1. Welcome Hearth.com Guests and Visitors - Please enjoy our forums!
    Hearth.com GOLD Sponsors who help bring the site content to you:
    Hearthstone Soapstone and Cast-Iron stoves( Wood, Gas or Pellet Stoves and Inserts)
    Caluwe - Passion for Fire and Water ( Pellet and Wood Hydronic and Space Heating)

So what's ya favorite wood?

Post in 'The Wood Shed' started by ruserious2008, Dec 13, 2011.

  1. ruserious2008

    ruserious2008 Member

    Joined:
    Jan 24, 2011
    Messages:
    160
    Loc:
    NH
    Well merrily entering my 2nd season burning and spent many a days this spring/summer/fall scrounging wood anywhere I could find it, cutting some trees down, chunking, hauling, splitting stacking etc. . Been joyfully burning this year and have been feeding many different species into the stove. As I was doing that tonight I was thinking about what species I would target going forward and which I would pass on. I was wondering what you folks would call your overall favorite wood to burn (and before anyone says "the kind that I can light on fire" let me beat you too that:) taking into account everything from dropping to chunking to splitting (by hand) to seasoning time to burning/btu's. If you had an abundance of wood potential and could afford to pick and work with only one species which would it be?
    I guess so far I would vote for ash. Seems pretty easy to split, dries fast and is still a nice heavy chunk when dry and gives nice long burns at a good temp. Second I'm leaning towards White Birch. Seems to split without too much effort. Around here we call the white birch "paper birches" as the bark peels into rolls even on live trees and that stuff acts like built in kindling flaming hot and fast and making for easy fire starting. Don't have enough seasoning experience with it and I think it burns faster overall when compared to ash but still like it. Got about a cord of apple this year and it went from 36% to 26% this year and burned a piece but it was hissing. Heavy heavy stuff to handle in big chunks and bit of a bear to split but I think we tackled most of ours the day we rented a splitter so no bad memories splitting it. I know Oak is BTU king but man I have some big (24" and larger) chuncks I cut up this past spring that have been seasoning on pallets and while there is some cracking its still like hitting a piece of granite with those suckers, even trying to take splits off the edge and targeting the direction of the cracks in the wood. Guess those suckers will have to wait for a "rent a splitter day":) And I have some 3 year old oak that I bought as a mixed species score of split wood that are about 22" in lenght and were seasoned in a pile as opposed to a stack of wood, in the shade also, that still hisses so I'm hoping in a few years I will fall in love with the oak but right now I'm not sure I'd jump on a CL ad for a down oak to cut up.
    Thems my thoughts- how about yours?

    Helpful Sponsor Ads!





  2. trailmaker

    trailmaker Member

    Joined:
    Sep 24, 2010
    Messages:
    158
    Loc:
    Northern California
    My favorite wood is Madrone. It seems to have pretty good BTU and it splits easily and dries relatively quickly. It's also mostly covered with a paper like bark that comes off easily.
  3. Bigg_Redd

    Bigg_Redd Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 19, 2008
    Messages:
    3,513
    Loc:
    Shelton, WA
    Anything that's free that I can get my truck close to (except cottonwood - I'll leave that)
  4. blacktail

    blacktail Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2011
    Messages:
    465
    Loc:
    Western WA
    The woods typically available to me are hemlock, alder, maple (bigleaf), and douglas fir. That list is roughly in order of how available they are to me. Maple is my favorite. It makes for a long hot burn, splits easily, and is very clean to handle. No mess, no pitch, no splinters.
    Fir would be my second choice as it provides long hot fires. I'd be happy if I had a steady supply of fir, the older the better. It can have more knots and take more effort to split, and it can be pitchy. Burn quality is top notch. I think most people around here would choose douglas fir as their first pick. My dad's a firewood junky and will go to great lengths to get old growth fir. It's good stuff.
    Although alder doesn't put out the most heat or burn the longest, I still like it. It splits easily, it's clean, and it's easy to find. One nice thing about alder, is that IT DRIES FAST. I just bought my house a few months ago so I'm not ahead on my wood supply. A lot of what I'm burning this year has been bummed from my dad's supply. My dad cut a bunch of dead alder in September that had been cut down the previous day. I've been burning it and it's good stuff.
    Hemlock is my least favorite. It's still ok. The best thing about hemlock is that it's readily available. It grows all over the place where I have access to cut. Difficulty splitting depends on the tree. Sometimes they grow with a twisted grain which is a total PITA to split! It seems to turn punky a little quicker than the others. Hemlock has helped me a bunch already this year though. I've cut a bunch of it and some of the stuff I cut just a couple months ago, which had been down for a couple years, is already good to burn. The temps here were in the 20's last night and I was burning hemlock that I cut in early October. It takes off and burns just fine.

