Nothing beats a crackling fire on a cold night, but using the right wood is essential. Shoddy firewood creates unpleasant smokey flames that lack heat.

Each tree species has distinct burning characteristics, so what’s the best firewood for your home? This guide provides some practical options to keep you toasty warm this winter.

14 best firewood options for your home

If you’re looking for slow-burning wood that provides plenty of heat, consider hardwoods like hickory, oak, beech, and cherry. Fast-burning softwoods like hemlock, pine, spruce, and Douglas fir make excellent shoulder-season fuel and are ideal for kindling.

Always try to buy locally sourced firewood. It’s usually cheaper and helps stop the spread of invasive wood diseases and insects.

1. Hickory

BTUs/CordSmoke outputSap/Resin contentDifficulty to splitSeasoning time
30.6LowLowModerate to tough12 months

Hickory is a top-notch firewood option, especially when a lot of heat is needed. It provides 30.6 million BTUs per cord once seasoned, which is relatively high.

This wood has outstanding coaling properties, a pleasant fragrance, and minimal smoke. It also infuses delicious smoky flavor into meat and vegetables.

2. Oak

BTUs/CordSmoke outputSap/Resin contentDifficulty to splitSeasoning time
29.1LowLowModerate to tough24 months+

Oak is a superior firewood choice that delivers a long, slow burn and high heat output. Although it requires more time to season compared to other woods, the result is firewood that can last through the night.

Oak is abundant throughout most of North America. But keep in mind that Gambel and red oak provide better heating efficiency than white oak.

3. Beech

BTUs/CordSmoke outputSap/Resin contentDifficulty to splitSeasoning time
27.5LowLowModerate to tough12-24 months

Beech is a superb choice for firewood, with a seasoned cord delivering 27.5 million BTUs. It burns efficiently, emitting minimal smoke and an enjoyable scent.

Wood from a beech tree creates good coals, ensuring your fire sustains heat throughout the evening. Keep in mind that some trees become twisted and knotty, so splitting can be a teeth-rattling job.

4. Cherry

BTUs/CordSmoke outputSap/Resin contentDifficulty to splitSeasoning time
20.4LowLowLow6-12 months

Cherry firewood is a top option due to its ease of splitting and delightful scent when burned. While its heat output is lower than popular hardwoods like oak and hickory, it burns cleanly and generates outstanding coals.

As with most fruit trees, cherry is a popular wood for cooking food. Use it for barbecuing, roasting, and smoking.

5. Ash

BTUs/CordSmoke outputSap/Resin contentDifficulty to splitSeasoning time
24.2LowLowModerate6-18 months

Ash firewood is a practical choice for burning cleanly, creating good coals, and having limited sparks. White ash has relatively high heat output but can be challenging to split, while green ash provides less heat but is straightforward to split.

6. Apple

BTUs/CordSmoke outputSap/Resin contentDifficulty to splitSeasoning time
27.0LowLowModerate12-24 months

Apple tree wood makes excellent firewood that produces ample heat and long-lasting coals. It also emits a delightful, sweet scent that is highly valued by meat smokers and anyone who uses flame for cooking.

Apple firewood gives off minimal smoke or sparks. It’s perfect for any type of fire, including open fires at home.

7. Black Locust

BTUs/CordSmoke outputSap/Resin contentDifficulty to splitSeasoning time
27.9LowLowLow12 months

Black locust is among the finest firewood options. It boasts one of the highest heat output ratings and superior coaling characteristics.

This wood will ensure your home stays warm during the harshest winter nights. It is easy to split if the wood isn’t too knotty.

8. Birch

BTUs/CordSmoke outputSap/Resin contentDifficulty to splitSeasoning time
20.8ModerateLowModerate6-12 months

Birch makes decent firewood that generates moderate heat and has a nice scent. It burns quickly, so use it with slower-burning hardwoods like oak, maple, or others with superior coaling abilities.

The birch tree bark is ideal for igniting fires, as it burns vigorously.

Expert tip: Birch will rot quickly if left in rounds.

9. Osage orange

BTUs/CordSmoke outputSap/Resin contentDifficulty to splitSeasoning time
32.9LowHighLow12-24 months

Osage orange provides extremely high heat output and long-lasting coals. Although it is very dense and takes time to season properly, the wood burns cleanly and emits a pleasant scent.

