Whether you have recently bought a new home with a wood-burning fireplace, or you are only just beginning to explore the possibility of using the fireplace that’s been dormant since you moved in, there’s no doubt that wood-burning fireplaces are incredible. Not only will your fireplace allow you to enjoy cozy nights in of the kind central heating simply doesn’t offer, but using your fireplace regularly also leads to significant savings.
While any wood can catch fire, however, not all woods make for excellent fuel for your fireplace. Wet firewood won’t burn well, will create more smoke than you can comfortably handle, and also damages your chimney by producing nasty, tar-like, creosote in abundance. Hard and seasoned woods offer more heat without unwanted side effects, as well as burning for longer.
What, then, are the best woods to burn in your fireplace, and which woods should you steer well clear of?
Widely known as the best quality firewood, oak wood burns slowly and evenly while offering you plenty of that radiant heat. It is the perfect wood to burn in your fireplace during the colder winter months, when you need a fire you can rely on. Because oak does need to be well seasoned to burn properly, some advance planning is required. If you find it hard to ignite, combine your oak wood with less dense woods to get your fire going.
White maple, hard maple, and Norway maple are all examples of maple wood that are great for your wood-burning fireplace. Although it can be tricky to get a fire going with these dense woods, seasoned maple burns slowly and consistently, and as a bonus, this wood is easy to get your hands on in North America.
As far as softwoods go, Douglas fir is very high in density, burning more slowly than many other evergreens. Two further advantages are that it’s available almost anywhere and that it’s easy to start a fire with Douglas fir, making it a great choice for kindling. Some people will love the pine smell it produces, while others will not be fans. Because you do have to watch out for creosote buildup, it’s essential to have your chimney inspected every season if you choose to burn Douglas fir in your fireplace.
Birch is known to produce a stunning flame as well as provide a solid heat source, but because this wood does burn quickly, you are best off combining it with hardwoods for a lasting fire. Due to the fact that burning unseasoned birch produces significant amounts of creosote, it is crucial to make sure your birch is dried properly for at least a year.
Ashwood is another popular firewood choice, and that’s because it is safe to burn even when it is not seasoned, as this wood has very little moisture. Ash produces a reliable, uniform, burn even when you don’t mix it with other types of wood. This wood will not create too much smoke, and even beginners can successfully start fires with it. Although numerous species of ash are on offer, white ash is widely considered to be the absolute best for your fireplace.
Woods to Stay Away From
Chemically-treated woods, like leftover pallets, may be easy to come by as well as creating quite the pyrotechnics show in your fireplace, but watch out — these woods can be toxic and should be avoided. Driftwood is a bad choice for your fireplace for a similar reason; the salt found in these woods alone offers your local chimney technician a guarantee that they’ll have plenty of work to do, very soon. Green, unseasoned, wood is another category to steer well clear of. The tell-take crackling sound will warn you that it’s just not ready yet.