Firewood Best to Worst: 10 Woods That Burn the Longest (2023)

Burning firewood provides a cozy ambience during cold winter weather. But, more than this, it gives off adequate heating to help you survive the freezing temperature. Hence, you should know which firewood can burn the longest and keep you warm throughout a cold night.

Untitled - December 6, 2022

Untitled - December 6, 2022

The primary factors that affect the burning capacity of firewood are heat value, density, and moisture content. Ideal firewood has high heat value, high density, and low moisture content. This type of wood will burn the longest and provide the most heat.

This article will explore the best firewood to burn and which ones you should avoid.

Criteria for Choosing Firewood

Firewood Best to Worst: 10 Woods That Burn the Longest (1)

Heating value

Heating value pertains to the amount of energy per mass a specific substance can produce by combusting it. In this case, it is equivalent to the heat that firewood gives off upon burning it.

This property of a certain type of firewood is intrinsic, meaning it is fixed. It is the same for that particular type, and no treatment can modify it. It is usually measured in terms of BTU per pound.

When choosing which firewood to get, you should pick a type that has a high heating value, black locust and oak, for example. These types of wood are the most efficient since a small quantity of them can provide more heat than other types which have low heating value.

Hardwood vs. Softwood

Another criterion you should consider is the firewood’s density; it tells you how compact the wood is. In terms of this property, the types of firewood are divided into two groups: hardwood and softwood.

Hardwood is heavier, and generally, more expensive than softwood. It is more compact, making it harder to cut and chop into pieces. But, this compactness also allows this type of wood to burn longer. It has more material in it; therefore, it lasts longer than softwood.

On the other hand, softwood is lighter and is easier to cut. However, it is not suitable to be used as firewood due to its low density. It burns quickly and produces a low amount of heat.

When in the wild, a fast way to tell whether a tree has hardwood or softwood is its structure. Hardwood trees have leaves, and they branch out in all directions. On the other hand, softwood trees have needles in place of leaves, and they tend to grow straight and develop only a few branches.

Seasoned Wood vs. Unseasoned Wood

The firewood’s moisture content is another factor that you should pay attention to. Ideally, your firewood should have low moisture to make ignition easier and make the burning more efficient at providing heat.

(Video) Top 10 hottest burning firewoods

Initially, freshly cut wood has a high moisture content – approximately 60%. To make it usable, you must bring down the water percentage to about 20% through a process called seasoning.

Seasoning means drying the wood by leaving it under the sun for a few months to allow most of its water to evaporate. It usually takes six months to complete the process. However, this length may vary depending on the climate in your area.

A properly seasoned wood, especially hardwood, is the best choice as firewood. Unseasoned wood may still be used, but it will not be as efficient and long-lasting as seasoned wood.

Firewood Best to Worst

Best Types of Firewood

Not all types of wood are suitable as firewood. Depending on the necessary amount of heat and desired longevity of burning, you may prefer one type over the others. Below is a list of the best types of firewood you can choose from:

Black Locust

Firewood Best to Worst: 10 Woods That Burn the Longest (2)

This wood has a very high heating value, making it excellent at producing heat. It is very dense, so it can burn for a long time. It emits a slight fragrance when burning and produces a low amount of smoke and high-quality coals that can burn all night.

It is one of the best types of wood to use as fuel. However, it does not naturally grow in most regions. It is only common throughout Arkansas and Missouri and the Appalachian Mountains.

Due to its high density or compactness, it is also suitable for construction purposes when camping in the wild.


Wood from the hickory family of trees, like pecan trees, is known to produce an exceptional amount of heat. It emits minimal smoke and produces high-quality coals when burned, making it ideal for campfires and even BBQ grills.

This type of wood is dense and deprived of moisture, thus hard to split and chop. But, due to these properties, it can last longer and burn better. It is a common type of tree, so you can find it in almost any forest.


Oak is one of the best all-around wood, and it is fairly common. It has a high heating value and density, making it great at providing continuous, long-lasting, and quality heat. It has a low spark and smoke output, which makes it ideal firewood to use indoors.

The most common types of oak are white and red oak. Both are excellent firewood. However, due to their high density, it might be difficult to ignite them. For this reason, you can use softwood to start a fire and then add oak wood to fuel it.

(Video) Best Trees for Firewood

Oak is one of the most favored types of firewood. It does an excellent job, especially when seasoned adequately.


Beech is top-tier firewood that provides a stable amount of heat for a decent amount of time. It produces excellent coals and minimal smoke and spark. Its overall quality is on par with that of oak wood.

The only downside of this wood is its moisture content. It needs to be adequately seasoned and thoroughly dried before you can lit it. In addition, it is the hardest firewood to split – it is even harder than black locust and oak wood.


