Wood logs come in many species making the choosing of firewood a little overwhelming. There are over 23,000 different species of tree on this planet, but luckily for you, only a fraction of those are commonly used as firewood. Different woods burn differently, making your choice of wood logs really dependent on the type of fire you are wanting, and for what purpose it will serve. Here we will discuss some of the most common types of firewood, their benefits, their downfalls and the best fires to use them in.
Oak Wood Logs, Ash Wood Logs, Pine wood Logs?
Oak is one of the most common types of firewood used when heating a home. There are several varieties of oak tree and some of them burn a little differently, but in general firewood from any oak tree is very dense and, when well-seasoned, will burn very slowly. This slow burn will result in a fire that lasts for a long time, making it an economical choice for those who use wood to heat their homes. The only downside is that oak must be well seasoned in order for it to burn well, and oak takes longer to season than other woods (at least 1 year, preferably 2). Often, due to its extreme density, you will need to get a base fire burning, using a softwood like Pine. Once it’s going well, you can add your Oak wood logs on top.
While we’re on the topic of pine, it’s not recommended as a primary firewood. Pine makes a great fire starter, but it burns very messy and causes creosote to buildup in your chimney much faster than other, cleaner burning woods. Excess creosote in your chimney can put you at risk for chimney fires, so best keep this one as a fire starter only.
A great softwood for cold weather fireplace burners is the beautifully scented Douglas Fir. It gives off a quintessential holiday smell and burns a roaring, luxurious fire. However, it’s smoky and frequent use can cause creosote buildup (common for softwoods due to high resin content). So, while it’s perfect for recreational fireplace users, it’s not recommended for a woodstove or as a home heating fuel.
Commonly lauded as one of the best firewood choices, Ash trees are prevalent around the world and their wood burns steadily and with little sparking and smoke. It produces moderate to high heat and can even be burnt when unseasoned, though it burns far better after a year of seasoning.
Cherry is a good option for those who burn wood for heat who either live in moderately cool areas or for use in the Fall and Spring. It does not burn as hot as some of the other hardwoods, but it produces little smoke and a sweet, bright scent.
Chestnut is a great example of a wood to not waste your time with. Though it’s a hardwood, and a flame using Chestnut will catch quickly, it doesn’t burn very hot in comparison with other hardwoods. Additionally, it smokes a lot and tosses out a lot of sparks, making it pretty unpleasant to be around. If you must use Chestnut, try to do so only as a supplement to a better wood.
Using some of these firewood profiles, selecting great wood logs for your own needs should be a lot more straightforward. At the very least, you can be grateful that you don’t have to choose between all 23,000 species of tree!