The wood you burn can affect the performance and longevity of your wood burning appliance. Choosing the right type of wood can make all the difference in the amount of maintenance or service your fireplace, stove, or insert requires. It can even affect the heat efficiency and output. For top performance and minimal maintenance requirements, it’s best to use properly seasoned wood. The wood should be cut & split, then left to dry for a minimum of 6 months, with one year being optimal. Wood should be protected from rain & the elements while it is left to season, so make sure you have a good location to store firewood while it dries.
An extremely important fact to remember is to never burn wood that contains chemical that could harm your wood burning appliance, the environment, or you when it is burned. This includes painted wood, pressure treated wood, drift wood, particleboard, or wood containing nails or screws.
While you may burn either hard wood or soft wood, we recommend burning hard wood for higher heat output and longer lasting fires. Maple & oak are both great choices.
The type of wood you use will ultimately determine the heating value and how well your wood burning appliance heats surrounding air. Each type of wood has its own characteristics from aroma to amount of crackle, but all wood contains essentially the same amount of energy. The main difference between types of wood is density. You will get more heat from hard wood versus a lighter, soft wood. This also means that a cord of firewood that consists of mostly hard wood like hickory or oak will cost more than a cord of pine which is a soft wood.
Most firewood that you cut or purchase will not be adequately dried and may contain a lot of moisture. If you are unsure if the firewood you’ve purchased is suitable to burn, use a moisture reader, which is a hand-held device that can read the moisture content of wood. If it reads below 25%, the firewood is ready to be used in a fire.
Check out the following charts to find out which types of wood are good to use in your wood burning appliance. You should also consider how easily the wood will split, ignite & burn, and how much smoke it might produce. It is helpful to know that “coaling” is the ability of the wood to turn into a bed of hot coal that will last throughout the fire. Hard wood generally has greater coaling qualities which will lead to hotter fires.