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Heating Properties of Firewood by Tree Species

Chart of Common Firewood and Species Heating Ability

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Chopped firewood and axe in countryside.
Dougal Waters/ Photographer's Choice RF/Getty Images

Firewood performance can differ from species to species. The type of tree you use for burning can vary widely in heat content, burning characteristics, and overall quality. I have created a table that presents several important burning characteristics for most species used in North America. The chart ranks each tree species by its density which is a good indicator of overall heating effectiveness.

Definitions of Chart Terms

  • Density - wood's dry weight per unit volume. Denser or heavier wood contains more heat per volume. Note that hickory ranks at the top of the list.
  • Green Weight - the weight in pounds of a cord of freshly cut wood before drying.
  • mmBTUs - million British Thermal Units. The wood's actual available heat measured in BTUs.
  • Coaling - wood that forms long-lasting coals are good to use in wood stoves because they allow a fire to be carried over a longer period effectively.

Wood Heating Values

Common Name Density-lbs/cu.ft. Pounds/cd. (green) Million BTUs/cd. Coaling
Hickory 50 4,327 27.7 good
Osage-orange 50 5,120 32.9 excellent
Black locust 44 4,616 27.9 excellent
White oak 44 5,573 29.1 excellent
Red oak 41 4,888 24.6 excellent
White ash 40 3,952 24.2 good
Sugar maple 42 4,685 25.5 excellent
Elm 35 4,456 20.0 excellent
Beech 41   27.5 excellent
Yellow birch 42 4,312 20.8 good
Black walnut 35 4,584 22.2 good
Sycamore 34 5,096 19.5 good
Silver maple 32 3,904 19.0 excellent
Hemlock 27   19.3 poor
Cherry 33 3,696 20.4 excellent
Cottonwood 27 4,640 15.8 good
Willow 35 4,320 17.6 poor
Aspen 25   18.2 good
Basswood 25 4,404 13.8 poor
White pine 23   15.9 poor
Ponderosa Pine   3600 16.2 fair
Eastern Red Cedar 31 2,950 18.2 poor

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