When the weather starts to get cooler and you want to start thinking about warming up your home with a fire, it's time to start thinking about what type of firewood you're going to burn. There are many different types of wood that can be burned in a fireplace or stove, but which is best? The answer depends on what kind of climate you live in and how much heat is desired. We'll talk more about this below so read on.
Oak, Beech, Mahogany, Cherry and Elm are considered the best hardwoods for burning. While birch is better than pine or spruce soft woods to burn. They offer good heat value once they're lit, but don't throw out much in the way of sparks. The hardwoods just mentioned are better still because they burn slow and give out much more heat in return for their size than soft woods do. They also produce less smoke when burning, which makes them ideal to use indoors too.
What should you know about firewood before buying it
Wood is one of the natural substance that has been used to fuel our industries, homes, and even outdoor fires. It has been a traditional source of fuel for centuries. Fortunately, wood prices are still very reasonable making it one of the cheapest types of fuel available today.
Most people choose to use firewood for heating their homes because it's inexpensive and readily available. The added bonus is that it also produces a soothing type of crackle sound. The downside to using firewood is that it creates pollution due to the particles in the smoke which can create health problems for people with asthma or other lung illnesses.
Some wood produces more pollutants than others. One of the best types is fruit wood which doesn't produce as much pollutants or smoke.
Pine and other soft woods can be used for heating purposes because they release lots of heat when burning even though it produces more particles that can be harmful to your health. Hardwoods are better for burning because they produce less pollutants, but it takes more work to cut up the pieces making them cost prohibitive in some cases; especially if they aren't directly available in your area.
The best firewood is wood that's easy to obtain and cuts well so you don't need too many tools. The size of a piece should also make it easy to use and makes it last longer. Larger pieces can be labor intensive to move, but will burn longer. Smaller pieces are easier to move, but you will have to make more trips to the log pile to keep the fire burning hot.
The best types of wood for different climates
Deciding what type of firewood to burn for heating your home can be tricky. There are many factors that you need to take into account, like how it will affect your indoor air quality (IAQ), the smoke release in your home, and the smoke release around your chimney.
If you live in a cold climate, try hardwoods like birch, ash, elm, or maple. These trees produce less creosote than softer woods like pine or spruce.
In warmer climates you can burn softwoods like pine, spruce, cedar or fir. These are better to burn outside in a fire pit or campfire because they produce a lot of smoke and sparks when burned.
How to dry and season firewood properly
There are many different types of wood you can use for firewood in fireplaces, wood stoves, and outdoor fire pits. They come in a variety of hardness and moisture content. In order to maximize the quality and longevity of your firewood supply, there are a few best practices when it comes to drying and storing your firewood.
Begin by looking for pieces that are of a good quality. You want wood that is not infested with bugs and diseased. Also look for wood that is not dry rotted.
Next, cut your wood into small, medium, and large pieces. Remember, the larger pieces will need more time to dry. You should stack your wood by size; the small pieces with the small, the medium pieces with the medium, and the large pieces with the large.
Next, stack your new firewood so that it has space around each piece- this allows air to circulate more freely, which will help dry out the wood. Pieces of firewood should also be turned every few weeks so that they don't sit in one position for too long. This prevents splitting and cracking along the grain or ends of your pieces.
Firewood with a moisture content over 20 percent is considered green while anything below 20 percent is considered dry. Your wood should be in the 15 to 20 percent range for optimal burning and heat output.
If you're using an outdoor fire pit, it's best to only burn seasoned or dried out logs because green logs can leave sooty deposits on your patio stones or within your pit- which is difficult to remove afterwords.
While all of these practices are important, the most effective way to ensure your firewood is properly dried and seasoned for a long time is by using a cover. A good cover will protect from rain or snow while allowing air flow- which can help dry out wood faster than leaving it exposed in the elements. It's also recommended that you store the wood in a location that's higher off the ground.
How to store your firewood properly so that it will last throughout the year
There are a few things that you should know when storing your firewood. You should first make sure that your storage is out of the weather and away from animals. Especially away from where rodents may try to nest. It's also a good idea to stack the wood so it's off the ground. This will help reduce pests and insects from living in it. Lastly, be sure to put an identification tag on your pile so it doesn't get mixed up with other piles or lost. This way you will know when you started drying that particular pile.
Cover your firewood pile with a tarp or rack cover to keep it dry. A good cover will protect the wood from mold and mildew that can ruin a stack. It will also keep your wood from reabsorbing water. Don't completely seal the pile or moisture won't be able to escape. Instead, leave the sides and bottom open so air can flow through the pile.
Tips on how to keep a fireplace or stove clean and working well during the winter season
The most important thing in winter is to keep your fireplace or stove clean and well maintained. If you do not, they can end up building up soot and ashes until they are no longer usable. The following tips will help you keep the air in your home from getting polluted and make your fireplace or stove last a lot longer.
