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ARTICLES - Wood - Burning Qualities of Popular Wood Species

SPECIES

EASE OF STARTING

COALING QUALITIES

SPARKS

FRAGRANCE

HEATING CLASS*

Apple

Poor

Excellent

Few

Excellent

2

Ash

Fair

Good

Few

Slight

2

Beech

Poor

Good

Few

Slight

1

Birch White

Good

Good

Moderate

Slight

2

Cherry

Poor

Excellent

Few

Excellent

2

Cedar

Excellent

Poor

Many

Good

3

Elm

Fair

Good

Very Few

Fair

2

Hemlock

Good

Low

Many

Good

3

Hickory

Fair

Excellent

Moderate

Slight

1

Locusts Black

Poor

Excellent

Very Few

Slight

1

Maple Sugar

Poor

Excellent

Few

Good

1

Oak Red

Poor

Excellent

Few

Fair

1

Pine

Excellent

Poor

Moderate

Good

3

* 1 is best

Different types of wood have different heating values. You should expect to pay more for a cord of mixed wood containing a lot of seasoned hickory, for example, than an equivalent measure with mostly aspen or hemlock. Generally speaking, you'll get much more heat from hardwood than from softer, lighter wood. Most firewood you purchase will be green and have a fair amount of water in it. It takes at least six months of air drying for wood to be considered seasoned and ready for burning. When selecting wood, also take into consideration ease of splitting, ease of ignition and burning, how much smoke it produces and its "coaling" qualities. "Coaling" refers to the ability of a species of wood to form a long- lasting bed of hot coals when burned. Coaling qualities improve with higher density.
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