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various types of wood

What is the best firewood? A comparison of 13 species

Here at Logwise, we offer a broad range of logs.

In a previous blog post, we looked at how to choose the best firewood from the hardwood, softwood, and kiln dried logs that we sell.

But many people wonder whether certain species of wood burn well.

In this blog, we’re going to take a look at several species of wood, and give you the info you need to find the best.

First, a quick recap on the hardwood vs softwood vs kiln dried debate:

Hardwood logs

Hardwood tends to be much denser than softwood and achieves a slower, long-lasting, hot burn. 

This is a very efficient option if you want your stove, fireplace or fire pit to burn for a long time at a steady temperature.

Softwood logs

Softwoods are less dense and lighter than hardwoods and typically ignite a lot quicker at a high temperature.

Softwood makes perfect kindling for bonfires, campfires, and anything outdoors but can also be used for fireplaces and stoves.

Kiln dried logs

Logs that have been kiln dried are much drier and less susceptible to fungal degradation.

Kiln dried firewood is a terrifically efficient option. Being so dry, it is easy to light and will burn much hotter and for a longer duration.

How different species of wood compare

Now let’s take a look at how the wood from different species of tree compare when used as firewood.

First up, hardwoods:

Is ash a good firewood?

Yes. A firm favourite hardwood for firewood, ash produces good heat, a steady flame, and burns well on its own.

Is beech a good firewood?

Yes. Beech is a wonderful hardwood for firewood. It has a thin layer of bark which can make it more challenging to light, so make sure you’ve got plenty of kindling.

Once you’ve got it going, though beech creates a hot, clean fire and is perfect for longterm heating. 

Is birch a good firewood?

Yes. Birch is a solid choice for firewood, and its bark makes for excellent kindling.  

This hardwood burns well, with good heat, but it can burn quite quickly. For the best results couple it with a slow-burning wood like oak.

Is hazel a good firewood?

Yes. Hazel is not so commonly used as the wood mentioned above, but it’s a good all-round hardwood firewood producing good heat as well as lovely purple and yellow flames.

Is hornbeam a good firewood?

Yes. Hornbeam is known for being long-burning and sporting a small, hot flame. Compared to some other hardwoods, hornbeam is efficient and held in high regard.

Is maple a good firewood?

Yes, this hardwood is a great firewood choice. Maple burns well and emits a good level of heat, although it’s quite uncommon in the UK.  

It is less dense than some hardwoods but is easy to use and produces a lovely aroma.

Is oak a good firewood?

Yes. Oak is by far one of the most popular choices for firewood. This dense hardwood can burn for an impressively long time.

Emitting a splendid amount of heat, this efficient firewood is perfect for keeping your fire going overnight.

Is sycamore a good firewood?

It depends. As part of a mix, sycamore performs well. It’s a bit smokier than other species when burned alone, but in a mixed batch of logs (like our hardwood!) this isn’t a problem.

Sycamore has also become one of the most common species in the UK, despite not being native, because it grows so rapidly and easily here. This means it’s one of the most sustainable species in the UK – something we think is a big plus.

Note! Now we move onto softwoods

Is cedar a good firewood?

Not so much. Cedar can also make good kindling. It is light and spits easily.

On the flip side, it is also known to burn fast and emit large sparks, so we don’t recommend it for an open fireplace!

Is fir a good firewood?

Yes. Fir is one of the easiest softwoods to split and produces impressive heat, only a small amount of sparks, and doesn’t create too much ash making this a great choice for a fireplace.

Is larch a good firewood?

Yes. Larch is arguably one of the best firewoods. It is the hardest softwood and has a higher calorific content than most species of wood, which basically means it is more efficient than most species of wood.  and is, in fact, harder than many hardwoods!

Larch doesn’t burn as well or as hot as some of our other firewood options, but it grows fast making it readily available and the most sustainable.

Is pine a good firewood?

It depends. This softwood makes excellent kindling for fire-starting, but it’s less suited to burning. 

Be aware that if you want to use it in the household, it has a high sap content and therefore can get a little messy! That said it means it also produces a wonderful aroma.

Is yew a good firewood?

Yes. Yew is an excellent, dense softwood for firewood. It has a slow burn and emits a really decent level of heat. Yew is another firewood that releases a pleasant scent when burned, making it an all-round solid choice for your fireplace or log burner.

You’ll rarely (almost never) see yew for sale, though, because it’s a poisonous tree that doesn’t lend itself well to commercial growing.

Burn baby burn!

Hopefully this blog has answered all your questions about the best firewood for your needs. 

Our hardwood is a mixture of ash, beech, birch hornbeam, oak, and sycamore – all of which make the cut as good firewoods.

Our softwood logs are processed from British-grown larch plantations.

Happy burning!


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