Oak Firewood being Cut with a Chainsaw

What is the Best Firewood for Home Heating?

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When it comes to finding the best wood for home heating, there are a few options that stand out above the rest. Firewood has been used as a primary source of heat in homes throughout history and can still be an excellent choice today. From types of wood to considerations when buying and storing, below is a guide to finding the best firewood for home heating in your home. The Best Way to Dry Firewood Quickly

What is the Best Firewood for Home Heating?

Types of the Best Wood Firewood for Home Heating 

The type of wood you choose will depend on what kind of climate you live in, how much heat output you need, cost, availability, and other factors. Some popular types of firewood for home heating include:

Oak

Oak is one of the most popular types of firewood for heating because it burns slowly and produces a lot of heat. It also has a pleasant burning scent.

Birch

Birch provides intense heat with minimal smoke, making it ideal for open fireplaces and wood stoves. It also has a pleasant scent when burning.

Maple

Maple firewood is dense and hard, making it perfect for long-burning fires. It can burn hotter than other types of firewood, so it’s great for quickly heating up large areas.

Apple and Cherry

These woods from fruit trees are two of the most aromatic woods you can use as firewood. The sweet scent makes it ideal for those who like to keep their indoor spaces smelling nice, while they’re enjoying their cozy fireside experience.

Ash

Ash produces good heat but doesn’t hold together well when split. Meaning that if you don’t want to spend your time constantly tending to your fire, ash might not be the best option for you.

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How is the heat value of wood calculated?

We all take for granted that wood is known to burn. What we might not be aware of is that wood types don’t all burn the same. Some burn fast while others are considered slow-burning wood. The density of the wood makes a real difference, with the higher-density wood putting out the most heat.

Some are known to put out a lot of heat when burning and some smoke more than others. Then some have a great deal of inborn resin or sap that can cause problems in your chimney. Of course, dry wood burns much easier than any wood that has some green or higher moisture content.

When it comes to the heat generated by a particular type of wood, they can be compared based on how many gallons of heating oil, often used in homes in the Eastern United States, it takes to generate the heat put out by burning a cord of wood.

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As an example, it would take 200 – 250 gallons of heating oil to equate to burning a cord of apple, American beech, yellow birch, Shagbark hickory, ironwood, sugar maple, red oak, white ash, or white oak.

The next group is rated in the 150 – 200 gallon range and includes, white birch, black cherry, Douglas fir, American elm, red and silver maple, and tamarack. When we lived in St. George, Utah they were having real challenges with tamarack trees along the Virgin River since it wasn’t native to the area. Beware!

The final group is rated in the 100 – 150 gallon range as represented by the softwoods red alder, aspen, red cedar, cottonwood, hemlock, lodgepole and white pine, redwood, and Sitka spruce.

What firewood gives off the most heat?

As mentioned above, the types of firewood that give off the most heat and would prove to be good firewood are oak, maple, and apple. Oak burns slowly and produces a lot of heat, making it great for long-term heating needs. Maple is dense and hard, making it great for quickly heating large areas. Apple has a pleasant burning scent that can make your indoor spaces feel cozy while providing good heat output.

Splitting & Storing Firewood Properly

Before using any firewood for home heating it needs to be properly split so the pieces create an even surface area that allows airflow for an efficient burn. The easiest way to do this is with a log splitter which can easily reduce logs into smaller pieces suitable for burning in stoves or fireside grates.  

Once split, seasoned firewood should be stored off the ground in well-ventilated areas away from direct sunlight so it stays dry until needed for burning. Ideally use wood sheds with protective covers designed specifically for holding firewood supplies so that the wood remains in good condition ready for use year-round if necessary.

Where To Find Firewood Supplies Near You

Finding quality local firewood suppliers near you may seem difficult. But there are many choices available, depending on where you live. 

Start by checking online sites such as Craigslist or Nextdoor as these often list local sellers including individuals who may have excess wood they’re willing to sell at reasonable prices while helping support small businesses along the way too.

Some cities may even hold citywide “yard sales” where vendors sell their wares all in one convenient place. This provides another great opportunity to find some great firewood bargains without having to travel far distances looking around town yourself!

Best Stores to Find Firewood 

Home Depot

Home Depot offers a variety of firewood options, including Douglas fir, oak, and pine. They also offer delivery services for an additional fee.

