Winter temperatures in Wisconsin frequently drop below -40°F, so good heating is essential. Although gas and electrically-powered heaters are convenient, a fireplace or woodstove could reduce the heating bill.
Wisconsinites are spoilt for choice when it comes to choosing firewood. Almost half the entire state is covered with forest. This guide looks at some excellent firewood options for residents of Wisconsin. It attempts to balance heating performance with regional availability.
What is the best firewood to burn in Wisconsin?
Wisconsin residents needing a hot, long-lasting fire should select a hardwood like maple, beech, oak, or hickory. Choose affordable softwoods like aspen, pine, fir, or spruce to help get the fire started. These species grow abundantly in much of Wisconsin, and their wood is excellent for tinder and kindling.
Aspen makes up roughly 18% of Wisconsin’s forests, making it the state’s most common type of tree. Varieties like bigtooth and quaking are low-cost firewood options that are easy to split and give off minimal smoke.
Aspen is a softwood, so its low-density wood only provides 16.5 million BTUs of heat output per cord. That’s much lower than most hardwoods, so you must keep adding firewood frequently. We recommend using this wood for kindling or combining it with slow-burning hardwoods.
Important tip: Paper birch, quaking and bigtooth aspen, jack pine, and balsam fir have had significant population decline over the past 30 years. If they grow on your property, look for wind-fallen or dead trees as a good choice for firewood.
Check out our aspen firewood guide here.
Maples flourish throughout much of Wisconsin, with the sugar maple being the state tree since 1949. They provide slow-burning firewood that gives off prolonged heat.
The red and sugar (hard) maple are great options for home heating but have relatively low BTU ratings. They’re ideal for burning in the shoulder seasons. Dense hardwoods like oak and hickory will serve you better on the coldest winter nights.
Read our full review of maple here.
The beech tree is a deciduous hardwood that makes valuable firewood. It grows in the state’s east and is expected to grow over the coming decades.
Beech firewood is one of the top choices for heat output, alongside black locust, hickory, and oak. It burns clean and produces excellent coals, meaning the fire gives off heat longer.
Find out about beech firewood here.
4. Yellow birch
Although not as common as maple, birch varieties like yellow and paper (white) make up a significant portion of Wisconsin’s north.
Birch provides moderate heat output and has a pleasant fragrance as it burns. Remember that this wood burns fast, so it is best used with denser hardwoods like hickory.
If you chop a birch into rounds, split the wood without delay and stack it. It tends to rot if left exposed to the elements for too long.
Read our birch firewood review here.
Oak is a valuable wood for keeping homes toasty warm through winter. It creates impressive coals which keep the fire burning through the night. Frequently adding more pieces of wood won’t be needed.
Oak-hickory forests comprise around 10 percent of the forest area, primarily found in the southwest and central parts of the state. Common species of oak include red, white, post, and blackjack.
You can buy oak firewood from a local supplier or split a tree on your property at the end of its life. Either way, the performance of oak never disappoints in the fire.
Learn more about oak firewood here.
Hickory is an excellent option for grilling, smoking, and roasting. It adds a sweet, smoky flavor to food. But this wood isn’t just for the barbecue. The shagbark and bitternut varieties produce a lot of heat, making them well-suited to cold months in the badger state.
Learn more about hickory firewood in this article.
Basswood makes up over 5% of Wisconsin’s tree volume. It is a fast-growing species critical to the success of birch and maple forests in this state. Almost two-thirds of basswood forest volume is found in the state’s north.
The BTU heat output for basswood is a very low 13.8. It burns fast, so use it for kindling or mixed with denser hardwoods. You may also like to download our FREE firewood BTU chart here.
In-depth basswood firewood review.
Pine species like Jack, northern, and red are abundant. Source. They grow quickly and provide vast amounts of sustainable firewood.
Pine is a softwood, so it burns fast. It’s not an ideal primary firewood source unless you’re happy with constantly adding more wood to the fire.
Pine contains a lot of resin which produces creosote deposits inside the chimney. Regular chimney cleaning is vital to avoid unwanted chimney fires.
Pine is easy to source, relatively cheap, and excellent for starting fires. It also gives off a pleasant smell in the fire. We recommend using it with other hardwoods for best results.
Read our full review of pine.
Forest volumes of black and white spruce trees continue to grow each decade in north Wisconsin. They are fast-growing conifers that provide vast wood resources for fireplaces throughout the state.
Spruce’s BTU rating is low, so its heating efficiency is less than most hardwoods. But like pine, it’s excellent for kindling or mixed with slow-burning hardwoods to reduce the firewood bill each year.
Check out our resource on spruce wood here.
Like much of the United States, Wisconsin’s ash tree population has suffered due to emerald ash borer. Watching forests die prematurely is frustrating, but the wood shouldn’t be wasted. If you split ash on your property, keep the wood local to reduce the spread of these pests.
Ash is valuable firewood that splits easily and produces minimal creosote in the fire. If you get the choice, white ash provides better heat efficiency than green.
This ash firewood guide provides more details.
Where can I buy firewood in Wisconsin?
Residents in WI have access to plenty of reliable, well-priced firewood suppliers. Here are a few options to get you started.
|Milwaukee||Wisconsin Firewood Company||(414) 769-9663|
|Milwaukee||Best Burn Firewood||(262) 746-7416|
|Madison||Madison Firewood Delivery||(608) 209-9560|
|Green Bay||Ray’s Fire Wood||(920) 609-5386|
|Racine||Firewood Farmer LLC||(262) 822-7880|
|Appleton||The Woodshed||(920) 372-8275|