The best firewood is of course the type that best suits your needs which can vary depending on whether you are cooking or using the wood for heat in a fireplace. There are many types of wood which are suitable either for the fireplace or for cooking. Here I will repeat some of the basic important principles that are important when choosing wood. After that is a detailed list of several common types of firewood and their characteristics.
"Seasoned" Firewood - Seasoned firewood is wood which has been left out to dry for an extended period of time. Wet wood, including green wood which has recently been cut from a tree, is more difficult to burn and burns with less heat. Avoid using wet wood and always use seasoned firewood if at all possible.
Energy Content - BTUs (British Thermal Units) - This is a measure of how much heat is given off by a certain amount of wood. The hardwoods have the highest BTU content and thus are considered the best firewood for high, intense heat. The highest of the high include rock elm, sugar maple, and red oak. Softwoods, like white pine, basswood, green ash, and white spruce, are much less dense and thus do not burn as long with as much heat output.
Hardwood versus Softwood - Hardwoods are very dense. They pack more BTUs of potential heat energy per volume of firewood. Therefore they tend to be the best firewood types for heat and for cooking. However, they are more difficult to get ignited in the first place. Softwoods are less dense and also tend to be more resinous. This means they ignite much faster, and thus can be good as a starter wood to get your fire going. However, they tend to give off less heat and burn faster.
Some examples of hardwoods
Best Firewood - Ash, red oak, white oak, beech, birch, hickory, hard maple, pecan, dogwood, almond, apple (incense-like perfume, nice scent); high heat, easy to burn, no heavy smoke, overall excellent
Good - Soft maple, cherry, walnut; medium heat, easy to burn, no heavy smoke.
Fair - elm, sycamore, gun, aspen, basswood, cottonwood, yellow poplar (bitter smoke); low to medium heat, can be a bit harder to burn, medium smoke, ok for kindling but not as much heat and more smoke.
Today's Tip : Easy trick to identify whether the wood is dry enough : Dry wood is always lighter in weight compared to green wood. Secondly, if the wood is dry enough, then at the end of the wood you can find crack marks spreading out from the centre towards the outer rim.
Get more tips & hacks here.....
Some examples of softwoods:
Good - southern yellow pine, spruce, fir, resinous so easy to burn, has medium heat but burns out quickly, and easy to burn but heavy smoke, ok if you want a quick warming fire or short fire that will burn out before you go to bed.
Good for kindling - eastern red cedar, medium heat, easy to burn, medium smoke, pops a lot and throws sparks, good for kindling.
Fair - cypress, medium heat, a bit harder to burn, medium smoke. image
What Is The Best Firewood? Specific Types of Firewood
The following is a list of many common types of firewood. Where possible I have mentioned its suitability for the cooking and/or as a smoking wood. Which woods are available to you will depend on several factors including your location and the season:
- Alder - Alder gives off little heat and burns quickly, however, good charcoal can be made from it. Has a delicate flavor with some sweetness. For smoking its mild flavor can accent fish, pork, poultry and game birds nicely.
- Almond - Almond is on my short list of the best firewood types. It is very hard with long-lasting high heat, and a sweet smoke flavor which compliments almost all types of meat beautifully. An excellent fireplace and cooking firewood.
- Apple - Perhaps the king of all cooking woods, this is definitely one of the best firewood types. However, it tends to be more rare as firewood because it is quite attractive and can be used in furniture making and other decorations. It has a heavenly sweet smell which is great for cooking and smoking. It burns hot without giving off much flame, making it ideal for firewood cooking in a fire pit. The flavor is mildly smoky with hints of fruity sweetness. Great with poultry and pork but will compliment just about anything. If you can find any, snatch it up!
- Acacia - In the same family as mesquite, acacia has a similar flavor but is not as heavy and not as hot burning. A good cooking wood.
- Ash - Excellent firewood. Tends to burn very well, even if a bit wet and green. Distinctive flavor goes well with fish and meats alike.
- Beechwood - This has some good heat and flame but tends to give off a fair amount of sparks, making it less suitable for an indoor fireplace and cooking.
- Birch - Birch gives off good heat but tends to be consumed pretty quickly. The flavor is good, similar to maple which compliments pork and poultry nicely.
- Cedar - Lovely smell, like the inside of a cigar humidor. Gives nice steady heat without too big a flame. Excellent for cooking and smoking. Cedar planks can be soaked and used to cook foods like pork and fish (cedar planked salmon being a classic dish) on a grill to great effect. Definitely one of the best firewoods for cooking if used correctly.
- Cherry - Another of the best firewood types, this burns hot and with a low flame similar to apple. It has a mild fruity flavor excellent with almost anything, including poultry, pork and beef.
- Crabapple - Very similar to apple wood in function and flavors. See More