What Type of Firewood Is the Best to Use in Your Wood Burning Stove?

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However much you love the warm feeling under your toes that only underfloor heating can offer or the energy efficiency of a central heating system, there’s really no substitute for the ambience and aesthetics of a wood burning stove.

But before you decide to install a wood burning stove in your home, or even if you already have one, there’s something very important that you need to know: what is the best type of firewood to use.

Some woods burn hotter, slower and cleaner than other firewood. Other woods emit an awful lot of smoke or sap which you don’t want staining or clogging your chimney. Choosing the right wood is paramount, this way you can ensure a more complete burn and consistent temperature. You should look for logs that are “Kiln Dried” and have a moisture content less than 20% to ensure the best burn temperature and minimum emissions.

So, if you’re interested in learning what the best type of firewood to use in your wood burning stove is, we’ve got the answers for you! Be sure to read the whole article to pick up some valuable tips that you may not already know.

Hardwood

Hardwoods stand head and shoulders above other wood types as the best wood types to use in your wood burning stove. Maple, oak, beech, birch, ash and the wood of most fruit trees are the best woods to use because they emit more consistent heat for longer.

These types of wood have less pitch and sap (moisture) and are generally cleaner to handle. However, using hardwoods isn’t without its drawbacks. For starters, they’re usually more expensive than softwoods and they’re more prone to leave clinkers once burned (hard, stony residue in the leftover ash.)

Also, if you decide to burn birch firewood there’s something that you should be aware of. This wood has a thick inner brown bark called phloem which retains a lot of moisture and can prevent the wood from drying evenly. So, if you’re dead set on burning birch, you’re probably best doing so with another hardwood like maple for a cleaner burn and less smoke.

Softwood

If cost is at the top of your list of priorities, then there are still plenty of softwood options to burn in your wood burning stove – and best of all, they’re generally cheaper to buy!

Of all the soft woods, fir is probably your best bet, however, it’s not the only choice you have. Other softwoods like cedar, poplar, pine, spruce and balsam are all favoured options by people with a wood burning fire.

Softwoods however tend to burn faster, and they can be dirty, leaving unsightly marks around your wood burning fire – or God forbid, marking any furnishings that they touch! Pine, spruce and balsam should really be avoided because they cause creosote to build up more quickly in your chimney.

Woods to Avoid

No comprehensive blog about the best types of firewood to burn in your wood burning stove would be complete without a list of woods to avoid. Now, some people may already know this, but for anyone that doesn’t it’s always helpful to know which types of woods to avoid.

First off there’s salvage or scrapped wood. As tempting as it may be to buy cheap salvage or scrapped wood, you should avoid burning salvage or scrapped wood at all costs. Why? Many salvage woods produce hazardous fumes when burned indoors and give off emissions that coat the inside of your chimney with creosote and pollute the environment.

Just in case you don’t know, for your own safety you should avoid burning:

  • Painted or varnished wood, trim and other by products
  • Driftwood
  • Hardboard or other compressed paper products
  • Pressure treated lumber
  • Engineered sheet goods, like particleboard, plywood and MDF

Best Woods for Heat Energy

If you’re primary motivation for burning wood is to get heat energy, you’ll be happy to know that some woods are better to burn than others… and we’ve listed them below for you!

Different woods are categorised by the amount of heat energy that they release depending on the dry volume measure of the wood. The best woods have a heat energy equivalent of 200-250 gallons of fuel oil and include the following:

  • Yellow Birch
  • Beech
  • Red Oak
  • White Oak
  • White Ash
  • Sugar Maple
  • Hickory

Woods with a heat energy equivalent of 150-200 gallons of fuel oil based on the dry volume measure of fuel oil include the following:

  • White Birch
  • Black Cherry
  • Red and Silver Maple
  • Douglas Fir

The lowest woods with a heat energy equivalent of 100-150 gallons based on the dry volume measure of fuel oil include the following:

  • Redwood
  • Red Cedar
  • Red Aspen
  • Alder
  • Cottonwood

The Takeaway

Hopefully, now you’ve got a clear idea of the types of firewood that are best to use in your wood burning stove. Picking the right wood is paramount to maximising heat energy, getting a clean burn, preserving your chimney, and avoiding any pollutants.

If you’re still in any doubts over the right hardwood to use, Firewood for Stoves would be happy to help you. Call us today on 0333 300 1299 to find out more.

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