As wood burning stove experts, you’d expect us to be lovers of wood but this is an understatement. We love wood! The smell, the sound of it burning, the texture and colour of the bark, the variety of different woods and the myriad of ways in which they burn – even the type of heat they kick out.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a guide to all the different types of wood you can use in your stove or fire.
Seasoned wood burns better
One thing before we start – seasoned wood burns better. When we say seasoned, we mean wood that has been allowed to dry. You shouldn’t burn wet or green wood. Not only does it give off a lot of smoke but it also doesn’t provide much heat and makes for a very disappointing fire. Unseasoned wood also can also cause a build up of soot in your flue and end up clogging your flue system and cowl. It will also dirty the glass in your stove.
Seasoned wood is defined as wood with a moisture content of less than 20%. If it’s been seasoned naturally, you would expect it to be outdoors for 18-24 months.
Hardwoods are better than softwoods
Hardwoods are those from long-lived deciduous trees such as Oak and Birch. Because they grow slowly over the course of their lifespan, the wood is denser than the wood from faster growing evergreen trees. Higher density means they burn slower and are more fuel efficient.
As a rule, the heavier the wood, the greater the heat and longer the burn time.
Now we’ve got that out of the way, here’s your guide in order of popularity:
Oak is the backbone of this country! It is one of the most popular woods to not only to build with but to burn and is widely available to buy. It burns very slowly and produces long-lasting heat, even down to the embers. The only downside is that oak needs to be seasoned for at least 2 years because of its high moisture content.
Ash is another great hardwood as it burns without much smoke and has a high heat output. Ash is abundant in the UK and because it has a low moisture content, it doesn’t have to be seasoned as long as other hardwoods. Other advantages of ash are that it is very easy to split and saw. A note of caution though – because Ash Dieback has impacted the trees in the UK, the movement of some Ash logs for firewood has been restricted. Please therefore ensure you buy your Ash from a reputable source.
Beech is another hardwood that burns well. However, like Oak, because of its high water content it takes a long time to season properly.
Birch and Silver birch logs burn more quickly than other hardwoods but provide good heat output. They are best combined with slower burning logs.
Elm is another hardwood that burns slowly. It can be difficult to establish a fire purely consisting of Elm but once going, it gives out long-lasting heat. Elm has a high moisture content so needs a long time to season well.
Some people love apple wood as it burns slowly with a decent amount of heat. The flames aren’t the best but it makes up for this with a lovely scent! Those of us with apple trees in our gardens also have a free source of wood!
This is another lovely fruit tree to burn as it burns slowly with good heat output. Like apple, it also has a lovely smell.
Like apple, pear wood burns well with a decent amount of heat but not a great flame. That said, it smells lovely!
Although a very traditional firewood, hawthorn wood is not that common because it’s so thorny. If you manage to get hold of hawthorn logs, they burn well with a good heat output.
This wood burns well, producing a good flame and strong heat output.
Because of its lower density hazel burns quite quickly so you’ll need to keep topping up your fire. However, the heat output is good.
Sycamore and other Maples burn well. They have with a moderate heat output and good flame.
Softwoods are generally from faster growing evergreen trees. As they burn quickly, softwoods can be great for getting a fire started before moving onto hardwoods to keep the fire going.
Pine contains a high resin content and burns quickly with a bright flame. It makes great kindling, especially as a lot of pine is available as builders off cuts. Make sure you burn it quickly and mix with hardwoods.
Holly burns quickly and produces little heat so isn’t great for wood burning stoves
This conifer burns quickly and produces a decent amount of heat. However, like pine, it has a high resin content which can produce oily and sticky deposits. Not great for the health of your stove! It is therefore best mixed with other woods.
This softwood burns very quickly with a low heat. It also produces a lot of smoke so is only really good for getting a fire going.
If you want any advice on the type of wood to burn in your stove, please don’t hesitate to contact us. Happy wood hunting!