15 Best Firewood with Expert Tips for Safe Use

Harry Hubbard

Last updated Dec 22, 2022
Harry is our fireplace and accessories specialist. Trying out new things is his passion. His recommendation barely fails.

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Firewood are heat efficient, classic, and desirable for their mesmerizing flame appearance while burning. It has been used for fireplaces, fire pits and indoor stoves for ages. From the primitive period to date, firewood has been the imperium of supreme heating efficiency even though the usage of firewood is lowering day by day till it’s the staple source of heat of 1.9% of Americans. 

Mainly in extremely cold areas, people rely on wood rather than other fuel options. But finding and collecting the best firewood for heating your home is toilsome. Apart from physical work, you may need to brainstorm to decide on a good firewood option. What if your localities run out of specific wood, or you have to go far for that? 

So rather than sticking on a few choices, know about the 15 best firewood options in this article. For a better understanding of firewood, check out the things to consider before. At the bottom of this write-up, you will have some tips to use the firewood conveniently. 

So let’s move into the write-up,

Things to Consider Before Selecting Firewood 

Hardwood vs Softwoods

The first thing you have to know before selecting the best firewood is what is hard and softwood. And which one is better? The classification of hardwood and softwood are done based on the density and natural moisture content of the woods. Less moisture means less smoke and a long burning period. Harwood contains less moisture and is denser than softwoods. Also, hardwoods are cost-effective because they need a smaller amount. The only drawback of hardwood is that it takes a longer time to mature and dry completely. 

Whatever softwood is less dense and burns fast but easy to ignite. That’s why it’s a good choice for an instant fire like a campfire. Despite the softwood’s heavy moisture content, it dried fast. As a result, it has been the first choice for kiln dried firewood manufacturers. However, you can mix hardwood and softwood for easy ignition, long-lasting burning, and an overall better experience. Use softwood as a fire starter and, therefore, hardwood. 


Here are some significant changes you may notice on perfectly seasoned firewood for burning. After reaching a perfect moisture content of nearly 10 to 20 percent, woods tend to get pale. It becomes less vibrant than the green one. Also, dry wood has loose bark, a mild smell and cracks on it. 

Cord size 

When you are thinking of firewood cord is one thing you have to understand properly. The cord is the standard for measuring the volume of stacked wood. More specifically, one cordwood stack is 4 feet tall, 4 feet wide and 8 feet long. One cord of wood refers to 128 cubic feet, but the volume will decrease to 70 to 80 feet for stacked wood due to the airspace between the woods. 

Moisture Content 

It’s a crucial factor to determine the quality, even the eligibility of wood you refer to as firewood. Greenwood means freshly cut wood contains at least 50 to 60 percent of moisture on them. On reaching the moisture content below 25 percent when you can consider the firewood as well dried off. The best is to reach a moisture level of 20 and below 20 percent. 

Besides natural seasoning, there is another way to reduce firewood’s moisture content: kiln drying. On a kiln-dry process, the drying process conducts through a powerful vacuum or air condition to reach the optimum moisture level in a short time. Though it’s an expensive process, it’s effective. 

Woods with a moisture content of more than 25 percent is greenwood, and it’s in no way permissible for use as firewood. On purchase, you will have the details of the moisture content of firewood on the packaging. In case you are preparing firewood yourself to determine the moisture content, you can have a moisture meter online or from your convenient marketplace. 

Heating Efficiency

The fuel oil efficiency per cord determines the heating efficiency of firewood. There are three categories of high, medium, and low heat values. High heat efficient wood has 200 to 250 gallons of fuel oil per cord. Apple, White ash, White oak are examples of high heat value firewood. 

American Elm, Cherry, and Red maple are medium heat efficient firewood. They provide 150 to 200 gallons of fuel oil per cord. 

In this last category, firewood with the efficiency of 100 to 150 gallons of fuel oil per cord are listed. They are the least heat efficient, and Cottonwood, Red Wood, and White Pine are examples.

EPA approval 

However, burning wood may be restricted or approved under observation in many of our localities. So before opting out of firewood and wood-burning accessories, it’s better to consult your local authorities. At least be sure that it’s not illegal. Also, you can keep your eyes on the EPA website to get up to date information. Also, you will find there basic guidelines on using firewood in the best manner. And all precautions and tips for executing a good wood burning experience. 

15 Best Firewood to Burn


Including Apple, all fruitwoods are considered hardwood. Apple as firewood has a high heat value with low smoke. Also, it releases a sweet fragrance while burning in your fire sources like wood stoves, fireplaces, and fire pits. But applewood is expensive for countries that don’t harvest this fruit widely. 


Ash is among the best choices of hard firewood. Its high heat efficiency with little smoke and mild wooden smell make it perfect for indoor heating. Within different ashes, white ones burn for longer and better. 

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Birch is another hardwood option for attaining great output and fast heating. Black birch has higher efficiency than white birch. However, both firewood is easy to ignite. They are almost free of smell and produce a moderate amount of smoke. As birch wood burns faster, you will need it in heavy amounts, which is the only shortcoming of this firewood. 


It’s another hardwood with high heat efficiency. Beech firewood smells good, and it’s a good overall option to get good warmth for a long time. American beech is best among other beech woods. But beech woods take much time to dry. Also, this firewood tends to rot fast. So you have to keep them in proper storage. Moreover, regular observation is required if you are planning to stack them for a long time.


