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Wood Types

Which Wood to Burn?

There are hundreds of different woods and wood types to choose from.
Each type of wood has different characteristics, some woods may burn for a long time and produce little heat, while others may have a shorter burn time but produce a good aroma, and some my give off lots of smoke and spit embers.
The following list will help to give you an idea of some of the different characteristics of a small sample of what is available.

Alder - Gives a poor heat output and does not last very long.
Apple - Has a steady slow burn when the wood is dry, good heat output with small visible flame with a pleasant odour.
Ash -  Excellent burning wood, gives great heat and flame output and also burns when green. Best heat output gained when the wood is dry.
Beech -  Good heat output but only fair when the wood is green. The wood is prone to shoot embers whilst burning.
Birch - The heat is good but the wood burns quickly, however a pleasant odour is produced.
Cedar -  Produces little flames but great heat and a wonderful odour. Provides a splendid noise when burned.
Cherry - A slow burning wood that produces good heat and a pleasant odour.
Chestnut - Produces small flames and nominal heat, This wood is also prone to shooting embers.
Douglas Fir - Poor. Little flame or heat.
Elder - Generates a lot of smoke and burns very quickly, coupled with not much heat.
Elm - Commonly offered for sale. To burn well it needs to be kept for two years. Even when dry it is liable to smoke.
Eucalyptus - Good dense hardwood, should be properly seasoned before use, but will produce good heat.
Hazel - Good.
Holly - Good, will burn when green, but best when kept a season to dry out fully.
Hornbeam - Comparable in many aspects to Beech.
Laburnum - Totally poisonous tree, acrid smoke, taints food and best avoided altogether.
Larch - Crackly, scented, and fairly good for heat.
Laurel - Has brilliant flame.
Lime - Poor. Burns with dull flame.
Maple - Good.
Oak - Oak does not produce a very good flame and the smoke is acrid, but dry old oak is excellent for heat, burning slowly and steadily until whole log collapses into ash.
Pear - Provides good heat combined with an extremely pleasant scent.
Pine - Bums with a splendid flame, but is liable to spit.
Plane - Burns pleasantly, but is naturally given to throw sparks if very dry.
Plum - Good heat and aromatic.
Poplar - Not recommended.
Rhododendron - The thick old stems, being very tough, burn well.
Robinia (Acacia) - Burns slowly, with good heat, but is unfortunately accompanied by an acrid smoke.
Spruce - Burns at a extremely fast rate and creates many sparks.
Sycamore - Burns with a good flame, with moderate heat. Useless green.
Thorn - Quite one of the best woods. Burns slowly, produces great heat with very little smoke.
Walnut - Good, and so is the scent. A very aromatic wood.
Willow - Poor. In a dry condition burns slowly, with little flame. Liable to spark.
Yew - Last in the list but by no means least. Has a slow burn with great heat and also has a pleasant scent.


When buying firewood please remember that first and foremost, it must be properly seasoned. The best way to get seasoned wood is to buy THIS years wood for NEXT year!
Wood yards or sellers may tell you that even though the wood was split this year, it will be just fine. Except in the cases of Fir or Pine, that may not be be the case. But, if you split this seasons wood: it may be dry and very white inside! Unseasoned wood has the fresh clean look of new lumber at a Woodyard or DIY store. Unseasoned wood has that same fresh look on the INSIDE when it's split. Though seasoned wood is darker on the outside, it's bone white on the inside.
You should be looking for gray, or darkened, brittle wood that has a lot of cracks in the inner rings. Wood that is seasoned looks grey, or dark due to the fact that it has been sitting in the sun, or has been stored indoors, drying, and collecting dust.

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