Burning the right wood in your Wood Stove

Burning the right wood in your Wood Stove

Posted by Rocky Mountain Stove & Fireplace on Jul 1st 2019

Wood has been the natural choice of fuel for domestic fires since it was first used many millennia ago. Whether you burn wood in a stove, fireplace or fireplace insert, good quality firewood is the key to a successful burning season.

Hardwood or softwood?

Do you know the difference between hardwood and softwood? Hardwoods are any broad-leafed, deciduous trees, such as Beech, Elm, or Oak, while softwoods are conifers including Pine and Spruce.

All wood, regardless of the species, has similar energy content per pound 7800-8400 BTU per LB. The different species vary only in density. The more dense a species of wood is, the greater the heat value or BTUs created per cord. Hard wood (oak, maple) will burn longer and produce more heat than softer woods (pine, birch)

Dry wood is always the best wood

No matter what type of wood you choose for your stove, it is important that the wood is dried before you burn.If you burn wood that is not dried properly, much of the energy is wasted in removing the water from the log and producing steam.

Fresh wood contains a high amount of water, between 65-90%, depending on the species. Wood should be cut, split and allowed to dry under cover for six months to two years depending on the species, before burning.

Good season dry wood should have a moisture content of less than 20%,

With a bit of practice you can learn to recognize seasoned wood when you see it. One telltale sign is that the bark has loosened its hold, or has already been knocked off with handling. Also, the log ends have darkened, dried out and started to “check” (crack), not to be confused with the deeper split marks from an axe.

A well seasoned firelog will be lighter in weight than a partially-seasoned or “green” piece of the same size and species. When it really is well seasoned, expect to pay more. Cutting trees down, transporting handing and working up wood is a risky, labor-intensive pursuit; any do-it-yourself wood bumer will testify to that.

Firewood can be stacked in the open to season. It will take at least six months. A year is better, although some species require far less time than others. Criss-cross ends of stack to help the air get to it. Splitting the logs will improve the time line on seasoning. Rain won’t hurt green wood, in fact getting wet, dry, wet, dry speeds the curing process. And rained on seasoned wood will dry out again fir for burning within a few days.

Common Name         Lb/ cord        MBTU/ cord

Osage Orange          4,728             32.9 

Hickory                      4,327              27.7

Beech (Ironwood)      3,890             26.8 

Birch, Black               3,890             26.8

Locust, Black             3,890             26.8 

Locust, Honey            3,832             26.7 

Apple                          4,100             26.5

Oak, White                 4,012             25.7

Hackberry                   3,247            20.8 

Walnut, Black             3,192            20.2 

Elm, American           3,052            19.5 

Elm, White                 3,052            19.5 

Fir, Douglas               2,900             18.1 

Pine, Norway             2,669             17.1

Pine, Ponderosa        2,380            15.2 

Aspen                         2,290            14.7

Pine, White                2,236             14.3 

Cottonwood               2,108             13.5

Cedar, White             1,913             12.2