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Steve Nix

What Wood Burns the Best?

By October 21, 2013

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You will get the best results and more heat per wood volume when burning the highest density (heaviest) wood you can find. Dense firewood will produce the highest recoverable BTUs but all wood must be "seasoned". Seasoning lowers the moisture content and less energy is used to drive off water which limits heat efficiency.

The best burning firewood species:

  • Hickory - 25 to 28 million BTUs/cord - density 37 to 58 lbs./cu.ft.
  • Oak - 24 to 28 million BTUs/cord - density 37 to 58 lbs./cu.ft.
  • Black Locust - 27 million BTUs/cord - density 43 lbs./cu.ft.
  • Beech - 24 to 27 million BTUs/cord - density 32 to 56 lbs./cu.ft.
  • White Ash - 24 million BTUs/cord - density 43 lbs./cu.ft.

I have listed the best wood to burn and the least desirable burning wood by tree species: What wood species gives off the most heat?


November 5, 2007 at 2:40 am
(1) Doug Hargett says:

Elm as quality firewood? I’ve always heard that elm is lousy firewood, giving as little as 1/3 the heat as oak or hickory.
What’s the story here?

November 5, 2007 at 8:32 am
(2) forestry says:

You are right, kinda. Rock elm and some dense maples can burn as efficiently as many oaks. Density is the key. If you read my report further, you will see that the range of energy produced by an elm is better than all conifers and many soft hardwoods.

November 5, 2007 at 8:35 am
(3) jess says:

Surprised not to see White Ash on the list!

Also — I’ve heard that Black Walnut is a bad choice for firewood because the chemical (juglans?) that it contains can cause allergic reaction in some people. Is that a myth?

November 5, 2007 at 8:51 am
(4) ken peffley says:

Yes, I have heard to that Ash is at the top, but didn’t make this list?

November 5, 2007 at 11:43 am
(5) Bob Hassoldt says:

“Ash wood wet or ash wood dry, a King will warm his slippers by.” Don’t know who made up the verse but it is true. If you can have only one firewood pick white or green ash, white preferably. Ash splits like a dream and can be safely burned green or cured unlike any other wood that I know of. The moisture content of just cut ash is only a few percentage points higher than it is when cured and so it will burn readily in your woodstove with no start up or creosote problems. It also has good heat value though not as high as the oaks or hickories. Its desireablity is in how easy it is to split, hancle and burn np matter how wet or dry it is.

November 5, 2007 at 2:07 pm
(6) Gerre Guerrant says:

What about osage orange?

November 5, 2007 at 7:04 pm
(7) chris says:

I always thought black locust burned the hottest and longest for the value..

November 5, 2007 at 10:09 pm
(8) Donna says:

A lot of the top woods you listed aren’t readily available out here in CA.
I don’t burn wood, but my friends who do like almond, eucalyptus, and “valley” & live oaks.

November 6, 2007 at 5:38 pm
(9) forestry says:

Hi Bob! I went with just the BTUs produced by the denser woods and white ash falls just below sugar maple. Still, I think I will eliminate elm/maple and only include white ash as what you and others say makes sense (especially splitting ease)….

November 6, 2007 at 10:34 pm
(10) jess says:

Just to return to the walnut — has anyone had any particularly positive or negative experiences using black walnut as firewood?

May 23, 2008 at 9:53 pm
(11) zach says:

Is peach wood good to burn

June 10, 2008 at 8:48 am
(12) ethan says:

Y isn’t maple on the list. i have a wood stove in my house and we usually get maple to burnn in it.

November 3, 2008 at 2:46 am
(13) will says:

walnut can be good burning but it has to be dried to get best results my opinion. green walnut does not burn so well but will burn if you have hot enough coals. White ash burns well and is good wood but seems it does not last long enough. take care

November 3, 2008 at 5:04 am
(14) Ilyan says:

Gerre Guerrant asks about Osage Orange. I have some growing in Carmarthen, Wales. It does not grow as fast as Eucalyptus. But as its firewood can be a by-product from a vicious thorn hedge that is bull, horse, and hog proof, and was the prototype for barbed wire, also providing durable fence posts for that successor, it should be high on the firewood ratings.

The reason it is not could be that all the wood was used for making bows to shoot arrows, and things like guitars, and the value of the chemicals that can be extracted from the wood.

One of my sources said it is the nearest thing to coal for burning, so could be so used in a desperate survival situation.

I am trying to remember who told me that Coal is too precious to burn. That was about 65 years ago in an area where Alfred Russel Wallace had lived, and Mond had a Nickel smelter. Either could have originated that idea about coal that I now apply to the timber’s extractives. It was almost part of the folklore around Neath.

