If you have a wood-burning fireplace or heating stove, you undoubtedly want to make sure your fires burn as efficiently as possible, giving you the most heat for the least amount of wood. So which types of wood burn the hottest?

Which Types of Firewood Burn The Hottest Image - Asheville NC - Environmental Chimney ServiceChoose hardwoods for a hotter, cleaner fire.

Cord to cord, hardwoods burn hotter than softwoods. Because of the wood’s density, hardwoods take longer to ignite, but once they begin burning, they’ll produce more heat and burn for a longer period of time. Because of their hotter burn temperatures, hardwoods have the added bonus of burning more cleanly, putting off less creosote-creating smoke than their softwood counterparts.

Even among the hardwoods, some burn hotter than others, churning up more BTUs per cord. For the sake of comparison, here are the BTUs per cord of some of the hardwoods commonly found in the eastern United States:

  • Osage orange, 32.9 BTUs per cord
  • Shagbark hickory, 27.7 BTUs per cord
  • Eastern hornbeam, 27.1 BTUs per cord
  • Black birch, 26.8 BTUs per cord
  • Black locust, 26.8 BTUs per cord
  • Blue beech, 26.8 BTUs per cord
  • Ironwood, 26.8 BTUs per cord
  • Bitternut hickory, 26.5 BTUs per cord
  • Honey locust, 26.5 BTUs per cord
  • Apple, 25.8 BTUs per cord
  • Mulberry, 25.7 BTUs per cord
  • Beech, 24 BTUs per cord
  • Northern red oak, 24 BTUs per cord
  • Sugar maple, 24 BTUs per cord
  • White oak, 24 BTUs per cord
  • White ash, 23.6 BTUs per cord
  • Yellow birch, 21.8 BTUs per cord
  • Red elm, 21.6 BTUs per cord
  • Hackberry, 20.8 BTUs per cord
  • Kentucky coffee tree, 20.8 BTUs per cord
  • Gray birch, 20.3 BTUs per cord
  • Paper birch, 20.3 BTUs per cord
  • White birch, 20.2 BTUs per cord
  • Black walnut, 20 BTUs per cord
  • Cherry, 20 BTUs per cord
  • Green ash, 19.9 BTUs per cord
  • Black cherry, 19.5 BTUs per cord
  • American elm, 19.5 BTUs per cord
  • White elm, 19.5 BTUs per cord
  • Sycamore, 19.1 BTUs per cord
  • Black ash, 18.7 BTUs per cord
  • Red maple, 18.1 BTUs per cord

Don’t shy away from softwoods.

 Some of the lore surrounding wood heat will caution homeowners from using softwoods as fuel, but that rule doesn’t necessarily hold true. In fact, among softwoods, there are some species that put off as many BTUs per cord as hardwoods. Some hardwoods with hire BTU values include:

  • Rocky Mountain juniper, 21.6 BTUs per cord
  • Tamarack, 20.8 BTUs per cord
  • Jack pine, 17.1 BTUs per cord
  • Norway pine, 17.1 BTUs per cord
  • Pitch pine, 17.1 BTUs per cord
  • Hemlock, 15.9 BTUs per cord
  • Black spruce, 15.9 BTUs per cord
  • Eastern white pine, 14.3 BTUs per cord
  • Balsam fir, 14.3 BTUs per cord
  • Eastern white cedar, 12.2 BTUs per cord

Stack a variety of woods for the best results.

In the end, having a mix of hardwoods and softwoods on your wood pile can help you to control your burn. While hardwoods take longer to catch fire and will burn longer, softwoods ignite quickly and burn fast. That makes softwoods ideal for getting your fires going. Once your fire is burning well, you can add in some hardwood logs to keep your fire burning hot and long.