Wood Types

Wood comes in all forms and has different properties when it comes to log fires.

Below are the most common wood types and some interesting facts regarding their burn properties.

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Alder
When fully seasoned, it may burn quickly, but gives off relatively little heat. It is a firewood with a sluggish feel to it. Nevertheless it makes an excellent, steady burning charcoal.

Ash
An old rhyme says: "Ash, mature or green, makes a fire for a Queen." Even unseasoned Ash will give a good fire and ash wood produces excellent heat, a good flame and it lasts reasonably well.

Beech
Very good firewood which produces both heat and flame. Beech can sometimes give off a few sparks but it is easy to chop.

Birch
Produces a lovely fire with good heat but it burns up quickly, so it may be a good idea to mix it with longer lasting firewood’s. The bark of Birch was traditionally known as "the campers’ friend". Patches of the thin skin can often be peeled from the tree without damaging it. They contain oil, which makes it a wonderful aid in kindling a fire, especially when all other wood is damp. Can be used unseasoned if nothing else is available.

Blackthorn
Blackthorn wood burns steadily and slowly with an excellent heat and little smoke.

Cherry
Burns slowly the as Apple, Blackthorn and Hawthorn but with lots of heat.

Elm
The famous firewood rhyme says that Elm burns like smouldering flax. The other rhyme says that it burns like 'churchyard mould'. This is probably because it is one of the woods with the highest water contents. It has more water (140%) than wood when it is green, as opposed to Ash wood, for example, which has only 50%.

Hawthorn
One of the very best and hottest burning firewood’s. A bunch of hawthorn branches from trimming the many hawthorn hedges we are lucky to have in the UK, makes a classical faggot bundle good enough to heat old-fashioned bread ovens. Like the other woods in the Rose family, Hawthorn burns hot and slow. The smaller twigs are also well worth using.

Hazel

Hazel is a good all-round fire wood for different purposes but burns up a bit faster than most other hard woods.

Holly

Holly logs make a lovely warm fire. The famous firewood rhyme says they burn like wax when green.

Hornbeam
This is a very hard wood and so it may be sensible to prepare it before seasoning. Makes a hot slow burning fire.

Horse Chestnut
Produces both heat and flame but tends to spit a lot.

Maple
A good log fire fuel.

Oak
Great firewood but one that needs serious seasoning, ideally for 2 years. It then becomes a good slow burning fuel, which gives of lots of heat, but produces little flame. Oak, which has not been fully seasoned, may give off an acrid smoke. The fire may also need the addition of a few faster burning logs to liven it up.

Pear
Like Apple, Pear wood produces an excellent heat.

Pine
Burns very well when seasoned but tends to spit, so it's best in a stove. All resinous woods make good kindling. They also tend to leave an oily residue of soot in the chimney.

Poplar
Like Willow, Poplar needs patient seasoning to become good firewood.

Rowan
Like all its sister and cousins in the Rose tree family, Rowan makes a good hot fire, which burns slowly.

Sycamore
Sycamore tends to grow prolifically and is therefore often abundant. Many people do not like this tree because it is seen as a 'weed tree'. The thinner branches make great kindling wood and they are easy to break by hand once they've dried for a while. The logs burn well but do not give quite as much heat as some other woods like Ash.

Sweet Chestnut
Not the best of firewood’s and needs careful seasoning. It spits a fair amount.

Willow
Trying to burn willow when still green is a waste of time because of its high water content. After sufficient seasoning it is quite good.


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