November 3, 2008 at 9:51 am
(15) Murray says:

What about apple? I have heard it burns well but maybe it is just the aroma of the wood that delights people.

November 3, 2008 at 11:08 am
(16) Mark says:

I’m not certain of the facts, but I see alot of people seem to prefer White Ash as you have it listed in your top five. I have seen many an article done on the disappearance of White and/or Green Ash as a result of insect infestation (emerald beetle?). It has been the preferred wood that has been used for over one hundred years in the manufacturing of baseball bats. Is this true? If so, should you be encouraging people to burn ash or to preserve it? Maybe a footnote is in order? Thanks.

November 5, 2008 at 6:41 pm
(17) Bob from Maine says:

I have been searching around for a place to ask this question, and this seems like the spot. How long do you season Osage Orange for before burning? I was thinking it must be longer than a year since it is dense, but remember reading somewhere that it actually takes less time to season.

November 19, 2008 at 10:57 pm
(18) Doug says:

I have lots of elms that are dying, or have died in the last couple years on my lot. I need some wood for burning this year. I know that Elm is not the best, but is it OK to burn in a normal fireplace?

November 20, 2008 at 7:45 pm
(19) bob says:

is sycamore good for fire wood?

November 20, 2008 at 11:00 pm
(20) Art From Nebraska says:

Regarding Osage Orange as firewood- It produces tremendous amounts of heat, but it sparks often and forcefully, so it can send hot embers through a fireplace screen or through the air vent at the bottom of a firebox. It needs watching. Also, as others say, it’s so useful that only the trimmings are burned. And it’s not easy to split.

November 24, 2008 at 9:20 am
(21) Ryan says:

We have some Orange Osage that we harvested from a downed tree. The trunk was about 3+ feet in diameter. It had been hit by lightning and the owner of the property sold it to us cheap, we just had to harvest it. The logs we got were luckily straight – the grain on Orange Osage is very very straight and splits super easy, unless you have twisted or knotty wood. It burns like NO OTHER WOOD I have burned. It burns hotter and lasts much longer. One downside is the way it goes through saw blades when you are cutting it into logs.

November 26, 2008 at 10:09 pm
(22) Gary says:

major league baseball now uses maple bats because of the shortage of ash, and you can really tell the difference when you watch a game…shattered bats all the time, showing no comparison to the ash bats. I’ve burned black walnut for years. You have to make sure it is seasoned well or it will soot up your stove pipe and could cause a chimney fire, but that’s why you shouldn’t burn any wood that is still unseasoned. What I like most about burning black walnut is the aroma in the house.I just picked up almost a cord of free elm trunk pieces. They’re 18-20 in long and around 16 in diameter. I used a splitting maul on the freshly cut wood and it splits easier than any wood I’ve ever found. Will have to see how it burns after I let it season.

November 28, 2008 at 10:18 pm
(23) Kate says:

We moved into a drafty, poorly insulated farmhouse in KY a few winters ago with a woodstove as our primary heat source. Without a doubt, Osage Orange (also known as Hedgeapple) has been our favorite so far, especially paired with Locust and/or Oak. It just gives off so much heat, which makes a huge difference in a house like ours. Hard to split, yes, but worth the effort.

December 1, 2008 at 8:42 pm
(24) em says:

Black walnut is a very valuable wood–you could send your kids to college with a single tree! If you have one and must cut it down, someone would pay you good money for it. Another valuable wood is red maple. Too valuable to burn.

December 16, 2008 at 8:52 pm
(25) Janet says:

What makes wood spark? My firewood is poppinga and shooting sparks– what causes this? Anyone know?

December 18, 2008 at 7:09 pm
(26) Steve Wilson says:

I will take a truck load of red elm over oak, hedge, ash or black locust. It drys down on the stump, vigorously burns to a clinker and splits fairly well. I just cut the pieces shorter if I get into a tough tree. I save it for January. Some woods pop and spark alot and hedge is one of them.

December 20, 2008 at 11:51 am
(27) Timberfeller6 says:

Locust is the all around winner without a doubt, but I’ll burn anything except Catalpa. (stogie tree). If you want to burn a house down this would be the wood of choice! No other wood blasts non-stop firey projectiles like this open fireplace nightmare wood. Stay away from this stuff!

December 20, 2008 at 9:46 pm
(28) Marc Bautista says:

I was hoping to get some insight on how good is peach and nectarine to burn? I have not burned it before but the price is better then Almond and is easier to handle not so big and dirty. I would think that it should burn similar to Almond due it is a very similar tree.