Firewood Best to Worst: 10 Woods That Burn the Longest (3)

Ash is arguably the best firewood to burn. It has a high heat output, and it can provide a long-lasting flame. It is also easier to lit compared to the previously mentioned types of firewood. Furthermore, it doesn’t have to be seasoned or dried to burn effectively, meaning you can use a relatively fresh wood from an Ash tree as firewood.


Cherry only provides a medium amount of heat; it is not as good as heavier and denser woods like Oak and Black Locust. However, it gives off a pleasant aroma while burning.

In addition to its fragrance, it does not produce a significant amount of spark when burned, making it an ideal firewood for indoors. It is an excellent fuel to a fire intended to create a desirable ambience rather than provide heating.


Maple produces a decent amount of heating, and it can last for a long period. Similar to other types of hardwood, Maple is difficult to split. Further, it is hard to ignite like Oak, so you will need to create fire first with softwood before using it as a fuel.


Birch only provides an average amount of heat, and it also burns relatively quickly; thus, it is not ideal to be used as the main firewood. However, due to its flammability, it is great at starting and maintaining a fire.

Birch results in bright flames when burned and only produces a small amount of heat, making it ideal for indoors.


The best feature of Rowan is that it burns slowly. Hence, it can provide a long-lasting, continuous, and moderate amount of heating. It can be your default firewood since it performs well in all types of fire.


Firewood Best to Worst: 10 Woods That Burn the Longest (5)

(Video) Watch This Before Buying Firewood!!!

Despite being a softwood, pine is still a good type of firewood, especially for recreational purposes like camping. It provides a decent amount of heat, but at the same time, it generates a relatively high amount of smoke. It is excellent for outdoor campfires, but it should not be used indoors or for functional purposes such as cooking.

Worst Types of Firewood

Some types of firewood may not be as good as the others, but you may still use them if you have no other options. However, the following are the types not suitable for providing long-lasting heat or even dangerous to use, so you should avoid them.

Green Wood

A green wood is basically a freshly cut wood. Although there are some exemptions, freshly cut wood is often inefficient at keeping or even starting a fire. It has significantly higher water content, so you need to season it first for at least six months before you can use it.

A good indication that the wood is ready to be used is its sap – if it is no longer apparent, then it is ready; otherwise, the wood still needs a bit more time to dry out.

Poisonous Wood

Avoid at all cost wood covered with vines. There’s a high possibility that this wood is poison ivy, poison sumac, poison oak, or some other type of tree with poisonous components.

Poisonous wood contains an irritant known as urushiol. When burned, the irritant will mix with the smoke, and when inhaled, it may cause extreme irritation to the lungs and result in severe allergic respiratory problems.


Firewood Best to Worst: 10 Woods That Burn the Longest (6)

Aside from being extremely damp, driftwood is also saturated in salt. It will be difficult to lit it. In addition, burning it will release a thick smoke filled with toxic chemicals that may be deadly when inhaled in excessive quantities.


Laburnum is a species of wood that generates a very small to no heat at all. Instead, it produces an enormous amount of smoke. It is not particularly harmful, but burning this type of wood is just a waste of time.


Poplar is very similar to laburnum. It is ineffective at providing heat and produces a significant amount of smoke. It is also extremely difficult to lit, so do not bother trying to use it.

Final Thoughts

Whether it is for heating or just for creating a cozy ambience, you should select the most suitable firewood to use. Different types of firewood last differently and provide different intensities of heat. Hence, choose accordingly.

Generally, wood with high heating value, high density, and low moisture content is ideal. Stick to types of firewood with these properties – you may use the list presented in this article as your reference. You are free to use other types of firewood; however, be careful not to accidentally pick the worst ones so you can avoid unnecessary inconveniences.

(Video) How to Determine What Type of Firewood Is Best For Your Woodburning Needs?

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What type of firewood burns the longest? ›

For the serious fire lover, you may want to invest in hardwoods like madrone, live oak, ash, hickory, walnut and fruit trees like apple or cherry. Hardwoods are denser woods that burn hotter and longer than softwoods, but you'll need to let them season more than a year.

What are the worst woods for firewood? ›

Some deciduous trees also don't make good firewood. Aspen, basswood and willow trees all have very soft wood of generally poor quality for burning and producing heat.

What are the slowest burning woods? ›

Hardwood Logs

Hardwood burns the slowest, produces the most intense fires, and produces hot coals that remain hot long after a fire has gone out.