- Only burn well seasoned wood
- Keep it clean
- Don't let ash build up on the inside
- Remove the ashes after every use
- Remove any coals that are no longer able to burn
- Remove soot from the stove, fireplace, and chimney
Fire safety tips when burning wood in an enclosed space, such as a fireplace or stove
If you're not sure how well your fireplace or stove is ventilated you should have it tested. You can use an exhaust fan to improve airflow. But it's also important to make sure the fireplace or stove is not too close to any other structures and to check and replace worn-out fire screens and chimney wear. Also, you should have a carbon monoxide detector in your home to alert you of any carbon monoxide that may find its way into hour house.
If you want to burn wood in a fireplace, create a wood pile to the inside of the fireplace and close the screen so that embers don't fly into your home. Make sure that any combustible material near the fire place such as furniture and drapes are at least three feet away from fireplace walls.
If you want to burn wood in a stove, be sure the stovepipe extends outside the house and up at least three feet higher than any nearby building. Also, keep the stovepipe away from windows and exterior walls that are combustible.
If you want to burn wood in an outdoor fireplace or fire pit, make sure it is made of non-combustible material such as brick or stone; place a screen around the area where burning occurs; and never leave the fire unattended.
Things to consider if you want to use wood pellets instead of traditional logs for fuel
Wood pellets are much cleaner than traditional logs because they have less moisture than logs. Wood pellets have a moisture content of about 7%. They emit less smoke and ash than logs do.
Storing wood pellets is easy, but you need to make sure they are dry enough. This means keeping them indoors or under cover in a pile where water can't get to them. Wood pellets must be stored properly because if moisture accumulates on them, they will become wet and lumpy and won't burn well.
Wood pellets are also not as cheap as traditional logs because of the cost to produce them. They may be cheaper than firewood if you use a lot of it though. And some people claim that using wood pellets is actually more economical in certain circumstances due to their high energy density.
The argument is that wood pellets burn longer and produce more heat than logs. When you calculate the dollar cost divided by the burn time for each, you get better and cheaper performance from wood pellets.
Which type is best - hardwoods or soft woods - and why this matters when deciding what kind of firewood you'll burn this winter
Which type is best - hardwoods or soft woods for firewood? The answer to this question is not so simple. You have many options, and the type of wood you choose will depend on the time you have, what kind of stove, fire pit, or fireplace you are using, and your budget.
I would argue that hardwood trees are better because there is less moisture in them than in softwoods. Many people argue that hardwoods are not as good as they used to be (they don't generate as much heat), but they can still provide good fuel for wood-burning stoves without too much fuss.
Softwoods are easier to chop with an axe than hardwoods. If you don't have a lot of time, and if you want to be able to easily chop up your firewood with an axe or saw then softwoods may be the best option for you. Softwoods generally have more moisture content and are less dense than hardwoods. This makes them burn faster and pop more.
If using traditional logs is not convenient - like if it saves money - then wood pellets are probably better than either hardwoods or soft woods. Wood pellets are more expensive to produce than traditional logs, but they burn longer and emit less smoke. They also have a high energy density per mass so you can get a lot of power from them if you need it for long periods or just want to use a smaller firebox in your stove.
Wood pellets may be better for heating purposes because there is less moisture in them than there is in traditional logs. On the other hand, if you have a stove that doesn't need as much heat then regular hardwood chunks may be just fine for heating purposes. Hardwood chunks can provide more heat per hour with less effort from your part because they are easier to ignite and burn hotter.
If you want a lot of heat, then go with hardwoods. If you're looking for convenience and a more relaxed fire-building experience, opt for soft woods or even wood pellets.
Common wood you can find in and around your yard
One type of hardwood you can find in your backyard is oak. Oak trees are among the largest trees in the US and have a very high density. Oak is also great for burning, although it does take a while to get going compared to other hardwoods.
Another good firewood option you can find behind your house are elm trees. Elm wood has been used since the time of ancient Greece as both fuel for cooking fires and for burning in the home fireplace.
One type of softwood is pine. Pine has a fast burn rate with white smoke and lots of popping, but it also makes good coals for grilling meats or vegetables after cooking down properly.
List of good wood for firewood
- Cypress (Redwood)
- Fir (Douglas-fir)
- Hemlock (Eastern Hemlock)
- Larch(Western Larch)
- Pine (Pitch, Shortleaf, Red and White)
Alder: A soft hardwood, alder is easy to split and starts quickly. It produces good heat but burns out fast. If you're looking for instant warmth on those cold nights, this might be your best choice as it lights easily and the flame burns bright even when not fully seasoned (one year old). As such, it's a good idea to mix alder with another type of wood.
Birch: Birch is similar in heat value and ease of splitting compared to maple, but it produces less heat than its hardwood counterpart. It's also softer than most other woods so burns faster and doesn't last as long during the night. However, birch will still produce a hot fire, and the wood is easy to split.
Cedar (Larch): Cedar has good energy value as it's dense and burns slowly with a high heat output per cord. It also gives off very little smoke or sparks but will produce an aroma that some find pleasant while others may not like the smell of this type of wood.
Cypress (Redwood): Cypress is a soft, resinous wood that's lightweight and easy to split with an agreeable sweet smell when burned in your fireplace. It lights easily and produces good heat output per cord while burning slowly for long periods of time. The downside is that it's not good for cooking or fireplace fires, as the wood emits a lot of sap and creosote.