    I have managed to score a bunch of really nice maple for next year. Some of the maple I've cut recently has been down and off the ground for about 2 years so I've been letting some dry near my insert and mixing it in with my other wood as it's ready. I'll be out tomorrow getting more. I was pretty happy to nab a bunch of maple rounds that a road crew left on the side of the highway this fall.
  5. blacktail

    blacktail Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2011
    Messages:
    465
    Loc:
    Western WA
    Ditto on the cottonwood. Let it dry long enough and it'll burn, but I don't even bother.
  6. CTYank

    CTYank Combustion Analyzer

    Joined:
    Sep 28, 2010
    Messages:
    901
    Loc:
    SW CT
    Toss-up between sugar maple, black locust, shagbark hickory and various oaks.

    Stove burns best IMHO with a mix of species, including any of the above.

    For shoulders: red pine.
  7. IanDad

    IanDad Member

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2009
    Messages:
    45
    Loc:
    Central PA
    Black Locust. Dries Fast, splits easily, burns long, burns hot, cool sparks when in the stove. Just about the perfect fuel.
  8. SolarAndWood

    SolarAndWood Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2008
    Messages:
    6,770
    Loc:
    Syracuse NY
    Another vote for Locust, Honey or Black.
  9. fahmahbob

    fahmahbob Member

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2009
    Messages:
    84
    Loc:
    South Central Mass
    For shoulder season, I like white birch and ash. Cherry is nice, but pretty messy to deal with (lots of splinters when split), although the smell is awesome. For main-season burning I really like oak and hickory. White oak is my favorite to burn, but red oak is easier to work with. It splits much better, is a little bit lighter (every ounce counts by the end of the processing day), dries a bit sooner, and best of all I have acres of the stuff out my back door.
    Lots of people seem to like Locust, but I've never cut or burned it so I have no opinion on it.
  10. stephiedoll

    stephiedoll Burning Hunk

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2008
    Messages:
    100
    Loc:
    omaha, ne
    Honey locust would be my favorite, got a fair amount of it this year, but if I can only burn 1 wood it would be silver maple. Dries super fast, easy to split and lots of it to be had in this area. Oak has not done anything for me yet, even stuff down 2-3 years.
  11. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2007
    Messages:
    6,878
    Loc:
    N.E. Penna
    When processing, anything that splits easily.

    When burning, anything that is dry.

    Preferrably hardwoods.

    pen
  12. trumpeterb

    trumpeterb Member

    Joined:
    Jul 15, 2009
    Messages:
    102
    Loc:
    Western PA
    I like oak for the BTU's it produces, cherry for the smell, and ash for the convenience of splitting and drying time. Oak, maple, and cherry seem to be the most predominant species around me. I have often wanted to try other kinds, like birch or hickory, but I just can't seem to find any of these in the areas where I cut.
  13. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    The one that keeps me warm.
    Above 10 degrees or so no wind, elm, green ash, cherry, silver maple
    Below 10 degrees or windy oak, white ash, black locust
    But as others have said the stove works best with a mix
  14. stejus

    stejus Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2008
    Messages:
    1,226
    Loc:
    Central MA
    1. Black Birch
    2. White Oak
    3. Red Oak
    4. Ash

    The only stuff I can find around here!
  15. firefighterjake

    firefighterjake Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2008
    Messages:
    14,754
    Loc:
    Unity/Bangor, Maine
    I love all the wood . . . equal opportunity burner here . . . haven't met a wood species I didn't like or would not burn.

