fire pit.