Energy Values for Select Hardwoods

Burn the right wood for the best fire

Most campers know that the type of wood you burn makes a big difference in heat output as well as smoke and particulates. Environmental agencies discourage and may ticket pollution causing fires. Try backyard burning on a non-burn day and in many municipalities you could get a ticket.

Stove & Wood Tips

  • Buy a new EPA-certified stove sized for your home.
  • Buy next year's wood this year!
  • Allow split hardwoods to season at least a year.
  • Store in ventilated, but dry area. If you can't store it in a shed or garage, stack at least 6 inches off the ground and cover top with a tarp or sheet of plywood.

Wood burning in fireplaces and wood stoves is one of the major pleasures for thousands of American households in the darkest part of winter. Many Americans continue to rely on woodstoves as a primary source of winter heat.

If you have a woodstove or fireplace, it's not only important to burn wood that's well seasoned, it's equally important to maintain your stove and chimney for maximum safety. Green wood that has not been left to dry for a long enough period can create a build up of dangerous creosote in your stove and chimney in just a few days. Green wood and stoves that do not meet US guidelines for environmental protection are particular culprits in creating pollution because either can throw off large amounts of carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, and tiny particulates that can destroy indoor air quality. in the winter when the house is closed.

To build a fire, use dry softwood and kindling in small pieces to start a small quick fire. Add progressively larger pieces one at a time without smothering the fire. Once it's well established, add your thicker, denser pieces. The key is regulating airflow to keep the fire bright and hot.

The following table shows various types of hardwoods:

  Heat/ Cord
(Million BTU'S)
Ease of Splitting Smoke Sparks Smell Overall Quality
Apple 27.0 Medium Low Few Excellent Excellent
Alder 17.5 Easy Little Few Good Good
Ash, Black 19.1 Easy Low Few Slight Excellent
Ash, Green 20.0 Easy Low Few Slight Good
Ash, White 23.6 Medium Low Few Slight Excellent
Aspen 12.5 Easy Med Few Slight Fair
Basswood (Linden) 13.5 Easy Medium Few Good Fair
Beech 24.0 Easy Low Few Slight Excellent
Beech, Blue 26.8 Easy Low Few Slight Fair
Birch, Black 26.8 Easy Low Mod Slight Excellent
Birch, Grey 20.3 Easy Low Mod Slight Good
Birch, Paper 20.8 Medium Medium Few Slight Fair
Birch, White 20.3 Easy Low Mod Slight Good
Birch, Yellow 23.6 Easy Low Mod Slight Excellent
Box Elder 18.3 Difficult Medium Few Slight Fair
Buckeye, Ohio 13.8 Medium Low Few Slight Fair
Butternut 14.5 Easy Medium Few Slight Fair
Catalpa 15.5 Difficult Medium Few Bad Fair
Cedar, Eastern Red 17.1 Medium Medium Many Excellent Fair
Cherry, Black 18.6 Easy Low Few Excellent Good
Chestnut   Easy Med Many Slight . Fair
Coffeetree, Kentucky 21.6 Medium Low Few Good Good
Cottonwood 13.5 Easy Medium Few Slight Poor
Dogwood 24.3 Easy Low Few   Excellent
Douglas-Fir 20.7 Easy High Few Slight Good
Elm, American 20.0 Difficult Medium Few Good Fair
Elm, Red 21.6 Easy Medium Few Good Good
Elm, Rock 23.5 Difficult Medium Few Slight Good
Elm, Siberian 20.9 Difficult Medium Few Slight Fair
Eucalyptus   Difficult Low Few Good Excellent
Gum, Black 18.7 Difficult       Good
Gum, Sweet 18.7 Medium Med Moderate Slight Good
Hackberry 21.2 Easy Low Few Slight Good
Hickory, Bitternut 26.7 Medium Low Few Excellent Excellent/Good coals
Hickory, Shagbark 27.5 Medium Low Few Excellent Excellent/Good coals
Locust, Honey 25.8 Medium Low Few Slight Excellent
Hornbeam 27.3 Difficult   Few   Excellent
Ironwood 27.9 Difficult Medium Few Slight Excellent
Locust, Black 27.9 Difficult Low Few Slight Excellent
Madrona   Medium Low Few Slight Excellent
Magnolia 18.0 Easy       Fair
Maple, Other 25.5 Easy Low Few Good Excellent
Maple, Red 18.7 Medium Low Few   Good
Maple, Silver 19.0 Medium Low Few Good Fair
Maple, Sugar 24.0 Difficult Heavy Few Good Excellent/Good coals
Mulberry 25.8 Easy Medium Many Good Excellent
Oak, Bur 26.2 Easy Low Few Good Excellent
Oak, Live 25.0 NA Low Few   Excellent
Oak, Red 24.0 Difficult Low Few Good Excellent
Oak, White 26.4 Easy Low Few Slight Excellent
Osage-Orange 32.9 Easy Low Many Excellent Excellent
Persimmon 26.4 NA Low Few   Excellent
Yellow Poplar 16.0 Easy Yes Some   Poor
Sassafras 18 Easy       Fair
Sourwood 20.4 Difficult       Excellent
Spruce 15.5 Easy Medium Many Slight Fair
Sycamore 24.1 Difficult Medium Few Slight Good
Walnut, Black 22.2 Easy Low Few Good Excellent
Willow 17.6 Easy Low Few Slight Poor

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