Fir (Douglas-fir): Fir is an excellent firewood because it has high heat output with moderate drying time so you can use it all year round. It's also has a medium density, making this type easy to split, and the tree is an evergreen so it's readily available.
Hemlock (Eastern Hemlock): Eastern hemlock put out as much heat value per cord as pine, and has about the same density. It splits easily, too. Its characteristics are very similar to pine as firewood.
Juniper: A softwood, juniper is lightweight and has a pleasant smell when burned but produces good heat output per cord. Juniper takes a long time to dry which affects the heat value.
Larch (Western Larch): Western larch is very similar in characteristics and burning properties of Eastern hemlock, but it's slightly denser than its evergreen cousin making this wood more expensive per cord. It has great heating power and excellent longevity.
Pine (Pitch, Shortleaf, Red and White): Pine is the most abundant tree in North America with over 80 varieties that can be used as firewood making it readily available especially during winter time when other types of wood are more expensive or not easily accessible. It has poor overall heating value compared to hardwoods such as oak or maple but it's cheap and easy to split.
Oak: Oak is one of the most popular woods in North America due to its availability, ease of splitting and good overall heating value. Oak has a higher heat output per cord than some other hardwoods. It's much higher compared to softwood so you'll have to burn fewer cords during cold winter nights especially when outside temperature falls below zero degrees Celsius.
Oak (White): White oak is a hardwood known for its durability which makes it suitable even in extreme weather conditions. The wood has high heat output, moderate drying time and produces less smoke when burned compared with softwood species.
This makes white oak a good choice for fireplaces or campfires indoors or outdoors where you need durable wood that burns hot without producing much soot or creosote.
Oak (Red): Red oak is one of the best firewood options because of its good heating value and long burning duration. The wood has a medium difficulty rating when splitting. It produces less smoke compared with softwood species so it's suitable for indoor fires or campfires where you need a high heat output.
Oak (Bur): Oak Bur is an great wood to burn in the winter time. It has a high heat output and is easy to split.
Poplar: Poplar has almost half the heating value of oak. It's a lightweight wood and less dense than many other. The tree is also soft and easy to split but not durable. It dries quickly, but can easily absorb water if moisture is present.
Maple: Maple is one of the best options for wood stoves because it has high heat output with moderate drying time. It's also dense, making this type easy to split and burn hot for long periods without producing much smoke or soot.
Elm: Elm is a dense and durable type with high heat output and long burning time. Elm is difficult to split, but produces very good coals. It also has a pleasant smell when burned.
Hickory: Hickory has more than twice as much heating power per cord compared with softwoods. It burns hot and slow, producing less smoke than other types of wood. It is good for indoor or outdoor fires.
Beech: Beech has high density which makes it perfect for cooking fires because the wood is very slow burning producing less smoke, ash and sparks. Beech is difficult to split. It produces excellent coals.
Silver Maple: Silver maple is a softer wood with low density and good heat output. It's also lightweight making this type suitable for open fires but it doesn't have the durability to withstand extreme weather conditions, so you'll need more firewood during cold nights .
Basswood: Basswood has one of the lowest heating values among deciduous trees so you'll have to burn more cords when it's cold outside, especially during winter months. Basswood is easy to split. It produces a little smoke and has a good smell. Basswood doesn't make good coals.
Ash: Ash is an ideal wood for starting fires because it’s dense yet lightweight. It also has good heat output with moderate drying time. Ash is easy to split. Ash makes good coals.
Cherry: Cherry's high density makes a medium to high heat fire. It has a very nice smell when it is burned. Cherry also makes really good coals and doesn't smoke much.
Pecan: Pecan is one of the best firewood to burn. It is a very dense wood and has been known for years as being exceptional for burning. In fact, pecan burns so well that it makes great coals for smoking meats, fish or cheese!
Cutting or buying firewood tips
- It's important that you don't cut your own wood from woodland where it isn't permitted. If you don't know what the rules are, ask your local gamekeeper or forestry commission before felling any trees!
- Many people choose to buy their firewood instead of cutting it themselves - even if they have woodland on their own property. This saves time and effort involved in getting the logs home (and splitting them) plus prevents the possibility of fines.
- So if you do decide to buy your firewood, make sure it is seasoned first! If the logs are still fresh when they're burned (within 12 months of felling) then there's a real risk that they will explode in an open fireplace or stove - sending sparks everywhere and causing damage to fittings etc.
- It's also important to remember that if you have an open fire or wood burning stove in your home, the chimney should be swept regularly. This will ensure it is clear of any soot deposits which might catch alight when fresh logs are burned. And this would obviously cause a serious problem.
There are many different types of wood you can burn. The best firewood is dependent on your needs at the time you are burning it. Living in cold climate requires hardwoods that burn longer and hotter. In cool areas, you can use soft hardwoods or softwoods for warmth and cooking. Whatever your needs, all wood burns and will produce heat. If you don't have the best wood for your environment, remember, any firewood is better than no wood.