Winter in many parts of Alaska is freezing, snowy, and drawn out. Even warm summer days in places like Denali National Park can drop below freezing overnight. Local Alaskans who heat their homes with a fireplace or wood stove need suitable wood. A poor choice could mean a smoke-filled room or endless trips to the wood stack each night.
This guide lists some of the best types of firewood in Alaska for heating and cooking. We have tried to balance firewood performance with regional availability.
What is the best firewood to burn in Alaska?
Alaskan residents looking to use local trees for their fire should select a hardwood like paper birch, cottonwood, or poplar. Softwoods like pine, spruce, cedar, or hemlock will help get the fire started. Although these options may not compete with oak or hickory, each species grows abundantly in much of Alaska.
1. Paper Birch
The birch is the densest hardwood in Alaska that grows in good numbers. The paper birch is found in the state’s interior boreal forests.
Birch provides moderate heating efficiency and gives off a pleasant smell as it burns. The wood will quickly rot if left in rounds, so split them as soon as possible.
Find out more about birch wood here.
Cottonwood trees grow along river floodplains and streams in Alaska’s south and southeast. It is a hardwood variety that burns clean and is easy to split.
Cottonwood firewood burns fast, so you’ll need a big stockpile to get through the depths of winter.
Learn more about cottonwood in this article.
Balsam poplar stands grow well on the floodplains of southwestern south-central and the interior of AK. They thrive next to the state’s major river networks.
Poplar is quick to light and splits easily, but a low BTU heat output means you’ll need a lot of wood. It also soaks up water like a sponge, so keep it protected from the elements, even if seasoned.
Read about poplar firewood in this guide.
Willow trees grow streamside throughout much of The Last Frontier. Some common species include the Pacific, Bebb, Barclay, Oliver, and Feltleaf.
The wood from a willow lacks density, so it’ll burn fast, and the fire will need a lot of attention to keep it blazing. Use it with other denser hardwoods like oak or maple if you can get it.
Get the full willow review here.
The tamarack tree is commonly found in Alaska’s interior. Forests grow in the Kuskokwim and Yukon River basins and near the Alaska-Yukon border.
Tamarack is an easy-to-split firewood variety that offers sound heat output. Seasoning the wood is essential, or it will spark and smoke excessively.
Read about tamarack here.
Lodgepole and Shore pine trees are softwood conifers that grow through sections of the state. The wood’s high sap content isn’t ideal if you need a primary fuel source for the fire. However, it is excellent for kindling and can be mixed with other hardwoods to start the fire quickly.
Find out more about pine firewood here.
7. Littleleaf Linden
Lindens are found in the southcentral and southeast parts of Alaska. They spring up fast and are one of the more sustainable species for Alaskan firewood.
The wood splits easily and is a fast-lighting fuel source. Use it for getting fires started or mixed with denser hardwoods.
8. Western Redcedar
Western Redcedars enjoy elevations below 500 feet and prosper on the mountain slopes and flood plains. They don’t grow beyond Fredrick Sound.
Red cedar emits a lovely fragrance as it burns and is easy to split with an axe or maul. It won’t compete with popular hardwoods like oak for heat output, so you’ll stay busy feeding the fire through the night.
Read about cedar firewood here.
Western hemlock is abundant in southeast Alaska. It makes valuable firewood, providing moderate heat through the cold months.
Hemlock gives off some sparks and may smoke a little too. Most people will find this a minor issue, though.
Find out the details on hemlock here.
Sitka, black, and white spruce trees grow fast in the right conditions, making them a favorable option as a sustainable fuel source. These large trees are located on Alaska’s coast, from Kodiak down to the bottom of southeast Alaska and the Alaskan peninsula.
Spruce gives off a pleasant fragrance and is easy to split. Like most softwoods, it doesn’t produce good coals, so you’ll need to feed the fire often.
Read about spruce wood here.
The red, thin leaf, Sitka, and American green alder species are all native to Alaska. They enjoy a diverse range of habitats, like alongside rivers, roadsides, and meadows.
Alder provides less heat than hardwoods like black locust and Osage orange. However, it is excellent with other slower-burning varieties like maple or oak. It lights fast and helps slower-burning types of wood catch alight.
Find out more about alder.
Sitka, Siberian, and cascade ash forests grow in AK. Sitka is located along the Pacific Maritime coast; Siberians are found in the western Aleutian Islands; cascade forests flourish throughout the southern half of Alaska.
Ash is useful firewood that burns clean and produces good coals with few sparks.
Read about ash here.
13. Quaking aspen
Quaking aspen is widespread throughout Alaska’s interior, found in parts of the Alaska Panhandle and through boreal and sub-boreal Alaska.
Aspen is a fast-growing, sustainable firewood that gives off minimal sparks and smoke. The wood has a straight grain that makes splitting a cinch.
Learn about aspen here.
Where can I buy firewood in Alaska?
Residents in AK have access to plenty of reliable, well-priced firewood suppliers. Here are a few options to get you started.
|Anchorage||Best Split Firewood||(907) 562-1155|
|Fairbanks||Aurora Energy||(907) 488 6055|
|Wasilla||Valley Firewood||(907) 982-9596|
Tips for collecting wood in Alaska
- Try to use windblown or dead trees before felling a live tree.
- Don’t fell trees treated with pesticides or herbicides.
- Get a permit before chopping down a tree.
- Never transport firewood long distances. Learn more>
- Visit the Bureau of Land Management to get more information.
How much does a cord of firewood cost in Alaska?
Firewood varies in price depending on the species and whether it has been seasoned. Expect to pay around $200-$300 per cord for firewood in AK.
Can I cut firewood anywhere in Alaska?
A permit is required from a Division of Forestry & Fire Protection office to legally fell trees for firewood in Alaska.
What trees commonly grow in Alaska?
Alaska’s coastal forests predominantly comprise western hemlock, Sitka spruce, and other softwoods. The state’s interior has extensive white spruce, birch, and poplar tracts.