If you’re interested in burning wood in a stove, fireplace, or outdoor campfire, then there’s one key to efficiency as well as safety which is the quality of the firewood which makes it burn the longest!
Choosing a type of firewood that burns for a prolonged period may appear an easy task but that isn’t always the actual case. There are a few things that you will need to take into consideration when choosing long-lasting firewood for your use. One of them is the density of the wood which plays an important part in the wood’s efficiency and burning.
So what are the best types of firewood to burn? Or the best wood to burn in a fireplace, stove, or campfire? Well, the answer to it is how dense a wood is. The denser wood like Oak, Hickory, and elm are going to burn the longest and produce the most heat while the softer woods like pine and basswood are going to burn faster and produce less heat.
But it’s best that you have a variety of softwoods mixed in the hardwood as the fusion of both in your firewood stack pile will allow you to have more control over the fire that you’re burning in a wood stove or wood burning appliance.
Let us tell you that nothing beats the warmth on a cold day from a wood stove and nothing beats the money that you can save on your home heating cost by burning wood.
In this very article, we are going to cover the best tree species for wood burning and what to consider when you are choosing the type of firewood to use which will have long-lasting flames.
Table of Contents
Can You Burn Hardwood Flooring?
No, you should never burn hardwood flooring as the wood used for flooring is treated with polyurethane, varnish, or paint. These coatings most likely have toxic elements which are released when they are burned.
Varnishes and old paints have cobalt, lead, and manganese in them. It’s better to dump them in a landfill because burning them can emit poisonous fumes into the atmosphere.
Longest Burning Firewood
Even though the most important factor of the firewood that you choose should be the amount of heat it can produce. But there are other basic things too, which you should consider as well.
If you are going to buy firewood in full chords or pre-cut rounds, consider how easy the wood is going to split. The denser the wood, the more force it is going to require for it to be split.
Also, ask yourself what would you be using the firewood for. This is important. If you are going to use firewood for heating your home, you need to make sure that you prepare your firewood stack pile, and it must have sufficient time to properly season. Remember, the harder the type of wood the longer it is going to take the season.
The secret behind the longest burning firewood lies in the type of wood that is used. In the following section, you’ll be reading about some of the most common firewood that we burnt, and here’s what we’ve concluded. They burn the longest!
- Osage Orange
- Black Locust
- Cherry Wood
Hickory burns hotter than Oak and Maple, resulting in one of the longest firewood that one can burn. What one has to do is start a fire with hickory, add in some coals and let it burn through the night. It also puts off the smoky aroma and holds little moisture, so you do not have to season it for a long time.
The famously hot-burning type of firewood to be mentioned is Osage Orange. The Osage Orange burns around 33 million BTUs per cord which means it burns really hot and produces excellent coals.
Its heat per cord is quite above black locust and hickory, making it the hottest and longest burning firewood. Even though it is not used most commonly but it’s worth the mention.
This firewood on our list is head-to-head with hickory. It burns a little bit hotter at 29 million BTUs and also illuminates the longest. But it’s pretty much debatable when hickory and black locust are compared because both are near to each other in terms of their heat output.
Beechwood is another example of hardwood and it too burns the longest. It requires proper seasoning and once it is seasoned well, it dries out to about 12% moisture content. Such a low moisture content allows this wood to burn hotter and for a longer period.
Similarly, Cherry Wood not only burns for long but also gives off a very pleasing aroma when it is burnt. This wood can be cut and split in the early spring and by the end of fall and winter, it is ready to burn.
Lastly, Ash is also a very good choice for longest-burning firewood. It has a neutral odor and gets ready to be burnt in about 6 months. It produces less smoke and little sparks as compared to other hardwoods.
Longest Burning Firewood – Ranking 1 to 6
The firewood which will burn the longest is most probably going to be denser than any other firewood available and besides all, it will also provide excellent coals and will have a relatively high amount of heat as well.
In the following table, the firewood that burns the longest is mentioned from rank 1 to 6 concerning their heat per cord.
|Burn Time Rank||Firewood name||Heat Per Cord (Million BTUs)||The Relative Amount of Heat||Coal|
How to Make Any Wood Burn Longer?
The first step in burning any wood is to toss in some logs, some paper, and a match. Do not put too many logs in the fire all at once. Instead, add the logs gradually as it will result in building a strong and steady heat.
Next, know the wood that you are burning. For example, Oak is one of the best woods to burn as one cord of Oak can burn about 29 million BTUs.
