We’re well into campfire season, and many of us are traveling to different places for the holidays. Different places means different kinds of trees, so it’s important to know which types are better suited for firewood than others. Some may work great as kindling but burn too quickly to keep the fire going. Some may burn forever but are nearly impossible to get going without supplemental wood. Others are great to hang your hammock from but are better left alone when it comes time to build the campfire.
Here are 7 common types of firewood:
One of the most common types of trees, oak can be found pretty much anywhere. Although it doesn’t grow very tall, it can still get quite massive. It’s a very dense hardwood tree, so it burns for a very long time. Getting it started is the tricky part, though. Because of its density, it requires continuous high heat to really start it burning well. This can be done by using softwood, such as pine, to get a base going and then adding oak on top of the fire. And once it does get burning, there isn’t much maintenance that must be done.
Maple is a deciduous hardwood tree with above average heating values. Although it is difficult to split, it is efficient and hot-burning. And like oak, it is difficult to kindle but burns strongly once it gets going. It also produces very little smoke, which is a huge plus for bonfire parties where a lot of people are going to be gathered around.
Another hardwood, cherry also produces little smoke. As a fruit tree, it also produces a sweet burning aroma that can be very pleasant on a fall evening. However, it doesn’t burn as well as other hardwoods – it only burns at medium heat, so it’s preferable for a night of mild temperature and weather.
Birch trees are known for their unique bark, with several different species in their family. It’s a softer wood, meaning that it’s a great fire-starter because it burns very quickly. It also burns very bright and hot, producing the ideal amount of light to cook dinner by.
Another softwood, pine makes a great fire-starter. Because of its high sap and resin content, though, it should only be burned outdoors. If it is used as an indoor fire, there is a chance for creosote buildup inside the chimney that can cause a chimney fire. It burns messy – another reason to keep it exclusively as outdoor firewood – and smells great. Because it burns very quickly, you should not use pine as your only firewood.
Elm is a very dense hardwood that is very common in the Northern Hemisphere. It provides decent heat but is notorious for being very difficult to split. And due to Dutch elm disease, dead elm trees are found pretty much everywhere. The wood from these standing dead trees can produce good firewood because of how dry the wood is.
Chestnut is one of the worst hardwoods to use as firewood. It burns and splits easily, but it produces a small flame that burns at a low heat and throws out a lot of sparks and heavy smoke. Only use chestnut as supplemental firewood.