January 17, 2009 at 3:19 pm
(29) Robin says:

I have heard that osage orange (hedge) can be used as soon as it is cut. Is this true? We have an outdoor wood-burning furnace, so sparks, etc. are not an issue. Neither, really, is creosote build-up in our chimney. Please comment asap. We under-calculated for this cold winter and are running out of split wood but have an unlimited supply of osage orange at our disposal. Thank you!!

January 28, 2009 at 12:49 pm
(30) Angel says:

Our neighbor has offered us a HUGE dead sycamore that finally fell a couple weeks ago. Is is good firewood for a fireplace insert? Someone asked awhile ago and never got an answer. Thanks, Angel

January 30, 2009 at 10:20 am
(31) blackswampman says:

Is the wood heavy is it dry can you lite a match it will burn good. I see why there are so many house fires now. Remember a woodstove is a area heater not a whole house furnace. You burn a reasonable fire to heat an area. I burn 2 stoves when cold, in 2 areas. My house is 2100 sq.ft. If it had an open floor plan I would have one large stove. Its been 15 below here and I have been warm, no furnace at all. You just have to be home to feed it, at -15 its hungry. Be safe be smart be alive come morning, God bless and keep you safe.

February 2, 2009 at 11:03 am
(32) blackswampman says:

Oh I almost forgot, my favorite wood to burn so far is Eastern Hornbeam. Heavy hard and small trees make nice long burning rounds.

February 13, 2009 at 1:48 pm
(33) John Redden says:

I have been told not to burn Hedge in my fireplace because it puts off too much creosote. Is this true?

Thank you

May 26, 2009 at 2:51 pm
(34) Gary Schultz says:

Good answers from all, but I am wondering if anyone has heard of a catalpa tree. And what wood family does it belong too. Also is it a fair to good wood to burn in a wood stove. Thanks

October 18, 2009 at 6:56 pm
(35) burn baby says:

should the bark be removed from any tree before using to burn in a wood stove?

October 21, 2009 at 5:56 pm
(36) SJames says:

How about discussing the specific topic of how property owners can sell the timber/wood/firewood. I see loads of information about buying wood and what it can be used for-but not on the former.

Research I done indicate the selling of wood/timber is a fog, with many deceptive practices. In Florida, I have 5+ acres loaded with mature trees (oak and pine); aged over 75 years. What I’ve come across so far are tree ‘dealers’ that leave one’s property damaged and indebted for the removal of wood stumps and trash.


October 26, 2009 at 1:31 am
(37) Jack Leary says:

You don’t mention any of the wood we have out here. But spiting wood will always give you a good Idea what it will burn like. Actually it’s imposable to live anywhere for long before you know what’s what in your woodland.

October 26, 2009 at 2:53 pm
(38) Jon from Scotland says:

Personally I think Walnut is too nice a wood to burn – better for furniture and shotgun stocks.

I have a friend who has a lot of dead diseased english elm on his property and when dried it seems to make pretty decent fire fuel, provided you have a reasonable heat going before you put any on.

October 26, 2009 at 10:07 pm
(39) Nivram Zips says:

Osage Orange and Locust have very high BTU, according to Kansas State Univ Extension Service. It “pops” alot so it not as highly desired for a fireplace, but in a stove it is tops. I’ve burned a good amount of black walnut with no problem. Another preferred species is Celtis occidentalis, or common hackberry. And more plentiful in eastern Oklahoma than Osage Orange.

October 27, 2009 at 10:07 am
(40) Fred Martin says:

My experience with Walnut as a firewood is that it puts off alot of smoke. Hickory is my choice.

November 25, 2009 at 8:50 pm
(41) matt turner says:

Ash wet or dry, a king will warm his slippers by. – this comes from an old Scottish poem that describes the burning quality of various woods. I saw the poem on the wall of the Dunkeld House Hotel in Perthshire, Scotland several years ago. I have looked for it elsewhere a few times with no luck.

December 15, 2009 at 11:55 pm
(42) Tracy says:

We live in So Cal. We have Eucalyptus and Orange (citrus) and Avocado wood. What is your opinion of these woods as fire woods?

December 27, 2009 at 12:38 am
(43) Matt says:

Burn the good ‘ol black stuff. COAL! No seasoning, no splitting, no sparks, very abundant, just good ‘ol BTU’s that will run you out of your house!

December 29, 2009 at 4:58 pm
(44) Randy says:

several comments from Kansas:
Red elm is excellent wood to burn. White elm is soft and doesn’t give much heat. Catalpa (we used to call them coffee bean trees) goes up in flames pretty quickly, but you would be surprised what pretty wood it is when used for woodworking projects. i’ve always been told walnut emits a lot of creosote and can soot up your chimney badly, but i still like to burn some each year (mixed with other wood) because it smells wonderful! DO NOT use hedge (osage orange) in anything but a woodstove! not even in an open campfire. it spits large sparks a very long way, and WILL burn someone or something. my woodstove choices here in kansas: oak, hickory, ash, red elm, hedge.

