Arctostaphylos viscida

Manzanita firewood or wood for smoking

Manzanita firewood burns long and very hot.  Manzanita is a shrub or small tree in the Western US that typically only reaches a height of 6′-8′ tall. Pieces will typically be small and usually crooked, but this dense hardwood will put out a lot of heat, so use it with caution, I have seen stoves glow red from loading it up with too much of this wood. When burning it in a stove, it’s best to build small fires or mix it with other species of wood.

Manzanita firewood will produce a nice bed of coals that will radiate intense heat. Be careful if you stir the coals because they can crackle and throw glowing hot cinders when disturbed. It’s an intense firewood species, but when used with caution it can make excellent firewood. Manzanita also produces a good flavor for smoking foods or BBQ.

It is commonly believed that manzanita wood burns so hot because of a common myth that it is an oily wood. But manzanita is not an oily wood. If it was oily, it would not be such a popular material for pet supplies. In fact, one of the major reasons it is used for pet supplies is because it is so free of toxic materials like oils and resins. The reason that manzanita burns so hot is because the more dense a wood is, the hotter they usually burn. Manzanita is one of the most dense woods in the world.

Manzanita Firewood BTU Ratings

Post your thoughts about manzanita firewood below.

6 thoughts on “Manzanita”

  1. Manzanita is the best firewood in the US. It lights easily, and burns very hot. People should know that many of the big forest fires we see in California start on manzanita-covered hillsides. Eventually, the fire will develop its own momentum and can ignite even Redwood stands, but major fires don’t usually start under the redwoods. They start on the dry, sun-baked, manzanita-covered mountain slopes. Even the freshest, greenest manzanita has a very low moisture content, and ingnites easily.

    This wood is very special. The root burls are spectacular, and if you can get them to dry without checking, make the absolute BEST wood for small boxes, etc. I slab it up on my 10-inch table saw. As for burning, it’s usually not available in great quantity. If you have some, I suggest saving it for barbecues and smoking.

  2. I have a GREAT DEAL of dead manzanita wood on my westward mountain slope property in California, as it has died back as the upper branches reach up towards the sunlight. Some of the pieces are quite large in diameter. It has burned so hot in my fireplace insert with glass door that I was afraid the glass would break, and I wouldn’t be able to damp it down. I have compared it to Uranium chunks just glowing with intense, accelerating heat. It doesn’t have a big flame, but it just radiates a high temperature. It is certainly very good for getting big, damp pine logs going. I have concluded that you can let it set outdoors until it turns gray (it takes years to rot)and then it doesn’t burn so hot. I have also thought of using it as “Manza-Nuggets”, by cutting it up into chunks on a table saw, and using it like coal, a small scoopful at a time. It really does burn that hot, and it is a very real fire hazard on upland slopes – it’s inferno fuel, but a very attractive plant!

  3. I’ve been burning manzanita would in my outdoor fire pit for years. IMHO it’s truly the best fire pit wood to burn. I use an old washing machine tub and it handles the heat very well. Just a few weeks ago, we had our annual end-of-summer block party and those that sat around the fire pit were amazed how hot and clean manzanita burned.

  4. It’s my favorite as well for burning in a fire pit. Like you say, great heat and clean burning. Great tip with the washing machine tub. Thanks for the comment.

  5. We have a lot of Manzanita in our 28 acre property; they grow out of control…we live in Northern CA.
    I’d sell them for bird perches, or whatever they may be used for. I can use them for firewood all the time and never run out.

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