Wood has been a staple fuel of choice for humankind for millenia. From our cave-based ancestors to our modern day living, wood is by far the most readily available and efficient fire fuel. Unlike options such as coal, burning wood ensures you can avoid unhealthy fumes. It also burns for longer, as well as providing you with a whole host of options to suit your fire needs.
And, the chances are that these options have brought you here. Of course, we all love choice. It’s fantastic being able to tailor your fire without being tied to one option. But, with the sheer amount of woods on offer, this choice itself can become overwhelming. Sometimes, it gets to the point where you simply want a definitive answer as to which types of firewood work best.
Sadly, we can’t give you that because such an answer doesn’t exist. There is no one-size-fits-all, unbeatable firewood. But, there are ways to find the best wood for you. And, we’re going to talk you through them here.
Consider What You Need
First thing’s first; it’s vital that you consider what exactly you need from your fire. Once you delve into this subject, after all, you’ll come to realize that various woods offer very different experiences. Before you stand any chance at finding the right wood for you, then, you need to know which experiences you’re after. The primary consideration to make here is the level and length of heat that you want. If you live in a cold environment, for example, you’ll probably want a slow burning wood which provides high levels of heat. Or, perhaps you want quick burning options which give a burst of heat without overdoing it.
Once you know that, you should consider more practical aspects, like price and affordability. Some woods aren’t available in certain areas, while others are in abundance. Equally, some woods cost a great deal more, meaning that they might not be practical if you use a lot of wood. Simply heading to a local store should be enough to show you the answers to these questions. Then, with your list of needs to hand, you can start to break your options down even further.
Know The Basic Differences
Before you get onto the trees themselves, it’s vital that you know the fundamental differences between different woods. Namely, this means knowing the difference between hard and soft woods, and also between seasoned and unseasoned woods. These are terms which you’re going to come across concerning every option you encounter. And, knowing what it means is the best chance you have of getting a wood which suits.
1. Hardwood vs. Softwood
In general terms, a hardwood is from deciduous trees while softwood comes from conifers. Of course, that in itself doesn’t much help to narrow this issue down. What would help is to consider the properties of each type of wood. The good news is that these are relatively self-explanatory. A hardwood is literally harder, and so burns slower, making it ideal for those who want extreme and long-lasting heat. Do note, though, that most hardwood offerings cost a little more. By comparison, softwood offers high levels of heat but burns in around half the time, making it ideal for those who don’t want things to get too warm for extended periods.
2. Seasoned vs. Unseasoned
Next, you face a choice between seasoned and unseasoned wood. Rather than being about the different types of tree, this decision comes down to the way wood has been handled. Seasoned wood is ideal for burning inside as it has been left to weather, meaning that it will burn cleanly without much residue. Unseasoned wood, however, is also known as green wood, and can produce a lot more residue. That said, unseasoned wood is easier to come by, and could well be a preferable choice if you intend to have your fires outside or in fire pits.
Then Get Down To The Trees
Once you’ve got your basic list of essentials to hand, you can get down to the individual trees. As we’re sure you already know, there’s an astounding amount of these. But, it helps to narrow things down when you remember that the selection of popular firewood choices is much slimmer. Considering these while also keeping your needs in mind should ensure that the decision isn’t as difficult as you imagine. But, what exactly are these popular choices?
- Apple (slow burning and nice smelling for indoor use)
- Ash (ideal for steady fires when seasoned)
- Birch (a fast burning softwood for those who want quick heat and keep their chimneys clean)
- Blackthorn (strong burning wood known for producing little smoke)
- Hawthorn (fantastic for high-levels of heat)
- Oak (readily available and burns well when seasoned)
- Pine (perfect fire starting wood)
- Walnut (durable, burns well, and lets off little smoke)
- American beech (a must for those in cold climates)
- American elm (a fantastic option for those seeking medium levels of heat)
- Aspen (a low-heat wood, ideal for those who already live in moderate locations)
As you can see, many of these offer different benefits. And, largely, selecting the right one comes down to the list of requirements we urged you to make at the beginning of this article. Of course, these aren’t the only options. In some areas, for example, even the more common of these woods may be challenging to find. You may even find that you have the choice of splitting less common woods like black locust instead.
It’s also worth noting that, often, selecting the best firewood is simply a case of trial and error. Some options might sound perfect until you try to burn them. Others will come complete with issues which you can’t foresee. When you find the right wood for you, though, the chances are that you’ll know it straight away. The price will be right, and it’ll burn in just the way that you want it to. It just takes a little time to find the ideal one.