What kind of wood burns the hottest and longest? ›

Which Types of Firewood Burn The Hottest?
  • Osage orange, 32.9 BTUs per cord.
  • Shagbark hickory, 27.7 BTUs per cord.
  • Eastern hornbeam, 27.1 BTUs per cord.
  • Black birch, 26.8 BTUs per cord.
  • Black locust, 26.8 BTUs per cord.
  • Blue beech, 26.8 BTUs per cord.
  • Ironwood, 26.8 BTUs per cord.
  • Bitternut hickory, 26.5 BTUs per cord.
Feb 21, 2017

What is the cleanest burning firewood? ›

To get the cleanest possible burn, we recommend going with kiln-dried firewood.

Which pile of wood will burn faster? ›

Softwoods like pine, cedar, and spruce burn quicker than hardwoods. If you are looking for a log that burns slowly, you will want to use hardwood options, such as oak, maple, or hickory logs.

Why is pine not good firewood? ›

Pine Wood. Pine, a softwood, is resinous. That means when burned, it emits a lot of soot that adds dangerous creosote to your chimney walls. It also burns more quickly than hardwood, so it's less efficient, though it can be used as kindling.

What type of wood is the weakest? ›

It's common knowledge, but Balsa is indeed the softest and lightest of all commercial woods. Nothing else even comes close.

What wood is best for wood burning? ›

Birch makes excellent firewood for burning on a wood burner, stove or in an open fire. This wood produces a good heat, although it burns relatively quickly, so in a fire, it's best to use it in a mix of slower-burning woods, such as elm or oak.

What is the longest lasting wood? ›

Cedar wood projects typically last more than 20 years without splitting, rotting, or warping. White oak and teak are also long lasting woods that are resistant to decay, twisting, cracking, or warping.

What is better to burn ash or oak? ›

Kiln Dried Oak Firewood:

Oak produces a flame initially and then reduces down to a small flame/glow. This firewood will burn for longer than ash, birch and alder and for those who know how to use it properly, is a very popular and sought-after firewood.

What firewood dries the fastest? ›

From Green Firewood to Seasoned Firewood

Softwoods dry fastest but burn faster, so you'll go through more of them. Hardwoods take longer to season but burn hot and slower. Cut it to Size - Cut your logs down to the size you'll want in your fire.

What burns longer hard or soft wood? ›

Due to the density of the wood, hardwood burns for longer and produces more heat when compared to softwood.

What wood should not be burned? ›

What kind of wood SHOULD NOT be burned in the fireplace? Don't burn driftwood in your fireplace. Driftwood is loaded with salt, and the chlorine in salt mixes with wood compounds during burning to release a toxic chemical, one that's been linked to cancer. Don't burn treated, painted, or sealed wood in your fireplace.

What do Alaskans use for firewood? ›

The Best Alaskan Woods for Burning

Cedar: Alaska yellow-cedar and Western redcedar are both coastal trees found mostly in southeast Alaska. Both are considered good burning wood with a consistent and long heat output.

Which wood creates the most creosote? ›

Softwoods like fir, pine and cedar make more smoke, and therefore more creosote.

Which burns better hickory or oak? ›

Hickory firewood is one of the best woods for burning. Hickory is even hotter burning than oak, maple and other popular hardwoods. Hickory is a dense hardwood that can be tough to split, but holds little moisture and burns very well.

Does hickory burn longer than oak? ›

Although it doesn't burn as long as hickory, oak produces bright and steady flames that will light up your backyard for hours.

How do you make firewood burn longer? ›

The following is the best practices to ensure a long, warm fire for as long as possible:
  1. Use only well-seasoned wood.
  2. Burn hardwood.
  3. Fully load the firebox.
  4. Set air damper to 'low airflow' setting.
  5. Sit back, relax, and enjoy hours of warmth!
Aug 27, 2019

How do you season firewood quickly? ›

6 Tips to Season Firewood Quickly
  1. Know the What Type of Wood You're Using. The type of wood you use matters. ...
  2. Prepare During the Right Time of Year. ...
  3. Cut, Split, & Size Your Wood Correctly. ...
  4. Keep It Outdoors. ...
  5. Correctly Stack the Wood. ...
  6. Properly Cover Your Firewood.

What should you not burn in a fireplace? ›

Cardboard in all forms (including pizza, cereal, and shipping boxes) should never be burned in your fireplace. These materials are often treated with wax, plastic, ink, paint, and other materials which can release toxic fumes when burned.

Can you burn fresh cut wood? ›

Freshly cut wood has far too much moisture in it to be able to burn it properly. It is best to cut the wood into smaller rings and then chop into the logs.

What wood is least likely to crack? ›

Cedar is among the densest wood species, which helps prevent cracking due to changes in moisture. Fir is very stable once its moisture content reaches equilibrium with the relative moisture of the surrounding air. At equilibrium, or when the wood is “seasoned”, fir will undergo very little shrinking or warping.

