Last updated on January 16th, 2022 at 12:08 am
We will be discussing the Best to worst firewood to burn chart as there are various species of Wood. You have to be careful when buying any firewood; obviously, you don’t want to waste your money buying Wood that doesn’t live up to your expectation.
Even if you have the best of the splitting tools like axes and log splitters but you need to know a lot about the firewood that you would like to burn for the heating house or for a campfire in winter.
Things to consider before buying any wood
For an inexperienced person, all firewood looks the same, but believe me; they are not. Before discussing any type of firewood as there are a variety of species out there, you have to look into two crucial points.
1. Moisture content
Before discussing these, here is the quick list of firewood you were looking for.
21 Best Firewood to Burn Chart (2022)
Osage Orange (Hedge) - Hardwood
extremely dense wood
Hickory - Hardwood
Ideal for smoking meat
Black locust - Hard
produce quality coal
Oak - Hard wood
Produce less smoke
great smelling smoke
Apple - Hard wood
Ideal for outdoor cooking
Produce good heat
Beech - Hard wood
Spark less and more heat
Ash wood - Hard
Gives consistent Heat
Shock resistant wood
Blackthorn - Hard
Good to burn inside
Birch- soft wood
Less sparks and slight smell
Used for furnitures
Elm- Hard wood
Hard to splitt
Ideal for mild winters
For timper production
For commercial purposes
Western Red cedar
Non toxic wood
What is The Ideal Moisture (Water) Content
Ideal moisture content is below 20 percent if you are looking to burn wood to heat your house. To get the Wood’s perfect moisture content, it should be seasoned for at least 6 to 8 months before it can be used for burning.
You can use a moisture meter to check the moisture content, whether it’s below 20 percent or not, and the right way is to split the Wood first and then check. The wood with proper moisture content has the following pros and cons.
- Easy to split with an ax
- Great for smoking meat
- Burns fast as compared to denser Wood
The density of the Wood determines how much is the energy it possesses. The more energy the wood has, the more heat it generates. The density also determines how difficult for someone to split wood with the best of the axes available.
- Dense Wood will burn for a longer duration and produce more heat.
- It leaves behind coal beds, which make starting the fire more comfortable, less dense Wood only leaves ash which is literally of no use.
- Less dense Wood can be used in summer when you just want fire but don’t want to raise the temperature inside the house to a great extent. Less dense Wood is easier to light and can be used for starting the fire.
- Dense Wood is .hard to split.
21 Best to Worst Firewood to Burn at Home
There are various species, but we will be discussing the 21 best to worst firewood that is commonly used in the United States for burning purposes. The list is compiled based on our personal experience and the data acquired from some authentic sources like university extension offices.
Each Wood is ranked based on BTU output and other factors like weight and quality. Wood species are listed based on wood fuel that is ideal for fireplace and wood stoves. Some wood species may be suitable for recreational purposes, but you may not find them on this list.
Let’s discuss each one of them are you ready?
1. Osage Orange (Hedge) – ” extremely dense wood”
The Osage orange wood is acquired from a tree that is 50-60 ft in height. Wood has straight grains, and the color is golden to bright yellow, which turns to medium brown with time. The Wood is extremely dense and hard and not easy to split especially with an axe, but its density produces more heat than any other wood.
2. Hickory – “ideal for smoking”
Hickory is no doubt one of the most popular and commonly used wood type. The hickory wood produces heat and can be used in various splitting tools like axes because of its strength and durability. The Wood is ideal for smoking meat as well as it possesses a sweet woody smell. It produces quality coal and less Smokey.
3. Black locust – “produce quality coal”
Black locust is rigid and hard to split, but it has higher heat output, and it also produces quality coal and has little or slight smell when it burns. Black locust tree size is around 65-100 ft. And this Wood is generally used for furniture, boatbuilding, flooring and mine timbers.
4. Oak – “less smoke”
Although like other denser Wood, it also produces high heat but is easier to split when it gets dry. It also produces less smoke and doesn’t spark as much during burning. Oakwood produces a milder earthy smoke smell and is considered ideal for smoking meat as well.
5. Mulberry – “Great smell”
In our top 20 list for a reason as it has excellent heat output and produces great smelling smoke like an apple. If you want to smoke fish and chicken, then you should be burning this Wood for sure. Wood also produces high-quality coal, but it produces vast sparks, so it is not ideal to be heated indoors. Its color ranges from vibrant orange to creamy yellow.
6. Apple – “For outdoor cooking”
This wood burn slows so need less wood to keep the fire going. Applewood is ideal for outdoor cooking especially during camping it has a very nice faint sweet scent that soaks into your cooked food. Applewood one of the hardwood that is used in furniture, musical instruments, and flooring.