January 27, 2010 at 5:22 pm
(45) Bruce says:

In Southern Vermont we burn oak, white ash, maple, cherry; locust is good too, but ash is the easiest to split. The Elms don’t get big enough to split anymore, but the rounds burn hot. Hickory is fairly rare up here. I agree Walnut is too nice to burn, sell it and buy some dry ash.

February 22, 2010 at 3:31 pm
(46) West Virginia Mountain Man says:

Osage Orange sets off sparks like the 4th of July. It’s great heating wood but I would not use it other than in a closed burner, such as a wood stove or boiler. Locust gets my vote for best heater. I love the stuff.

March 28, 2010 at 2:48 am
(47) kathy m-d says:

I’ve just had 9 alders and 1 large maple cut down. The alder is super simple to split – but the maple is like trying to split cement!
Does the maple need to sit for a year or so, or should I just keep fighting with it?

May 7, 2010 at 8:31 am
(48) Vicdel says:

I have made an oven in my backyard and it’s producing a lot of soot is there any ingrediant or filter one can purchase to eliminate soot because soot then come on to my food that is being cooked.
Does Red Deal which I can easily get from a friendly carpenter good for burning – will it produce soot ?

December 18, 2010 at 12:03 pm
(49) d russ says:

I have a wood burning insert with a small 1.9cuft firebox, and i purchased a cord of mixed hardwoods (not sure exactly what kinds) that are supposed to be oak, ash etc (NJ wood, purchased from a tree service company). The wood burns good and all but, i am left with a lot of hot coals that are just not as hot as a nice sized fire and doesnt heat my whole house when its reduced to coals, i find that i have to empty the stove often or i will eventually end up with a firebox FULL of hot coals and a box full of hot coals just does not produce an adequate amount of heat. what can i do?

December 19, 2010 at 3:19 am
(50) Don says:

Actually the coals are the hottest part of the fire but ash and/or other pieces of wood placed on top of them block their radiating their heat.
We have a 15″ by 7″ piece of 1/2 inch square screen that we use to sift through the ashes and coals when the wood has burned down to nothing but some coals. I take a hearth shovel and push the ashes and coals toward the back of the insert and as much over to one side as possible. Then we start sifting through the ashes and coals tossing the coals we salvage over into the are we cleared. After we have separated out the coals worth keeping we shovel the rest into our ashes bucket. Then we spread the hot coals out in the firebox and add some new wood on top of them.

December 30, 2010 at 7:25 am
(51) roger says:

To answer the question about burning peach wood. Any fruit tree burns well and has a nice aroma. Needs to seasoned at least a year. If you want to burn some real nice wood, try dogwood also. The only wood that I’ve used so far and not liked is Poplar. Alot of work for a little heat.

January 9, 2011 at 9:39 pm
(52) jared says:

I burn hedge and ash in my wood stove and i have to open doors and windows when it gets hot. also hackberry burns long and hot.

November 1, 2011 at 8:48 am
(53) Isaac Brown says:

Ok well I am a student from CSA a tech school in Indiana I know a little about wood and other things as such but I don’t know anything about maple in specific the Autumn Blaze Maple so I was wondering about a few things does maple burn well, does it have a good or bad smell or none at all, how well it soaks liquid, and how well it dries. Your probably wondering why I am asking these questions well we are doing a project on well basically “fun wood” which is a wood that can be entertaining when burned and we are going to be adding copper nitrate, lithium nitrate, and barium nitrate these are just basic chemical salts that are non toxic when burnt but the point is we need to find a suitable wood to use and you guys seem to know your stuff so please help.

November 3, 2011 at 1:12 pm
(54) Nick says:

I live in Eastern Ontario, not far from Ottawa. I have a 2400 square foot log home and heat with wood exclusively. It has been my experience that of all the fire woods available in this area, Oak in both red or white is the most sought after. Next would be maple and iron wood.

As far as burning elm is concerned, I love using the stuff. I have enough standing dead dried elm on my place to last me a lifetime. When dry, it is nearly impossible to split by hand, but burns very nicely, gives off plenty of heat, and leaves little ash. It is also very easy to light. This year I will be heating with nothing but elm. [ Why buy fire wood when I have so much of it already dried and ready to go into the stove? ]

None of this makes me an expert on the topic, but I thought I’d share my experiences with others for what it’s worth. A quick side note on splitting elm. Do it when the wood is green. I don’t know why but it is much easier. Either that or use a wood splitter.

November 13, 2011 at 4:27 pm
(55) Hal says:

Is it allowed to transport firewood in Michigan? I have just cut up a large ash tree (killed by the emerald ash borer) and want to transport it to deer camp.

