Willow wood is among the most popular wood options available for different uses. This includes creating cricket bats and shelterbelts, reducing the bloats in ruminants, and developing agroforestry schemes. 

It’s known for being a very useful plant option on a smallholding. You can employ it as a hedging plant, for hurdle-making, worming, medicinal purposes, and biomass. 

However, the wood causes more creosote and produces less heat making it less effective for the fireplace. 

Despite such challenges, is wood good for anything? Here, we help you understand everything about willow wood and how it can help you. 

How Is Willow Wood Established?

The wood is established from cuttings that you can insert into the ground during spring and winter. The perfect cutting should be about 300 mm long and 10mm thick and needs to be pushed halfway into the soil. 

You should plant it through a ground cover material to have zero competition from weeds and for it to retain moisture. You need to guard the plant against pests and rabbits. 

Willow is known for coping with temporary flooding and waterlogged soils. Using it will help limit flood risks since the roots slow water runoff and stabilize the soil. 

However, don’t allow the willow to stand in water for long periods to prevent roots from getting killed. 

Is Willow Good for Smallholders?

Smallholders can employ willow wood for several purposes, as we have highlighted below:

Medicinal Applications

The use of willow for medicinal purposes dates back to over 4,000 years ago. Its bark was used mainly in the Middle East to reduce fever, pain, and inflammation. 

Salicin, an active ingredient found in willow, was then chemically modified to develop aspirin and acetylsalicylic. 

An observation has been made that sick animals or those in pain eat willow thanks to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects. Allowing your livestock to eat willow will therefore allow them to self-medicate. 

Fighting Apple Scab

Fruit growers are among the main beneficiaries of the willow plant. Willow has salicin which has proven to help fight off diseases in other plants like a scab in apples. 

When willow wood dies and rots, salicin is released into the soil and absorbed by tree roots.  

Is Willow Wood Good for Firewood?

Willow wood might not be the best option for use as firewood. We can rate the wood as poor to fair when employed as firewood. 

As we have seen above, the wood causes more creosote and produces less heat than some common firewood options. 

While looking for the best wood option to use on your indoor or outdoor fireplace, we recommend the best firewood varieties such as birch, oak, and hard maple. However, remember that wood burns effectively when it’s properly seasoned. 

How Long Will It Take To Season Willow Wood?

Expect willow wood to take a lot of time to season, in some cases about 2-years. This is longer than other popular hardwoods, mostly because willow is lighter and takes more time to dry completely.

Willow might even rot even before it dries completely. If you want effective outcomes, split the willow wood before drying it. 

In an outdoor fireplace, burning moist wood gives off embers and sparks that can potentially set the surrounding wood, grass, or bush on fire. Therefore, ensure you dry your willow wood completely. This way, it might burn more safely and efficiently and produce less smoke. 

We recommend mesquite, pecan, or oak since they season quickly. 

Does Willow Wood Produce A Lot of Smoke?

Willow will emit more smoke, especially if you fail to dry or cure it well. 

If you experience breathing sensitivities or allergies to smoke, burning willow in your fireplace won’t be a good idea. 

However, we recommend burning your willow wood in an outdoor environment due to adequate airflow and space. 

And if you want to smoke fish or meat, we recommend red willow.

What Is The Smell of Burning Wood?

Even though Utah State University’s wood heating chart presents the willow’s fragrance as slight, some people think it stinks, and others don’t care about the smell of burning willow wood. 

The smell of willow wood comes down to your personal perception and the variety of willow available. For instance, the weeping willow produces a smell similar to urine. 

On the other hand, red willow produces a pleasant odor that can even improve the flavor of fish and meat. 

Is Willow Good for An Indoor Fireplace? 

Absolutely! You can effectively use willow wood in your indoor fireplace. However, we highly recommend it for use in an outdoor fireplace instead. 

If you fail to cure willow wood well, it’ll smoke a lot in your indoor environment. The high smoke can also be attributed to longer and thinner fibers. 

And even though willow is a hardwood, it radiates less heat within a home than other wood options. 

Avoid using willow for firewood in your indoor environment if it’s treated with pesticides. 

Is Willow Wood Good for Furniture?

Yes, willow is perfect for making furniture, and using wood is cheap, fun, and easy. Since willow wood is hardwood, the furniture will be more durable. 

Making furniture using willow wood becomes easier after acquiring the right materials. Follow these steps to make a simple chair or craft a small table using willow wood.

Is Willow Poisonous To Dogs and Cats?

As we have seen, the willow tree has been used for medical purposes for several years thanks to its anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving effects. Therefore, willow isn’t toxic to dogs and cats to some extent. 

However, the tree’s bark can sometimes be poisonous, especially in cats. Therefore, you should keep pets away from the tree to prevent them from chewing it. 

How do the barks become poisonous and medicinal at the same time? As we have seen, willow wood has salicylic acid (salicin), which makes aspirin products. 

Cats don’t have the enzymes required to process salicylates. Such chemicals can easily build to toxic levels. 

Is Weeping Willow Wood Good For Anything?

Absolutely! You can use weeping willow in different ways. For instance, making furniture from this wood is cheap, fun, and easy. The furniture from the wood will also be durable thanks to it being hardwood. 

Additionally, the weeping willow is used for medicinal purposes. It contains salicin which is chemically modified to make aspirin and acetylsalicylic. 

Conclusion

Willow wood is available for several uses, including medicinal purposes, making furniture, fighting apple scab, among others. 

However, we don’t recommend using the wood as firewood since it causes more creosote and produces less heat. If you must use it as firewood, ensure you season and dry it well. 

Ensure you keep your pets away from willow since it can be toxic especially to cats.

Sources:

types of firewood

willow firewood

wood heating

Make Willow Furniture

cats chrysanthemum