Best Firewood – Choosing the Right Wood to Burn

Finding the best firewood that generates a good amount of heat and has a long burn time is the aim of any wood stove owner or fire pit enthusiast.

A night around the fire on a cold winters evening can easily turn sour due to inefficient firewood that burns too quickly or doesn’t give off enough heat.

In fact, buying the right firewood is just as important as any other consideration when wanting to run a wood-burning stove effectively. A simple oversight could ruin everything, leaving you in the cold.

So what steps should you take to efficiently heat your home with firewood?

What’s the Best Firewood to Burn?  

When looking for firewood, you must have enough knowledge about the types of firewood and should also consider that not all firewood is made (or grown) equal.

Buying the best type of wood depends on your particular needs, your location and the type of stove or heating appliance you own. Firstly, it is important to remember, that what makes a good firewood is mainly down to two things: density of the wood and its moisture content.

Oak, Maple, Cherry, Birch, Pine, Elm, Chestnut are the 7 most common types of firewood burned in the USA. These types of woods can be differentiated in many ways, including density, season, hardness, efficiency, smell, and color.

The general rule is that woods that are harder or denser burn longer. For example, wood logs harvested from Oak and Maple burn longer and give off a more intense heat, thus making them the best choice for winter’s coldest months. While Pine and Spruce burn more quickly and are more suitable for fall or milder weather.

Best Firewood to Burn Chart (in BTUs)

The heat value measurement commonly used to determine the heat produced by different types of wood is called the British Thermal Unit (BTU). It indicates the weight of a cord which is 128 cubic feet of wood and the heat energy in BTU produced by burning it.

Firewood BTU charts detail the burning characteristics, weight, heat content and quality of different types of firewood. Therefore, it is useful for wood heating and selecting the most efficient wood available.

A firewood BTU chart is the measurements in BTU or the amount of heat needed to raise the temperature of one pound of water one degrees Fahrenheit. Usually, wood that is denser provides the ideal type of firewood.

In essence, the better a firewood is, the more BTU that it will release per volume of wood. A cord of wood is typically used in reference to measuring the BTU count of each type of wood. The numbers vary depending on the type of firewood and so on.

Firewood Best to Worst: 


Above is a chart showing some the most common firewood’s and their individual BTU chart numbers. As you can see each wood varies in the amount of heat (BTUs) and this is effected by the wood being moist (green) or dry.

Typically hard firewoods release more BTU than softwood firewood. However, there are multiple factors that will affect a wood’s BTU release amount. For example, if the wood is wet or damp, it will not release as much BTU in terms of count, because it won’t catch fire as easily or vigorously as densely held wood.

A firewood BTU chart can be essential in finding the best option for your firewood. A wood BTU chart is necessary to calculate the right amounts of wood to purchase as well.

How Much is a Cord of Wood? 

1_4cordFor starters, it is important to be aware of the basic terminology when purchasing firewood.

A largely used term used when referring to wood is a “cord”. Consumers may often ask themselves, “what is a cord of wood?” A cord is a basic unit of measurement that is commonly used when purchasing a certain amount of firewood at a local store or online.

Essentially, a cord of wood is a rather large amount of wood that is bought in bulk with the intention of heating your home for a long period of time. Typically and in technical terms, a cord of wood measures four feet high by four feet wide and 8 feet long.

Since firewood is irregularly shaped, this will help a lot when cutting it. The two most common ways to measure firewood are Full cord and Face cord. A full cord is an amount of wood that fills a space equal to 8 feet long by 4 feet high by four feet deep.

A face cord of wood is equal to a single stack of firewood that measures by 4 feet high by 8 feet long. It is worth noting that the length of a face cord firewood can vary greatly and there isn’t a standard length.

How Much Does a Cord of Wood Cost? 

The price of a wood cord varies depending on the type of wood, geographical location, availability and the purchaser’s location in relation to the seller. Prices range from $50 to $100 for a cord of mixed hardwood.

Normally, the price of a cord of wood may or may not include delivery and stocking fees. Wood that is used in wood stoves or for heating must be cut to stove length, so the estimated price of a cord of wood may be the price for stove length not the full 4 feet of a standard cord.

It’s certainly worth noting that there are some legitimate ways to source free firewood too. Not always a straight forward process, but certainly worth considering for the frugal minded.

Storing and Cutting Firewood

cw-log-store-273x300There are a few things to keep in mind when harvesting and cutting wood. If you want to cut a wood pile right from the source, you must keep in mind that you should cut firewood at least six months ahead prior to burning it.

Freshly cut wood can have up to 100% moisture; this means that half of its weight is water. The ideal time to cut firewood is in the late winter and early spring months. Why? Because this will allow maximum drying time, and dry wood burns best.

Cutting firewood needs to be thought of like a step by step procedure; cut the end part of the logs, flat and square, so that they can stand sturdy for splitting.

If it has branches, it is necessary to cut toward the other direction where they are pointing or against the grain. Keep in mind that the shorter the log is, the easier it splits. The most effective way to cut wood is to look for hairline cracks, then direct the swing of the axe to strike the cracks.

Storing firewood safely and efficiently is very important when it comes to firewood. Using a tarp is essential to keep the firewood from being exposed to moisture and wetter environments that may surround it.

Stacking the firewood is also an essential step as it will keep it from being damaged on the floor. Finding locations where it will be out of the way is important as well but of course, it should be easily accessible since moving firewood isn’t the easiest thing to do.

Use a wood board or any other material that will provide a solid, flat surface underneath the stacked firewood so that it doesn’t touch the bottom of the ground and it can remain somewhat clean.

Make sure that the stacked firewood is stacked correctly; don’t let go of the overall stack until all sides have been checked for stability as otherwise the wood can fall over and be damaged easily. Firewood racks are also incredibly useful at ensuring your wood is kept in a secure and stable position.

It may be advisable to consult your local laws and planning office since safety requirements for storing and lighting firewood varies between the states and counties.

The Best Way to Light your Firewood

To light your wood, make sure to purchase some kindling wood as well. Kindling wood is extra wood that is typically small and extra filler content for the main firewood. This makes the burning process easier and seamless.

Finding some necessary lighter fluid is good as well as this will ensure you get a great fire going with ease. Make sure to get hold of some tongs to adjust and move the main pieces of wood once the fire gets going to keep the fire spread out thoroughly.

With these instructions, you are sure to enjoy the natural warmth a mighty fire in the comfort of your own home.

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