Which is the Best Wood to Burn? - Types of Firewood

Posted by Fire Pit Plaza on

September has officially started, which means cooler weather is starting and the beginning of Fall is right around the corner. You and your family and friends might want to enjoy the cooler night weather around your wood burning fire pit while making s'mores, chatting and enjoying each other's company.

But if you are new to owning a wood burning fire pit, you may not be exactly sure what types of firewood you should be burning. Don't worry, we've got you covered! Below we've put together a guide for the kind of fire wood you should burn in your wood burning fire pit and in your own backyard.

Seasoned Firewood - The Secret to Wood Burning

According to wood burning experts, the secret to creating an awesome fire is allowing wood to season for at least a year. Seasoned firewood is wood that has been left out to dry for an extended period of time.

Wet wood, or unseasoned wood, including green wood which has recently been cut from a tree, can be difficult to burn and burns with less heat. Wet wood can be difficult to light and to keep consistently lit. Unseasoned wood contains a lot of liquid inside so it often smolders and burns poorly with little heat.

Often times, firewood you purchase from a store is actually intended for next year's fire, so you may want to buy your firewood ahead of time year after year if you plan on burning firewood.

How Can You Tell if Wood is Seasoned?

You can usually tell when firewood is seasoned simply by looking at it and looking for a few telltale signs. On the outside, seasoned wood usually looks gray and dusty from sitting around for some time. On the inside, seasoned wood is often dry and white. Seasoned wood is usually lighter on the inside than it is on the outside.

On the contrary, new wet, unseasoned wood, has the same color throughout the wood on the outside and inside.

No matter what specific kind of wood you purchase or find, try to always avoid using wet, unseasoned wood and always use seasoned firewood when possible.

If you can't find seasoned wood, the best next option is ash or fir. Ash and fir will burn better than most woods, while it is still green and unseasoned, although they will burn best when seasoned also.

Types of Firewood - Hardwoods vs. Softwood

Hardwoods are denser woods than softwoods and burn hotter and longer, but hardwoods need to season for more than a year.  As mentioned before, Ash is can be burnt a bit earlier than a year, but burns best when seasoned.

Although hardwoods can be more expensive than softwoods, hardwoods burn longer so you’ll end up needing less wood.

Hardwoods are a good option if you often plan on burning firewood year after year.

If you just burn a fire every once in a while, a seasoned softwood can be good option. Softwood tend to be easy to get a fire started and the wonderful aroma is a plus.  However, softwoods won't burn for as long as hardwoods and you will have to continue adding firewood to your fire to keep it lit. 

Below is a breakdown of different types of hardwoods and softwoods that you can burn using your wood burning fire pit.

types of firewood wood to burn

Types of Firewood - Hardwoods

Hardwoods will burn longer and hotter, which means these are a good option for a colder night.

BEST: Ash, Red oak, White oak,
Beech, Birch, Hawthorn, Hickory,
Hard maple, Pear, Pecan, Dogwood,
Almond, Apple
High Yes Yes No No Ash – burns when green
Almond – sweet scent
Beech – throws sparks
Birch – pleasant scent and burns quickly
GOOD: Soft maple, cherry, walnut Medium Yes Yes No No Walnut – harder to split
FAIR: Alder, Aspen, Basswood,
Cottonwood, Elm, Sycamore, Yellow
Low No Yes Medium No Aspen, Basswood, Cottonwood
are good for kindling
Elm – season for two years


Types of Firewood - Softwoods

Softwoods tend to burn faster and split easier than hardwoods, have a pleasant aroma and are less expensive.

burn fast, split easier
Heat Content Easy to Burn Easy to Split Smoke Throw Sparks Ratings/Remarks
BEST: Southern Yellow Pine,
Spruce, Fir, Tamarack, Larch
Medium Yes Yes Medium Can
GOOD: Eastern red cedar, Western
red cedar, White Cedar, Eastern and
Western White pine, Sugar pine,
Ponderosa pine
Low Medium Yes Medium No All good for kindling, pleasant scent
Cedar – steady heat without too big of a flame
Pine – lower heat content
FAIR: Cypress Medium No Yes Medium No


We hope this information on the types of firewoods to burn in your wood burning fire pit has been helpful and you enjoy the cooler fall nights! 


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