How to choose the best firewood

Depending on the country or region, the season for the supply of firewood varies, but the importance of selecting the proper type of firewood is everywhere the same.

Most firewoods are used mainly for heating in stoves, wood boilers, fireplaces, and for outdoor use and barbecue. However, not all types of wood are suitable for all uses.

In fact, we need to conduct a lot of research to figure out which firewood is best for us. For example, the type of wood will influence the rhythm it is burned, the duration or the quality of coals produced.

What we need to keep in mind:

  • A combination of 2-3 different kinds of wood makes a good fire.
  • The wood we buy must have been cut at least 6-8 months before and dried naturally. Otherwise, our fireplace is probably going to fill with smoke.
  • We need to store the wood in a place without moisture, protected from the rain, and well ventilated.
  • We never burn painted or treated wood or pieces of furniture, as it is dangerous to our health.

What firewood should I get for heating?

In general, we should be aware that not all types of wood are suitable for burning and that not all firewood gives the same thermal effects (heat).

There are generally two types of firewood: dry and softwood. These terms don’t refer exclusively to the texture of the woods.

The difference between these two types of wood is mainly based on their physical structure, density, and moisture content. Thus, as dry firewood, we characterize a wood that has a higher density and contains between 10 and 15% moisture.

Hardwood has a more extended burning period while producing a higher amount of heat. On the other hand, softwoods contain higher levels of moisture. They are usually sticky and will probably cause the accumulation of these substances in the chimney. However, they burn faster than dry ones while producing an impressive flame.

Drywood is ideal for wood boilers and fireplaces, as it burns slowly and has a mild flame. On the other hand, the soft type is usually used as tinders for a fire, combined with the hard ones. They are often used outdoors due to a large amount of smoke they produce.

The most popular types of hardwood for the fireplace are:


Although it does not produce the maximum heat, oak is one of the most popular firewood due to its prolonged burning time. Furthermore, it produces a mild flame without unwanted sparks.


Olive is widely used for burning in the fireplace. It is a slow-burning wood that lights up relatively easily and is used to keep the fire burning for longer. We can use the twigs derived from the pruning as tinder and add parts of the root, the branches, or the trunk of the tree.

Popular softwoods for burning


When burned, it emits a characteristic pleasant smell. It produces a small flame offering a sweet, lasting heat. It needs attention as it “pops.”


It is a pretty popular type of firewood, mainly used as kindling. It lights up very quickly and burns just as fast. For this reason, we constantly need to stoke the fire. Due to its high resin content, we do not recommend it for use in fireplaces, stoves, or boilers. When burned, we need to keep an eye on the sparks that pop all around the place and take precautious measures to avoid the spread of the fire.


It is the hardest of all softwoods. It usually serves as the main firewood, mixed with hardwoods, mainly in closed stoves. We should avoid using it in open fireplaces as it produces-emits a lot of smoke.


Pellets are alternative means of heating. If they are certified for their quality and composition, pellets have many advantages over firewood (less smoke and slower but stable burning). However, unfortunately, many pellets on the market are of dubious origin and completely unsuitable.

Which type of wood produces the most heat?

The heating value (or calorific value) of each type of wood describes the quantity of heat produced by its combustion

The calorific value measures the ability of a material to produce thermal energy when it is burning. It is the thermal energy released when a kilo of solid or liquid fuel or a cubic meter of gaseous fuel under normal conditions. Based on their calorific value, the four top-ranking kinds of wood are fir, pine, beech, and oak. However, this is a general measurement that does not take into account the specifics of each case. For example, we all know that pine is very dangerous as the main combustion material in the fireplace, as there is a high risk of starting a fire (e.g., from carpets – curtains that are nearby).

Which is the best type of wood for barbecue and grilling?

Many people prefer woods like olive, kermes, and less acacia for roasting food. Also, woods of fruit-bearing trees, such as orange, apple, cherry, and vine woods, are widely used for baking, as they produce very pleasant aromas. Finally, it is a growing trend, started by chefs, to use different kinds of woods, for example from fig trees, for roasting beef.

Types of firewood that you should avoid using.

Many people believe that they can use as fuel any wooden object that is available. This perception is entirely wrong, and such an action can be significantly dangerous to public health.

Which types of wood are unsafe to burn?


Green freshly cut wood has very high moisture content and is very difficult to catch fire. Even if they light up, they will produce substantial amounts of smoke due to the evaporation of their liquids.

The wood must have dried for at least 6-8 months before being used, while some types of wood even take two years.

Processed or painted wood

Many treated and painted woods contain dangerous chemicals necessary for preserving the wood in good condition for a long time. When we burn such woods, hazardous chemicals are released into the atmosphere with harmful effects on human health and the environment.

Sea wood

The woods washed away by the sea have high salt content, making it extremely tedious to burn them. The combustion of seawood, it is possible to release dioxins, which are carcinogenic substances.

Huge logs

We need to cut any stumps with a diameter bigger than 20 cm (0.7 feet) into smaller pieces before throwing them into the fire. Many people believe that throwing massive logs into the fire will produce more flame. However, this is not the case. In fact, we will have the exact opposite results. It is helpful to have a handy chainsaw for such cases.

This post is also available in: Nederlands Italiano

Wikifarmer Editorial Team
Wikifarmer Editorial Team

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