The Best Firewood For Heating

We had an awful lot of trees to choose from to burn in the range, and some were far better than others. Well seasoned hardwood was by far the best. We stored it in a huge shed, more like a small barn really. There were a few holes in it, but that didn’t matter, it let the air circulate! Here’s a list of what we used, and what we didn’t:


Ash: One of the best woods for burning. It gives plenty of heat, flames well and even burns reasonably when green.

Beech: Not quite as good as ash. It makes a good fire, but spits out embers.

Birch: A good heat, but a quick burner. Nice smell.

Hazel: Burns well but does spark a little.

Hawthorn: One of the best woods to burn, but not easy to find. It burns slow and hot.

Hornbeam: Similar to beech. Well worthwhile.

Oak: Must be well-seasoned. Very dense, so burns slow and hot and makes a lovely bed of glowing coals. Only real drawback is the amount of ash that it makes.

Sycamore: Flames nicely but heat is not as strong as oak or ash. Very common firewood and good to mix with others.

Rowan: A good heat and reasonably slow burn. Also known as Mountain Ash.

Blackthorn: Very good. A nice hot and slow burn without much smoke.

Walnut: Burns hot with a lovely scent.

Apple: A good, slow burner with a beautiful scent and medium heat.

Cherry: Same as apple.

Chestnut: Not a lot of heat. It crackles and sparks a lot. Better to mix with other woods.

Holly: Well-seasoned it is reasonable but mainly small logs – medium heat and long lasting.

These next woods are the ones to avoid:

Yew: A toxic chemical exists in the wood, so do not use on an open fire.

Laurel:  Do not use on an open fire as Laurel contains a toxic chemical. 

Aspen: Burns hot and fast. Better to mix if you have to use this.

Elm: Smoky and difficult to get hot. Exception is dead elm that’s been standing for years – this makes a great burning wood – hot and long lasting.

Lime: Difficult to get going, and low heat.

Poplar: Not a good burner

Willow: Same as poplar.

Alder: Very wet wood. It does not burn hot and finishes quickly.

Plane: Burns well and quickly but sparks a lot.

Elder: Useless. Low heat, burns quickly and smokey.

Some of the softwoods, the pines and so on we did use, but only if we had to. They take a good long time to dry out and they burn much faster than the hardwood trees. All spruce trees spark no end and are not good for open fires.

Well, that’s my opinion of wood that is suitable for heating, I hope it was useful.



Granny Spear was born in a small cottage in Devon, Southern England in 1925. Married to farm labourer Ernest, she raised her family in the heart of the countryside without any of the amenities we rely on today. Using skills passed down from her mother, who had learned those same skills from her mother, she not only survived but positively thrived living a self-sufficient, off grid lifestyle. Outliving her husband, one of her children and two of her grandchildren she stayed in the cottage until 2003 when a serious fall saw her hospitalized. She now lives with her daughter just four miles from her old home. For her 89th birthday her grandchildren and great grandchildren brought her an iPad, which she instantly rejected until they showed her Angry Birds…After much persuasion she has agreed to share some of her knowledge with us about what she calls the ‘old days’

This information has been made available by Ready Nutrition

Originally published July 17th, 2014
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  • Gary47

    If your in Tx have a cast iron stove and grate there is no better wood than Mesquite, DO not use in a steel stove or with a steel grate. IT burns very slow makes a lot of heat and coals last for hours at very high heat. Caution! THe coals are so hot will melt a steal grate or stove. Cast iron stove will glow cherry red. Fill stove burn off the smoke idle down go to bed get up and stove will still be glowing red in morning. Melted my first steel grate so I know about this. Rule 1 cast iron stove only! do not remove coals refill can keep an extreamly hot fire for days on end by refilling. refills are about every 6 hours stove will slowly fill with coals over time. This is for heat not just a Pretty open fire to watch.

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