The Best Wood to Burn (for Heat)

Whether you have a wood furnace, stove, or an old fashioned chimney and fireplace, you want to burn real actual wood this winter to stay warm. But what is the best wood to burn? Does it matter? Should you prefer one type over another? Is there a bad wood to burn?

Those are all good questions that you may not know the answer to, but don't worry, we can help!

The Best Wood to Burn at Home or Abroad

Broadly speaking, wood is divided into two main types: hardwoods and softwoods. Softwoods aren't 'soft' like a pillow; they're still wood after all. Now, as to which is the best wood to burn for heating, you should really go with hardwood.

Most fruit trees like ash, birch, maple and oak are hardwoods. Hardwoods are considered the best for heat, since they burn longer and hotter. Most hardwoods don't have a lot of sap making them less messy. On the downside, hardwoods can be expensive. Of course, if you have access to your own hardwood trees, expense won't be an issue.

What We Don't Like About Softwoods

Softwoods like poplar, pine, balsam, fir, spruce or others are generally cheaper than hardwoods, true. They also burn faster and leave a finer ash which is not what you want. Softwoods tend to be messier, and pine, a very messy tree, is a great example of that. Burning pine sap causes creosote to build up more quickly inside the chimney and that needs to be cleaned periodically. So, yes, they're cheaper, but you also have a worse mess to clean, you risk chance of causing an unwanted fire, and they don't burn as long or as effectively.


One thing you should never do is burn green wood. Green wood can be good for low, slow cooking. But it's terrible for heating, since green wood doesn't produce much heat. Plus, you'll get a lot of smoke and creosote while you stay cold.

Other Burning Questions?

Do you have other questions or comments about the best wood to burn? Just ask here, on Facebook, or on Twitter.

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