Alder Wood | Is Alder Good Firewood?

What is Alder Wood?

Alder is a soft, light, and straight-grained hardwood. It is the softest wood in the hardwood group. Alder wood is not as hard and strong as other hardwoods but it is popular because it has an attractive appearance, close grain, and uniform color.

Alder wood is not durable nor is it water and weather-resistant. It is susceptible to rot and insects. Therefore, despite being a hardwood species, it is not recommended for outdoor use.

#Alder Wood
Scientific Name:Alnus.
Tree height(Red Alder)30 m (98.42 ft).
Uses:Boats, sluice gates, and water pipes.
Wood color:Light tan to reddish-brown color.
Availability:Easily available in the local market.
Workability:Great workability.

Alder Wood Uses

Alder Wood is most commonly used for furniture, cabinetry, plywood, moldings, and millwork. It can be used for all projects that are not exposed to moisture for a long time.

Alder wood is used to make the entire body of the guitar. Because it has a low density and medium weight which creates a clear tone. It’s easy to curve into the desired shape.

Wood is known for its great flavor so it is widely used for smoking meat such as pork, salmon, and other meats.

Alder’s bark contains anti-inflammatory salicin. Native Americans used red alder bark (Alnus rubra) as medicine for insect bites and skin irritations. It is very effective.

Alder wood Advantages and Disadvantages


1. Appearance

Alder wood has an attractive reddish brown appearance, uniform texture, and straight grain pattern which gives excellent results after finishing.

2. Inexpensive

Alder wood is an inexpensive or affordable species as compared to other hardwoods. It is available at $2 to $4 per board (4X4 thickness) per foot. Its price also depends on the quality and thickness of the wood.

3. Versatility

Alder is an extremely versatile hardwood. It is used for both interior and exterior applications. Due to its natural properties, it is also used in building construction and durable plywood.

4. Easy to Work

All species of alder are fairly easy to work with hand and machine tools. Its density and weight are moderate. So it is an excellent choice for turning, surfacing, drilling, boring, carving, and molding. Due to its close grain, it holds nails and screws very well and is not required for pre-drilling.

Alder wood can be stained and painted, it absorbs paint well. It gives excellent results after finishing.

5. Availability

Alder is not a rare species, so it is widely available on the market. Trees grow fast, so the demand for their wood can be easily met. Alder is a sustainable hardwood, that’s why it is used a lot.


1. Not rot-resistant

Alder does not have naturally rot-resistant properties and it tends to rot due to prolonged exposure to moisture and weather. Alder wood is not suitable for outdoor use.

2. Not very durable

Alder wood is counted as hardwood but it is not durable enough. It is rated as non-durable hardwood. Generally, alder requires more care than other hardwoods.

3. Prone to damage

Alder is a soft hardwood. So it is prone to damage, scratch, and denting. So if you are going to use alder for flooring then regular care is required.

Types of Alder Wood

Alder (Alnus) is a common name for about 30 to 35 species of flowering plants or trees. All species have almost similar characteristics and habits. Alders are mainly found along watercourses and moist areas of the Northern Hemisphere.

Here are some popular types of alder wood. 

1. Red Alder (Alnus rubra)

Red alder is native to Coastal western North America. It is also known as western red alder. The wood color can be a light tan to reddish brown which becomes darker over time. Generally, it has a straight grain with a fine, uniform texture.

Red alder is easy to work with both hand and machine tools. But it is not rot-resistant or weather resistant.

Average Dried Weight: 28.0 lbs/ft3 (450 kg/m3)

Janka Hardness: 590 lbf (2,620 N)

Crushing Strength: 5,820 lbf/in2 (40.1 MPa)

2. European Alder (Alnus glutinosa) 

European alder is native to Western Europe. It is also known as black alder or common alder. The wood color can be a light tan to medium brown. Generally, it has a straight grain but can also be irregular. It has a fine, uniform texture.

European alder is easy to work with hand and machine tools. But it is prone to rot and deterioration when it is exposed to moisture or weather.

Average Dried Weight: 33.3 lbs/ft3 (535 kg/m3)

Janka Hardness: 650 lbf (2,890 N)

Crushing Strength: 5,770 lbf/in2 (39.8 MPa)

3. Andean Alder (Alnus acuminata) 

Andean alder is native to Central and South America. The wood color can be a tan to medium reddish brown. Generally, it has a straight grain with a fine, uniform texture.

