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Burn, Baby, Burn: Best Firewood

Burn, Baby, Burn: Best Firewood

With everyone looking at ways to save on heating, more people than ever are installing or resurrecting fireplaces. All wood burns, however, not all wood offers the same level of heat. Here’s what you need to know.

Have you ever noticed that sometimes your wood burns longer, or hotter, than others, or sometimes it smokes a lot? Different woods are great for different reasons (although if a wood produces lots of smoke it means that it is wet, which is never a good thing.)

Hardwood or softwood?

Hardwood is denser. This means that it is a little harder to get a fire going with harder wood, but it will burn more slowly and give more heat.

Softwood will burn more quickly and is less efficient than hardwood. However, it is much easier to start a fire with softwood; because it is less dense, it catches more quickly and produces an instant burst of heat which is sufficient to get the fire going. Softwoods are usually quite a bit cheaper than hardwood as well. However, there is a reason for this: softwood trees grow much more quickly and are, therefore, cheaper to produce (not to mention the fact that they burn more quickly, so are less economical in the long run).


Burning wood isn’t as easy as chopping down a tree and chucking it on the fire. Before a wood is fit to burn it must be seasoned, and how long it takes to season will depend on its density. It stands to reason that a less dense wood will season more quickly. By seasoning, we mean that the sap is drying out. If you burn sappy or unseasoned wood, it will spit and crackle, not burn as hot, and could cause a potentially dangerous build up of residue in your chimney.

Kiln dried wood

Kiln dried wood has been slowly dried to remove as much moisture as possible from the logs. This means that they burn more slowly and emit fewer emissions, making them better for your bank balance as well as the environment.

Foraging for firewood

Foraging for firewood may seem like a great idea, and a great way to save money. However, it could end up being a false economy. Gathering kindling to store, dry, and season is unlikely to do any harm, but avoid painted or treated woods, as they could emit poisonous by products or, at the very least, add to the build up of products in your flue. Likewise, avoid driftwood as the salt absorbed into the wood can build up in the flue and be highly flammable.

If you are considering installing a new wood burning stove, or resurrecting your old one, get in touch with a local wood burner specialist. And if you haven’t already, don’t forget to book your chimney sweep.

Next week, we will take you through the A-Z of popular fire woods. For more tips and advice, follow us on Facebook or Twitter.

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