Thirdly, season the wood well as it burns longer and better than wood that is green. Additionally, it provides four times more heat value as compared to uncured wood. The trick is to cut, split and stack the wood in the early spring and let it sit under the sun for as long as possible so that it gets seasoned well and is ready at the end of fall or winter.
Take extra care of the chimney and any other fireplace and clean it properly so that ash does not get piled up as it comes in the way of producing effective heat.
Lastly, make sure that your fire gets enough air as it ensures that the fire burns hot and clean. Cut, split, and store the wood in a place that is sheltered from the weather but does not cover the sides so that the air can keep circulating there.
Hardwood Vs Softwood Firewood
If you are using firewood for indoor use, then hardwood is a better choice than softwood as it has lower moisture content. So, it burns cleaner, slower and hotter. It is also very economical if a lot of wood is to be burned since a greater volume of softwood is used for getting the desired heat.
However, hardwood is more expensive upfront because it takes more time for it to mature as compared to softwood. Another drawback of using hardwood is that it requires more time to be seasoned and due to this reason, people turn to kiln-dried wood.
As far as the softwood is concerned, it seasons much faster and is an excellent choice for kindling. It is also great for a campfire as it catches the fire quickly, burns faster, and produces larger flames that crackle and spark which creates a scenic view.
When you want a fire, but you don’t want to be heated out of your house, then that soft firewood can be the best option as they are easier to control the heat they put off. They also serve best of kindling or starter wood because it is easier to light most often.
However, when a slow-burning fire is needed, it is better to use a blend of hardwoods and softwoods.
What Makes Firewood Burn Longer?
The recipe for making long-burning firewood includes the type of wood that is being used. It all depends on the density and the water content of the firewood. The denser and drier it is, the better it will burn and the more heat it will produce. Hardwoods generally make good firewood because of their low density and comparatively low levels of sap or pitch.
Wet wood is generally easy to cut and split. After cutting the wood, it must be stacked in a place that is away from rain for at least 6 months so that it gets seasoned properly. If steam bubbles out of the end grain of the firewood as it gets heated up in the fire, then it is a sign that the wood has not been seasoned properly and requires more time to dry.
Well-seasoned firewood usually has darker ends and visible cracks. Additionally, the place where the wood is burnt should be clean of any ash as just one-tenth of an inch of soot inside the fireplace can lessen the heat transfer efficiency by 50%.
Longest Burning Firewood – FAQs
What is the slowest burning firewood?
Oak is the slowest burning firewood as it’s quite dense with a heat output of generally around 25 to 30 BTUs per cord. When it is seasoned properly, Oak burns the slowest. In this category hickory, Ash, Maple, Osage-Orange, and Mulberry also lie.
What firewood burns the hottest and longest?
Osage-Orange is the famous hottest burning firewood. It burns around 33 million BTUs per cord which is quite a bit above black locust and hickory. While hickory burns the longest with an outstanding fragrance.
What wood is hardest to burn?
Cedar wood is hardest to burn as the sap content in it is quite high. While having a distinctive and strong smell, the Cedarwood causes a lot of smoke and soot which makes it difficult to burn.
Denser wood would have higher energy content, meaning that it is going to produce more heat per fire. Your fire is going to burn longer and leave behind coals which will make restarting firewood much easier. Based on density alone, you will think that hardwoods are what I want. However, there are times when less dense woods can be valuable in the spring or fall.
The dense wood is going to burn up faster and leave behind more ash and fewer coals. They also serve best of kindling or starter wood because they are easier to light most often. It is most likely recommended that you have a variety of hard and soft wood in your firewood pile.
Which 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 kind of wood burns the hottest and longest? ›
- 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.
Oak turned out to last the longest and lodgepole pine burned out the fastest. In my experiment I saw that all of the woods ignited in the same fashion, but that some of them hold a flame longer than others.What type of wood has the highest BTUs? ›
- Red oak.
- Shagbark hickory.
- Sugar maple (Music to eastern Canadian's ears!)
- White ash.
- White oak.
- Yellow birch.