Lowe’s

Lowe’s carries several types of firewood, including hickory, mesquite, and cedar. They also provide delivery services within certain areas.

Local Firewood Suppliers

There are often local firewood suppliers in your area that provide high-quality wood at a reasonable price. It’s always a good idea to check with them first before buying from large retailers like Home Depot or Lowe’s.

Chain Stores

Big box stores like Wal-Mart or Target may carry firewood from time to time. This is often part of a promotional deal. You may have to check regularly though as their stocks can change quickly.

Farmer’s Markets

Farmer’s markets are a great place to find fresh firewood. Many farmers will sell logs they’ve cut themselves at a discounted rate.

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Safety Tips for Burning Firewood

  1. Only burn hardwood or firewood that has been properly stored, and don’t burn green wood.
  2. Find a sturdy fire grate or pit to contain the burning wood safely.
  3. Ensure your chimney is equipped with a spark arrester to prevent sparks from flying out of the chimney.
  4. Never use flammable liquids such as gasoline or kerosene to start a fire in your fireplace, due to the danger of an uncontrolled blaze.
  5. Always ensure the area around your fireplace is kept clear of combustible material. Such as furniture and rugs to reduce the risk of starting a fire outside the fireplace area.
  6. Never leave a burning fire unattended, even for just a few minutes unless you’re using a contained unit like a fireplace insert. Fires can easily get out of control and spread to other parts of the house quickly if not properly contained by a screen or glass.
  7. Make sure you have an appropriate extinguisher on hand such as water or a class ABC dry chemical extinguisher in case you need it in an emergency.
  8. Before you retire for the night make sure that all hot coals are completely extinguished, before you go to sleep.
  9. Never close off draft dampers unless there are no burning embers remaining in your fireplace after extinguishing it!
  10. Make sure your chimney is kept as clean as possible. Many kinds of wood when burned cause creosote buildup that can prompt chimney fires.

What is creosote and why is it dangerous?

Creosote is a substance that’s black and has a sticky tar-like texture that’s produced when wood and some other fuel sources are burned. If not taken care of, it can be the source of numerous problems around your home, like fire, fume poisoning, and both roof and chimney damage. Learn how to clean out your chimney stack yourself, or hire a professional to clean it at least yearly.

What is a cord of wood?

A cord of wood is a stack of wood that’s 128 cubic feet. If you’re able to cut your wood logs in 8-foot lengths and then stack the logs 4 feet high and 4 feet wide you have a full cord. You might have a slight difference from a true cord due to crooked logs and logs of different diameters leaving air space between the logs.

Do I have to buy the wood I plan to use in my fireplace insert?

As mentioned, there are different places to purchase firewood, but you probably can find some cost-free firewood if you’re willing to do some work. Some years ago Mark and I decided we were going to try and heat our home using the fireplace insert wood stove located in our family room. Here in Utah, you can get a permit to access public lands and cut up the downed wood you find in designated areas.

We were able to borrow an open trailer from a kind neighbor to haul the wood. We would make wood cutting and gathering a Friday night Saturday family activity in the mountains. It was mostly aspen and pine and we used our chainsaw to cut the wood.

Although both were softwoods and possibly not the best types of firewood, we put them to good use for two full winters. We’d cut it in small enough logs so the kids could help haul it to the trailer. The kids still talk about those fun camping trips.

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Final Word 

Finding the best firewood supplier near you combined with proper splitting techniques and storage practices makes obtaining optimal firewood supplies easier and more efficient. Knowing what is the best firewood for home heating is easier when you know where to buy it and how to use it properly.

A lot of people might be cold this winter from not knowing how to properly use firewood for home heating, but you won’t be one of those people! May God Bless this world, Linda

Copyright Images: Oak Hardwood AdobeStock_537104866_Editorial_Use_Only By Ihor95

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20 Comments

  1. Linda,
    Nice picture of my chain saw. It works like a champ!! Great and timely post since we all may well be forced to use wood for all our heating and cooking activities soon.

    1. Hi Harry, oh my gosh, I got the giggles when I read “That’s a nice picture of my chainsaw”! I love this!!!! I totally agree we will need ways to cook and heat with wood. It really is a good chainsaw!!! Linda

  2. Linda,

    I always loved burning apple wood, but now I mostly burn oak pallets I get for free or $1 each. People who live hear National Forests can get firewood cutting permits–used to be up to 10 cords per year.

