This is going to be fun. There are a ton of different species of wood in America that can be used for firewood. But, some of them burn much longer than others, making it easier to maintain a lasting fire in your wood stove, fireplace, or campfire.
So, in this article, I’ve compiled a list of the 15 longest burning firewood species that are found in America. I’ve taken a data-driven approach, and have used data from Oklahoma State University and Utah State University in order to create the below ranking.
What Makes Firewood Burn Longer?
Before we dig into the details, let me quickly mention what makes firewood burn longer:
When all other factors are equal, like the moisture content and volume of the wood, firewood that is more dense (i.e. heavier) will usually burn longer than firewood that is less dense. For example, White Oak weighs about 13% more than Mulberry when they’re both dry, and White Oak burns longer than Mulberry.
So, I’ve ranked the below 15 firewood species by their dry weight, which has a strong correlation to how long they will continue to burn.
Let’s jump to a summary chart, and then we’ll dig into each species in more detail.
Longest Burning Firewood Chart
|Rank||Firewood Species||Dry Weight (Pounds per Cord)||Heat per Cord (Million BTUs)|
Below, we’ll cover each type of firewood in more detail. I’ve even recorded videos walking through the essential facts for several species. Let’s jump in!
1. Osage Orange
Osage Orange is easily the heaviest firewood on this list, and given equal conditions, I’d expect it to burn longer than any other species of firewood found in America.
It’s also the leader in heat output, and is the only species listed that is capable of producing more than 30 million BTUs of heat per cord of wood. In fact, I’ve even heard that the heat output can be so intense that you have to be careful not to damage your wood stove.
Even though it burns hot and long, I don’t think I would call Osage Orange the best firewood out there. When considering the best all-around firewood, it’s useful to also consider other factors, like how easy the wood is to split and work with, whether the wood sparks or smokes heavily when it burns, etc. If you want to learn more about these things, you can check out our article that covers my favorite firewood species.
You may be surprised to see Dogwood so high on this list, and frankly, so was I. But, if you look at the data from Utah State University, a cord of Dogwood weighs 4230 pounds when it’s dry. This puts it above all other species of firewood (except for Osage-Orange). As a result, I’d expect it to burn longer then the species’ that come next in the list.
With that said, there is other data out there that conflicts with this number. For example, this source puts Dogwood at 3995 pounds per cord, which would bump it down to 5th place in this list.
Either way, Dogwood is an extremely dense firewood, that at least belongs in the top 5 list of longest burning firewood species. Alright, now let’s get to the next two species, which are my personal favorite firewood choices.
3. Black Locust
Growing up in the Midwest USA, my family prized Black Locust, and would typically save it for the coldest months of winter, and especially for keeping our wood stove burning overnight. If I could only have one species of firewood to heat a house, I’d probably choose Black Locust.
Black Locust is extremely dense and heavy, and can keep a fire burning for many hours. In addition, Black Locust has anti-rotting properties in the wood, which can prevent the wood from decaying for years or even decades. Black Locust is a top firewood, which burns long, hot, and can be stored for long periods of time.
My second favorite firewood for fires that burn long and hot, is Hickory.
Hickory burns extremely long, and exceptionally hot, and although there are other firewood species that burn a little longer (e.g. Black Locust and Osage Orange), Hickory is better for campfires and cooking due to the beautiful smell and flavors of it’s smoke.
In other words, Hickory is pretty comparable to Black Locust for how long it is capable of burning. However, if you want to use the wood outdoors for a campfire or cookout, and you want to keep that fire going for a super long time, then Hickory is going to give you a more pleasant experience.
Now we’ve reached the first fruit wood on this list.
Apple wood is dense and will burn long and hot. One of the main downsides of Apple firewood today, is that modern varieties of Apple trees tend to be quite small. It’s still worth burning, especially if you have dead trees or branches that wouldn’t be used otherwise. However, the amount of wood you get for the effort will probably be smaller compared to other woods.
With that said, Apple is another great wood for campfires, because of it’s pleasant aroma. It smells lighter and fruitier than Hickory does, and is also used for smoking meats (ever had “apple wood smoked bacon”?).
6. White Oak
Now we’ve finally arrived at our first species of Oak. You may be surprised to see Oak so far down on this list, and I can understand that given the popularity of Oak for firewood.
White Oak is the longest burning of all Oak species, and when compared with other woods, it is definitely one of the longest burning firewoods in America. It’s not quite as dense or long-burning as Osage Orange or Apple, but Oak trees are often much larger than those species, and you can get much more firewood from a single tree.
In addition, Oak (in general) is arguably the most versatile type of wood native to America. It makes excellent firewood for heating and cooking, and is excellent for woodworking, furniture, and more.
