Beech trees are found throughout most parts of the world including North America, Europe, and Asia. There could be one on your property that you’re considering chopping down or maybe you’ve discovered beech logs for sale. If you’re wondering if beech firewood is any good, then keep reading to get our essential guide.  

Is beech good for firewood?

Beech is excellent firewood with one cord of seasoned wood providing an impressive 27.5 million BTUs. It also burns clean with minimal smoke and a pleasant fragrance. You’ll also find it produces high-quality coals, meaning your fire will continue to produce heat through the night.

  • One of the top few firewood varieties for heat output, along with Black Locust, Oak, and Hickory.
  • Doesn’t pop or spark much compared to larch, alder, and pine.
  • Produces excellent coals that’ll keep a fire burning longer.
  • Can range from easy to extremely difficult to split depending on whether the grains are twisted and the number of knots.
Infographic showing beech firewood data

Beech firewood burn qualities

1. Heat output

If you want plenty of heat from your fire then beech is one of the best types of firewood you can use. Its low moisture content means the fire doesn’t have to waste energy evaporating water. The resulting heat output of 27.5 BTU puts this firewood in the top few. Whether you’re under the stars camping or relaxing at home, you shouldn’t go cold with beech at your disposal. 

Check out the following table comparing the heat output of beech to various other common types of firewood.  

Wood variety   Heat per Cord (Million BTUs)
White fir14.6
White pine15.9
Sycamore19.5
Beech27.5
Black Locust27.9
Hickory28.0
White Oak29.1
Osage Orange32.9

2. Smoke

The best firewood options don’t produce a lot of smoke. A clean-burning fuel is much better than dealing with stinging, red eyes.

Thankfully, well-seasoned beech produces minimal smoke like hickory, ash, and oak. It is a much better choice than hard maple or pine. Of course, if you toss green wood into the fire, you can expect plumes of smoke, so be sure to allow time for it to season.

3. Ease of splitting

Splitting beech wood can be a serious challenge if you get it with a twisted grain. But if you get it with straight grains, you’ll find it fairly easy to chop up.

Try to split beech wood while it’s still green. Once dried, the wood feels like rock when using an axe on it. If you have a lot of hard-to-split beech wood, then using a chainsaw could be a better option. 

4. Sparks

The last thing anyone wants is to be ducking sparks from the fire. Popping wood can cause nasty burns if an ember lands on you. Also, bushfires and house fires can start with aggressively sparking wood.

Beech is a great wood for low levels of sparking, meaning you can relax without worrying about fires or injury. It is a much better choice than mulberry, which is known for significant sparking.   

5. Aroma

It’s hard to beat a crackling fire that gives off a pleasant fragrance. Indoor and outdoor fires along with BBQs and meat smokers all benefit from nice-smelling wood.

Beech has a decent smell although it’s fairly subtle. Some beer manufacturers use this type of wood to make beer barrels. Its aroma adds depth to the beer.

Beech firewood won’t win any awards for its fragrance though. It doesn’t compete with favorites like apple, cedar, cherry, and hickory on smell.

6. Coaling

The quality of coals produced by firewood impacts how long the fire produces heat through the night. Overnight wood stoves, smokers, and pits that slow cook meat all day, are much more effective with slow-burning wood.

You’ll find beech produces excellent coals that’ll produce heat through the night. When the morning comes, the fire can often be restarted easily by tossing another log into the embers.  

7. Creosote build-up

Hardwood varieties like beech don’t contain a lot of sap, so you won’t get a lot of creosote inside the chimney. This is a useful benefit, as cleaning the chimney is easier and there’s a reduced health risk. Too much creosote is also highly flammable and can cause house fires.

8. Seasoning

To get the best heat output from your beech, you’ll need to season it for at least 12 months. Many argue that two years is best, as well-seasoned wood produces less smoke.

Seasoning beech takes a relatively long time, which isn’t ideal if you need wood for the upcoming winter. If you have the space, you may want to begin seasoning beech and get another type of firewood that’s quicker to season. Beech is similar to oak for seasoning time.

Tips for seasoning oak

Seasoned wood has been thoroughly dried. Burning beech that hasn’t been seasoned is not a good idea unless you’re in a hurry. The fragrance and smoke won’t be enjoyable.

There are options for speeding up the seasoning process. Living in a hot, dry state is a good starting point as the climate is ideal for seasoning. If you don’t have the weather to help you out, follow these tips to speed up beech wood seasoning.

  • Raise the wood: lay the firewood on some planks or pallets to allow airflow underneath.
  • Split the firewood: by splitting the logs, you increase the surface area that gets exposed to sunshine and wind.
  • Stack in the right place: speed up drying time by positioning the face of the stack towards the wind and avoiding shady areas.
  • Space out the rows: create a series of stacks with a 3-5” gap between each one to assist with air circulation.
  • Cover the wood: use a tarp to protect the stacks from rain and snow while keeping one side exposed to the wind.
Beech tree

Commonly asked questions

How do you identify Beech trees?

Beech trees can be identified by looking for smooth gray bark and oval leaves that have wavy edges and a pointed tip. They have prickly seed cases that house triangular beech masts (beech nuts). 

Is beech hardwood or softwood?

Beech is a variety of hardwood that is excellent for use as firewood.

What does beech look like once seasoned?

Properly seasoned beech will transform from an amber-orange color to a brownish tan. Although you may see a little orange or pink in the wood, any black or green could be a sign of moldy wood.

Fast facts

  • The beech tree is a tall deciduous and its botanical name is Fagus.
  • There are only 13 beech tree species with the most common two being the American beech (Fagus grandifolia) and European beech tree (Fagus sylvatica).
  • Beech trees are native to the temperate climates of Europe and North America.
A man chopping beech firewood
A man splitting beech firewood with an axe.

Summing up

Beech is one of the best types of firewood thanks to its high heat output, excellent coaling, and low levels of smoke and sparking. It doesn’t have the best fragrance but there are definitely worse options.

Splitting beech can be a big job if you end up with twisted wood, full of knots. No matter how the beech looks, be sure to chop it up while it’s still green. After seasoning, it becomes rock-hard and you’ll have a tough job splitting it. There’s always a chainsaw if you get to the firewood too late.

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