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best wood to burn in a fireplace

Best Wood to Burn in a Fireplace: Top Choices for Optimal Heat

A crackling fire adds unbeatable warmth and ambiance. But not all firewood is created equal. Choose the wrong logs, and you'll battle smoky rooms and inefficient fires. 

This guide reveals the top woods for magical, long-burning fires. Ditch disappointing ashes—these wood varieties provide stellar heat output and minimal buildup. Relaxing evenings by the fireplace await when you select the best firewood. 

What is the best wood to burn in a fireplace?

The battle for the best firewood boils down to hardwoods versus softwoods. Hardwoods are dense, tight-grained woods that burn slowly, steadily, and efficiently with minimal smoky residue. Oak, maple, ash, beech, and birch rank among the top hardwood options for hot, long-burning fires.

Key Takeaways:

  • Hardwoods like oak, maple, ash, beech, and birch are the best firewood options for a fireplace due to their high density, clean burning, and ample heat output.
  • Softwoods like pine, fir, cedar, and spruce should be used sparingly as kindling or fire starters due to their excessive smoke and creosote buildup.
  • Seasoning firewood for 6-12 months to achieve a moisture content of 20-25% is crucial for efficient and safe burning.
  • Follow proper safety precautions like routine chimney cleaning and maintaining a safe fireplace setup.

Hardwoods vs. Softwoods

The battle of the trees: hardwoods versus softwoods. Which camp reigns supreme for fireplace fuel? Understanding their distinct makeups unlocks the key to toasty fires. 

What Are Hardwoods?


Hardwoods are dense, tight-grained woods from trees like oak, maple, and ash. Their slow-growing nature creates rock-solid logs packed with energy. Perfect for high-heat, low-smoke fires.

Not only hardwoods are good to lit your fireplace but it is also an excellent choice to light up your fire pit as well.

What Are Softwoods?  

Softwoods come from evergreen conifers with thin, needle-like leaves. Think pine, fir, and cedar. Their quick growth results in soft, porous wood. Easy to split but burn fast with sparks galore.

The Burning Characteristics of Hardwoods

Hardwoods are the fireplace's best friend. They burn slowly, steadily, and efficiently with minimal smoky residue. Expect hotter, longer fires from proper hardwood logs.

The Burning Characteristics of Softwoods

When considering the best wood to burn in a fireplace, built in electric fireplace or electric fireplace, softwoods like pine or fir may light quickly, but they burn rapidly too. Their sappy interior can produce a lot of smoke and lead to excessive creosote buildup in your chimney.

While softwoods can serve as highly flammable kindling for fire starters, it's advisable to use quality hardwood as the primary type of firewood.

Hardwoods generate more lasting heat with less smoke, making them a superior choice for a sustainable and enjoyable fire in your fireplace.

If you are planning to use gas fireplace, it is highly recommended to know how much gas you'll need to have in order to use.

The Best Hardwood Options for Your Fireplace

Whether your TV is bigger than fireplace or not, you must pick the right kind of hardwood for your fireplace.

Among hardwoods, a handful of species rise above the rest as premier fireplace fuel. Seek out these powerhouse logs for fires you'll obsess over.



The king of firewoods, oak defines low-moisture, high-heat burning. Its huge BTU output and minimal smoke make it a cold-night warrior. Well-seasoned oak wood delivers a beautiful, long-lasting flame.


Another dense, clean-burning rock star, maple ranks amongst the hottest firewood options. Its smooth, consistent combustion means less tending and stoking required. A maple-fueled fire is an effortless pleasure.


Straight, tight-grained, and lightweight—ash logs check every box for fireplace perfection. They ignite easily, burn evenly, and showcase stunning flames. An ash-loaded fireplace or Prefab Fireplace stays warm for hours.

P.S. You can get the Prefab fireplace from ours easily.



Beech burns vigorously yet steadily thanks to its stout density. Expect amazing heat output and signature golden flames. While less common, quality beech is well worth seeking out.


A classic fireplace choice, birch wood delivers undeniable heat. Its natural oils help birch light quickly and crackle cheerfully as it burns. A cord of birch lasts quite a while, too.

Hardwoods unlock the magic of fireplace heating and ambiance. Their unbeatable density translates into hot, clean, long-lasting burns night after night. Stock up on premium oak, maple, ash, beech, and birch logs.

If you are using any of these woods but having issues like gas fireplace smell like burning plastic, you must take care of it immediately.

The Best Softwood Options for Your Fireplace

While hardwoods reign supreme, some softwood varieties can supplement your fireplace too. Use these sparingly and carefully to create warm, inviting fires.


The most common softwood for fires, pine offers easy lighting and lively flames. However, its sappy resin produces excess smoke and creosote buildup. Mix limited amounts of well-seasoned pine into your hardwood fires.


