Mopane Wood | Considering alternatives

We get a lot of calls regarding Mopane Wood. While this wood type is undeniably powerful when it comes to the braai, we at The Firewood Company have come to prefer alternatives.

Where does Mopane Wood come from?

Mopane trees, scientifically known as Colophospermum mopane, grow in low-lying regions that are both hot and dry. These include the northern reaches of South Africa, flowing into Zimbabwe, Mozambique, Botswana, Zambia, Namibia, Angola, and Malawi. The tree size, however, varies according to the unique conditions present in each of these countries, with ‘mopane scrub’ beginning at 4 metres tall and ‘cathedral mopane’ growing taller than 18 metres high. The leaves of the Mopane tree curl inwards during the heat of the day to save water and wild animals, like elephants, feed on the leaves and seed pods as a rich source of protein. This has, in many areas, stunted the growth and spread of Mopane scrub.

How are Mopane trees used?

Mopane trees feed not only elephants but also Mopane worms – plush, dark grey-green worms which can grow as long as 10 cm. The worms can be eaten by humans, roasted or dried, and because of their diet, offer a high concentration of protein to people. Mopane worms form part of the local economies of the areas they are abundant in and are often enjoyed as a new cuisine by tourists. Mopane wood provides a sturdy building material for home and fence construction. Due to its density, it is naturally termite-resistant, making it popular for structures that are intended to last for a long time. And, when it comes to wood, there is never a missed opportunity to try it out as not only fire- but also braai wood. Mopane wood is among the popular choices when choosing a reliable braai wood, as it produces great heat and long-lasting coals. There are a couple of drawbacks, however, which have led us to focus on trusty alternatives for the braai.

Why Mopane isn’t our first choice

Despite its braai potential, good quality Mopane wood is challenging to source. Due to the specific climatic requirements of Mopane trees, their presence is concentrated in pockets, such as in the north of Namibia. This minimises the opportunity to responsibly harvest the trees for heating and cooking. In addition to the naturally lower abundance of Mopane wood, growing elephant populations play a role too. Elephant feeding on Mopane woodlands reduces the physical size of the trees and limits their growth. Mature Mopane wood is best for fires, so the stunted trees provide less valuable wood.

A flaming alternative

We have found Kameeldoring to be one of the best contenders with Mopane wood. It has the lowest moisture content among hardwoods and is far more prolific in the regions where it grows. It is found throughout Namibia, for example, rather than only in the North. It also grows in parts of Botswana and Zimbabwe. Due to its low moisture content, Kameeldoring also provides a hot flame and offers lasting coals that are ideal for cooking for large groups of guests. It produces a delicious, musky scent, which infuses food braaied over its flame with an unbeatable smoky flavour (without producing much actual smoke in the process!). Not only does it offer a great braai wood option, but it can also be combined with wood types like Blackwattle in your indoor fireplace to get your home cosy real quick.

At The Firewood Company, we offer Kameeldoring in a variety of quantities, from single bags to bakkie loads of up to 40 bags. We deliver to your door, making the process as efficient and convenient as possible! So, whether you’re looking for a cosy fire for two or a braai for the masses, be sure to opt for Kameeldoring. Take a look at our delivery areas to ensure we can deliver to your home.