Cherry as firewood has a sporty and refreshing fragrance with medium to high heat efficiency and low smoke. Though it’s hardwood, it’s easy to split and has fast seasoning. Allover is a good firewood option for your fireplace if it’s available in your localities. 


This hardwood is a moderate firewood option. It smells good, burns well and delivers great warmth. But as wood elm is extremely hard and tenacious to split. That’s why you better split the elm in a green state.


Although fir is considered softwood, it has promising heat efficiency and wide usage as firewood for fireplaces, fire pits and others. As it’s a softwood elm dries fast, and you will have ease at splitting. It has the slightest smell and moderate smoke. However, douglas fir is the most heat efficient among other fir types. 


Hickory has been a classic choice of firewood for our indoor, outdoor fireplaces, BBQ, wood stoves and more. It’s hardwood and has supreme heat efficiency that will last for a long. Also, it’s especially recommended for outdoor cooking for its smoky fragrance.


Ironwood is another common fuel option for wood burning fire pits, indoor and outdoor fireplaces. As it’s hardwood, it’s well-dense and can burn for hours. Additionally, ironwood is highly heat-efficient. 


Three types of maple are used as firewood- sugar maple or rock/hard maple, red, and silver maple. Red and silver maple has moderate heat efficiency, where sugar maple is high heat efficient. However, maple has been a fine firewood option for its low smoke and sweet fragrance. Additionally, its abundance makes it a more convenient option to have.


Mulberry is another common firewood for the fireplace, wood stoves. It gives off a good amount of spark, and it goes well with any other close heating options. Mulberry is hardwood and has high heat efficiency. With moderate smoke, this firewood releases a pleasant smell to make any ambience relaxing a little more.  


Both red and white oak are top quality hardwood with excellent heat output. It burns slower, longer, and with the least smoke. On heavy winter days, you can easily pick up oak for your fireplaces overnight, then use it as a kindler for the next morning. Also, you can mix it up with fast-burning firewood for a balance. But note one thing, you have to season oak at least for two years to get the best outcome. 


Osage-orange is the highest BTUs firewood among all hardwoods. For being a thorny tree and difficult splitting, it has few drawbacks in its popularity. Otherwise, this wood is a perfect choice as firewood. It will serve you high heat with a little smoke and a refreshing aroma while burning. Additionally, osage-orange sparks a lot, which is a plus point for those who like glazing spark in their fire sources. However, this firewood is extremely powerful, so be watchful while using it. Mixing other hardwoods like ash or oak will help you balance the reckless fire and temperature of osage-orange. 


Though pine is a softwood and has low heat efficiency (except lodgepole pine- medium heat efficient), it is used widely as a firewood associate. Pine is easy to ignite and burns faster, so it’s a good option as a firestarter. Also, it goes well on small fire pits or quick-firing. Moreover, you can use pine on a hardwood mixer to tame your fire.


Pecan is a type of hickory. But for some reason, it has created its unique place in firewood. Pecan is a good hardwood with impressive heat efficiency. It seasons fast and is easy to split. In addition, it smokes low and releases a sweet and salty nutty smell. Because of that pleasant smell, pecan is also considered a feature wood for enhancing wood burning smell. 

Tips and Safety Notes for Using Firewood In The Best Way 

  • Seasoning: The first tip, better you say the first rule to use firewood is “seasoning”. It means your firewood has to be well seasoned to be ready to use.  
  • Avoid green wood: Never try to use green wood for a fire. Greenwood contains lots of moisture that can cause extreme fumes with lots of harmful gases if burned. So don’t use any greenwood, or even don’t burn any green parts of the tree.
  • Kiln Dried: If you are going for kiln-dried wood, you must go for some renowned manufacturer. Also, you can contact your nearby kiln-dry factory and get your woods done by yourself. 
  • Storing: A proper storage is compulsory whether you are simply stacking your firewood for upcoming weather or seasoning your woods. You have to keep your woods up off the ground and in proper air circulation. For that, you can use a sturdy firewood rack. Also, get a good quality cover for protection from rain and snow. If you are storing them in a shed or garage, arrange proper ventilation and do regular checking for insects and rots.  
  • Using a fire starter: Hardwood used as the main fire fuel is often hard to ignite. So always use a softwood mixture to make easy ignition and further kindling.
  • Chimney: If you use firewood on your fireplace or indoor wood stove, you must have a chimney. Because however, the wood is properly seasoned or burning efficiently, the smoke is inevitable. So before using firewood, check your chimney is open and working well. 
  • Source woods locally: Try to source firewood locally. Buying wood overseas can be a loss due to its weight and low-profit margins. Who knows, you may count the weight charge more than its value! Also, it’s important to avoid the spread of wood disease and spoliation of pests. 

Last words 

Alongside proper fire safety, these tips will help you to make your experience secure and satisfying. In this write up we have tried to list the best firewood to burn. According to your geographical state, the best wood might differ. If we missed any of your favorite options, feel free to enlighten us. Leave a comment below. Nevertheless, be cautious of using wood as fire fuel. Please don’t overuse or ruin trees for no reason. Also, plant trees as much as you can. Happy firing!

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