What is the lightest but hardest wood? ›

Redwood – It's one of the lightest and most durable woods used for building. It's one of the many reasons why Redwood is such a popular building material. Heartwood redwood grades are the most durable.

What wood is hardest burning? ›


While this type of wood may look attractive, it's definitely not a good performer in home fires. Driftwood is likely to have come from the sea and is therefore likely to contain chlorine content. Chlorine comes from the absorption of salt and, when burned, will give off chemicals and toxins.

Which wood is highest quality? ›

Teakwood is one of the hardest and most durable of all natural woods. It is resistant to rotting, sunlight, rain, frost, and snow, making it suitable for outdoor construction and furniture. However, it is expensive and sometimes hard to find. Color – Heartwood is golden or medium brown and darkens with age.

What wood lasts 100 years? ›

Teak Wood. Teak wood lasts between 75 and 100 years outside, even longer when properly maintained. Teak has been popular for centuries for outside uses, such as boats.

Why does oak not burn well? ›

Like all types of firewood, oak contains lots of moisture when initially cut and harvested. It may still burn, but it won't burn efficiently, resulting in less heat and more smoke. By curing oak firewood, however, moisture is removed so that it burns better.

What are the disadvantages of wood ash? ›

Too much wood ash can raise the soil pH higher than optimal, which can negatively impact plant nutrient uptake. A soil test will determine relative needs. It is best to know your soil pH before applying your wood ash.

What burns better birch or oak? ›

Birch logs produce slightly more smoke

If you are a very casual user of your stove, birch is probably the best option, however if you use your stove more regular than we would recommend either ash or oak for very intensive use. View our homepage to learn more about our kiln dried logs and view our products.

Does firewood dry faster stacked or piled? ›

It's all about stacking your wood so it'll dry the quickest. This is necessary to avoid fungus. Sun and wind are the most important factors in the drying process. It is recommended that you stack your wood so that the biggest surfaces on the logs are exposed to as much sun and wind as possible.

Does wet firewood burn faster? ›

1. Less heat than dry wood. Wet wood can have up to 100% moisture in it, which means your wood is more water than wood. Heating up all the water before your wood starts to burn is not the idea way to get a fire going, it takes a lot longer to get that fire box up to a decent temperature.

Should I cover firewood with a tarp? ›

Avoid covering all of the firewood with a tarp, and instead, opt to only cover the very top layer of your stack of wood. If your firewood is trapped beneath numerous layers of a tarp, it will not dry properly, which may cause the rotting process to expedite.

Is Ash tree hard or soft wood? ›

Up there with the strongest hardwoods in the industry, dense and almost entirely shock-resistant, Ash is a hardwood with its own claim to fame and deserves its place in the sun.

What is the best wood for wood burning? ›

Birch makes excellent firewood for burning on a wood burner, stove or in an open fire. This wood produces a good heat, although it burns relatively quickly, so in a fire, it's best to use it in a mix of slower-burning woods, such as elm or oak.

Does ash burn longer than oak? ›

Oak produces a flame initially and then reduces down to a small flame/glow. This firewood will burn for longer than ash, birch and alder and for those who know how to use it properly, is a very popular and sought-after firewood.

Does rotten wood burn faster? ›

If a piece of wood is rotted, don't burn it in your fireplace. Rotten wood is less dense than solid, unrotten wood. And with a lower density, it won't produce as much heat when burned. Furthermore, rotting typically occurs from exposure to water or moisture.

Does oak burn slower than pine? ›

Different wood types will yield longer, hotter burns, while some will yield cooler and shorter burns. Typically, hardwoods like oak, walnut, and cherry burn longer than softwoods such as pine and fir.

Is oak or hickory better for burning? ›

Hickory firewood is one of the best woods for burning. Hickory is even hotter burning than oak, maple and other popular hardwoods. Hickory is a dense hardwood that can be tough to split, but holds little moisture and burns very well. Hickory is also very popular for cooking.

What wood is the strongest wood? ›

The strongest wood in the world in terms of the Janka scale is Australian Buloke, which can withstand more than 5,000 pounds of force.

What are the disadvantages of ash wood? ›

Like teak, ash wood has open grains, which is a disadvantage if you want an ultra-smooth furniture texture. Although it is moisture and shock resistant, ash wood is susceptible to insects and fungus when exposed to soil. This makes the material unsuitable for outdoor furniture pieces.

Is ash or birch better to burn? ›

Birch is slightly less dense than ash, and these logs have a slightly better heat output. So, your stove will get hotter quickly and the space that you are trying to heat up will reach the desired temperature in a shorter time. Ash on the other hand offers a more sustained and longer burn.


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