November 22, 2011 at 11:15 am
(56) glenna says:

Hi. I had terrific wood from this guylast year. This year I waited and waited for it. Last year, when the fire was going, I wore shorts all winter in side, this year, ( and I know he cut it late this year) now I am lucky to get the whole house warm, the wood sometimes sizzles when I put it in the stove…I am not getting half the heat I got last year…. is this because he did not cut it and its still fresh and wet??? I am really dissappointed this year.

November 30, 2011 at 3:06 am
(57) Davd H says:

Colorado. Pinon, juniper. Super heat. Wonderful scents. Just harvested some today. Both are excellent wood heat sources.

December 14, 2011 at 2:18 pm
(58) Tam says:

Beechwood fires are bright and clear
If the logs are kept a year,
Chestnut’s only good they say,
If for logs ’tis laid away.
Make a fire of Elder tree,
Death within your house will be;
But ash new or ash old,
Is fit for a queen with crown of gold

Birch and fir logs burn too fast
Blaze up bright and do not last,
it is by the Irish said
Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread.
Elm wood burns like churchyard mould,
E’en the very flames are cold
But ash green or ash brown
Is fit for a queen with golden crown

Poplar gives a bitter smoke,
Fills your eyes and makes you choke,
Apple wood will scent your room
Pear wood smells like flowers in bloom
Oaken logs, if dry and old
keep away the winter’s cold
But ash wet or ash dry
a king shall warm his slippers by.

December 24, 2011 at 6:46 pm
(59) Peerfly says:

I come back to forestry.about.com every single day!!

December 26, 2011 at 8:22 pm
(60) Mark says:

Doug, I have burned Elm over the last several years and it burns good when dried. Wet elm sucks. Its BTU rating isnt terrible but it does leave more ash than your regular stove woods like any locust or oak. I have this theory that if it is easy to get at and dry it burns good. I like good wood but burn what I can get and I have never went wrong with elm when I am starting a fire and laying down hot coals in a hurry.

December 28, 2011 at 7:50 am
(61) Jan from UK says:

UK wood:
Beech when dried out is best. Lights easily and stays hot, splits easily when freshly cut, but turns to rock when dry. Grows clean straight shapes, so its quick to process.
Ash is fine but not half as special as everyone makes out. You can quench a fire with fresh ash logs just like anything else. Doesn’t burn as long as Beech or Oak.
Birch is great for starting, takes half the time of ash to burn out and sometimes smells of dogs pee when it burns. Grows quickly and is easy to lift, saw and split.
Leylandii and other conifers smell musty when burning like sweat and takes forever to season, like all softwoods once its dry it weighs next to nothing, and burns too fast.
Horse Chestnut burns too quick and the bark is very thick and again can smell acrid like Birch.
Oak is nice but it is so stringy it can be a bit more hassle to split and weighs so much that it’s hard to lift.
Cherry is very nice, the bark is so thick and waterproof you have to split it or it will rot from the inside.
Stories of fruit trees smelling nice, is over rated, I didn’t find apple smells any nicer than ash or beech.
Shrubs like Laurel and Holly etc are hard to split all knots and the grain running all over the place. Doesn’t grow thick enough to have to split so they burn well. Rotting Laurel fungus kills other English trees so best to burn it.
Hornbeam, Whitebeam and other Sorbus trees you will recognise from housing estates, split and burn nicely, there are plenty of them being taken down as they grow quick but die easily.
Hawthorn etc are more trouble than they are worth, too hard to cut and too nasty to handle, but once you manage to light them (not that easy) they burn long and well.
We don’t have Hickory, or much Walnut.
Sweet chestnut is the easiest thing to coppice and split and burns well.
Yew is very heavy and takes time to season, is so heavy I am never sure if it’s ready to use, it is too valuable and should probably be used for woodworking.
Ivy burns well.

December 28, 2011 at 7:52 am
(62) Jan from UK says:

