The Best Types of Trees for Firewood

Dense hardwoods are the best types of trees for firewood in indoor woodstoves.
The warmth of a woodstove is unmatched

Who doesn’t love the warmth of a woodstove? Not only is the warmth unmatched, but if you own your own land, you can have the additional satisfaction of knowing your heat was harvested on your property sustainably. Not all wood will give you the warm and cozy feelings you crave, however, so it is important to know the best types of trees for firewood. In general, dense hardwoods like maple, oak, and hickory will give you the most heat and the slowest burns. On the other hand, Wood from softwoods such as fir and pine should be avoided, as they tend to burn fast, give little heat, and can even contribute to the buildup of creosote. Here is a comprehensive list of trees and the quality of their wood for burning in woodstoves as well as how easy the wood is to split and how quickly the trees grow, so you can make the best management decisions on your woodlot.

Tree Species and Their Firewood Quality

TreeHeat and Burn RateSplitting EaseGrowth Rate
AlderLow heat, fast burnEasyMedium
AshHigh heat, slow burnHardMedium
AspenMedium heat, medium burnHardFast
BasswoodMedium heat, medium burnEasyMedium
BeechMedium heat, medium burnEasyMedium
BirchHigh heat, medium burnEasyFast
CedarMedium heat, fast burnEasySlow
CherryHigh heat, slow burnMediumMedium
Elm Low heat, slow burnHardFast
HemlockLow heat, slow burnMediumFast
HickoryHigh heat, slow burnHardSlow
MapleHigh heat, slow burnEasyMedium
OakHigh heat, slow burnEasyFast
PineMedium heat, fast burnEasyFast
PoplarMedium heat, medium burnEasyFast
WalnutHigh heat, slow burnEasySlow
WillowLow heat, fast burnEasyFast

What Are the Best Types of Trees for Firewood in Outdoor Fires?

When you are burning wood outdoors, it makes little difference what type of wood you are burning, as most outdoor fires are merely for visual and aesthetic enjoyment. However, if you are building a fire for warmth for cold-weather camping or intend to cook over the fire, a slow-burning, high-heat wood should be used, such as oak. Not only will the coals provide plenty of heat long after the fire dies down, but these types of wood usually have a pleasant aroma and will impart a desirable smoky flavor on your food.

How Do I Pick Trees to Be Harvested for Firewood?

Any quality of tree can be used as firewood, but be careful not to harvest trees that are more valuable for other types of products. For example, if you carelessly harvest a high-grade sugar maple with minimal defect, you could accidentally end up burning a log worth thousands of dollars. Firewood is best taken from poor-quality, low-value stems. Trees with twists, rot, cracks, and splits work excellently! Just be sure you have the proper gear for felling trees.

How Long After Harvest Should I Wait Before Burning Firewood?

After harvest, firewood must be quickly split and stacked and undergo a drying period known as seasoning. Once the firewood reached approximately 20% moisture levels, the wood will be ready to burn. In general, this process takes between six months to one year.

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