The Best Firewood A – Z

The choice between softwoods and hardwoods for burning in wood burning stoves is a significant factor in achieving effective heating.

Hardwood is generally preferred for wood burning stoves over softwoods. Hardwoods have greater density providing up to 50% more heat output than softwoods. The greater the weigh of the hardwood normally translates into increased heat output and less frequent refilling of the stove.

Softwood is generally cheaper but tends to burn faster than hardwood. If not mixed with slower burning hardwoods it can cause a build-up of tar which could invalidate some stove manufacturers warranties. However, because softwoods are naturally easier to light and burn at high temperatures, they can be used as excellent kindling to start hardwood fires.

Different types of firewood can be burned together in order to achieve your preferred combination of warmth, longevity, aroma and aesthetic appearance.

A good firewood merchant can advise you how to achieve your ideal fire without the need for you to understand anything about the different types of firewood.

However, if you are interested, here is our basic guide to some of the more popular types of firewood outlining their characteristics and suitability:-

Alder: Burns quickly but produces only moderate heat. Can be mixed with slower burning logs.

Apple: Burns slowly producing reasonable heat, a nice odour but a disappointing flame.

Ash: Burns well with low smoke and an excellent flame pattern.

Beech: Burns well with a reasonable flame.

Birch: Burns quickly providing lively flames a high heat output and a pleasing smell. Best mixed with other slower burning logs.

Cedar: Burns well providing long lasting heat and a distinctive insect repelling aroma.

Cherry: Burns slowly producing a good heat output and a pleasant aroma.

Chestnut: Burns with a reasonable flame and average heat output.

Cypress: Burns quickly at a high temperature. Can be mixed with other slower burning logs.

Driftwood: Advised against due to its release of sodium and chlorine ions in the form of dioxins which are carcinogenic.

Elm: Burns well but slowly. Can be mixed with a faster burning logs.

Eucalyptus: Burns reasonably well with an aromatic smell.

Hawthorn: Burns steadily with a good heat output, but thorns can make it unpleasant to handle.

Hazel: Burns quite fast but produces good heat. Can be mixed with slower burning logs.

Holly: Burns fast producing little heat, but has a bright flame. Can be mixed with slower burning logs.

Laburnum: Advised against due to poisonous properties, foul smelling smoke, and potential damage to the flue system.

Larch: Burns with a reasonable heat but can leave oily and sticky deposits if not burned at a high temperature. Best mixed with other slow burning logs.

Lime: Burns with moderate heat output but an unimpressive flame.

Maple: Burns well with moderate heat output and a good flame.

Oak: Burns fairly slowly with nice flames and produces long lasting heat. Generally considered to be one of the best fibrewoods.

Pear: Burns slowly and steadily, providing reasonable heat and a pleasant smell but a disappointing flame.

Pine (Deal): Burns fast with a bright flame but can cause problems in the flue system due to a high resin content. Can be mixed with slower burning logs.

Poplar: Burns poorly and produces unpleasant black smoke.

Rowan: Burns slowly producing reasonable heat.

Spruce: Burns quickly with low heat, can be smoky, and produces sparks. Better suited for starting fires or mixed with other logs.

Sycamore: Burns well with moderate heat output and a good flame.

Willow: Burns slowly producing moderate heat with little flame.

Yew: Burns slowly producing good heat.

Zelkova: Burns poorly and is generally only found in east Asia, but we needed to include a wood beginning with the letter Z.