The Best Firewood for Burning

The best firewood for burning is important information to have for individuals who rely on it for cooking or keeping warm. Harvesting wood for a fireplace, or selecting the best firewood for a wood stove, is easy as long as you know what is growing in your general location.

the best firewood for burning

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Who would have known that selecting wood for a wood stove or fireplace would take knowledge? I’ve learned over the years that all wood burns, but not all wood burns best.

Before moving on to the list containing the best firewood for burning, take a look at a few options on how to stack wood. Also, in order to maximize a clean burn make sure to use natural fire starting materials. In addition to these articles, it is important to know what to do with the ash. Wood ash is an extremely useful tool to use around the property.

By the way, a good chainsaw and log splitter are worth their weights in gold. Investing in tools will minimize time and extensive labor in the long run. 

Holzhausen | A Stand Alone Firewood Storage

The Best Wood for a Wood Stove and Fireplace

When selecting firewood make sure to know which will burn burn hotter, slower, and cleaner than others. Avoid firewood which will smoke a lot, or leave a build-up of sap or resin within the chimney. A build-up of creosote in a chimney increases the risk of chimney fires.

Therefore, the best types of firewood for a wood stove or fireplace must burn hot and steadily. Making hardwoods a better choice to use than softwoods. With that said, there are times when softwoods should be used.

Softwood is ideal to use for starting a fire. This type of wood catches easily sue to the sap an resin found in the wood. Mixing the two types of wood together guarantees that a steady, long burn will occur.

Also, do not use firewood which is unseasoned (aka green wood) or rotted. These types of wood will produce less heat and more smoke than seasoned (aka dried) firewood.

Harvesting the Best Firewood for Burning

Purchasing firewood can become quite expensive. Especially if more than a cord or two is need throughout the winter months. Also, keep in mind that hardwood is sold at a much higher cost than soft wood due to its ability to burn longer and hotter.

Because purchasing wood is expensive, harvesting, foraging, or gleaning for firewood is a lot more practical. Low cost, even free, wood can easily be located.

Property – Utilizing trees found on your property is quite beneficial. Not only does is this cost effective, it eliminates the need for transporting the wood.

National Forests – Many national forests sell permits allowing residents to harvest wood. In Washington state the cost for such a permit costs $25. Foraging for firewood in this manor can be taxing. The trees must be hauled from the forest using a quad or other devise.

Craig’s List or Group Sites on Social Media – Aside from having to haul the wood from one location to the next, this is an excellent way to accumulate firewood. Many individuals offer tree rounds free of cost, only asking that you haul it away.

The Best Firewood for Burning

Harvesting firewood will vary based on location, however, most of the trees listed here can be found across North America. Countries such as Australia and New Zealand have native hardwood trees which are also excellent for a long, hot burn.


Hardwood trees provide a hotter, longer burn time. Not to mention, they have the least pitch and sap, making them cleaner to handle. The ash left behind is stony and hard in texture. Also, because of its long burn time, cooking with hardwood makes it the best firewood for a wood stove.

There are a plethora of hardwood options available, however, each variety is classified based on how much heat it will provide.

The best firewood for burningHigh Heat Level 

  • Apple
  • Beech (American)
  • Birch (Yellow)
  • Hickory (Shagbark)
  • Ironwood
  • Maple (Sugar)
  • Red oak
  • White ash
  • White oak

best firewood for a wood stove

The best firewood for burningMedium Heat Level  

  • Birch (White)
  • Cherry (Black)
  • Douglas fir
  • Elm (American)
  • Maple (Red and Silver)
  • Tamarack

The best firewood for burningLow Heat Level 

  • Alder (Red)
  • Aspen
  • Cedar (Red)
  • Cottonwood
  • Hemlock
  • Pine (Lodgepole and White)
  • Redwood
  • Spruce (Sitka)

DIY Wood Box for Firewood Storage


Unlike the cost of hardwood, softwood is much cheaper in price. This type of firewood burns faster and leaves behind ash which is finer in texture than hardwood ash.  Softwood is also messier to handle, and causes creosote build up much quicker within the chimney.

  • Alder
  • Balsam
  • Cedar
  • Pine
  • Poplar
  • Spruce
  • Tamarack

best firewood for a wood stove

Wood to Avoid

Utilizing salvaged or wood scraps is a great way to save money. However, there are some items which should be avoided. Many of these items have been treated with paint or a sealant of some sort and will release toxic fumes when burned. But more importantly, these items will leave a hazardous build-up of creosote in the chimney.

Avoid burning the following items

  • Painted or vanished materials
  • Pressure-treated lumber
  • Driftwood
  • Plywood, particleboard, and MDF
  • Compressed paper products

Natural Fire Starting Materials

the best firewood for burning


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