If you’ve just installed a new wood-burning stove in your home I want to know what the best Woods to burn on it, you are in luck! Over the years, I’ve tried a number of different hardwoods (and softwoods ). Here’s my top 4 firewoods to burn in your wood burning stove.
I’ve ranked these from worst to best, so skip to the end if you want to know what the best firewood is instantly!
Oak: A good, long burning firewood but has some limitations…
When we first got our wood-burning stove, I set about ordering a massive crate of kiln-dried oak logs.
They were some of the most expensive logs out there at the time, so I naively thought they would be the best.
How wrong I was!
Now, oak does have some positives that should be mentioned: a single log will burn for easily an hour, and the embers from oak seem to last for an eternity.
So, oak is good if you want to burn a fire all day, every day, and you don’t want to spend a small fortune.
However. There are some huge drawbacks to oak. For one, it’s not a very good fire-starting wood. Your woodburner will need to be chucking out some serious heat before an oak log will ‘take’. There’s a reason oak was used in the construction of old buildings, after all.
So, if you’re using oak, you’re much more likely to be using an absolute tonne of kindling to get your fire going.
That’s drawback one.
Drawback two is that oak logs burn in a very constant manner.
Because they’re slow burners, they won’t tend to shoot out loads of heat and then die down. Instead they’ll give off a moderate amount of heat over a longer period.
Again, there’s positives here, but if you want to light your stove and want it chucking out heat within the first half hour, you’re going to be a bit disappointed.
I know it’s all down to personal preference, but for me oak is my least favourite wood to burn as I don’t often have my wood burner running all day.
I want heat, I want flames, and I want them fast.
Pine: A misunderstood softwood, with some huge positives.
You may have heard a lot of people say things like pine will clog up your chimney. Or pine is a dirty wood.
The reasons behind this is because is a resinous wood, and contains lots of sap. As a result when lit, it can spit and crackle.
I didn’t burn pine for ages (dispute having loads of off cuts from woodworking projects) because I was worried that burning it would cause creosote build up in my chimney.
But then I did some research!
To me, it seems that pine’s bad reputation comes from the fact that it’s a really tough wood to process. The sap and resin can mess up chainsaws. And because it’s so knotty it can be hard to chop cleanly with an axe.
The more I read, the less evidence I saw for it’s supposed bad qualities for using in a wood burning stove.
The spitting isn’t an issue because you have a door, and as for creosote build up … you get your chimney cleaned once a year anyway.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m probably never going have pine-only fires, but pine as firewood has got some huge positives.
It burns really easily and quickly, and cranks out a good bit of heat fast.
And, if you’re anything like me, there’s always scraps of pine lying around in the garage.
As a result, I find that pine makes excellent kindling and is definitely one of the best firewoods to burn. It smells good, it burns quick and it gets the temperature of the flue up really quickly. This last point is important if you want to keep the glass on your wood-burning stove clean.
To start a fire with pine as the kindling is so easy: one firelighter and a few strips of pine and you’re good to go!
Ash: A supposed queen of the firewoods, but not quite as amazing as I first thought.
If you’ve come across the firewood poem, then you may be under the impression that ash is the absolute best firewood. The poem is below if you’re interested.
The Firewood Poem
Beechwood fires are bright and clearBirch and fir logs burn too fast
If the logs are kept a year,
Chestnut’s only good they say,
If for logs ’tis laid away.
Make a fire of Elder tree,
Death within your house will be;
But ash new or ash old,
Is fit for a queen with crown of gold
Blaze up bright and do not last,
it is by the Irish said
Hawthorn bakes the sweetest bread.
Elm wood burns like churchyard mould,
E’en the very flames are cold
But ash green or ash brown
Is fit for a queen with golden crown
Poplar gives a bitter smoke,
Fills your eyes and makes you choke,
Apple wood will scent your room
Pear wood smells like flowers in bloom
Oaken logs, if dry and old
keep away the winter’s cold
But ash wet or ash dry
a king shall warm his slippers by.
– Lady Celia Congreve, 1930
But, while ash does burn bright and gives off a lot of heat, it still doesn’t quite clinch the title of best firewood in my opinion.
This is mainly because it doesn’t release it’s heat fast enough for my liking.
Don’t get me wrong, it burns a lot better that oak. In fact there’s no real comparison with oak as it is so much better to burn.
But, you still need a decent amount of kindling to set ash off.
This means that for me, it still doesn’t rank as the best firewood to burn: I hate buying kindling because it’s so easy to make, and I hate making kindling because it feels like a never ending chore.
That said, if you get ash as your central stock of firewood you’re not going to be too disappointed.
Birch: The absolute best firewood to burn in the UK.
Yes this is just down to my opinion. But, I do think there’s a massive case for birch to be considered the best firewood. My reasons are as follows:
First, birch wood is an excellent starting log for your fire, and requires minimal amount of kindling to start it off. This also makes it a good wood to make kindling from.
Second, is that it burns fast and hot, which makes it a perfect wood if you want to have a nice fire going within a just a few minutes.
Third, it gives off a massive amount of flame, which if you want that “fire vibe” is a massive bonus.
And finally, it’s cheaper and more available than other hardwoods.
Yes, ok, if you want a wood that burns throughout the day then birch probably isn’t the best choice. But for heat, looks, and cost birch is by far the best choice of firewood out there.
Birch also has one other secret advantage: it’s bark.
If you peel off the outer bark from a birch log, it lights quicker than a fire lighter. Seriously.
I’ve made fires before using just the birch bark as kindling and the outer strips of bark as the fire lighter. It does take a little practice, but is another tick in favour of birch being the best firewood to burn.
Hopefully you’ve found this article useful – please do check out my other ones about woodburners (or garage projects even!) I know it’s a bit silly, but it really makes my day when people visit this site!
If you’re wondering how to check if your firewood is actually dry enough to burn, then check out the link for my tips.
If you’re still undecided about what firewood you should go for, my recommendation would be to go for a mixed-crate to start off with. A mix of birch and ash especially will allow you to figure out what best fits you. If you haven’t already, make sure to get yourself a wood burning stove fan too as that will make a world of difference to your heat output no matter what wood you burn – check out my article on the pros and cons of stove fans to learn more.