Osage takes some effort to ignite, so you may want to use a softwood to get the fire started. This wood stores well and is not susceptible to rot.

10. Maple

BTUs/CordSmoke outputSap/Resin contentDifficulty to splitSeasoning time
18.7LowLowModerate12-24 months

Maple is adequate firewood for home heating or outdoor cooking like barbecues and meat smokers.

Despite its relatively low heat output compared to hardwoods like oak and black locust, it produces excellent coals and has a pleasant scent.

Maple wood is ideal in regions with milder winter temperatures. Sugar maple has a higher BTU output than red maple.

11. Dogwood

BTUs/CordSmoke outputSap/Resin contentDifficulty to splitSeasoning time
31.1LowLowModerate12-24 months

Dogwood produces exceptional firewood with high heat output and good coaling qualities. As a slow-growing tree, the wood must be seasoned thoroughly, but the result is a fuel that provides warmth for extended periods.

Expert tip: Dogwood may be a challenge to split, so have a quality maul or splitting axe on standby.

12. Eucalyptus

BTUs/CordSmoke outputSap/Resin contentDifficulty to splitSeasoning time
34.5LowModerateLow12-18 months

Eucalyptus firewood burns fiercely and yields great coals. It releases a delightful scent while burning and generates minimal smoke if it is well-seasoned.

The oil content contained in the wood intensifies the heat and may damage some woodstoves, so use with caution.

13. Spruce

BTUs/CordSmoke outputSap/Resin contentDifficulty to splitSeasoning time
15.5ModerateHighLow6-12 months

Spruce is a softwood that produces less heat than most hardwoods. But don’t let that stop you from using it in the fire. It is ideal shoulder season firewood or chopped into tinder or kindling.

Keep in mind that its coaling properties aren’t great, so you’ll need to feed the fire regularly.

14. Cottonwood

BTUs/CordSmoke outputSap/Resin contentDifficulty to splitSeasoning time
15.8ModerateLowLow6-12 months

Cottonwood is a decent option for firewood that is effortless to split and generates minimal sparks when burned.

Although this wood doesn’t generate much heat, you can use it in milder climates or as a starter material.

A man holding chopped firewood with a woodstack behind him

Which firewood provides the best heat?

While heat isn’t the only factor to consider when choosing firewood, it is undoubtedly one of the most important. Wood with a higher BTU means you get more heat per cord of wood.

Below is a table showing some of the top varieties ranked by BTU. To get the complete list and a bigger downloadable .pdf, check out our BTU firewood chart here.

Type of WoodBTU (millions) Per Cord
Mountain mahogany39.8
Osage Orange32.9
Black Locust27.9

Which firewood burns cleanest?

Wood that smokes isn’t pleasant, whether you’re indoors or sitting around a campfire. The best firewood for a clean-burning flame should be:

  • Free from mold, rot, and pests.
  • Stacked and left to season until the moisture content drops below 20%.    

We strongly suggest taking a peek at our firewood storage advice to get nicely dried wood that burns like a dream. 

If you don’t have time to season wood, consider buying kiln-dried firewood. The moisture has already been removed and will burn efficiently with very little smoke.

5 must-read articles

  1. Which firewood is best for cooking?
  2. What is the best length firewood?
  3. What’s the best wood for a campfire?
  4. What wood should I avoid burning?
  5. Comparison of hardwoods and softwoods.

Summing up

Creating a list of top firewood options is tricky. Nature loves throwing curveballs, so what seems like the perfect wood for one user may not work so well for another. Weather, environment, tree age, and many other factors shape the firewood that you burn.

In general, hardwoods that have been properly seasoned will serve you well. Dense, dry wood typically burns slower and cleaner.

You may have noticed softwoods like Douglas fir and pine didn’t feature on this page. In fact there are also loads of hardwoods like peach, plum, hawthorn, walnut, and holly that could have been included. There’s only so much room on one page, so we added tree species that we’re familiar with and that are readily available in North America (and many other parts of the world).

Got a firewood that you absolutely think should be part of this page? Contact us and we’ll listen.   

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