    There's lots of favorites: apple and cherry for their smell, cedar for the smell and usefulness as kindling, maple for the all-around good wood, yellow birch for its smell and burning time, white birch for how easy it is to get lit . . . next year I'll experience the joy of burning black locust and oak so I am quite excited.

    However, if I had to pick just one wood that is my favorite it would be white ash . . . splits like a dream, seasons well and burns fantastic.

    Fortunately though I don't have to pick just one wood . . . since variety is the spice of life.
  16. gerry100

    gerry100 Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    Messages:
    474
    Loc:
    NY Capitol Region
    2 year dried Hickory
  17. Adios Pantalones

    Adios Pantalones Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    May 20, 2008
    Messages:
    6,287
    Loc:
    S.NH- Mass's smoking section
    If I have to cut/split etc- then I'll take ash. Dries quick, splits easy, plenty of heat.
  18. seeyal8r

    seeyal8r Feeling the Heat

    Joined:
    Jan 20, 2011
    Messages:
    272
    Loc:
    North Central Oklahoma
    I like the way hickory and pecan smell but prefer white oak for the heat.
  19. Lumber-Jack

    Lumber-Jack Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2008
    Messages:
    1,734
    Loc:
    Beautiful British Columbia
    Reading all the previous posts the two main characteristics that people are looking for in their fire wood are fast drying, and easy to split. Those two reasons are why I pick lodgepole pine as my wood of choice.
    Because of it’s long straight grain trunk and lack of major branches it is very easy to split. As for quick drying, lodgepole pine has every other type of wood beat hands down, not because it’s so quick drying, but because it’s already dry when I cut the trees down.
    Thanks to the prolific pine beetle and our arid climate there is an abundance of standing dead lodgepole pines in my area (and most of BC), and as long as I seek out a grove that has been dead for many years, discernable by it’s sparse and withered needles, I can be pretty certain the moisture content of the wood will already be below 20% and ready for burning in the stove as soon as it’s cut. No extra drying (seasoning) time required.

    As far as the other characteristics that people look for like fragrance, pine obviously has a great smell, in fact that “fresh pine scent†is a sales feature to many scented products on the market.

    And as BTUs go, lodgepole pine is on the top of the softwoods list, and beats out many of the so called hardwoods like cherry, birch, elm and silver maple.

    In my book lodgepole pine is the perfect all-round firewood.

    BTU reference
  20. oldspark

    oldspark Guest

    Some charts dont list lodgepole that high, chimney sweep has it at 15.1.
  21. Battenkiller

    Battenkiller Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Nov 26, 2009
    Messages:
    3,732
    Loc:
    Just Outside the Blue Line
    Black birch. Denser than oak, dries twice as fast, and is the burningest stuff I've ever used. Starts up and gets going so much easier than oak or locust, too.

    Of course, I wouldn't pass on any shagbark, either. That stuff warms you deep inside you just looking at it in the stacks.
  22. bluedogz

    bluedogz Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Oct 9, 2011
    Messages:
    1,101
    Loc:
    NE Maryland
    For me, black locust & hickory because my yard is already full of them. If someone offers me free maple or oak that may change.
  23. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

    Joined:
    Sep 14, 2008
    Messages:
    3,330
    Loc:
    SE MI
    I like silver maple for a quick, hot start and establishing a coal bed. Then top it with ash and three years seasoned red oak. It's all I have right now. Add cherry in there for next year, and a bunch of white oak the year after that.
  24. fahmahbob

    fahmahbob Member

    Joined:
    Jul 7, 2009
    Messages:
    84
    Loc:
    South Central Mass
    Black birch is a great firewood. But, like cherry, it tends to splinter a lot when splitting it, and it doesn't seem to coal quite as well as oak. At least that's my experience with it. But it sure smells awesome when it's cut or split!
  25. ryanm527

    ryanm527 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2011
    Messages:
    49
    Loc:
    SW Missouri
    I am surprised no one has mentioned Osage Orange. Of the few species I've burned so far, it's probably my favorite. It burns long and hot and I enjoy watching the blue flames and showers of sparks inside the stove. In terms of splitting, Honey Locust is my favorite because it's very easy. The Osage really isn't too tough though.

Share This Page