Do you use firewood to heat your home? Have you noticed what wood burns the hottest and what burns the worst?
All wood burns, but not all wood burns the same! Some burn hotter while others are slower. Some wood smokes a lot, while others have a lot of resin or sap that clogs the chimney fast.
The best type of firewood burns hot and steadily, producing heat and burning completely. These woods are from hardwood like ash, hickory rather than softwoods like cedar and pine.
So What Makes Good Firewood?
What makes some types of firewood better in burning than others? Two factors make firewood different – water content and density. The drier and denser the firewood, the better it will burn and produce more heat.
The hardwood has good density and low levels of sap or pitch, making it better for firewood than softwood.
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What Wood Burns the Hottest?
The hottest burning wood is Hardwood. Hardwoods like ash, birch, oak, maple, and most fruit trees are the best burning woods that will give you the hottest and longest burning time. These woods have sap, pitch and are cleaner to handle than the softwoods.
However, hardwoods are expensive than softwood and more prone to leave clinkers – a hard, stony residue found in the leftover ash.
When burning birch wood, be aware of the phloem – a thick inner brow bark. Phloem retains a lot of moisture and can prevent the wood from drying evenly. It is, therefore, best to mix birch with another type of hardwood for a cleaner burn and less smoke.
Smoke leads to a buildup of creosote, a byproduct of wood combustion that consists of tar, common in causing chimney fires.
Examples of Wood that Burns Hottest
We cannot exhaust this list, but we will try to name a few that can guide you in searching for good wood.
Hardwoods include Birch, aspen, alder, ash, beech, cottonwood, oak, maple, hickory, fruit trees, mesquite, ironwood, elm, etc.
Softwoods include cedar, fir, pine, redwood, hemlock, larch, spruce, etc.
Comparing Wood by Its Heat Energy
Not all hardwoods and softwoods are created equally. Some burn far better than others, while others produce more heat. Below are some of the best firewood classified according to their heat value, which measures how much heat they produce when burning.
- The hottest burning wood offers heat energy that is equivalent to 200 to 250 gallons of fuel oil. These include ironwood, apple, American beech, shagbark hickory, mesquite, yellow birch, sugar maple, red oak, white oak, and white ash.
- This medium category offers heat energy equivalent to 150 to 200 gallons of fuel per cord of wood. They include Douglas fir, cherry (black), birch (white), American elm, red maple, silver maple, and Tamarack.
- The lowest category of heat energy produces about 100 to 150 gallons of fuel oil per cord of wood. They include cedar (red), alder (red), hemlock, aspen, white pine, lodgepole pine, cottonwood, redwood, Sitka spruce, and western red cedar.
Ensure Your Wood Burns Well
Make sure your wood is dry. Do not burn green or insufficiently dried wood. It produces less heat and more smoke – creosote than the well dried or seasoned wood.
Stack your wood properly under a shade that will protect them from rain or cold temperatures. Well-stacked wood has efficient air circulation that is important to keep them drying. Cover only the top of the stacked wood rather than the rest.
Be sure you are using thoroughly dried wood before burning. When burning, burn the older dryer wood first to avoid wood rot and waste.
Dry wood should have a moisture content of only 15 to 25% for burning. Moisture that is higher than 25% is not good for burning wood. The wood with this kind of moisture burns inefficiently and poorly, producing excessive water vapor and smoke.
Woods to Avoid
It is important to use only the firewood that burns well and produces a good amount of heat, as we have seen above. However, you ought to avoid using woods because they will not give you a good amount of heat and will instead produce a lot of smoke.
Softwood. Softwood is the cheapest type of wood you can ever buy. On its own, it tends to burn faster and leaver finer ash than hardwoods. Some softwoods can be messy to handle and produce more creosote buildup more quickly in your chimney.
Salvaged firewood or other scraps. These are known to save you a lot of money when you need to heat your home with wood. However, these should be avoided for safety and health reasons. Most of these produce hazardous fumes indoors as well as chimney emissions that are an environmental concern. In addition, some pose additional risks to stove metals or create a hazardous buildup of creosote in your chimney that can cause fires.
For your safety, avoid burning the following.
- Painted or varnished trim, wood, or other wood by-products
- Pressure-treated lumber
- Engineered sheet goods, particleboard, MDF, and plywood
- Hardwood or other compressed paper products
Some woods like aromatic cedar can accelerate if you suffer from allergies; use them with caution.
What Type of Wood Burns The Hottest Conclusion
With the little or much knowledge we have discussed above, you will now be careful to choose the wood that burns the hottest with little pollution.
A good mix of hardwood and softwood dried properly should be a good idea. Use the quick-burning softwood to start the fire, then add your hardwood to build a nice roaring fire.
When starting your fire, avoid using too much starter paper as they add up to the creosote buildup. Safety is a major concern when operating a wood stove or chimney. Always comply with all the recommended clearances and protect the flooring with a fire-resistant floor pad.
Ensure you have an active carbon monoxide alarm in the area, and your home is equipped with working smoke alarms to detect too much smoke.
We all enjoy a warm home. So have fun as you warm your home courtesy of burning wood, but ensure you observe safety while at it!