Find the Best Firewood for You

Find the best firewood types for your needs with our handy firewood BTU comparison chart. 

By GRIT staff 

Firewood BTUs

BTUs, or British Thermal Units, measure the heat of combustion. Even among the same species, different chunks of firewood are going to burn hotter than others, depending on how dry they are and the conditions under which they grew. These numbers are intended as a rough comparison. They are measured in millions of BTUs per cord, which is a stack of firewood 4 feet high, 4 feet wide, and 8 feet long.

Moisture content is more important than tree species when planning for wood heat. Wood that has dried properly will almost always burn hotter than wood that still has moisture in it, because much of the heat energy is used to evaporate the remaining water. Try to stack your firewood about a year in advance so that it has time to completely dry. You’ll get more heat out of your investment if you do. Half a year is often adequate, but in our experience, it can take a while to build up a supply, so plan to be ready a year in advance if you can. Even small logs will dry (and burn) better if split and given time to dry. Covering your stacked firewood isn’t necessary, but it will help, as well.

Coaling

After your fire’s been burning for a while, you’re left with a bed of hot coals. When cooking over an open fire, coals provide steady, consistent heat — this is why ‘charcoal’ is so popular. When you burn wood, you can make your own coals to cook with. Usually, denser hardwoods will yield coals that burn hotter, longer-lived coals than softer, less dense woods.

Learn more about the best wood for burning in Choosing a Wood-Burning Stove for Your Home.

Wood  Million BTUs/Cord  Smoky  Sparky  Ease of starting  Ease of splitting  Coaling  Aroma  lbs/ft3+/-5  Cord Weight (pounds) DRY 
Alder, Red 19.0 Moderate Moderate Fair Easy Good Slight 26 2600
Apple 26.5 Moderate Few Poor Easy Good Excellent 41 4140
Ash, Black 19.1 No Few Fair Easy Good Minimal 30 2992
Ash, Green 23.0 No Few Moderate Easy Good Slight 29 2900
Ash, White 23.6 Light Few Moderate Easy Good Slight 35 3500
Aspen 14.7 Moderate No Yes Easy Good Slight 23 2295
Basswood 13.5 Moderate No Yes Easy Poor Good 21 2108
Beech 24 No Few Yes Easy Excellent Minimal 38 3757
Beech, Blue 26.8 No Few Yes Easy Excellent Minimal 39 3890
Birch, Black 26.8 No Moderate Good Easy Excellent Minimal 39 3890
Birch, Grey 20.3 No Moderate Good Easy Excellent Minimal 32 3179
Birch, Paper 20.3 No Moderate Good Easy Excellent Minimal 32 3179
Birch, White 20.3 No Moderate Good Easy Excellent Minimal 32 3179
Birch, Yellow 23.6 No Moderate Good Easy Excellent Minimal 37 3689
Box Elder 17.9 Moderate No Moderate Easy Poor Slight 28 2797
Butternut 14.5 Moderate No Moderate Easy      21 2100
Cedar, Eastern Red 17.5 Moderate Many Excellent Easy Poor Excellent 26 2632
Cedar, Western Red 20 Moderate Many Excellent Easy Poor Excellent 20 2000
Cedar, White 12.2 Moderate Moderate Excellent Easy Poor Excellent 19 1913
Cherry 20 No Few Poor Easy Excellent Excellent 31 3120
Cherry, Black 19.9 No Few Poor Easy Excellent Excellent 29 2880
Chestnut 12.9 Moderate Moderate Yes Easy   Good 30 3000
Cottonwood 13.5 Moderate Moderate Yes Easy Poor Slight 21 2108
Cypress 23.4 Moderate No Moderate Easy      27 2700
Dogwood 30.4 No No Yes Easy Fair   40 4025
Elm, American 19.5 Moderate Few Fair Difficult Excellent Good 31 3052
Elm, White 19.5 Moderate No Fair Moderate Good Fair 31 3052
Eucalyptus 33.5             46 4560
Fir, Balsam 14.3 Moderate No Moderate Easy      22 2236
Fir, Douglas 25.0 Yes Moderate Yes Easy Fair Slight 31 3075
Fir, Grand 19.0 Moderate No Moderate Easy     23 2330
Gum 18.1 Moderate No Moderate Moderate      35 3500
Hackberry 20.8 Moderate Moderate Moderate Easy Good Moderate 32 3247
Hemlock 15.9 Moderate Many Moderate Easy Poor Good 25 2482
Hickory, Shagbark 28.5 No Moderate Fair Moderate Excellent Good 41 4072
Hornbeam, Eastern 27.3 Light Few Yes Difficult Excellent Minimal 43 4267
Juniper, Western 26.4 Moderate Many Easy Easy Poor Excellent 31 3050
Larch 20.8 Moderate Moderate Yes Easy Fair Slight 40 4016
Locust, Black 26.8 Light No Poor Moderate Excellent Minimal 39 3890
Locust, Honey 25.8 Light Few Moderate Easy Excellent Moderate 37 3680
Maple, Bigleaf 22.7 Light Few Moderate Easy     30 3000
Maple, Hard 24.0 No No Yes Easy Excellent Good 37 3680
Maple, Silver 19.5 Light Few Moderate Moderate     28 2752
Maple, Soft or Red 18.7 No No Yes Moderate      29 2924
Maple, Sugar 24 Heavy Few Poor Difficult   Good 38 3757
Mesquite 28.0 Moderate Many Moderate Moderate Poor Strong 40 4000
Oak, Red/Black 24 Light Few Moderate Easy Good Slight 38 3757
Oak, White/Bur 25.7 Light Few Yes Moderate Excellent Slight 40 4012
Osage Orange 32.9 Moderate Many Difficult Difficult Good Moderate 47 4728
Pecan 28.5 No Moderate Difficult Easy   Excellent 41 4072
Pine, Eastern White 14.3 Moderate Moderate Excellent Easy Poor Good 22 2236
Pine, Jack 17.1 Moderate Many Yes Easy      27 2669
Pine, Norway 17.1 Moderate Many Yes Easy      27 2669
Pine, Pitch 17.1 Moderate Many Yes Easy      27 2669
Pine, Ponderosa 15.2 Moderate Moderate Excellent Easy Fair Good 24 2380
Pine, Southern
(Shortleaf, Loblolly)
22.0 Moderate Few Yes Easy Poor Moderate 29 2936
Pine, Sugar 19.6 Moderate Moderate Excellent Easy   Good 23 2270
Pine, White Western 14.3 Moderate Moderate Excellent Easy   Good 22 2236
Poplar, Yellow 16 Moderate Moderate Yes Easy Fair Bitter 21 2080
Redwood 20.1 Moderate No Moderate Easy      23 2330
Spruce 14.5 Moderate Many Yes Easy Poor Slight 21 2100
Spruce, Black 15.9 Moderate Many Yes Easy      25 2482
Sycamore 20.7 Moderate Few Moderate Difficult Good Slight 30 2992
Tamarack 20.8 Moderate Moderate Yes Easy     32 3247
Tanoak 27.5 Light Few Moderate Easy     37 3650
Walnut, Black 25.3 No No Yes Easy Good Good 35 3450
Willow 14.5 Moderate Moderate Fair Easy Poor Slight 21 2100
 




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