Wood isn’t arrogant. Wood isn’t boastful. Wood doesn’t crave the spotlight like some fame hungry Kardashian. Quite the opposite is true. Wood is functional and unassuming. Wood is versatile and hardworking. Wood is a wonder without needing to shout about it. We use wood for fire and shelter. We craft grain for function and aesthetics. We document the human condition with words on a page. Wood is wonderful.
Yes it’s clear that we’re wild about wood. However where are we going with this? Well you know us by now. We’re connoisseurs of heating, winter fuel and wood for fires. To reach this level of expertise requires an intimate relationship with wood. We know it. We value it. We appreciate it. We understand it. You might even see us taking a kiln dried hardwood log for a walk in the park. This is great until you play ‘go fetch’ with a stick and existential questions abound. Ok enough abstract verbals. Join us for a deep dive into the world of fire wood, hardwood, logs, burn characteristics and more. Basically if you’re looking for wood for a fire, look no more. We’ll give you the gravy.
What are the kinds of fire wood out there?
We’re sure that you have heard all kinds of words form the wood-based lexicon: hardwood versus softwood, kiln dried versus seasoned, oak versus cedar – the list can extend into a swirling vortex of definition. Rather than create a wooden dictionary, we want to give you an understanding of wood’s material and chemical properties. This in turn will help you comprehend why some kinds of wood for a fire are better than others. With this power you can decide on the right wood for your fireplace, fire pit, stove or heater.
A breakdown of some fire wood basics
Wood is the primary nutrient conducting and strengthening tissue of trees and plants. It is one of the most versatile and abundant natural minerals on the planet. Wood is produced by countless botanical species, such as gymnosperms and angiosperms. However not all wood is born equal. Some are stronger and denser than others. We see varying levels of internal moisture too. Let’s put on our Big Boy trousers and explore deeper still.
Why do certain woods burn better than others?
While the properties of wood have different ramifications depending on the wood’s usage: we’re focusing on using wood for a fire. In other words, what are the internal characteristics that affect combustion AKA burn? We’re sure that many of you have grappled with making a fire – all to varying degrees of success. But the level of joy or misery is determined by a combination of your technique, as well as the type of wood you are using. For example if you have sparked up some wet wood that hasn’t been properly seasoned or kiln dried, we’re certain you experienced a damp squib party for one. Yup starting a fire can be frustrating stuff. That’s why we’re hoping that our simple guide to the best types of wood for your fire will help makes things easier.
What wood to burn?
The key to performance lies within the wood itself. All wood types contain the same basic elements such as lignin and cellulose compounds. However the differences are determined by factors such as the space between wood fibres, internal moisture levels, plus how much air is present within the wood itself.
Best wood for burning? Hardwood holds the key.
When it comes to the best wood for your fire pit, multi-fuel stove or fireplace, hardwoods are at top of the list. This is because hardwoods are very dense. In other words there isn’t a lot of empty space (meaning air) between the individual fibre strands. The denser and heavier the wood, the more wood fuel there is to burn – which means a hotter and longer blaze for you.
Here are some of the best kinds of hardwoods to burn
- White oak
- Red oak
- Shagbark oak
Softwoods burn faster
You don’t need to have spent your life hugging trees to put two and two together. Basically if hardwoods are dense, then it makes sense that softwoods are less dense. This lower density means a quicker burn that produces less heat. Thanks to all these characteristics, most people use softwoods to start a fire.
Here are some of the best softwoods to burn
- White birch
- American cherry
Just a quick note on conifers: basically conifers are trees that keep their leaves all year around. Think pine trees or needle-like leaves. Conifers are also softwood, so they too produce cooler and low burning logs. Certain coniferous softwoods contain higher amounts of sap. And higher sap levels leads to a smoky, messy and impure burn. Check that the wood has been properly seasoned or you will end up floundering in the fog like a lemon.
Check the moisture levels
Let’s recap: if you’re searching for the ultimate wood for your fire then hardwood is defo the way to go. But this isn’t the end of the fire wood narrative. Oh no dear friend there’s more…so much more. Don’t stress though. We’re not going to bombard you with wood and wizardry. Rather we want to step into the world of moisture.