If it is wood it will burn! If you have a fire place it will burn, but all you are doing is heating up your chimney and the sky above it. Any wood burner is much better than a fireplace, and a wood burner if positioned correctly away from walls and windows will not burn your house down, where as a chunk of pine spitting away can send a golf ball sized ember at your curtains, and dramatically increase the chances of a chimney fire setting light to your carpet.
My policy is start the fire with dry rotten logs and twigs, then once it is hot, you can happily throw any wood at it. That includes wet wood sitting around outside without cover, and freshly cut wood, although too much too fast can put a fire out.
Some people use pine to start a fire but I find it too creosotey and prefer to use split birch or any old rotten wood.
The rotten wood starts well but tends to fade into dusty embers too quickly to run your fire on it all the time, but there is nothing wrong with it and pound for pound is a lot easier to collect, process and light. In fact a large semi rotted branch that would normally need a chainsaw, can be broken up in seconds by just whacking the side of the chopping block, so it has its distinct advantages, also as there is no creosote or sap left, it doesn’t smell, as long as its dry. It dries much faster than any other wood.
Remember you split the wood to fit it in the fire or to make it light more easily, but don’t split all your wood into small bits, you will spend all evening filling the burner, and it might get so hot that it causes a danger, where as if a big block of wood can fit in without causing a risk, of falling back onto the glass, or something, then it is the right size to burn. Get a good bed of embers and dump in a nice big block of whatever, and it will burn long and slow, the way a fire is supposed to be.
Hope you find this lengthy post helpful.

December 28, 2011 at 8:03 am
(63) Jan from UK says:

glenna, Yes, you are spending all your wood on boiling the sap inside the wood.

But hey look at it this way. If you don’t burn it, its gonna be even colder, so what choice do you really have, its winter now.

When you can hear wood whistling, hissing or steaming, then it was not really ready, and if it is too big then it might put the fire out, so get a decent size bed of embers going before putting too much wood on it.

But now the good news, is that it will burn much more slowly, as all the sap and water is stopping it from bursting into flames, so although it doesn’t get as hot, you will eventually burn it all and for much longer and probably offset more of your alternative heating supplies like Central heating etc, rather than heating your house to 26C and loosing it all in a couple of hours.

Wood needs wind and light to dry it out, sheds are not the best place for them, better a clear plastic roofed lean-to or even just a square pile of wood with a smallish clear plastic sheet on the top to keep out the worst of the rain.

January 2, 2012 at 1:12 pm
(64) JCar says:

I am currently helping renovate an old building for a new home for the spca. The thought that has been put out there is that we ought to use the old wood in a fireplace that we are not going to use in the building. My thoughts are that this old wood might have some toxic chemicals in it. Anyone have any thoughts on the subject. The building was built in the 50′s. Thanks for your thoughts

January 4, 2012 at 3:55 pm
(65) Ross says:

Everything is chemicals. All chemicals are toxic. It is a matter of amount and in what combination. Try burning hophornbeam. For that matter, try finding hophornbeam. Prettiest wood to watch burn in a fireplace is birch, but not the white kind, black. Ash is a very special wood, everything they said about it up above is true, but also it is the go-to wood when it is not especially cold weather but just damp and you want to take off the chill. Ash will burn easiest and curiously, does not leave much in the way of ashes.
Beech is also great for watching it burn in an open fireplace. Red Oak splits way easier than white oak, epecially when it is fresh cut, but white oak is denser and henser is right up there with hickory (shagbark), hornbeam and hophornbeam for hot, long lasting burns.

January 23, 2012 at 4:00 am
(66) unurayael says:

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February 22, 2012 at 10:38 am
(67) Pammi says:

I just acquired my parents property in Antelope Valley.
My father has a lot of older buildings wood items etc on theproperty.

My husband has started burning all wooden objects in the stove burning fireplace including pieces with nails. As the property hasnt been occupied in several years its very dusty extremely dusty.

I find I am coughing more and was wondering if burning dusty wood can be harmful to your health.

Thank you so very much.

February 22, 2012 at 6:34 pm
(68) john bones says:

how long does oak need to cure 6 months long enough ? ….. I took down a big ash tree was dead with that bor .still get creasote? any ideas…

March 1, 2012 at 11:58 am
(69) Smitty says:

We purchased a Pacific Energy woodstove 7 years ago and it has been the best investment we have ever made, much superior to any previouse stoves we have owned . These are not the cheapest stoves on the market but well worth the money. I cut my own wood and have burned everything from popular to ironwood but mainly burn ash and swamp maple. Elm is a good wood to burn but very hard to split by hand. I am currently cutting some red oak which I have burned in the past and found that it is an excellent wood, splits well but it must be seasoned for at least 2 to 3 years . We have also burned some black walnut from a tree that had blown over in a storm and did not find it to be that great. I constructed a lean-to that currently holds 8 cords of wood. The wood that I store in the lean-to has usually been stored outside under cover with a tarp for 1 to 2 years. The lean-to is a great asset as the wood is always dry and easily accessible. I believe the secret to burnig any wood is to have it properly seasoned.

September 14, 2012 at 7:19 pm
(70) Me says:

Question. Can you burn ash wood in an inside woodburner that died due to ash disease? Will the disease/bugs harm wood inside the home?

October 10, 2012 at 2:09 pm
(71) Doc says:

Other than the spark issue there isn’t a hotter wood than osage orange. I have used it as a blacksmith to heat steel! A good stove with air control and spark arresters is the best way to go. I have repaired pot belly stoves where the wood got hot enough to bow the top. Less wood and steady air flow will heat well.

