Those who are eagerly expecting winter to cozy up near their fireplace and drink cocoa, start preparing and thinking about the type of firewood they would need early. We know that you’re probably counting the days off the calendar, praying that winter comes sooner. Knowing what type of firewood you’re going to need ahead of time is going to be an immense help, instead of rushing around everywhere trying to find anything that can burn.
We understand how overwhelming it can be to choose from dozens of different types of wood, especially if you don’t have enough experience that can allow you to judge the type suitable for you. Whether you’re buying the firewood for burning or storage, there are some considerations that you should take into account because different types of firewood can drastically vary in the results they produce.
Understanding the Difference Between Softwood and Hardwood
A lot of people are under the common misconception that’s based on the terms ‘soft’ and ‘hard’. In fact, soft and hard have nothing to do with how tough or durable the wood is; mostly, it’s about density. Density is an effective metric that can allow you to judge how long firewood is going to burn. It’s important to break down the two categories to get an inclusive and informed idea about the type of firewood you need.
The reason hardwood trees are much denser than softwoods is that they take their sweet time to grow to a stage that allows them to be used as firewood. Most of the hardwood types are considerably darker in their color and hue, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that this is the only way to determine whether a piece of wood is hardwood or softwood. They are slow burners, making them the first choice for people who like to classically cook on firewood or during camping. The fires are stronger and more intense, providing you with a long fire session. They are known for their long and lingering fires, leaving a lot of useful coal that can be utilized in different ways; good for heating and stove fuel.
Softwood is considered economic since it’s cheaper than hardwood. It’s less dense than hardwood and it takes much less time to season and grows. They’re the easiest type to ignite, catching fire easily from sparks and a very tiny bit of fuel. They are usually more recommended for outside use because they have a higher smoke production. Camping is the best environment thanks to its superb kindling properties, and it can be mixed with hardwood to create fires that have the properties of both types of wood. Some types of softwood can give a nice aroma when they burn, but the heat output isn’t as strong as a hardwood.
Different Types of Firewood
Seasoned and Unseasoned Firewood
Seasoned firewood is known to be the first choice for anyone who wants to burn wood for heat or cooking. It’s called seasoned because it has been left to dry and toughen up by the weather and air. It has a gray and dusty outer layer from being exposed to the environment for some time. But if you cut the piece of wood, you’ll notice that its center is white and dry. This is quite useful because when the firewood burns, minimal residue will be produced, keeping your chimney in a healthy condition. Chimney blockages are not to be taken lightly because if they keep piling up, the heat is going to stack until it produces a fire.
Unseasoned wood is not usually recommended for indoor burning since it’s freshly cut and contains moisture, also known as greenwood. It’s cheaper and easier to come by, especially if you have a lot of fallen trees and lumber around you. If you’re going to use it inside, you need to ensure that you have a good cleaning routine for your chimney because it will produce much more residue and smoke than hardwood. It’s known to be quite popular with water stoves and fire pits outdoors.
Cedar is a softwood type of firewood, known for its strong and spicy aroma. They are quite abundant in the Mediterranean. The secret to the smell cedar firewood lets out is the oil that’s at the core of the tree; naturally, the older the tree, the more aromatic it is when burned. They are also known as good furniture material that can be shaped easily and is resistant to harsh conditions. The secret to cedar as firewood is leaving it to be seasoned for 9 months or more. Since you have a lot of time until you need to use it, this is a good opportunity to season it. Unseasoned cedar will spit and spark massively, making it not a good kind for indoor use. But don’t expect it to produce a lot of heat, so it’s a tradeoff between the aroma and heat output.
What sets birch apart from other wood types is its tree short lifespan that ranges between 60 and 80 years old. Since the tree dies faster than most trees, it can be harvested for its wood faster and easier. If you decided to go for seasoned wood instead of burned, this type of wood can be seasoned in a year or less after it has been split and stacked. Seasoned birch wood normally contains 20% moisture content. If you want to bring this percentage down, then look to Buy Firewood Direct has kiln dried logs for sale since that it has around 10% of moisture content. Birchwood burns quickly with a beautiful flame. To slow the burning process down, you can combine it with another species that burns slower or another type of wood.