Again we are riding the wave of common sense here: the wetter something is, the more difficult it is to burn. Following this logic, the wetter your fire wood and logs, the cooler and more inefficient your burn. So even if you have chosen a good hardwood, the burn performance will be greatly affected by the internal moisture levels of the wood.
To get a little more technical: the moisture content of wood for fire is measured in terms of the relationship between the moisture content in kg and the quantity of dry material in kg. Unpacking this further, the moisture u, is defined as the ratio between the water’s weight in the wet material and, after drying at 103°C, the weight of dried wood.
Finally, what are the detailed effects of moisture on the combustion process? Essentially moisture hampers the burning process with more hydrocarbons escaping into the air or up your chimney. What’s more energy that could be used for your burn is wasted on heating and then evaporating the water vapour. Translation – welcome to a world of inefficient burning.
How do we dry firewood and hardwood logs?
There are two main ways to dry out hardwood logs and logs in general: seasoning and kiln drying. Let’s have quick butcher’s at both of these techniques.
How to season fire wood?
Seasoning wood and logs is all about letting wood dry naturally in regular environmental conditions without any additional heat. It is a technique that has been around for donkey’s years. Yes it is tried and true. However the seasoning process takes awhile as you can imagine. Plus after all is said and done, you’re looking at internal moisture levels of about 20%. Don’t get it twisted: this is a healthy stat and you can defo enjoy some serious heatage from your fire logs. But we can go drier and therefore hotter. We’re talking Kalahari type heat peeps. Read on and we will spill the blisteringly hot tea.
What is kiln dry wood?
Ok so we have touched on seasoning, but let’s venture into more arid landscapes. It’s time to meet the might kiln dryer. Kiln drying is another way to dry wood. The difference? The wood is placed and heated in a specially designed kiln – in other words a controlled environment. Don’t get lost in the terminology. A kiln is basically a pimped up oven. Now then, back to the hardwood logs. The heating of our loggy lovelies is done in different stages at different temperatures. The results are spectacular with most kiln dried wood boasting sub 20% and even 15% internal moisture levels.
Need wood for your fire? It’s got to be Big K!
So you might be looking for the best wood for a fire pit, fireplace or heater. Well the good news is that you can put the map away and chill. To put a different spin on it: Big K has all the Kiln dry hardwood logs, kindling, compressed heat logs and instant light logs that you could ever need. Clearly are the winter fuel specialists! We say this not from a place of arrogance, but rather from a place of quiet confidence. We know the work and care we have put in to develop our winter fuel range. So we’re super pumped too share some product info with you.
Kiln Dried Hardwood Logs FSC® and Grown in Britain £7.99
We don’t need to hard sell here. A simple list of bullets will show what our Kiln Dried Hardwood logs <LINK https://bigkproducts.co.uk/products/kiln-dried-hardwood-logs-fsc/> are all about.
- Kiln dried hardwood logs, 100% Grown in Britain
- FSC® & GiB certified and Woodsure Ready to Burn accredited
- Consistent moisture level of under 20%
- Easy to light and long lasting
- High heat output with less smoke and a better flame
- Ideal for stoves, chimineas, fire pits, pizza ovens, cookers and open fires
Go large or go home!
If you need copious amounts of logs for the fire, we’ve got the hottest ticket in town. Feast your eyes on some killer pallet deals. Enjoy heat, value, quality and savings all in one place. You’re welcome guys!
Important tips on fire safety
We love the enthusiasm of all fire starters and flame freaks. However with all that gusto driving you on, it can be easy to lose sight of the fact that you are dealing with open flames here. There’s no point going full throttle on your fire making only to end up scorched or singed in some embarrassing way. That being said: here are a few key safety pointers to remember.
- For those burning wood indoors, please ensure that your chimney is cleaned and inspected at least once a year.
- Always always use a carbon monoxide detector if you are lighting up wood indoors.
- Do not ever ignite unseasoned wood or green wood indoors. This is due to the higher risk of carbon monoxide emissions.
- Stay away from blazing treated lumber. Why? It often contains all kinds of chemicals – some of which could be toxic.
Want wood for the fire? You’ve got all the knowledge at your fingertips.
All good things must come to an end. And we’re fast approaching the final destination of fire wood info. All we do is give you the knowledge and insight. It’s up to you to figure out your next move. If you’re still thirsting for more facts and data, peep this blog on fire logs or explore our compressed heat log guide
Stay happy. Stay heated.