The quality of the following firewood is based upon various characteristics such as its speed of burn, heat given off, tendency to spark (spit), ease of splitting, time required to season, etc.
Grade: 1 = Poor, Grade: 2 = Okay, Grade: 3 = Good, Grade: 4 = Excellent.
|Alder||Alnus||Low quality firewood. Grade: 1|
|Apple||Malus||Needs to be well seasoned. Burns well with a pleasant smell and no sparking/spitting. Grade: 3|
|Ash||Fraxinus||One of the best firewoods. It has a low water content and is easily split with an axe. Burns best when seasoned but can be burned green. Grade: 4|
|Beech||Fagus||Beech has a high water content and will therefore only burn when seasoned. Grade: 3|
|Birch||Betula||An excellent firewood that will burn when green. However, it burns quickly so should be mixed with a slower burning wood such as Oak. Grade: 3/4|
|Cedar||Cedrus||A good firewood which burns with a pleasant smell. Gives a good lasting heat and does not spit much. Small pieces may be burned green. Grade: 2/3|
|Cherry||Prunus||Must be well seasoned. Burns with a pleasant smell without spitting. Grade: 2/3|
|Elm||Ulmus||A good firewood but due to its high water content of approximately 140% (more water than wood!) it must be seasoned very well. It may need assistance from another faster burning wood such as Birch to keep it burning well. However it gives off a good, lasting heat and burns very slowly. Larger pieces of wood will prove difficult to split. Grade: 2/3|
|Eucalyptus||Eucalyptus||Allow to season well since the wood is very sappy when fresh. Can be difficult to split due to stringy wood fibre. Best method is to slice into rings and allow to season during the summer, the rings will start to split themselves. Burns fast with a pleasant smell and without spitting. Grade: 2/3|
A good firewood. Grade: 3/4
|Hazel||Corylus||An excellent wood when seasoned. Burns fast without spitting. Grade: 4|
|Holly||Ilex||A good firewood that can be burned green. Grade: 3|
|Hornbeam||Carpinus||Burns well. Grade: 3|
|Horse Chestnut||Aesculus hippocastanum||A fairly poor firewood. Grade: 2|
|Larch||Larix||A very poor firewood which spits excessively while burning and leaves an oily soot in the chimney. Provides a good heat. Grade: 1|
|Lime||Tilia||Poor quality firewood. Grade: 2|
|Oak||Quercus||One of the best firewoods. When seasoned well, it gives off a good, lasting heat. Burns reasonably slowly. Grade: 4|
|Pear||Pyrus||If well seasoned it burns nicely with a pleasant smell. Grade: 3|
|Pine||Pinus||Burns hot but needs to be well seasoned. Leaves an oily soot in the chimney and spits excessively. Grade: 1|
|Plane||Platanus||A reasonable quality firewood. Grade: 3|
|Poplar||Populus||Very poor firewood. Burns with a poor heat and only usable when well seasoned. Grade: 1|
|Rowan||Sorbus aucuparia||Burns well. Grade: 3|
|Spruce||Picea||Low quality. Grade: 2|
|Sweet Chestnut||Castanea sativa||Burns when seasoned but spits continuously and excessively.Not for use on an open fire and make sure wood-burning stoves have a good door catch! Grade: 1/2|
|Maple (including Sycamore)||Acer||Burns well. Grade: 3|
|Walnut||Juglans||Poor quality firewood. Grade: 2|
|Wellingtonia||Sequoiadendron||Very bad quality. Grade: 1|
|Willow||Salix||A high water content means it needs to be well seasoned. Grade: 2/3|
|Yew||Taxus||Usable. Grade: 2/3|
Generally hardwoods are best for open fires because they tend not to spit excessively, however there are exceptions. Conifer wood tends to spit excessively when fresh, so is best used for sealed wood burning stoves, again there are exceptions. Many conifers also cause an oily, sticky 'soot' to form inside the chimney which can increase the risks of chimney fires. Once properly seasoned conifer wood can be successfully used on the open fire without excessive spitting. Ideally, conifer wood is best mixed with hardwood.
Wood to be seasoned should be cut to length (300mm or 10" to 18"), split to size and stacked. The stack should be completely covered on the top to prevent rain wetting the wood but air must be allowed to reach the sides of the stack. Leave to season for at least 1 year (more if possible).
In simple terms, the word 'seasoned' means 'dry' and the term 'green' means 'freshly cut from living tree'.
All wood will, when supported by lots of kindling and/or a good ember base, will burn unseasoned. However, you may find some woods are not worth using in this state due to the length of 'hissing' time (as the water boils from within the wood) before they can burn.
Courtesy of the Arboricultural Information Exchange: http://www.aie.org.uk
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