Home Tap to Call Now Visit Blog

The Best and Worst Types of Wood for Your Fireplace

Here’s a tip to get the most out of home fires in winter: find out the best and worst types of wood for your fireplace. Firewood has different characteristics that make it particularly desirable or undesirable, depending on the type of fire you would like. Density and moisture are arguably the chief considerations. Whether you use the best firewood or the worst, the combustion gases produced by the fires will leave deposits of creosote in the chimney flue. It’s crucial to schedule chimney cleaning annually so that the highly flammable creosote can be removed.

fireplace inserts in Powhatan VA

Firewood that Burns the Hottest

Do you want to use efficient firewood that produces a lot of heat? The best and worst types of wood for your fireplace follow when considering the heat value. All firewood has a heat value, which is the amount of heat the wood produces. Heat values were figured out per cord of wood. A cord is the standard measure used for stacked wood. One cord of wood, laid out in stacks, would measure 4 feet wide, 4 feet tall, and 8 feet long. 

Density is a major factor. In general, firewood that has greater density will burn hottest if it has low moisture content, as well.

The following types of firewood, when measured as 1 cord, produce heat equal to 200 to 250 gallons of fuel oil:

  • American Beech
  • Ironwood
  • Red oak
  • Apple
  • Mesquite
  • Shagbark hickory
  • Sugar maple

The following firewood with a medium heat value produces heat comparable to 150 to 200 gallons of fuel oil:

  • American elm 
  • Douglas fir
  • Red maple
  • Black cherry
  • Tamarack
  • White birch

Firewood with a low heat value equivalent to 100 to 150 gallons of fuel oil:

  • Cottonwood
  • Aspen
  • Redwood
  • Hemlock
  • Western red cedar
  • White pine

Firewood That Smokes More than Burns

Do you want to avoid the unpleasant experience of lighting a fire that produces more smoke than flames? It’s not difficult to avoid this problem. The best and worst types of wood for your fireplace can be determined by moisture content. When firewood is first cut, it is saturated with moisture. Wood needs to dry out for 6 months to a year or more before it has the recommended moisture content, which is between 15% and 25%. If you want to know the moisture content of your wood, you can buy a moisture meter for as little as $15 or so.

Why does wet wood produce smoke instead of warmth-giving flames? It’s because of the science of fires. First, the fire’s energy goes toward getting all the moisture out, which creates heavy fumes. Green wood remains in the smoldering stage for a long time, and it is not good for producing warmth in winter. Burning wet wood produces a greater volume of creosote in your chimney flue, and chimney cleaning may be needed more frequently.

Chimney Cleaning in Mechanicsville VA

Schedule a Late Summer Chimney Cleaning

When you call on the chimney experts at Chimney Saver Solutions, you get reliable maintenance services. Our chimney sweeps are CSIA-certified. This means they have certifications from the Chimney Safety Institute of America (CSIA), a leading authority in the industry. They have equipment to remove all forms of creosote. The creosote that looks like tar poured down the chimney, however, is sometimes impossible to remove. 

Creosote is the leading cause of chimney fires, which almost always cause structural damage. A mix of creosote and moisture can accelerate the deterioration of the flue liner.

When you know the best and worst types of wood for your fireplace, you can burn the better wood that doesn’t create an excessive amount of creosote. 


Contact us today for your late summer or early fall chimney inspection and cleaning by calling 804-440-5000, or you can fill out our online form.

Call Now Button