Beech trees grow throughout most parts of the world, including North America, Europe, and Asia. It’s an excellent wood for tool making and furniture, but does beech make good firewood? This guide examines the pros and cons of beech and whether it’s worth burning.

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. Beech produces high-quality coals, meaning your fire will continue to give off 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 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
Black Locust27.9
White Oak29.1
Osage Orange32.9

2. Smoke

Well-seasoned beech produces minimal smoke like hickory, ash, and oak. It is a much better choice than hard maple or pine. Of course, tossing green wood into the fire will result in plumes of smoke. Always allow time for the firewood 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 relatively 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. Using a chainsaw could be a better option if you have a lot of hard-to-split wood.

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 gives off few sparks, meaning you can relax without worrying about fires or injury. It is a much better choice than mulberry, known for significant sparking.  

5. Aroma

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

Beech has a decent smell, although it’s 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 continues to heat through the night. Wood stoves, smokers, and pits that slow-cook meat are more effective with slow-burning wood.

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

7. Creosote build-up

Hardwood varieties like beech contain minimal sap, meaning creosote won’t gunk up the chimney. This feature is beneficial, as too much creosote is highly flammable and can cause house fires.

8. Seasoning

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

Beech is similar to oak for seasoning time, which isn’t ideal if you need wood for the upcoming winter. If space permits, begin seasoning beech and get another type of firewood quicker to season.

Tips for seasoning beech

Burning green beech isn’t a good idea unless you’re in a pinch. The fragrance and smoke won’t be enjoyable as the wood burns.

There are options for speeding up the seasoning process. Living in a hot, dry state is a good starting point. If you don’t have the weather to help, 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 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?

Identify beech trees by looking for smooth gray bark and oval leaves with 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. You can learn more about hardwood and softwood firewood here.

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 indicate moldy wood.

Fast facts

  • The beech tree is a tall deciduous, and its botanical name is Fagus.
  • There are only 13 beech tree species, the most common 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 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, 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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