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The Best Wood to Burn in Your Fireplace

Planning to keep cozy this winter with a wood-burning fireplace or stove? When buying firewood, don’t be afraid to ask what species you’re getting

Dense, heavy hardwoods tend to boast the most Btus, burn a long time, and leave a nice bed of coals. Avoid soft or resinous woods that burn fast, generate lots of smoke, and coat flues with creosote. That said, proper seasoning is key to getting the best burn. Unseasoned, green wood has a moisture content (MC) of over 20 percent, is hard to light, and produces creosote-causing smoke. But let it air-dry for a year and it will burn fine next winter. Can’t wait? Look for USDA-certified kiln-dried wood. With a 13.8 percent MC or less, it’s good to glow right now.

Best wood to burn

  • American beech
  • Red or white oak
  • Shagbark hickory
  • Sugar maple
  • White ash

Wood to avoid

  • Eucalyptus
  • Fir
  • Poplar
  • Red alder
  • White pine

Thanks to: Grant McDonald, Vermont Good Wood