    1. Hi Ray, I like the word, free or $1.00 each for the pallets! I think when Mark and I had a wood-burning stove most of the wood we had access to was birch, I believe. Applewood sounds awesome! Thanks for the reminder about the cutting-permits, great tip! Linda

  3. Knowing your local wood is key. I get a lot of mine from neighbors who cut it and then put it out to be hauled off in trash. You can burn cottonwood that doesn’t give a lot of heat but what I do is mix it with bodark or locust that burns almost too hot.
    If ya gotta buy it Craigslist on the farmers section often sells it.
    My favorite is mulberry and pecan mixed. That smell is awesome.

    1. Hi Matt, oh I love these ideas, thank you! I would love to burn some mulberry and pecan, I cannot almost smell it! There is nothing better than being able to heat your home with wood. Linda

  4. We burn our woodstove every day. We’ve buy 2 cords of wood, walnut, every year from the same man. He’s trustworthy and doesn’t skimp on his cords, and delivers. Grandkids are great for moving and stacking it! We rotate it every year, too, as the wood we buy is green. It’s stacked along the fence line under a cover for a year, then rotated into the empty lean-to which is right by the back door. I can’t imagine not having a woodstove. It regularly gets cleaned every single year for creosote buildup, too. Even tho we kept our heater no higher than 62, our power bill still doubled this year. Grrrr! It was very frustrating with the super high energy costs we have now, on top of groceries, gas and everything else!

    1. Hi Robbie, oh I love hearing you use a woodburning stove! I love love love a woodburning stove. I can’t imagine keeping your house at 62 degrees and yet your power bill doubled. It’s so frustrating how much utilities, gas, groceries, and everything else has gone up in price. I love hearing how you plan out your 2 cords of wood purchase and stacking them. Oh, what a blessing to have grandkids to help. Linda

  5. We wait until a storm, then cut up the downed trees. Apple wood does smell the best. We have lots of oak and maple.

    1. Hi Janet, oh I hate to hear about downed trees, but the weather is a blessing in disguise, I think. You are so lucky to have oak and maple trees!! I love it! Linda

  6. I live about 45 miles South of Phoenix, AZ out in the country. One of our Native trees is Mesquite which is a good hard wood for heating and making BBQ. Some of my neighbors have large Pecan Orchards and when they trim their trees I get Pecan wood which is also great for heating and BBQ.

    1. Hi Chuck, oh my gosh, my grandparents had pecan trees in Texas! I can almost smell the BBQ right now using those two types of wood! They are perfect for heating as well. Love this, Linda

    1. HI VA Farmer, you must live where all four of these trees are available! I love hearing about the different trees available in the different areas of the country. Thank you, Linda

  7. In my early teens, living on a farm where we used wood to heat the house, I found out cutting our own wood would heat us more than once. Cutting and splitting it warmed us up, then stacking it warmed us up, then carrying it in to burn it warmed us up and finally burning it would warm us up. Taking out the ashes didn’t do much to warm me up as there wasn’t that much at a time to be that big of a job. If we bought wood from someone it was $3.00 a rick and $20.00 a cord. OK, so that was the early 1960’s price, not todays prices.

    1. Hi Chester, oh my gosh, that is so true, you were warm while doing each “Job”! My husband and I would take our girls up the canyon where we cut the trees down. It’s a lot of work, but so worth it. One time we got a flat tire, not fun with a trailer filled with 8-foot logs! One time Mark got stung by a bee and his mouth swelled up. I can’t remember if we had Benydrl at the time in the truck. Oh the memories, Life is so good! Linda

  8. Yes, even with unwanted problems, life is good. I often put it that living on that 88 acre farm in Southern Missouri was the best four years of my life and it was the worst four years of my life, But I am glad I got to spend the time on the farm. Great garden, great fruit trees, great nut trees, great berries and even some great friends. Now as to being the best four years of my life was on the farm, guess I should say the best 51 years of my life and still counting is being with my wife.

    Appreciate the information you put on your website.

    1. Hi Chester, I love love love your comment! The best and the worst times! Having been married 51 years is a blessing my friend! Thank you for your kind words, Linda

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