There could be several reasons you may need or want to start a fire. Whether you are going to light up a fireplace, campfire or wood stove, you want those flames burning with the best wood possible. So, what is the best firewood in Canada?
You actually have much great firewood option in Canada. But before we get into that, there are some tips every fire fanatic should be aware of to ensure you are using correctly seasoned wood that is ready to burn.
Why it is Important to Buy Good Firewood
First of all, firewood needs to be completely dry in order for it to burn safely, efficiently, and cleanly. It could become a bother to burn if it is wet, especially if it is the wrong type of tree or if it is too big for your fireplace. Dried and preserved firewood lessens the amount of creosote that may build up in your fireplace or chimney.
Firewood that is wet is by far more contaminating and leaves creosote everywhere. It can blacken glass doors and fireplaces and may cause possible blockage in your chimney if it needs to be properly cleaned out.
The buildup of creosote is a huge safety hazard as it puts homes in jeopardy for chimney fires. In order to avoid this, clean your fireplace and chimney on a regular basis, especially if you need to use the correct wood to burn.
Look for the following firewood to be sure you are buying efficient and safe firewood to burn:
- Tree species that are efficient for burning
- Dry or seasoned
- Split small enough to fit your wood stove or fireplace
- The length is consistent
- Obtained from a recommended reliable supplier
What Species of Trees are Best for Firewood?
Types of trees are either softwood or hardwood. Hardwood trees are short-term, broad-leafed trees, while softwoods are cone-bearing, and the leaves appear needle-like.
Softwoods and hardwoods are different in moisture content and thickness, which will affect how well the wood will burn. Solid hardwood types like oak and maple tend to be higher in energy, release more heat and burn slower and hotter. Their coal beds and fires last much longer.
Best Size for Firewood
Firewood should be easy to grip and be the right size for your fireplace.
Choose pieces that are shorter so you can easily stoke the fire in your wood stove or fireplace. If the logs are shorter, it will be easier to move them around. The best length for logs is 14 to 18 inches.
For a fire building that is most effective, firewood should be split into diverse diameters or widths. The pieces that are thicker will burn longer, while the smaller ones will catch fire quicker. If temperatures are mild, smaller pieces will work best. Combining both large and small pieces of wood will help keep the fire burning much longer. The best diameter for logs is 3 to 6 inches.
Seasoning and Drying Firewood
For the best burn, firewood should be completely seasoned (dry). To properly season wood, you need to stack it in such a way that encourages drying and avoids the growth of mold.
Poplar, pine, aspen and spruce, all softwoods, are less dense. They can be ready to burn in the fall if they are cut, split and stacked by early spring. Maples and oaks, all hardwoods, need a year to be completely seasoned and to burn.
Below are some ways to determine if your firewood is seasoned enough to burn:
- Color darkens to yellow or grey
- Cracks or checks in the end grain
- The logs catch fire and burn easily
- After splitting, the new surface is not damp and feels dry
- Lighter in weight
- Banging two logs together should create a clinking or hollow sound
Selecting the best wood is all for nothing if it has not been correctly seasoned.
Top Firewood Options
The birch trees have a lot of variety. White, black and yellow are the most common, with the white birch being the most recognized due to its paper-like bark. It also gives out the least amount of heat per cord.
- White birch gives 20.2 million BTUs per cord
- Black birch gives 26.8 million BTUs per cord
- Yellow birch gives 21.8 million BTUs per cord
Birch gives a slight smell when it is burned and is also a great choice for your firewood burn.
This type of wood is often used for smoking different kinds of meat in a BBQ. It has superb flavour and smell, and it has a high energy content. Because it has a slow burn speed, a high burn temperature and dense fibres, it is usually looked at as one of the better options for firewood. The one drawback is it may be difficult to ignite.
As with birch, oak has many variations. The most common and well-known are white and red oak. Oak being extremely solid, is used many times as durable building material. Its density also explains its high heat and slow burning speed.
- Red oak gives 24.6 million BTUs per cord
- White oak gives 26.4 BTUs per cord
This wood is on the lower end of the energy range. It has an amazing fragrance, which makes it perfect for burning in your fireplace.
Cherry gives 20.0 million BTUs per cord.
How about a mixed bag? That would be the ultimate way to get all of the woods mentioned above. All together in one bag. Having a little of each of them would give you choices between all the different burns, temperatures and smells.
The Northern Hemisphere has a lot of maple trees, and they are a great choice if you are looking for firewood. It has a slow burn, slower than oak. However, it will be warmer. A firewood enthusiast would consider combining all three kinds of wood above for the ultimate burn.
Softwoods as Your Only Option
Softwoods do not burn like hardwoods. They tend to create more residue, which results in more buildup of creosote in your chimney. The flame will still be good. It will warm your house and provide the feel you were hoping for. If softwoods are in abundance in Canada, where you live, choose:
Both white and red pine can be used for firewood. It burns easily and is easy to cure and split. The problem is it will burn fast and can sometimes be sappy, which will cause sparking. Although we love to hear the crackling of the wood in the fireplace, be mindful of sparks coming out onto the carpeting.
There are some that love to burn Douglas fir. It is simple to handle, just like pine, and also burns quickly. Its light bulk would mean oxygen is feeding the flames, which makes it burn fast.
You will be assured of staying toasty and warm this winter if you choose the right firewood.
On the other hand, if you install a gas fireplace, it would mean you would not have to think about the right wood, how to cure or season it or for how long, and how to properly stack and store it!