Selecting the best wood for your wood burning stove.

When it comes to choosing the best wood for your wood burning stove, not all woods are the same. Here we will look at the different kinds of wood that you can use and we will offer some advice making the best choices.

Moisture content

Moisture content is very important. ‘Green’ logs with a high moisture content will be difficult to light and they will produce much less heat as much of the heat that they generate when they burn will be taken up by evaporating the water that they contain when then goes up the chimney as steam.

They also produce much more tar and smoke because they burn at a lower temperature. This tar and smoke will blacken the glass of your door and it will also deposit gunk on the inner lining of your chimney which means that you will need to carry out more maintenance.

Seasoning and drying

Freshly sawn logs can have up to 60% moisture contents so in order to reduce the moisture content of your logs, it is necessary to either season them or kiln dry them. Seasoning typically takes two years and reduced the moisture content to 20% to 30% and kiln dried logs have a moisture content typically of 15% to 20%.

You can either season the logs yourself by keeping them in a place sheltered from the rain and that allows air to circulate freely. Alternatively you can buy pre-seasoned logs or kiln dried logs. Kiln dried are the most expensive; seasoned are cheaper and unseasoned are the cheapest.

You can get some idea of how dry your wood is from its weight.

Hardwood or softwood

Generally hardwood is the best choice but it does need to be properly dried or seasoned. Here is a table that shows how well different kinds of woods burn.

The below table shows which woods are suitable for your wood burning stove.

Choose from our collection of wood burning stoves.

Type

Details

Quality

Ash Excellent wood; hot and slow burning. Best when dry.

Very good

Beech Excellent wood; hot and slow burning. Best when dry.

Very good

Hawthorn Slow burn with good heat output.

Very good

Thorn Top wood for burning with steady flame – high heat output with minimum smoke.

Very good

Yew Top wood for burning with steady flame – high heat output with minimum smoke.

Very good

Apple Excellent wood that when dry bums slowly and steadily

Good

Birch Hot burning but burns quickly in small quantities – can be burnt unseasoned.

Good

Cedar Good burning wood with long heat output. Can crackle and spit.

Good

Cherry Slow burner with good heat output. Must be dry.

Good

Hazel Is a good but fast burning wood and produces best results when allowed to season.

Good

Hornbeam Good burner but needs to be dry.

Good

Lilac Good kindling wood and good burner.

Good

Maple Good flame and heat.

Good

Oak Good slow burning wood when dry.

Good

Pear Good slow burning wood when dry.

Good

Plum Good burner with high heat output.

Good

Horse Chestnut Good burner in stoves but tends to spits – don’t use in open fire.

Good

Pine Good flame but can produce smoke and tar.

Good

Elm Reasonable burner but must be dry.

Medium

Larch Reasonable burner but must be dry. Can cause deposits.

Medium

Laurel Good flame, medium heat output. Must be dry.

Medium

Sycamore Good flame, medium heat output. Must be dry.

Medium

Sweet Chestnut Medium output when dry but spits. Don’t use in open fires.

Medium

Alder Poor heat output and fast burn.

Poor

Chestnut Poor burn, low heat

Poor

Firs Poor burning wood with low heat output and causes deposits

Poor

Holly Fast burning with good flame but poor heat output.

Poor

Spruce Poor heat output and fast burn.

Poor

Willow Difficult to burn

Poor

Laburnum Very smoky wood – avoid,

Poor – avoid

Poplar Very smoky wood- avoid.

Poor – avoid

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