The Top 5 Woods to Burn This Winter
Welcome to one of the most highly debated wood burning topics!
There are many trees throughout the world that make brilliant firewood. In North America you’ve got Hickory and Locust which are both highly valued and well loved, in Scandinavia they’re great lovers of beech and here in a cold British winter, we’ve an abundance of Birch and ash which burn hot and fast and offer great value for money.
In our quick guide, we want to make one thing very clear - hardwood that’s been kiln dried is the way to go!
Hardwood has a high heat output that can’t be replicated in soft woods and drying it in a kiln reduces the moisture content to below 18%, in most cases this is lower than seasoned wood. So lets get to it! We’re going to propose some wonderful tree types perfect for your log burner!
1. Kiln Dried Ash Logs
Density ***** Heat Output **** Longevity *****
In at number 1, Ash. OK, so you might be thinking “well of course your wood types are # 1 & 2”, but… there’s method behind our choices, that’s why we supply them after all! Ash is an exceptional wood, and we say “buy it while you still can!”.
Ash is an incredibly strong and tough wood, which is why over the last hundreds of years, it’s been the ‘go to’ for building the frames of vehicles, from old horse carriages through the the beautiful classic Morgan car. Even to this day it’s still used by Morgan due to its lightweight, flexible and durable qualities.
Ash’s popularity of course though is due to it’s qualities as one of the best firewoods in the world, not least because it has one of the lowest moisture contents amongst trees. In fact the moisture content is so low from a newly felled ash tree that it can be burned without being seasoned (not that well though). Of course, it’s going to be much better when it is kiln dried properly.
We mentioned in the first paragraph “buy it while you still can”, this is because sadly the Ash tree is under threat from nature (not man!). In many European countries ‘Ash dieback’ otherwise known as Chalara is killing the Ash tree. Chalara is a fungal disease which impacts the vascular system of the tree making it inept to draw nutrients up into its upper branches. You can, read more about this at the bottom of this blog post.
2. Kiln Dried Birch Logs
Density **** Heat Output ***** Longevity ****
In at a close second is Birch, the national firewood in Scandinavian countries of Norway and Sweden. Here, birch seen as the ONLY go to option! In the UK, the most common type of birch tree is the silver birch and the white birch Birch. These trees grow tall and straight making them a woodchoppers dream as it can be cut quickly and perfectly to fit most wood burners. It’s important to dry birch quickly as it can degenerate rapidly if mould gets a hold of it.
Because it’s fine grained and pale in colour, it’s sought after for good quality tables, chairs and other furnitures. Like ash, it’s another very ‘hard hardwood’ which adds the the properties that make good furniture.
One of the the things we love most about birch is how it behaves in the fire. With tall flames, a soaring heat and no glowing sparks to spit out into the room, birch always makes for a real fire!
Birch bark makes a great fire starter because of its similarity to paper and has a unique slightly sweet smell which most people find pleasant. Birch is perfect if your logs will be on display due to its silvery flaky bark. We recommend Birch if you're having occasional fires and want fast high heat. They're excellent when burnt with other slower burning logs.
3. Kiln Dried Beech Logs
Density **** Heat Output ***** Longevity ****
Denmark’s national tree, beech (fagus) is a slow grower but gets to huge heights once mature. At the ripe old age of 400 years, some beech trees can grow to over 125 feet tall and 5 feet in diameter! Beech is the leader in terms of heat output giving a sensational 3,000 kilowatt-hours per cubic meter. This is around 1,000 mj/kg more than the others listed on here.
Similarly to birch, beech is tough and light in colour making it a popular choice by furniture makers over the centuries. Because it’s not as attractive as birch, it’s more commonly used for furniture framing or for flooring and engineering purposes. The bark is dry and firm which means it doesn’t flake off and leave little bits of bark around the fireplace like ash can tend to if you’re not careful.