Andean alder is very soft and easy to handle. But it is not suitable for outdoor use as it is prone to rot.

Average Dried Weight: 24.0 lbs/ft3 (385 kg/m3)

Janka Hardness: 430 lbf (1,910 N)

Crushing Strength: 4,210 lbf/in2 (29.0 MPa)

4. Nepalese alder (Alnus nepalensis)

Nepalese alder is native to Nepal, India, Pakistan, China, and mainland Southeast Asia. The wood color can be tan to reddish brown. It has a straight grain with a uniform and fine texture.

Nepalese alder is very soft. Therefore, there is a high risk of getting dents and scratches. It is easy to work with all types of tools.

Average Dried Weight: 31.3 lbs/ft3 (500 kg/m3)

Janka Hardness: 380 lbf (1,690 N)

Crushing Strength: 4,900 lbf/in2 (33.8 MPa).

Alder Wood for Smoking

Alder has a subtle flavor and natural sweetness. Wood is well known for smoking salmon but it is also a great choice for pork, poultry, game birds, and light meats.

Alder is not considered good for lamb, beef, veggies, and cheese. For lamb smoke, cherry and apple wood are good, Hickory for beef, and Mesquite is a good choice for oak and cheese.

Common Questions about Alder wood

What does Alder wood look like?

The color of the Alder wood varies from tan to reddish brown but the lumber is nearly white when it is freshly cut. It darkens rapidly over time. Generally, alder has straight grains but can also be irregular grains.

How hard is Alder wood?

The density of alder wood is not very high, it is a soft hardwood species. There are many species of alder, and each species of alder has a different hardness and weight.

Janka hardness and weight of some popular species of Alder are as follows.

Alder’s SpeciesJanka HardnessAverage dry weight
Nepalese alder380 lbf (1,690 N)31.3 lbs/ft3 (500 kg/m3)
Andean alder430 lbf (1,910 N)24.0 lbs/ft3 (385 kg/m3)
Red alder590 lbf (2,620 N)28.0 lbs/ft3 (450 kg/m3)
Mexican alder640 lbf (2,830 N)27.5 lbs/ft3 (440 kg/m3)
European alder650 lbf (2,890 N)33.3 lbs/ft3 (535 kg/m3)
Grey alder770 lbf (3,410 N)*29.2 lbs/ft3 (465 kg/m3)

Is Alder wood good for furniture?

Alder wood is widely used for making furniture as it is a beautiful, affordable, and sustainable wood species. It gives amazing traditional and modern looks to the furniture. Alder wood is easy to finish. And being lightweight it is easy to handle.

Can alder wood be painted?

Yes, Alder wood can be painted easily, it absorbs the paint evenly so that it gives a uniform and smooth result. But you should prepare the wood surface before applying paint.

For smooth and durable finishing, you should apply a double coat of primer. It seals the wood and creates a strong bond between paint and wood.

Can you stain Alder wood?

Staining alder wood is not easy because alder is prone to blotchy stains. The main reason for blotching is that different surface densities absorb stains differently.

For blotch-free staining, you need to follow some steps before staining. First of all, prepare the wood surface by sanding. Sanding the surface helps to open the pores of the wood so that the stain can be accepted evenly across the surface of the wood.

Before moving on to the staining process you should apply a couple of coats of pre-stain wood conditioner. Because pre-stain conditioner helps wood absorb stains more evenly and create a smooth and even surface.

Is Alder Good Firewood?


Alder wood has been used as firewood. It is a soft hardwood. However, it burns very fast and generates medium heat. The Alder produces 17.5 million BTUs per cord, which is not enough for high heat. So alder wood is not considered a very good choice as firewood. 

According to experts, more than 20 million BTU per cord of value is considered good for firewood.

Alder wood may be a great budget-friendly option for firewood. It is a soft wood so it is easy to use, split, and cut. Generally, the seasoning time of Alder wood is 6 to 8 months.

Where does alder wood come from?

The moist ground near rivers, ponds, and lakes is good for alder tree growth. Its roots help prevent soil erosion. Due to the moisture in the soil, it expands its roots well. Some alder trees can grow in dry areas as well. Alder is native to Britain, Europe, western Asia, and North Africa.

Comments are closed.