7. Beech – “No sparks”
Beech is on our list because of its high Btu value and is one of the hardest wood and is difficult to split. The beech wood is not only good for burning but it sparks less and gives quality coal and as a hardwood, it’s mostly used for furniture and flooring. Beech tree can grow up to 50 feet but the process is very slow it can take up to 40 years to attain that height.
8. Maple hard – “Produce good heat”
Unlike soft, the maple hard is denser and produces more heat. Maple wood hard or soft both are harvested from dicot trees. Hard maple has light color as compared to soft maple wood which is dark carrying shades of brown, red, or grey.
9. Ashwood – “Consistent Heat”
It possesses a high heat value and is very easy to split when gets dry. The important thing to note that the ash wood burns well when it’s properly seasoned and is known for giving consistent heat. Ashwood is mostly used in the making of furniture, baseball bats, hockey sticks because it is durable and hard that can last long.
10. Walnut – “Shock resistant wood”
Walnut burns well and lasts long that is why you need very little wood to keep the fire going. Walnut wood is best when burnt in wood stoves and produces very little smoke. Walnut wood is hard, dense, shock-resistant, and rich in color. Walnut wood is mostly used in furniture and many musical instruments like guitar etc.
11. Blackthorn – “Good to burn inside”
Blackthorn wood is very hard and delivers great heat value to put it on our list. Blackthorn wood is known for not producing much smoke so it can be burned inside the house if you want. Apart from its burning ability blackthorn flowers are used for various treatments like cold, cough, fluid retention, and for kidneys and constipation issues.
12. Birch – “Burns well”
Birchwood has good heat value but keep in mind that it’s a softwood that burns well. You need more wood to keep the fire going for a longer duration. One problem with this is that it can cause damage to your chimneys as well.
13. Sycamore – “Slight smell”
Sycamore can produce good results when it’s seasoned properly but it has less heat value as compared to other wood we have discussed so far. It produces good coal and smokes a bit when burnt, wood possesses a slight smell and generates fewer sparks.
14. Cherry – “Ideal wood for furniture”
Well, the benefits of burning cherry wood are that it produces a great smell and can perform really well even if it’s not seasoned. Wood is harvested from the American black cherry fruit tree and is in a reddish-brown color. The furniture made of cherry wood is in great demand and the wood is used for flooring and kitchen accessories.
15. Elm – “Hard to split”
Is one of the most difficult wood to split and produces medium-level smoke, so not so ideal to be considered as firewood. An elm tree can have a pretty awful smell depending upon where the tree is grown like a near smelly swamp or sewage line. The wood has white or greyish white in color and is significantly used in chair seats, wheel hubs, and even coffins.
16. Aspin – “for Mild winters”
This is the low heat value wood you would like to burn if you don’t want your wood stove getting super-hot. Aspin trees are very common and you may find people often using this but it’s certainly not a good option when compared with others in this list.
Aspin wood is fairly strong and with fine grains and is ideal for beginner woodworkers. Aspin wood doesn’t spark much and produces medium-level smoke.
17. Willow – “not heavy”
Willow wood is famous for producing cricket bats, carving, and other specialty wooden items. The wood has the ability to resist shocks and is fairly hard but lightweight. Willow comes with reddish or greyish brown color with irregular grain orientation. Willow wood is not much famous when it comes to producing heat as it has low heat value and it produces more creosote than others.
18. Cottonwood – “for timber production”
Cottonwood has low heat value but you can use this wood for burning if living in areas with mild winters. Cottonwood is widely used for timber production and used for pallet boxes and shipping crates etc.
19. Sitka spruce – “for commercial use”
This wood has a low heat value can also be used in mild winters to keep you warm. The tree can be as old as 600 years and can be as tall as 200 ft. Sitka spruce wood is widely used for commercial reasons.
20. Western Red cedar – “nontoxic wood”
Ideal to burn if living in an area with mild winters because it has low heat value but is still worth buying. The western red cedar tree can grow up to 200 ft. and has nontoxic wood. Western red cedar can be used for a fire starter but is not ideal for producing great heat as it has low BTUs.
21. Ironwood – “heavy wood”
Ironwood can really generate high heat as it’s hard and burn slow. This wood is great as an alternative for other expensive fuels used for heating purposes. You need to make sure that you really need this wood to burn in your house because due to high heat value it can feel you really uncomfortable in the house. As the name suggests this wood is very hard and difficult to split and is considered one of the heaviest wood in the world.
How to find free firewood
Here are a few ways to get free firewood:
1. Search on Craigslist
Try searching for someone posted on the craigslist site and offering free firewood. There might be the case that someone taken down an oak tree in their yard and doesn’t want to use any paid services to remove the wood from the yard.
