What Wood Burns Hottest and Longest?

Everyone hates that feeling.

You are planning a great night with friends for drinks, and you want to have a beautiful, warm, long-lasting fire burning in your fireplace. But lo and behold, when trying to ignite it, the logs just pop and fizzle, blowing smoke everywhere, including your face. It is doing everything except what you want it to do, which is providing that warm, soothing glow you were hoping for. Why is it doing that? What went wrong? The simple answer is all firewood is not created equal. So, to avoid this, what wood burns hottest and longest and is the best wood to burnContinue reading, as we have collected all you need to know regarding the best firewood to burn.

Best Firewood to Burn

There are two categories for firewood to shine for it to be the best firewood to burn; dryness and density.

The denser the wood, the better. This allows the fire to have more matter to consume. But the dense wood must be moist enough, as the fire will need to disburse the added energy to burn off the extra water. The result will be that it will not burn as radiantly or for very long as it would if the firewood were drier.

So, it would help if you had high compactness and high aridity in order for the wood to burn the cleanest, hottest and longest that it can. 

You might be thinking, what kind of wood fits that description? Below are the types of firewood that will smell the best and burn the hottest, longest and cleanest.

Firewood that Burns the Longest

The first question to ask when looking for the longest burn is whether the firewood is softwood or hardwood.

If the wood is softwood or hardwood depends on the kind of tree it comes from. Hardwoods come from trees that shed their leaves during the winter and consist of poplar woods such as ash, hickory and oak. Softwoods derive from evergreen trees like spruces, firs or pines.  

Hardwood trees provide wood that is more solid, as they tend to grow slower. Therefore it will provide a longer burn. Softwoods ignite easier than hardwoods, but the fire will end sooner as it burns through the less solid wood. So, the reasons suggest that it would be a good idea to begin your fire with softwoods, then add some hardwoods to the fire to keep it burning.

In the end, hardwoods provide a longer burn for your money. So, it makes sense and comes highly recommended to use hardwood instead of softwood, hands down.

Firewood that Burns the Hottest

Softwoods do not burn as hot as hardwoods. But not all hardwoods are created equal and burn the same amount of heat. Hardwoods such as hickory, oak, birch and ash tend to burn hotter than hardwoods such as elm and walnut. However, they all provide hotter burns than softwoods such as cedar and pine.

For your money, types such as ash, fruit trees, maple, and oak, all hardwoods, give you more bang for your buck, as they tend to burn longer and hotter. Hardwoods have more fuel to burn as they are denser than softwoods like pine. 

Take for granted all of the following firewood that is going to be mentioned below were correctly seasoned prior to burning and that they have a moisture content of about 20% or less.

Important to note that you always need to check the content of moisture prior to using the firewood.

Let’s not wait any longer to find t the answer to the 64-million-dollar question, what wood burns hottest and longest? The five hottest and longest burning wood mentioned below are not readily available for you to buy. However, if you are fortunate to find some, or better yet, are able to cut them down yourself, then consider yourself lucky. 

1. Beech

The regal beech tree may grow 100 feet tall, so if you are lucky enough to find one of these gems, you will have an abundance of firewood from one tree.

It creates intense heat and, when burned, has a nutty fragrance. Once it finishes the process of seasoning, it will have a low content of moisture. Beech trees’ moisture content may be between 12-17%, whereas most wood dries naturally to about 20% moisture content.

 Because it is so low in moisture, it can be a really hot head. The drawback is if you are cutting it yourself, you will need to let it season for about two years in order to get the moisture content that low.

The other problem with beech is that it is hard to split. So, you will likely need a hydraulic splitter rather than an axe.

Even with those couple of drawbacks, you will be pleased you had patience as the wood will burn 27.5 million BTUs per cord of wood. This means when you burn this wood in your woodstove or fireplace at night, in the morning, your coals will still be hot enough to start another fire.

2. Hickory

This tree will be easier to find as it is easily available in several locations and grows in Canada, into the Midwest and areas along the east coast of the U.S. It is incredibly strong, making it a popular choice for flooring, tool handles and furniture.

Let’s remember us humans and some animals like squirrels and deer. We love the nuts they produce.

Hickory wood is tough to beat. It is one of the better firewood you will find due to its availability, longevity and heat. It is also used in several chips and charcoals for smokers and has a nice fragrance.

It can take up to a year to season, and it is extremely dense, making it tough to split. But if you accomplish that, you will have the hottest, longest-burning firewood around.

3. Black Locust

Black locust is next on the list. This is a fast-growing tree, even though it is extremely dense. Typically, fast-growing trees are softwoods such as pine or other evergreens.

According to the National Resources Conservation Service, black locusts are invasive, so much so that they cast a large shadow that deprives sun to other plants that need it. They become so dense that there is hardly any vegetation that can grow on the ground under them.

This is good news if you are in search of great firewood, as those living near these massive trees would likely be happy if you cut them down.

Although they are highly dense, they are easy to split. Other good news is they only take one year to be seasoned and ready to burn. And then, you have high-quality firewood. 

The downside to black locusts is they contain many sharp thorns on their branches. So, if you are going to be handling these trees, you will need some gloves to protect you from the thorns.

4. White Oak

You can go right with whatever kind of oak you want to use as firewood. This is the monarch of firewood. It might not be the best smelling or the hottest, but due to everything else, oak overall is the best firewood. It has a natural abundance, making it better than most other firewood.

Other wood may burn longer and hotter, but not that much longer and hotter. What makes oak king is its low smoke, splits easily, availability, the longevity of fire and heat.

White oak holds a lot of moisture and requires one full year to season. If you try to burn it green or wet, you will get a lot of smoke and very little heat.

5. Osage Orange 

We have reached the last one on the list for the hottest firewood. Osage orange is a contender and is not easy to find. It is tough to split and does not grow very tall. However, if you are looking for heat as hot as hell’s toe jam, you will never be disappointed with Osage orange.

A lot of people think of this as an annoyance. It produces large fruits that the animals do not even want, and they end up all over. It contains thorns, and if it is cut down, it will quickly shoot off several thorny offshoots and continue to grow.

If you can split some cords of Osage orange to use as firewood, it will need to be seasoned for approximately one year. Some people say to burn it after six months, but it is recommended to season it a little longer.

The wood will get incredibly hot. There have even been reports from those that have had damage to their log-burning stoves when using this wood. So, this is definitely not fireplace-burning wood. The sparks from it will look like the 4th of July, and it throws sparks continuously. 

The sparks are due to the sticky, thick sap that remains even after being fully seasoned. The sap burns as the wood burns, which throws off an endless display of sparks.

What Will Be Your Choice of Firewood?

In the end, it will be your choice for the best firewood to burn in your wood stove, firepit or fireplace. Keep in mind to choose wood with low moisture and high density. This will ensure that your fire will be amazing and your guests will thank you.