Beech has a high water content so needs a little extra time to dry in the kiln. If you’re thinking about seasoning beech, allow a couple of years instead of one, but preferably buy kiln dried if you can.
4. Kiln Dried Oak Logs
Density ***** Heat Output **** Longevity ***
Oak is a popular 4th choice and can be found on some of our competitors websites. One of the grandest and most attractive trees we have in the UK, the oak tree compels to wow and awe children and grown ups alike.
It has a rich history and it has a couple of attributes that made it popular to use by old shipbuilders. The crooked bends and shapes of the oak tree along with it’s hardness and toughness allowed them to create bespoke components of boats such as the ribs with greater ease and effectiveness.
But what’s it like as a firewood?
It’s heating value is high, it’s easy to split and it gives off a lovely scent of honey. Once up and going it’s a good option, but it doesn’t burn quite as well as the woods mentioned above and can leave one a little uninspired contrary to when it’s standing tall. The flames are not as great and it can take much stoking and fanning to bring it to life.
The oak tree has a similar density to ash around 500-550kg per cubic metre. In our opinion, lets leave our grand old oaks to be gazed and climbed upon for generations to come.
5. Kiln Dried Maple Logs
Density ***** Heat Output **** Longevity ***
When thinking maple, I automatically think ice hockey! And the Toronto Maple Leafs take their name from their signature national tree, the iconic maple leaf can also be found on the Canadian flag. The maple is a wonderfully handsome tree, even more so in the autumn or fall when it transforms into a majestic orange masterpiece.
The use of maple (other than burning) over the years is far more unique than the woods mentioned above. The bright shimmering colour and the qualities that maple possess, such as sufficient weight, resonance, stiffness, and sturdiness are needed in the creation of fine stringed instruments.
It has a really high heat output of nearly 3,000 kilowatt- hours per cubic metre second in this article only to beech. Maple is much harder to come by particularly in the UK as it’s not commonly found here. It’s thick branches make it difficult to cut and a time consuming process. These two problems makes maple hard to come by. That being said, if you’re able to get hold of kiln dried maple this season, it’s a great 5th wood burning option.
So there we have it!
Your Top 5 Woods to Burn This Winter as recommended by logsnearme.co.uk. Remember, once you’ve bought your preferred choice of logs, there are loads of really interesting things to learn to help your wood go further!
Why are ash trees running out?
You might have seen some news stories about something called ash dieback disease. This has been impacting ash trees all over the world.
It was first found in the UK about 8 years ago and it is a fungal disease that quickly spreads from tree to tree. In fact, it is estimated that it is going to cost the UK £15 billion. This figure includes not only taking down infected trees but also the overall cost to the ecosystem.
Ash trees that have been impacted by this disease usually die and are unusable and it spreads quickly to surrounding trees too. It also causes a danger to the public and animals.
Throughout Europe there have been millions of ash trees that have been impacted and they have been killed by the spread of his disease. It has had a devastating impact in America where millions of ash trees are dying as well.
Why ash logs are great for burning
The reason that ash is ideal to use in your wood burning stove, fireplace or chiminea is because it has low sap levels so won’t produce much smoke and it burns for a long time too.
Typically ash logs can burn for 5 - 6 hours if you set up your fire to light properly. (link to How to start the perfect fire?)
So in a nutshell - ash logs that have been kiln dried are ideal for burning because they offer longevity, a high temperature and don’t produce much smoke so you get a clean burn.
Ash logs for sale - using sustainable firewood
You might think that this fungal disease means that ash firewood is incredibly hard to come across.
Even though ash dieback - or chalara dieback of ash as it is known - is becoming very widespread and poses a huge issue, you can still buy ash firewood.
At Logs Near Me we source all our ash and birch logs from sustainable forests where they have been legally harvested. We are committed to ensuring that all our products are from sustainable high quality sources and are environmentally friendly when burned.
If you are looking for ash logs for sale and aren’t too sure how much you need then have a look at our beginners guide for more information.