Last Updated on October 6, 2020 by woodcutter
Are you a new homeowner wondering what the best firewood types for your fireplace are? After the initial delight of having a fireplace wears off, the uncertainty of what to put in it may creep in. Since different firewood types have different strengths and characteristics, choosing the best for you is not easy.
This article will ease that uncertainty and help you pick the type that suits your needs. Assess each wood type against your needs to make a choice that will keep you happy on those chilly nights.
Making a choice
Choosing the right firewood is a complicated process. Before moving on to the actual firewood types, let us first examine the factors you should consider.
You need to choose the wood that does not emit toxic chemicals when it burns. It should also not create a fire hazard in your home.
Choosing low maintenance firewood that will not leave too much dirt behind is wise.
● Smoke emission
For an indoor fireplace, this is a crucial factor. The wood should emit as little smoke as possible to ensure you do not compromise your comfort and health.
With these factors in mind, let us now look at the available wood types.
Best burning firewood types
In general, there are two types of firewood, hardwoods, and softwoods.
Hardwoods are dense, burn for long, and produce more heat than softwoods. They are also unlikely to leave tar deposits and are not as sticky as softwoods. Opt for hardwoods if you want long-lasting fires that have plenty of coals.
Softwoods, however, are less dense, so they take less time to dry as compared to hardwoods. Their trees grow faster, making them more readily available and affordable than hardwoods. Softwoods are good for kindling fires or outdoor fireplaces.
I have compiled a couple of popular firewood types below. Patiently go through the characteristics of each, and I am sure one will catch your attention!
This hardwood is one of the one of best burning firewood types for indoor wood fires. It is very dense and produces a lot of energy when it burns. An oak fire begins as a low flame, which then grows into a hot and steady fire that burns for a very long time.
If you choose to use oak wood, there are a few things you need to take note of.
- It takes a year or two to dry completely, so you need to be careful when purchasing. Dry oak wood has a dull color, dull smell, loose bark, and radial cracks.
- It is good for night fires as it is unlikely to burn-out.
- As is the norm with hardwoods, oak trees take time to grow. This has left many old forests endangered, so check forest stewardship certification when getting this wood type. It shows that the wood was sourced sustainably.
- Since it is an endangered wood type, try to vary your firewood sources and only use oak wood in winter.
Many favor ash because of its user-friendly properties. Its grain is easy to split, and an ash wood fire burns long, producing very little smoke and creosote. Here are a few facts about ash wood that may interest you
- Ash wood is even more difficult to find than oak wood and is usually included in mixed-wood cords.
- It is a bit costly and can complement other hardwoods like oak, ironwood, elm, hickory, and maple.
- Ash wood dries quickly and easily as it has low moisture content.
- Seasoned Ash logs have a grey dusty bark and light semi-white wood.
3. Douglas Fir
This softwood is a cost-effective firewood option. Because of its fast growth rate, it is one of the best choices for reforestation; hence it is a plentiful supply. Furthermore, Douglas fir produces high energy, splits easily, and creates steady heat.
Top facts about this firewood type include-
- It is a great choice if you live in North America as it is extremely plentiful in that area.
- When it burns, it creates a mild evergreen scent.
- It is available throughout the year, making it a very reliable choice.
Nothing beats the fragrant welcoming scents of fruitwoods, especially apple, cherry, and pearwood. These hardwoods produce low, high-temperature flames. Fruitwoods are expensive since they are grown in commercial orchards and are rarely abundant in the wild.
What makes them a great choice?
- Not only are they suitable for fireplaces, but they are also great in outdoor grills too. Many professional chefs opt for apple or cherry woods as they add flavor to the meat.
- For special occasions, fruitwoods are best because of the scent they produce. Apple, cherry, and pearwood are commonly known as specialty woods.
In order to get rid of the milder spring or autumn chill, quick-burning woods are like birch are the way to go. Some even choose to use them in winter too. They have a high energy content, which is similar to many hardwoods.
Fast facts about birchwood include-
- Its flame is attractive with a very dominant blue color.
- Its bark is a great natural firelighter.
- The silvery bark of its logs has decorative properties.
- It works ideally when coupled with slow-burning woods like oak.
- There are three types of birch wood- Yellow, white, and black birch. Each has a different heat level, so it is wise to ask your supplier for the one that suits your seasonal needs.
- The curing process of birch wood is between three and six months.
Cedarwood is a softwood that produces a small flame with long-lasting heat. It produces a pleasant smell when it burns, and some may choose to add small pieces to other wood fires because of that. It also produces a strong crackling sound when it burns.
Here are a few things you need to note about Cedarwood-
- It lights easily, so you should not have much trouble even if it is your first time.
- Do not use it in an open fireplace since it crackles and throws sparks as it burns, and this may be dangerous in an indoor fireplace.
- While it can be used exclusively, It is best used as a natural kindle or alongside other firewood types.
This is a quick-burning softwood that is easy to light and produces a good flame. It also smells good when it burns to give your home a very welcoming aroma. It takes only 6 to 12 months to completely dry, which is a much shorter time than several other wood types.
Before settling for pinewood, however, take note of the following-
- It is great for outdoor fires but indoor fires, and it is not such a great idea. It produces a lot of smoke due to its high sap and resin content.
- It is best used for kindling your indoor fire as it lights quickly and easily.
- For maximum benefits, it is best when mixed with other slow-burning woods like maple or oak.
This is the hardest softwood around. It is more challenging than some genuine hardwoods and wh0 en dry; it produces a scorching and steady flame. It is excellent for stoves and outdoor fireplaces since it makes a lot of smoke.
Fast facts about Larch wood-
- It takes a year to thoroughly season.
- You can mix Larch wood with any hardwood, and it is low maintenance.
- Larch wood is a great looking wood type that will not look out of place in a state of the art indoor fireplace.
9. Wood Bricks
As the name suggests, these are simply brick-shaped, manufactured blocks of wood. They are composed of compressed kiln-dried wood chips or sawdust. High-quality wood bricks have high energy and burn efficiently.
What makes this a good choice-
- Wood bricks have a lower moisture content than natural firewood, so they produce very little smoke.
- They produce less ash than most woods, making fireplace maintenance easy.
Wood Types You Should Never Burn
A layperson on the subject may think anything woody burns. This misconception could cause you to make a terrible choice. Here are some firewood choices you should never consider for your fireplace.
- Unseasoned wood: This is freshly cut wood and is commonly referred to as ‘greenwood.’ Greenwood is very hard to light. Even if you do get the fire going, it will produce a lot of smoke and burn inefficiently.
- Treated or Painted Wood: Both these types produce chemicals like arsenic when burnt.
- Driftwood: This wood type has a high salt content and produces a beautiful flame. However, the chlorine in salt can transform into harmful carcinogens.
- Large logs: Large logs burn inefficiently. They are also hard to kindle and may produce a lot of smoke. Always have logs with a diameter of more than 5 inches re-cut before use.
Getting the best firewood types for your fireplace is a process you need to put a lot of thought into. Since there is no universal best, you will have to take time to make a viable choice. Also, check availability and compare the costs of each wood type in your area. Make the right choice, and you will get the maximum benefits from your fireplace, especially on those chilly nights!