Fire wood

How to Choose the Best Wood for Your Wood Stove

The choice to purchase a wood burning stove for your home is a wise one as these units are highly efficient, very safe, and heat better than alternative heating sources.

The radiant heat from a wood stove can warm the interior of even a larger home with little effort, but the stove will not work as efficiently as it should if the correct wood is not utilized. Here is your guide to choosing wood for your stove so you can get the most heat output.

Hardwoods vs Softwoods

Before you can effectively choose the right type of wood for your needs, you need to understand the difference between hardwoods and softwoods. Hardwoods such as elm and beech have proven to be some of the best wood resources available. The primary reason that more trust is put into hardwoods is due to the overall burn time.

Hardwoods have a more densely packed cell structure designed to hold onto water more effectively, but when properly seasoned, hardwoods maintain that cell structure and therefore, can burn much longer.

Softwoods can be used in wood burning stoves and softwoods such as cedar do have a unique scent, but the burn time is substantially lessened by the open cell structure of the wood. If you intend on using softwoods, be mindful, that the stove will likely burn twice as much wood to generate the same heat output as hardwoods. Most stove owners stick to hardwoods as it is more economical in an already economical unit.

Seasoned or Unseasoned

Even if you have the perfect hardwood or softwood for your stove, if it is not seasoned properly, your stove will not run effectively.

Green wood is wood that has been recently cut. It maintains all of the moisture from when the tree was living and therefore, when burned, will tend to steam the water out of the wood. The fire will never get hot enough with green wood and you can end up with more buildup within the chimney of your unit leading to even more harmful issues.

Seasoned wood is always best for any wood stove. The seasoning process takes out between 65% and 90% of the moisture leaving the wood lighter and therefore easier to burn a hot fire. The seasoning process is simple, but does take time and proper storage.

To season wood, each log must be split to allow the moisture to properly evaporate from the structure. Once the wood is split, it can be stacked on a platform about 1 foot off the ground. The wood should be kept dry at all times, so storing the wood in an outdoor shed is ideal. The seasoning process takes about six months, so if you want to chop your own wood for the winter, it is best to have your stack ready and stacked well before the onset of any cold temperatures.

If you lack the storage facility, or the time to devote to chopping wood, wood suppliers offer seasoned wood for purchase. Even when purchasing wood, a wood stove is substantially more inexpensive than an electric unit or gas.

Best Woods

Wood type is monumentally important with your wood stove. Through the years, some woods have outshined others being noted as the better woods for stove use. Here are some of the best woods available.

Oak – This dense hardwood is among the top types due to its extremely long burn time. Oak does take a bit longer to season, but the wait can be worth it for such a substantially excellent wood.

Ash – Although not as popular as oak, ash still maintains a long burn time and can be found throughout the world. The best thing about this wood is that it is easy to split, so if your wood splitting skills are not perfect, ash is very forgiving.

Maple – With an average season time and long burn time, maple is one of the better woods. Its burn is similar to ash and maple tends to be an easier wood to locate.

Other excellent wood choices include, beech, cherry, hawthorn, mulberry, and cherry.

Worst Woods

Where there are great woods to use, there are also some that should be avoided in a wood stove. Even though many of these woods maintain a good structure for burning and can be found in most areas, they tend to be better suited and safer for outdoor burning purposes.

These woods include alder, eucalyptus, pine, poplar, and cedar. The primary reason these woods are not recommended is due to the possibility of dangerous creosote buildup in the flue. Even though you might find woods from this list cheap, they should only be used outdoors.

When choosing woods for your wood stove, it is best to discuss the best woods with your retailer They will know the ins and outs of the stoves they install and are an excellent resource for information, so be sure to ask which is best for the particular unit you have installed.