Types of fire wood for wood burners

Choosing your fire wood

What type of wood is it – hardwood or softwood? Scientifically speaking softwoods are Gymnosperm trees such as conifers and Hardwoods are Angiosperms. This does not mean the density of the woods is greater in all hardwoods or less in all softwoods.

As far as wood fires go hard wood refers to more dense woods and softwoods less dense.

Hardwood versus Softwood - Hardwoods are very dense. They pack more potential heat energy per volume of firewood. Therefore they tend to be the best firewood types for heat and for cooking. However, they are more difficult to get ignited in the first place. Hardwood usually costs more, gives off more heat but takes longer to dry than softwood.

Softwoods are less dense and also tend to be more resinous. This means they ignite much faster, and thus can be good as a starter wood to get your wood fire going. Softwood is generally cheaper, gives off less heat and burns faster but dries more quickly than hardwood.

Generally speaking, woods high in resin content (pine, spruce, fir) are best mixed with a harder woods to prevent build up of deposits of creosote in the chimney.

WoodThermal ValueBurn DurationAvailability
Douglas FirHotLongGood
GorseVery hotVery longPoor
KanukaVery hotLongReasonable
Radiata PineMediumShortExcellent
Tree lucerneVery hotVery longPoor
WattleVery hotVery longGood

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