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If you just finished building up an indoor fireplace, you might be left wondering which type of wood works best with it. Not all woods burn the same. Some produce more heat, some can leave more messy residue and others can also generate a lot of smoke. It’s safe to say that you can’t just burn any type of wood out there in a fireplace if you want a proper hearth-like experience. Let’s take a look at the best wood types that produce consistent heat and burn cleanly, ideal characteristics for an indoor fireplace.
Hardwoods vs Softwoods
When it comes to selecting the best type of wood for a fireplace, it’s important to make a proper distinction between hard and soft firewood. Thanks to their natural density, hardwoods tend to burn longer and produce more heat than softwoods while not releasing as much smoke in the process. These are excellent features to have for wood intended to be used as a source of fuel for fireplaces.
Oak, beech, and other hardwood types are usually more expensive than softwoods like fir and pine. Another disadvantage is the extra time it takes to ignite hardwoods. If you’re on a budget, softwoods are more easily accessible and contain natural resins and oils that contribute to fast ignition. The downside is that softwoods from evergreen trees or conifers tend to produce a lot of smoke and creosote buildup.
Oak is probably your best bet if you’re searching for the most reliable type of wood to burn in a fireplace. This is a high-energy hardwood that’s capable of producing a hot fire for an extended period of time. Oak wood is extremely dense and can be considered worth the investment when taking into account the amount of heat produced for the cost. It’s recommended to purchase fully seasoned logs to get the best level of radiant heat and overall burn performance of oak.
Due to oak’s reliable qualities, it’s among the most expensive options, even among other hardwoods. Oak trees grow fairly slowly and it also takes a lot of time for the fresh wood to dry properly. If you’re looking to purchase oak wood for a fireplace, consider opting for a sustainable option branded with FSC certification that won’t affect endangered old-growth forests.
2. Douglas Fir
Whereas oak is the best hardwood option, Douglas fir is the ideal wood type if you prefer softwood. As opposed to other woods, Douglas fir is plentiful and easy to grow sustainably. Although it still has some of the disadvantages of softwoods, Douglas fir stands out due to its overall energy density. The wood is simple to split and produces steady heat. It’s a great option for the holidays because this type of fir features a slight evergreen aroma when burned.
Ash wood is not always easily available but it has lots of great features to make it worth burning in your fireplace. This type of wood doesn’t produce much smoke and forms less creosote. Ash is recommended if you prefer a wood type that burns for a long time. Despite being a hardwood, it’s not as difficult to split compared to others like oak. Thanks to reduced moisture content, it won’t take very long to create seasoned logs of ash wood.
Birch doesn’t produce a lot of heat and burns quite fast despite being a hardwood. However, it’s a surprisingly great option for milder weather when these apparent drawbacks become desirable traits. Birch wood can heat up the home in the winter but it works even better in chilly fall and spring weather. Aside from its relatively high energy content, birch boasts a more decorative appeal thanks to its characteristic white bark and bluish flames when burned.
Another great hardwood, hickory has somewhat similar properties to oak but it also provides a subtle scent when burned. Hickory wood doesn’t have a lot of moisture and tends to burn clean and very hot. The high density comes with the disadvantage of making the wood difficult to split. As you’d probably expect, starting a fire using hickory wood is also hard but the good news is that you can expect it to last for a longer time than many other types of wood.
Apple, cherry, and pear are some of the most common fruitwoods available to use on home fireplaces. They’re specialty woods that produce good heat and unique aromas. Although most fruitwoods are also hardwoods that bring lots of benefits when used as fireplace fuel, these wood types are not recommended for regular use. They’re very expensive and should be mainly used for special occasions. The wood works better for grilling rather than heating due to its characteristic sweet smoky flavor.