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Which wood to burn?

There is a growing interest in using wood as a sustainable, renewable, low carbon alternative. With the depletion of fossil fuels, wood is being accepted as a viable energy source that is not only virtually carbon neutral, but also economically feasible. But which wood is best for burning? Ultimately, there are many suitable firewoods to choose from that will burn well.

Choosing Logs

Hardwoods (deciduous, broadleaved tree species) tend to be denser than softwoods (evergreen, coniferous species). To keep a log stove burning on fewer logs, dense woods tend to be the best as they will burn longer. Softwoods, however, are easier to light and tend to be cheaper to buy.

Here is a list of a variety of different woods, and what they are best for – from slow burning to aroma.*

Which wood burns for a long time?

Oak (hardwood) – Oak is a favoured firewood because of its density, and burns slowly. It is best burnt when it has been seasoned for a long time – usually 2 years or more!

Hawthorn (hardwood) – Hawthorn is most recognised for its sharp thorns. It burns slowly, and produces good heat, but must be handled with care.

Which firewood produces good heat?

Ash (hardwood) – Ash is one of the favourites when it comes to wood fuel. It produces a steady flame and a good heat output. Some may say that it can also be burned ‘green’ because of its relatively low moisture content while living, however, it is essential that you only burn seasoned or kiln dried wood. This is because green woods, when burnt, can produce particulates, tar and creosote that not only stick in your flue, but are also not good for the environment.

Cedar (softwood) – Cedar tends to crackle and spit when it burns and is a popular wood for kindling. It lasts for some time, and has a strong heat output, but take care not to over fire your stove.

Which firewood smells nice when burnt?

Cherry (hardwood) – Cherry burns well and produces a good heat output. It does need to be well seasoned, but when it burns it produces a pleasant aroma.

Apple (hardwood) – Apple burns slowly and smells nice when burning. It tends to produce a smaller flame, so visually not as attractive as some other woods.

Remember to look for seasoned or kiln dried wood with a low moisture content of around 20% or less.

*Source: Forestry Commission England, Wood as Fuel Version 1.2

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