Firewood Primer: Which Wood Burns Best?

Of all the many species available, which types of firewood are the best to use at home?

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  1. Firewood Primer


    The smoky smell, crackling sound, and tactile ritual of fire building is what gives real wood-burning fireplaces their appeal. But what type of firewood is best? Each species has its own set of burning characteristics, and there are a lot of choices out there. Here’s a quick primer on firewood facts and types.

  2. Seasoned Firewood


    Even the best firewood will not burn well if it has not been seasoned—aged in a dry area, that is. Many dealers sell "seasoned" wood, but if it’s been split this year, it probably won’t be dry enough. Most experts advise buying wood this year to burn next year.

    Dallas Tree Pros

  3. Firewood Storage


    Whatever wood you choose to burn, make sure that you're storing firewood in a well-ventilated outdoor area that is protected from the elements. Bring in only as much firewood as you plan to use at one time. (Indoor temperatures can encourage any bugs in the wood to become active.)

  4. Hard Maple


    Readily available in the northern US and Canada, hard maple is extremely dense and heavy, a makeup that allows it to burn very slowly, even in comparison to other hardwoods like oak and hickory.

  5. Douglas Fir

    Probably the best conifer for firewood, Douglas Fir has a medium heating value and does not produce too much ash. Older trees are easy to split and easy to start. Fir does produce a moderate amount of sparking.

    aaronernestoortizlopez/ Flickr

  6. Birch


    Birch is very attractive and gives off a lot of heat, but it burns fairly quickly. Though birch can be easier to find and cheaper than many other species, you’ll go through it faster. It’s best mixed into your firewood supply and used in combination with other types.

    Platt Hill Nursery

  7. Oak


    Oak is considered one of the best species for firewood. Dried properly, it can produce a very slow-burning and hot fire. But it does need to be seasoned for at least one year, preferably two. Like other hardwoods, oak is difficult to ignite, but you’ll be rewarded once it’s burning with an intense, sustained fire.

    Sure Green Lanscape

  8. Pine


    Pine seasons faster than hardwood varieties, is easy to split, and easy to start. The cons are that it burns very quickly and does not produce the heat of hardwoods. Also, burning pine is usually characterized by exploding sap pockets that cause sparking, which in turn can cause creosote buildup in your chimney. Best to use with hardwoods.

    Daves Sierra Firewood

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