Oak, ash, hickory, and maple are good examples of low-smoking hardwoods. Hardwoods that tend to smoke more than others include eucalyptus, poplar, elm, and others (see below).Which wood should you not burn? ›
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 burns hotter gasoline or wood? ›
You can get more heat from wood because it burns hotter than both propane and natural gas. This also means that outdoor cooking is easier to accomplish with wood burning applications than gas ones. There is nothing quite like the crackling sounds and rustic smells of a natural cedar burning fire place.What burns hotter than wood? ›
Soft woods such as pine burn at a much lower temperature, less than 1,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Anthracite coal burns at above 2,500 degrees Fahrenheit and can burn as hot as 3,500 degrees depending on combustion air flow.Does wood burn faster when wet? ›
Wood burned inside the home should always be dry and seasoned for at least 6-12 months. Wood burns most efficiently when the moisture content is at 20% or less. Damp wood burns at a cooler temperature, resulting in incomplete combustion, more smoke, and dangerous creosote build-up in the chimney (a fire hazard).What is the most popular firewood? ›
Oak Is the Most Common
In the United States, oak is probably the most common type of firewood. Regardless of where you live, you can probably find full cords, face cords and half cords of oak firewood available for sale.
What wood makes most houses? ›
Many of the most common species used in the construction are softwoods like spruce, fir, and pine. The risk is higher when looking at furniture and flooring (i.e., Lumber Liquidators).What is the slowest burning firewood? ›
Hardwood burns the slowest, produces the most intense fires, and produces hot coals that remain hot long after a fire has gone out.
Softwoods like fir, pine and cedar make more smoke, and therefore more creosote.What wood is poisonous to smoke? ›
Wood Containing Toxins
Some of these plants include mangrove, poisonous walnut, sassafras, oleander, yew, tambootie, and laburnun.
Close air vents
Once the flames have been dampened down, close your stove's air vents to control the levels of oxygen getting to the fire: by doing this, the fuel will burn for longer. Once the embers are glowing orange, you can leave your wood burning stove for the night.
Hardwood varieties of firewood are less likely to pop and crackle than softwood varieties. There are a few reasons for this, one of which is the low moisture content of hardwood. Most hardwood varieties have a lower moisture content than softwood varieties, so they typically don't produce steam pockets when burned.Do potato peels clean chimneys? ›
There is another version of this myth involving potato peels instead, and, like with oranges, burning them in the fireplace has no cleaning effect on your chimney whatsoever.What is the best smelling wood to burn? ›
- Black Locust.
- Bitternut Hickory.
- Know the What Type of Wood You're Using. The type of wood you use matters. ...
- Prepare During the Right Time of Year. ...
- Cut, Split, & Size Your Wood Correctly. ...
- Keep It Outdoors. ...
- Correctly Stack the Wood. ...
- Properly Cover Your Firewood.
Due to the density of the wood, hardwood burns for longer and produces more heat when compared to softwood.
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.How long will a full cord of firewood last? ›
Most experts agree that if you make one or two fires at home per week, a full cord of firewood should last eight to twelve weeks.What makes wood burn longer? ›
The lower the moisture content the longer burn times you will receive. Make sure to always burn only properly seasoned wood to avoid damage to the unit. There should be a moisture content of below 20% in wood used for burning.What is the best firewood to burn? ›
Hardwoods such as maple, oak, ash, birch, and most fruit trees are the best burning woods that will give you a hotter and longer burn time. These woods have the least pitch and sap and are generally cleaner to handle.Why do smaller pieces of wood burn better? ›
Small pieces of wood have a larger surface area - volume ratio. This means that the wood has a higher exposure to the flame, and will burn hotter, and quicker than a larger piece. This is why kindling wood is small, and why larger pieces will keep you from needing to stoke the fire as often.How do you make firewood burn faster? ›
Provide more air. Split up into small pieces. Make firewood dry
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Adding big logs to the fire straight away can slow the burn and reduce all the heat created from lighting the fire. The fire can be regulated by the size of log added. For example, bigger logs will burn slower than small ones.
To create fires that produce more heat, open the damper as wide as possible when lighting a fire. A wide-open damper will increase the amount of air reaching the fire and improve combustion. As a result, the fire will burn hotter.How many cords of wood do you burn in a winter? ›
“The standard rule of thumb is that a 1,000-square-foot home will use three cords of wood for a season,” she says. “If your wood burning stove is super high-efficiency, or if you live in a more moderate climate, you may need less.”What does 1 cord of firewood look like? ›
Firewood is sold by a measurement called a "cord." A cord must equal 128 cubic feet. To be sure you have a cord, stack the wood neatly by placing the wood in a line or row with individual pieces touching and parallel to each other, making sure that the wood is compact and has as few gaps as possible.
What does 1/4 cord of firewood look like? ›
A quarter cord of wood is 4'x6'x16” For this amount, there is one row of wood in the stack and the width is reduced to produce the volume of 32 Cubic Feet Instead of 8 feet wide on the face cord the quarter cord is 6 feet wide.