October 19, 2012 at 9:14 pm
(72) Tim says:

I’ve heard that you can burn ash wood while its green without having to worry about buildup in your chimney. Is that true?

October 25, 2012 at 5:34 pm
(73) Smitty says:

I have burnt ash within a couple of months of cutting it and never found it to have any build up. Usually wood will make a ” sizzle ” sound and you can visibly see the sap coming out the ends when it is burning if it is too geen or wet.
Not only for the best heat but for safety reasons, all wood should be properly dried and seaoned before burning.

November 28, 2012 at 5:35 pm
(74) andrew says:

Re: best wood to burn…
IMHO, there’s a lot of misunderstanding in the comments about wood heat. Here’s a web site with some good figures:

The key is it’s all about the BTUs. Some woods such as white birch, elm (very hard to split) or aspen will burn hot but they don’t burn very long because they’re not as dense and don’t have a lot of BTU.s Others like Hickory, Maple, Apple, and Beech are much denser (thus heavier) which means they will burn a lot longer. Pick up an equivalent sized piece of white pine versus maple and you’ll feel the difference.
If you’re just looking for a blast of heat, aspen works fine. If you need to get a stove through the night, a load of maple or beech is the trick.
According to Vermont’s BTU chart, and my own experience as a long-time wood burner, here’s the order of BTU winners, starting with the best: Locust, Hickory, Beech/Maple, Oak, yellow birch, then ash. Ash does produce fine coals, it’s just not as dense as the other hardwoods.I just cut a couple down today (Nov. 28) getting wood for next year and ash splits like a dream, even big trunks, Beech and maple are not quite as easy.
Apple, by the way, is a super firewood – burns real hot and long. It’s not usually listed because it’s not common to find it. I use the branch prunings from spring for barbecue. Aroma and taste are great too.
Hope this helps.

December 15, 2012 at 1:38 am
(75) Brian says:

I burn white ash and Osage orange (hedge) in my fireplace. It is an all mason open fireplace that the house was built around in the 40′s. I find that two pieces of ash and one hedge make for a very hot and long lasting fire. If burning all day I will usually burn around ten to fifteen pieces, if just for a few hours and to get me through the night and have coals for the morning I’ll go through maybe six and still have some of the hedge burning and a few coals.
The hedge I have has been seasoned for 2-3 years and doesn’t pop hardly at all. It will spark when moved around but, stops after I’m done poking the fire. When it does pop it’s from a knotty half log. The straight logs I don’t have a problem with.
These are the woods I burn for the heat I need and want, just my opinion of what I burn. Here is a website that I found informative.


December 19, 2012 at 1:16 pm
(76) dlux says:

tell your husband not to burn that stuff near you.
You don’t know what it is or what’s been done with it.
Tear those buildings down and have them hauled off.

December 19, 2012 at 7:58 pm
(77) Bob Hassoldt says:

I can’t say how well peach or nectarine wood would burn since my peach and nectarine trees are currently too valuable producing fruit. I’ve got a client that’s a commercial orchardist though that has probably cut some and will ask him the next time I see him.If they are anything like plum though, and since they’re in the same family that would be a high possibility, they’ll take forever to cure out. I’ve cut lots of wild plum on my place out here and stems that are 2-5 inches in diameter take about two years to cure out. Trying to burn plum that’s only cured for 6-12 months is a real exercise in futility. It’ll burn okay once it cures out but it takes so long and hawthorn, if you can stand the thorns, is better.

December 24, 2012 at 7:06 am
(78) Doug from Northern Ont says:

Have been reading at lot of your comments and find them very good.However when talking about hardwood verses soft wood a lot of people do not realize any tree with leaves on them are classed as a hardwood.The trees with needles are soft wood ie conifers such as jack pine spruce balsam/white pine.
.The one tree with needles that is classed as a hard wood is tamerack because they loose all there needles in the fall.
Pound for pound all wood will give you the same amount of BTU’s.
I guess we are stuck with what is a/v were we live.
Were I live I have to burn birch/pine/poplar.They all burn ok when seasoned(dry).
You should not burn wet wood or green wood unless you have an outdoor furnace.It is the moisture in the wood that causes cre
asode to build up and cause a chimney fire.

January 25, 2013 at 8:19 am
(79) jan burda says:

I’ve been a serious woodburner (cooking and heating) since 1970. I’ve also been trained as a scientist (chemistry and physics). Despite all the myths and old wives tales….a pound of dried wood, is a pound of wood. The heat (btu) value, within a narrow range,is the same for all species, per pound, when seasoned. Go for the dense, easy to split species….and beware firewood salesmen. Fuel wood should be sold by weight. A ‘cord’ can vary way too much. You may be buying a lot of expensive air.