2. Finding dead trees
Another option to find the free firewood is to drive around in rural areas, there are chances that you might find the dead tree that is knocked down by the storms. You may find these dead trees in someone’s backyard or lawn and the lawn owner doesn’t want to pay for tree removal services, therefore the opportunity for you to get the free wood by offering your services for free.
3. Create awareness on social platforms
Another interesting and very efficient way of getting firewood is to let people know that you heat wood and you love to burn and cook with firewood. You can create this awareness campaign by posting on social platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. You can post pics like cutting logs, chainsaws, axes, burning wood etc. to let them know that you love wood and you use them quite often.
The benefit of this is that people will contact you when they have any dead tree fallen in their backyard and want to get rid of it without putting any effort or paying for any removal services.
How to start a fire
There are a few essential items you need to have to make your life easy when lightening the fire. If you want to light a campfire it’s important to know the type of the campfire, which we have discussed in one of our articles. Whether it’s a campfire or setting fire in a wood stove inside your house, you need to have these things mentioned below.
Paper will help you a lot, put them on top of the dry kindling and burn them, and make sure paper is not coated or shiny.
Kindling is small dry branches of cedar or pine or any other wood you like that burns well. Once the paper is on top of them, the kindling will catch fire as well and eventually help the wood burn underneath them.
Dry or seasoned wood
As explained earlier seasoned wood is much dryer and catches the fire easily.
Firesticks or a matchbox
Any good lighter or match is the most important thing to have to light the fire.
Firewood Burning Tips
Here are a few firewood burning tips you should follow to make the maximum out of your wood and stoves.
You need to check your wood stove regularly to ensure the stove running to its maximum potential. You need to look at your firebrick, there shouldn’t be any crack in it. You can avail the services of any good technician to check your stove, like checking its door gasket. Remember that a clean woodstove provides more warmth and saves wood as well.
“The chimneys should be inspected as they should be neat and clean to avoid any hazards.”
2. Seasoned wood
Seasoned wood with moisture content below 20 % should be used for burning purposes.
3. Selecting the type of wood to burn
You need to select the best wood that provides more heat as there are different types of wood as we have discussed earlier. Hardwood provides more heat than softwood so in the very cold condition you need to burn hardwood and opt for softwood in mild winter as they are a bit cheaper.
4. Talk to your insurance company
Before buying or installing a fresh wood stove it’s always wise to talk to your insurance company first.
“Before installing the stove and chimney take your time thinking where you want that cleanout to be, like how easy it will be to access the chimney to clean and where you want that mess, inside or outside. “
5. Airflow to lightening the fire
If your house is insulated make sure you open a small window for air. The fresh air flowing through the window allows oxygen to mix with the wood smoke and fire gets started easily.
6. Wood Stack from top to down
You should think of starting the fire from the top of the wood stack in the stove that is the best technique to get the maximum heat with less wood consumed.
7. Burn more than one log at a time
It’s always wise to put at least 3 to 4 logs at once into the stove and this way logs will burn slowly and will have more surface for the fire to spread. A single log will always burn out quickly.
8. Remove the ashes from the ash pan
It’s very important in terms of safety that you keep removing the ash from the ash pan once it gets filled with them. Make sure to dump the ash in a metal container and keep them away from any combustibles.
There are various kinds of wood. Before you buy the wood, you need to know what you will use it for. You might be looking for heating your house and using in wood stoves or looking for firewood, a campfire, and looking to smoke meat. People living in areas where it is not too cold in winters should burn wood with low BTUs and for those who have to bear an extreme cold, they should prefer high heat emitting wood. Someone fond of camping and smoking meat should prefer wood that has a nice smell.
What is BTU?
BTU is termed as British thermal unit that is the amount of heat energy required to raise the temperature of 1 pound of water to 1 degree Fahrenheit.
Can firewood be too dry?
Dry wood burns faster and is sometimes hard to control it really depends on your choice like kiln-dried wood around 10 % moisture content is considered really dry.
What wood burns faster?
Seasoned or dry wood is the one that burns fast and produces less smoke.
What is the cleanest burning wood?
Hardwoods like maple, oak, birch are and along with all fruit trees wood are considered best for burning and they really don’t create much mess.
Can Wood get too old to burn?
Old wood is even better if they are not affected by insects or moisture and kept with care, they are really good to go.
Can you burn dry rotted wood?
Yes, it can be burnt although they are not much in demand when it comes to burning wood.
How long will firewood last if covered?
Normally firewood can last for 4 years before it’s get affected by mold and starts decaying.
How long does it take to burn a cord of wood?
A cord of wood may burn for 3 to 4 months but it also varies from the type of wood you are burning every wood type has its own attributes.
What is cordwood?
The cord of wood is where wooden logs of around 16 -20 inches are stacked on top of each other. The cord of wood is around 4 feet wide 4 feet in height and 8 feet long.