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Wood burning properties

Wood Burning Properties

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Last Updated on June 17, 2021 by Forest Master

The Ultimate Wood Burning Guide

The wood-burning properties of different types of wood and their burning characteristics are given in the following table.

Wood burning properties


Below you will find our table of wood-burning properties.

The Density column gives an indication of how hard a wood is to split. In general the higher the density, the harder a particular type of wood is to split. It is generally recommended to split the wood when green as the split logs will season more quickly, and dry wood will always burn better in your wood burner or stove over greenwood, which can create a lot of wood smoke.

Wood Burning Properties

It is estimated that seasoned wood can increase the heat output of your log burner up to 50%, which makes it exceptionally worthwhile. It is recommended to use softwood as a kindling due to its higher resin content, and then use hardwood to increase the longevity and heat of your fire as it is so much denser leading to a longer and usually hotter burn.

Here are the wood burning properties…

Common NameHardwood/ SoftwoodCommentsDensity
Kg/m3
AlderHProduces poor heat output and burns quickly. Poor wood fuel. 400 – 700
AlmondHCreates a hot and long lasting fire with minimal ash, similar to oak. 700
AppleHA very good wood that burns slow and steady when dry, it has small flame size, and does not produce sparking or spitting. It produces a disappointing flame.650 – 850
AshHOne of the best woods for burning. It produces a steady flame and good heat output. An excellent firewood710
BeechHBeech wood burns very much like ash, due to its high water content it can take much longer to season the other types.700 – 900
BirchHProduces good heat output but it does burn quickly. Bright flames and a pleasing smell. The sap can cause deposits to form in the flue with prolonged use.670
BlackthornHHas a slow burn, with good heat output.
CedarSIs a good burning wood that produces a consistent and long heat output. It burns with a small flame, but does tend to crackle and spit.380 – 580
CherryHA slow burning wood that produces a good heat output. Cherry needs to be seasoned well.630
ChestnutHA poor burning wood that produces a small flame and little heat.560
Douglas FirSNot a very good firewood, produces little flame or heat.530
ElderHA poor burning wood that produces a small flame and poor heat output. The sap can cause deposits to form in the flue with prolonged use.420 – 490
ElmHBurns well but slowly so it generally needs a faster burning log to support burning. It should be dried for two years for best results.550 – 600
EucalyptusHBurns reasonably well and produces a pleasant aromatic smell. Must be well-seasoned. 980
HawthornHBurns well with with little smoke and good heat output. Can be difficult to split.
HazelHIs a good but fast burning wood but still produces a good heat.
HollyHIs a fast burning wood that produces good flame but little heat output. Holly will burn green, but best dried for a minimum of a year.750
HornbeamHGood firewood. Burns well700
Horse ChestnutHA low quality firewood, spits a lot.510
LaburnumHA very smokey wood with a poor burn. Do not use can be poisonous.
LarchSProduces a reasonable heat output, but it needs to be well seasoned. The sap can cause deposits to form in the flue with prolonged use.550
LaurelHBurns with a good flame but only reasonable heat output.
MapleHIs a good burning wood that produces a good flame and heat output.600 – 750
OakHOne of the best woods for burning. Because of its density, oak produces a small flame and very slow burn, requires time to season well.740
OliveHOlive burns for a long time but tends to be in lumps/nuggets rather than logs. When burned it produces a very sweet aroma and a bright flame.990
PearHBurns steady with reasonable heat output. It produces a disappointing flame. Similar to apple wood.
PineSBurns fast with a good flame, but quite resinous. Can cause deposits to form in the flue and can increase the risk of a chimney fire. Good for kindling. 510
PlumHA good burning wood that produces good heat output.650 – 800
PoplarSNot a good fuel wood. Slow burning with black choking smoke even when seasoned.450
RowanHIs a good burning wood that has a slow burn with good heat output.
SpruceSProduces a poor heat output and it does not last very long, ideal for starting fires.400 – 700
SycamoreHProduces a good flame, but with only moderate heat output.400 – 600
WalnutHIs a moderate to good burning wood.650 – 700
WillowHA poor, wet fire wood that does not burn very well even when seasoned.400 – 600
YewHA good burning wood as it has a slow burn, and produces a very good heat output.670

What is the best wood to burn?

So, what is the best wood to burn in your fireplace or woodstove? Well, looking at our wood-burning properties table we can see that hardwoods such as maple, oak, ash, birch and most of the fruit trees tend to be the best woods to burn in terms of giving you a hotter and longer burning time.

The downsides of these woods are that they are generally more expensive than soft firewood. Softwood is the cheapest type of wood you can buy, however, you must calculate if you’ll end up spending more money in the long run as you may end up making your way through your woodpile much quicker.

Likewise, have you seen the latest legislation banning the sale of wet wood. It’s now more important than ever to know the moisture content in your wood. Why? Well, burning wet wood can affect your health and your wealth. Burning wet wood over time can line your chimney in a tar like substance which over time can cause fires – not ideal.

It’s always best to know the moisture content in the wood, want to know more? Check out our blog on why you need a moisture meter.

Typically, it’s easier to chop down, split and burn whatever is most convenient to you. You can find out all information regarding splitting your wood on our choosing a log splitter guide.

3 comments

  1. Tyler Marriott

    Good day. Just read your fire wood burning chart. You say Douglas Fir is not very good wood. I live in the NW US where DF is plentiful . I like it best because it leaves little ash. I’ve burned whole cords of DF without cleaning my stove.

    In comparison I’ve burn maple, whis is good heat out put, but I load up my stove in less than a week.

  2. I see that you have omitted to include both Almond and Olive in your burning guide.
    I live in Spain and the main wood that is burnt here is Olive, followed by Almond and finally, Oak.
    Considering you are also aiming at this market, can we see the list updated accordingly with these very popular, EU wood sources as this information would be very useful to your clients in Spain, Italy, France, etc, etc. .
    Many Thanks.

    1. Hi!
      Thank you for the comment and for the suggestion – I’ve added some new logs to our list with a view to further expand on this in the future. If you have any further recommendations please let me know and I’ll happily look into it for you.

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