February 15, 2013 at 11:23 am
(80) Hannah says:

i am working on a science project and it involves burning wood, but i need to know how to find out how much heat is being let off… how did you do it?

February 27, 2013 at 11:57 pm
(81) Sue says:


If you’re coughing more, it could just be a consequence of burning wood. Even with excellent EPA stoves like Pacific, you can’t get away from the fact that you are adding more dust from the ashes to the air inside your home – nothing to do with the dust on the outside of the old wood. If you’re reacting that badly, you shouldn’t be in a house that burns wood – sorry. That said, you shouldn’t be burning any wood that is painted, stained or treated in any way. The dioxins and other chemicals produced from this precipitate out and end up in our food supply, contributing to cancer. Burning old wood with nails is fine, provided you don’t spread the ashes and the nails in your driveway ! :)

March 17, 2013 at 3:32 pm
(82) Kenny L says:

Presently we are in our fifth heating season using an outdoor wood burning boiler. Being in SW Minnesota, ash firewood is most common. The emerald ash borer has not yet been detected this far west.
I store seasoned firewood in an old single car garage sized shed. A full shed of mainly ash and elm is what it takes too last a normal Minnesota winter. But one heating season I had maybe half maple in that shed . By March 1st the wood shed was empty. Maybe maple around here isn’t that great of a firewood?
On the Subject of walnut.
I have in the past cut down walnut, ash, oak, and cottonwood trees and had them milled. First off let me say that it is a lot of work with heavy expensive equipment needed just to get your logs delivered to a sawmill.
Chances are if you sell your trees to someone to mill, you may not get that much for a tree? The money made in the lumber business is made by who does the work.

March 17, 2013 at 3:47 pm
(83) KennyL says:

For thos e of you think your walnut or oak tree will be worth a lot of money, think again. Yes they are both beautiful hardwoods, but the money made in the lumber industry is mostly made by the guys cutting and milling that tree, not the land owner.
A friend of mine just purchased an acreage with 50 walnut trees on it. I am guessing they are 60-75 years old trees. Many are hollow or twisted badly. These trees are all getting removed to make way for new buildings.
About 10 trees would make decent walnut lumber. Best offer he has is $50-$100 a tree for the best trees.. The rest will be firewood.

November 11, 2013 at 1:24 am
(84) thea says:

I don’t know, but when I pick up wood from our various stacks that are arranged (by my husband and kids) apparently according to age/green-ness/dryness/ etc., I decide from feel, weight, lack of smell, and density what will burn the longest in the stove while I’m out doing errands, I choose elm, ironwood, and beech… but it seems a heavy, dry piece of maple is about the same as a younger (more water???) piece of beech. One of my chores as a kid in Vermont was starting the kitchen wood stove on weekends. Started with maple, and when fire got really hot an hour or so later, added ironwood that burned slower (but it seemed, anyway, even hotter). But, while living here in NH, tend to use our more available beech and oak. But, the elm is great once the fires been going a couple hours. It takes a long time to burn, but seems to be hot enough that c
reosote (sp?) doesn’t accumulate. But, again, I am just commenting as a layman, and not as a forester.

November 15, 2013 at 8:02 pm
(85) dousmo says:

Osage-orange Has the highest BTU output of all wood 32.9 million/cord with low smoke, excellent coal, fragrance and overall quality.

November 19, 2013 at 8:28 am
(86) Joe says:

Apple makes a beautiful fire. Entire log turns into an almost translucent coal and lasts for hours.Not as hard to come by as formerly as the producing orchards are disappearing here in the Shenandoah Valley

November 26, 2013 at 9:32 pm
(87) Cliff says:

If its not pecan wood I wont burn it……

November 28, 2013 at 3:31 am
(88) Henry says:

Hawthorn isn’t mentioned, I imagine as it is a small tree and not as abundant. However it is, alongside Yew the hottest burning firewood available in the UK.

December 1, 2013 at 7:39 pm
(89) Don says:

Standing dead elm trees make excellent firewood. Low moisture and bark falls off leaving a very clean, hard wood. I prefer elm as you are removing trees that have died and provide the qualities listed above.

February 12, 2014 at 3:10 pm
(90) ROB FRAWLEY says:

I recently changed the doors in my house can I burn them in a domestic fire ? Red deal I think they were called

March 19, 2014 at 3:27 pm
(91) Mike says:

Is there any difference in the branches versus the trunk of the tree in terms of BTU’s? is one better than the other?

April 6, 2014 at 11:27 pm
(92) tree stump says:

You said it very well!

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