Fir lights reliably and burns with a satisfying crackle. But like pine, it can create sooty buildup in your chimney over time. Use for for kindling larger hardwood logs.


Cedar's distinctive aroma makes it a popular fire starter and campfire wood. While aromatic, cedar is also quite smoky and burns quickly. Use cedar chips or small logs to get fires going.  


With its pitchy sap, spruce can burst with small pops and crackles. It's uneven burning also requires frequent tending. Best used alongside denser, cleaner-burning hardwoods.

Introducing small portions of dry, seasoned softwoods provides cheerful flames. But stick to hardwoods as the main fuel source for clean, low-maintenance, and efficient fires.

Seasoning and Moisture Content

Think all firewood is ready to burn? Think again. Properly seasoned logs with the ideal moisture content are crucial for safe, efficient fires.

Why Seasoning Is Important

Freshly cut wood contains massive amounts of internal moisture—up to 50% of its weight! Burning unseasoned wood leads to excessive smoke, low heat output, and dangerous creosote buildup.

How to Season Wood Properly

Seasoning allows time for moisture to evaporate from split logs. Stack firewood in a dry, breezy location for 6-12 months, ensuring airflow between rows. Cover the top for protection.

Ideal Moisture Content for Burning  

Once seasoned for 6+ months, prime firewood contains just 20-25% moisture. At this level, logs ignite and burn cleanly with ample heat production.

Patience pays off when seasoning firewood. Well-dried hardwood logs offer near-perfect burning capabilities compared to damp, sap-filled wood. Always check moisture levels with a meter before burning.

Safety Considerations

Building fires is an art, but safety must never be an afterthought. Keep these crucial considerations in mind when burning wood:

Creosote Buildup

Burn only well-seasoned wood to minimize dangerous creosote accumulation inside chimneys. This tar-like residue from incompletely burned wood is a leading cause of chimney fires.

Chimney Maintenance

Have your chimney professionally inspected and swept annually. Excess soot and creosote buildup creates a major fire hazard that's easily preventable with routine maintenance.  

Proper Fireplace Setup

Use a spark screen and keep combustibles well away from the fireplace opening. Double-check that the damper is open before lighting fires. Never leave fires unattended.

Enjoying wood fires is a cozy pleasure—when you make fire safety the top priority. Take the right precautions, and you'll warmly burn bright all season long.

Sourcing and Storing Firewood

With the best firewood varieties identified, it's time to stock up. Sourcing quality logs and storing them properly ensures you'll stay fired up all winter.

Where to Buy Firewood

Check your local lumberyard, hardware store, or home center for cords of seasoned hardwood. Buy from reputable foresters, wood lots, and tree services too. Kiln-dried, high BTU wood may cost more but delivers premium performance.

Proper Storage Techniques  

Stack firewood neatly off the ground in a sunny spot for continued air drying. Cover the top layer to repel moisture while allowing side airflow. Bring in only what you'll burn in a few days to minimize pests.

With a winter's worth of prime, dry hardwood stocked up, you're ready to bask in brilliant, soul-warming fires all season long. Simply light a match and relax!

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can I burn green, unseasoned wood?

Never burn freshly cut "green" wood in a fireplace. Unseasoned logs create excessive smoke, low heat output, and dangerous creosote buildup in chimneys. Always allow firewood to season for 6-12 months before burning.

2. What's better - logs or wood bricks?

For consistent fires, opt for real, split hardwood logs over compressed wood bricks or pellets. Logs provide longer, hotter fires tailored perfectly for fireplace use.

3. How can I make my fires last longer?

Use larger logs and stack them conscientiously in the fireplace. Denser hardwoods like oak and maple burn much slower than soft, resinous woods. Engage the damper properly to regulate airflow too.

4. Is it safe to burn painted or treated wood?

Steer clear of burning manufactured woods like plywood or lumber. These can release harmful chemicals and fumes. Only burn untreated, unpainted, natural firewood for safe indoor heating.

By understanding best practices like proper seasoning and wood selection, you'll optimize your fires for maximum warmth, efficient burning, and peace of mind.


Mastering the art of the fireplace begins with choosing the right firewood. By following this guide's tips, you'll stoke roaring, clean-burning fires that maximize coziness all winter long.

Remember - prioritize dense, low-moisture hardwoods like oak, maple, and ash. Properly seasoned logs provide the best heat output with minimal smoke. Use softwoods sparingly as fire starters only.

Most importantly, make safety the top priority. Keep chimneys clean, practice proper fireplace maintenance, and never leave fires unattended. With premium firewood and precautions in place, you're set for magical evenings relaxing by the crackling flames.

Embrace the warmth and time-honored tradition of a wood-burning fireplace done right. Start stocking up on the best firewood varieties today!

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