7. Bur Oak
There are 3 species of Oak featured on this list. The 2nd is Bur Oak.
For use as a firewood, Bur Oak is very similar to White Oak, it’s just slightly less dense and won’t burn quite as hot or long.
I’ll leave it at that.
Beech is in the middle of the pack in this article, but that’s because pretty much all the species’ in this list are extremely long-burning woods.
Beech firewood does burn long and hot. However, Beech trees typically grow with hollow trunks. As a result, you may have a hard time getting the same volume of wood from a single Beech tree compared with other long-burning species’ like Oak and Hickory.
Beech wood is also pretty tough to split, but it has a really nice fragrance when burned. The fragrance and flavor in Beech wood is also why it is used in barrel making.
I think Mulberry is somewhat underrated for the quality of it’s firewood.
Mulberry is excellent firewood when its used in a wood stove. It burns long and hot, and it also produces a nice aroma when burned. Perhaps the biggest issue with Mulberry firewood is that it produces heavy sparks. So it could cause problems for indoor open-air fireplaces, or for outdoor campfires.
10. Honey Locust
There’s a ton of Honey Locust trees next to the river where I live.
Honey Locust is good firewood, it burns long and hot, but it can be quite difficult to work with. Honey Locust trees produce extremely large clusters of thorns on their trunks and branches. In addition, Honey Locust tends to throw sparks when it burns, so you may want to avoid for open-air fires.
If you can get around the thorns without hurting yourself, and if you’re burning in a wood stove, then Honey Locust can be a great source of wood heat.
11. Red Oak
Red Oak is the 3rd most dense species of Oak firewood, and it doesn’t burn quite as long as White Oak or Bur Oak. With that said, it’s still Oak, and it’s among the best species’ for hot and long-burning fires.
12. White Ash
If you asked 100 firewood burners what their 5 favorite types of firewood are, probably 70+ people would include Ash in their list. Many would probably call it their #1 favorite.
Ash has long been a favorite among those who heat their homes with firewood. It burns hot, and can sustain a long fire with quality coals. Plus, it’s pretty easy to split and work with.
The sad thing about Ash, is that most mature Ash trees in the US are dying, or already dead, due to the Emerald Ash Borer. The Emerald Ash Borer is an invasive species of beetle, which has decimated the native Ash tree population in America.
13. Hard Maple (i.e. Sugar Maple)
There are two main categories of Maple trees in America: Hard Maple and Soft Maple. Hard Maple trees include species like Sugar Maple, which have harder and denser wood compared with Soft Maple trees. An example of a Soft Maple tree would be Silver Maple.
Hard Maple is pretty good firewood. The duration of the burn and the heat output is good compared with very soft woods like Pine or Aspen, but it is not nearly as good as burning Hickory, Oak, or other extremely dense firewoods.
Tamarack is also called Larch, and it’s unique among the other trees on this list, because it’s a “hard softwood”. If you’d like to learn the real difference between a hardwood and softwood, you can check out this video.
Tamarack makes fairly good firewood, and will produce a hot fire with a fairly long burn. Compared to other trees with needles (e.g. Pine, Juniper, etc.), Tamarack will produce a hotter and longer lasting fire. However, it can not compete with much denser hardwoods like Oak, Hickory, etc.
15. Black Walnut
Black Walnut wood is prized for it’s beautiful grain, and is among the most valuable types of wood for woodworking.
With that said, Black Walnut also produces a pretty hot fire that can sustain a fairly long burn. Personally, I would only use Black Walnut for firewood if I was truly desperate, or if the given wood was unusable for woodworking.
Best Firewood for Burning
How long a given type of firewood will burn is not the only thing you should consider, especially if you plan to burn a lot of wood.
It’s also worth considering the quality of the coals, the total heat output, how easy it is to work with, the smoke output, sparking, and more. If you’d like to learn more, check out our article ranking the best firewood species based on a variety of criteria.
How to Identify Firewood
It’s also worth mentioning that knowing how long a type of firewood will burn, doesn’t do you much good if you can’t identify it. That’s why I’ve put together, what I believe, is the most helpful guide about firewood identification on the internet. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a bit, but I hope you’ll find it helpful.
Best Smelling Firewood
Finally, if you’re in the mood for a little fun, I’d recommend checking out our ranking of the 11 best smelling firewood species’. I think you’ll get a kick out of it.
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 is the word equation for burning wood? ›
CH4+4O2→CO2+H2O (plus heat!)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 is the best firewood in the world? ›
- Red oak.
- Shagbark hickory.
- Sugar maple (Music to eastern Canadian's ears!)
- White ash.
- White oak.
- Yellow birch.
- 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.
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.