Cottonwood is considered a hardwood even though it’s not that dense and soft. It’s a moderate type of firewood that can easily split when it’s seasoned enough. The best feature of cottonwood is its clean burn, producing a low amount of smoke and residue. The only problem is that the unseasoned version of cottonwood has an unpleasant aroma, in addition to being split easily. If it’s possible, you should leave it for around 1-2 years, but if that duration is too much, 3-6 months should be good enough. It’s important to have a moisture meter that can provide you with the moisture content of this type because greenwood isn’t going to provide you with a lot of heat. You can mix it with good heat-producing firewood like pine if you’re looking for warmth.
You won’t hear a lot of mixed opinions about Elm firewood because it’s quite average in most areas. They are great alternatives if you run out of your favorite type, but they’re not usually the first choice of firewood for many people. There is a common disease that’s caused by a bug known as the elm-bark beetle. This disease is responsible for the drying and death of millions of American Elm trees. This works in your favor because you’re bound to run into dead Elm trees almost anywhere to go. The wood you extract from this tree is going to be perfect for burning because it’s been dried to a pretty reasonable point. But you should be aware that wet Elm trees are not good for burning because they’ll produce quite the annoying aroma and a lot of smoke, so ensure that you season it for at least one or two seasons.
Even though there are dozens of hickory types, and they’re all good for firewood, the best type that beats them all is the Shagbark hickory. Being a hardwood, it’s already known for its high density and toughness, but Shagbark is even tougher than usual. The dry form of hickory is hard to burn already, so trying to burn a wet piece of hickory is going to be a very long and miserable experience. Shagbark hickory produces up to 27.7 million BTUs per cord, making it one of the best and strongest burning firewood for cold places. This type of wood can provide warmth to your whole house quite easily, but if you may need to use a hydraulic splitter instead of manually trying to split it by hand.
A lot of people favor ash wood as the best firewood available for a good reason. It can provide you with enough heat to keep you warm and comfortable during the coldest winters while still giving off a pleasant aroma. You don’t need to worry about residue or smoke since it’s a hardwood. There are around 16 species of ash wood, they are suitable for burning, but the most popular are green and white ash wood. While people shouldn’t face a lot of issues while trying to burn unseasoned ash wood, its best potential is seen when it’s seasoned. The good news is that it shouldn’t take them more than 6 months to dry and season.
While a lot of people think of nuts when they hear walnuts, walnuts are quite the popular firewood amongst a lot of enthusiasts. Since walnut trees are hardwood, they are quite dense, and walnut is especially denser than most types of firewood. This means that it can burn for very long durations of time without producing a lot of smoke or sticky residue. Since it can be easily burned indoors without a lot of repercussions, you’ll get to enjoy the warmth and the beautiful walnut aroma inside your house for long periods of time. But the problem is that they take around one year to season perfectly, which can be a lot of time for people who aren’t prepared to wait for that much. You can combine oak or pine with walnut wood if you want to create a long-lasting fire without emitting harmful smoke and residue that can ruin your chimney.
Applewood is a type of wood harvested from Malus Pumila, a type of tree indigenous to Central Asia. Yet, these types of trees are nurtured in many regions all over the world. The term “applewood smoked” is popular for a reason. Other than cultivating the tree for fruits, its large size makes it more appealing for harvesting and felling wood. This wood when used to smoke any type of meat or vegetables, the food is normally described as “Applewood smoked” for its lingering taste and smell. This wood doesn’t only stand out with its very fine texture and available short broads, but it also has a beautiful reddish/brownish color that offers a beautiful-looking flame in the fireplace.
Types of wood are ranked according to how good they are when burned. Woods on top of the pyramid offer a nice flame that doesn’t burn too quickly or slowly. Woods that are ranked last usually don’t offer good heat output, a decent flame, and they burn with an excessive amount of smoke. Just like applewood, cherry wood burns with an alluring scent that might add a nice touch to your fireplace.
One of the best qualities that applewood and birch wood share is their pleasant smell upon burning. Yet, the latter comes with an advantage that it burns relatively quickly. Blackthorn wood is one of the best types of wood to burn because it rather burns slowly with little to no smell at all. Many people refrain from burning wood inside the house because of the resulting smoke that might form a serious problem, especially for people who suffer from asthma or allergy attacks. With blackthorn wood, you won’t have to worry about this since it burns nearly without any smoke. The slow flame and good heat blackthorn wood offers make it perfect for domestic use.
As you continue to research the different types of firewood that you can use to warm your home, cook with, or start a campfire with, you need to take into consideration that your preferences can be a determinant factor. Some people tend to avoid aromatic woods because they can be allergic, while others look for woods that are easy to burn for cooking or to use in fire pits.