The Piñon pine tree is a species of pine tree that is native to the southwestern United States, and to Mexico (it is also commonly spelled pinon, pinion, or pinyon). The pinon pine tree produces a wood known as pinon wood that, when burned, releases a delightful fragrance unique to this species of tree.
Pinon wood is a common firewood used in chimineas, and fire pits, as it has a set of properties that make it especially suited for burning in these units, primarily its wonderful scent and its bug-repellent capabilities.
Pinon Wood for Fire Wood
There are a two major attributes of pinon fire wood that make it unique, and a top choice for those looking to feed their chiminea or fire pit.
The natural oils found within the pinyon tree fibers produce a magical perfume that is evocative of cowboys, cactus, and the western sunset. The distinctive smell is both nostalgic and transcendent, bringing you back in time and taking you away to another place. This wood is fragrant enough that it is commonly sold as incense, and it is the smell of Santa Fe at Christmas.
Pinyon pine firewood works as a potent insect repellent! The scent produced by the essential oils within the wood is attractive to people, but a deterrent to mosquitos and other insects! This makes pinon wood a very attractive choice for use in fire pits and chimineas, due to the fact that people commonly sit around these fire features to enjoy the warmth.
The combo of an intriguing smell and insect protection makes pinon a great fire wood for patio fireplace use. In many ways it functions similar to eucalyptus oil tiki torch fuel.
How to use Pinion Fire Wood
Pinion wood can be burned directly in a fire pit or chiminea by itself, if you have enough of the wood available. It is generally a bit more expensive than standard fire wood, so it is commonly mixed with other traditional fire woods and burned in conjunction.
If you happen to live in the southwestern United States, it may make sense to burn only pinon wood, as it is cheap and plentiful there, but if you live elsewhere, you can certainly use pinon as a supplement to traditional firewood for that extra bit of magic!
Even when it is used as a supplement, the fragrance and insect fighting capabilities will be present. It does not pop like other softwoods, so it is safe for use both indoors and outdoors.
Soaking Pinon Firewood in Water Before Use
Some people soak their pinon wood in water prior to burning, so that it burns more slowly and releases its scent over time. By soaking the wood overnight prior to use, it produces more smoke and less direct heat, increasing the longevity of each piece of wood and dispersing the odor more fully. Of course, too much smoke can be overwhelming, so first try this out with only a few pieces of wood.
Set Up a Wood Teepee
When burning pinon wood, the easiest way to get the fire going is to build a mini teepee of wood, in a pyramid shape, and place the starter or kindling at the center of the wood. This shape allows the air to flow around the wood nicely, and will get the fire started quickly and efficiently.
Cooking With Pinon Wood
Due to the natural resins in pinon wood, it should not be used for cooking. The scent would likely flavor the food in a way that is not particularly palatable, but regardless, it should not be used for food preparation.
Cook your food using regular fire wood on your fire pit grate, and then put the pinion wood on the flame after you’re done cooking to soak in the scent and enjoy the bug repellent attributes.
Sized for Chimineas and Fire Pits
Most pinyon wood sold is already cut into small pieces, the perfect size for use in a fire pit or a chiminea. They are typically sold in lengths of about 6-10″, or sometimes in chunks. This wood can be easily thrown onto a fire pit or chimenea without further slicing and dicing.
If you are interested in an outdoor fireplace, a chiminea, or fire pit, check out our complete guides to Chimineas! Additionally, swing over to NaturalHandyman’s website for some great Chiminea-related info.
Where to Get Pinyon Wood
If you live in the southwestern United States, you can find it at road-side stands, super markets, and camp grounds all over the place. Outside of that area, it is much rarer to find it in stores.
Lowes or Home Depot may carry it seasonally in some areas, but it is hit or miss. It is available online through a few retailors, most notably Amazon.
- Forest fire prevention
- Wildlife Enhancement (due to more grass and prairie area)
- Underbrush removal for erosion protection
This Western Pinon fire wood works well in a chiminea, and has the powerful scent and insect repellent properties pinon wood is famous for.
As a bonus, they are available through Amazon Prime!