What Firewood Burns the Longest?

December 11, 2019 5:20 am Published by Leave your thoughts

If you’re planning on hosting a few fires in your hearth this winter, make sure you’re stocking up on firewood before the weather gets bad. Before you buy just any firewood, however, take a moment to think about where you can get the best value. Namely, ask the question: what firewood burns the hottest?

Chances are, you don’t normally pay attention to how hot or how long your firewood burns. But if you could buy firewood that burned twice as long as generic bundles for roughly the same cost, wouldn’t you choose that instead? Thinking critically about your firewood this season could help you get more out of every fire you start.

A general rule of thumb

Getting the most bang for your firewood buck usually comes down to selecting the hardest wood available. The harder the wood, the longer it’ll burn. This is because dense wood has fewer pockets of air, which means a more controlled burn of the log. Hardwoods also retain less moisture, which helps them burn more consistently. As a rule of thumb, the harder the wood, the better it’ll burn in your hearth.

Hardwoods also have the benefit of producing less smoke, which means less soot buildup in your hearth and chimney, leading to lower maintenance costs and a safer chimney.

Examples of hardwoods

If you’re wondering what firewood burns the hottest, you’ll want to look at a few distinct types of timber. All are readily available at most firewood suppliers, and most will make it a point to stock “premium” wood options, which are almost always denser logs.

The most common examples of hardwoods are hickory, oak, maple, birch, ash and elm. Don’t expect to walk into a store and request these, however! Hardwoods can be subject to logging restrictions. For example, you won’t find blue ash available anywhere—it’s a protected species. Likewise, if hardwoods have been hit heavily by insect or disease this season, there might be less viable wood available.

Getting wood to burn longer

The firewood that burns the longest isn’t always dependent on species. In fact, how long your logs burn has a lot to do with how they’re cut and cared for. Pay close attention to log shape and size, as well as moisture content, when selecting logs. Quartered logs are best for indoor fireplaces because they allow flames to penetrate two bark-less sides of the log. Likewise, logs with less than 20 percent moisture retention will light easier and stay ablaze longer.

Of course, there’s an entire art to building the fire itself. The arrangement of logs in the hearth has a lot to do with how long they’ll burn, and how they’re tended will dictate how long the wood lasts.

If you’re looking to get the most out of your firewood this season, make sure you’re paying close attention to the wood you’re buying. Buy dense hardwood whenever possible and pay attention to how you’re caring for it. The difference could be substantial—an extra hour or more of blaze in your hearth on a cold winter’s night!

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