Firewood 101: Choosing the Right Wood for Your Fireplace or Stove

Uncategorized By Apr 19, 2023

Selecting the right firewood is essential for efficient performance and safety in fireplaces and stoves. Hardwoods like oak, hickory, and ash provide longer-lasting heat, while softwoods such as pine and spruce are easier to burn. Fruitwoods like cherry and apple burn with a sweet aroma, but not as hot or long as hardwoods. Firewood needs to be chosen according to the size of the fireplace or stove and the heat required. Moisture content is also essential to producing heat, and firewood should ideally have a moisture content of 15% to 20%. Stored firewood should be kept dry and well-ventilated off the ground.

Firewood 101: Choosing the Right Wood for Your Fireplace or Stove

Nothing quite beats the warmth and coziness of a roaring fire on a cold winter night. Whether you have a fireplace or a wood stove, choosing the right type of firewood is crucial to ensure optimal performance and efficiency. In this article, we’ll take a look at some of the most popular types of firewood and the factors you need to consider when selecting the best wood for your fireplace or stove.

Types of Firewood

1. Hardwoods

Hardwoods are denser and heavier than softwoods, which means they take longer to burn and provide a longer-lasting heat source. Some of the popular hardwoods for firewood include oak, maple, hickory, birch, and ash. These woods have a long burn time and produce intense heat, making them ideal for use on cold winter nights.

2. Softwoods

Softwoods, on the other hand, burn faster than hardwoods and produce less heat. However, they are easier to light and can be a good option for starting a fire. Some of the popular softwoods for firewood include pine, fir, cedar, and spruce.

3. Fruit Woods

Fruitwoods produce a sweet-smelling aroma when burned, making them ideal for indoor fires. Cherry, apple, and pear are some of the common fruitwoods that are used for firewood. They burn hotter and longer than softwoods, but not as hot or long as hardwoods.

Factors to Consider When Choosing Firewood

1. Heat Output

The heat output of firewood is measured in British Thermal Units (BTUs). Hardwoods have a higher BTU rating compared to softwoods, which means they produce more heat. The type of wood you choose will depend on the size of your fireplace or stove and the level of warmth you want to achieve.

2. Moisture Content

The moisture content of firewood is also an essential factor to consider. Firewood with a high moisture content will be difficult to light and produce more smoke, which can damage your chimney or stove. The ideal moisture content for firewood is between 15% to 20%. You can use a moisture meter to test the moisture content of your firewood.

3. Type of Chimney or Stove

Different types of chimneys and stoves require different types of firewood. Some stoves, like pellet stoves, require specific types of wood pellets, while others can burn any type of firewood. Before selecting firewood, it’s important to check the user manual of your stove or chimney to determine the type of wood that is recommended.


1. Can I burn painted or stained wood in my fireplace or stove?

No, it’s not recommended to burn painted or stained wood in your fireplace or stove. These types of wood contain chemicals, which can be harmful if inhaled. Stick to natural, untreated wood for your fires.

2. Can I burn green or unseasoned wood in my fireplace or stove?

No, green or unseasoned wood is not recommended for use in a fireplace or stove. This type of wood contains high levels of moisture, which can lead to excessive smoke, creosote buildup, and even chimney fires. Always use seasoned firewood, which has been dried for at least six months to a year.

3. How should I store my firewood?

Firewood should be stored in a dry, well-ventilated area, such as a shed or covered area. It should be stacked off the ground, preferably on a raised platform or pallet. This will allow air to circulate around the wood and help it dry faster. Make sure to cover the top of the woodpile with a tarp to protect it from rain or snow.

In conclusion, choosing the right firewood for your fireplace or stove is crucial to ensure optimal performance and safety. Hardwoods provide longer-lasting heat, while softwoods are easier to light. Fruit woods produce a sweet-smelling aroma, but don’t burn as hot or long as hardwoods. Remember to consider the heat output, moisture content, and the type of chimney or stove before selecting firewood. Also, avoid burning painted or stained wood, green or unseasoned wood, and store your firewood properly to keep it dry and safe to use.