Best wood for wood burning stove fuel

Best wood for wood burning stove fuel

When it comes to wood-burning stoves, all woods are not equal. The type of wood you choose to burn can have a big impact on your experience.

The aesthetics, scent and sound of your stove can all be affected by the wood you use. But perhaps most importantly, the efficiency of your wood-burning stove will vary dramatically depending on your choice of fuel.

Ideally, you want to use a slow-burning wood. This will provide an even supply of heat over a sustained period. Holly, for instance, is a fast burning wood. Although it gives off good heat, it is more efficient to use something that burns slowly.

As a rule of thumb, hardwoods are slower burners than softwoods. Their bigger mass means the same sized log will take longer to burn than if it was a softwood, such as spruce and pine. That results in less time spent reloading your stove and far greater fuel efficiency.

Pine is also a bad choice as a fuel due to its high resin content. Woods containing a lot of resin can cause sticky residue to build up in your stove and flue.

So, which wood should you use in a wood burner?

Here are our top 10 wood fuels.

the top 10 woods for wood burning stoves

1. Ash
Ash is widely considered to be just about the ultimate wood fuel. It gives off good heat and burns steadily. It performs well when freshly cut in comparison to other woods, but is even better once seasoned.

2. Oak
Another widely sought after fuel, oak burns slowly and generates long-lasting heat. It should be seasoned for two years before being burned.

3. Beech
Burns similarly to ash, but not quite as efficiently. It has a high moisture content, so it needs to be well seasoned before use.

4. Cedar
A fairly unimpressive burn visually, but it does give off a good amount of heat.

5. Hawthorn
Hawthorn burns slowly and gives off great heat. If you’re collecting your own, you need to watch out for those nasty thorns.

6. Blackthorn
Blackthorn is very much like hawthorn.

7. Maple
A good all-rounder, maple burns slowly with decent heat and a great flame.

8. Rowan
A nice, slow burner.

9. Apple
As well as burning slowly and without spitting, apple gives off a nice scent.

10. Pear
Very similar to apple.

Whichever wood you choose to burn, remember to allow it to season first. This reduces the moisture content in the wood, so you get a more efficient burn and less creosote build-up in your flue.

Read more on the importance of using seasoned wood.

34 thoughts on “Best wood for wood burning stove fuel

    • Hi Jordan,
      YES I have recently used these from ( Aldi ) and they are only £2.99 for eight , they burn for a long while and they are every bit as good as logs ( in my opinion ) ..
      = /\ = ..

  1. Hi Jordan

    We know they work well for lots of stoves and have stocked them in the past. Probably worth a quick look at your stove manual to double-check if the manufacturer has anything to say about using them.

    Thanks,

    Gr8Fires

  2. If you can find it, hornbeam is a good wood too (some people -including my Dad! – say it is the ultimate): dense, good lasting ambers (better than beech I’d say), slow burner and visually bright flame. It has a twisty grain, so not valued for woodwork, but excellent to burn once dry.

  3. Alder has not been mentioned. It probably falls into the “medium quality” category: it burns longer than pine but not as well as ash or oak. Although initially containing a lot a of moisture, this dries out rapidly and wood can be burnt after just one full spring/summer seasoning.

  4. I have recently moved to the Eastern Highlnds of Zimbabwe and we have a lot of wattle trees. This is what we are currently using in our wood burners. How does this fair in terms of its performance ?

    • Hi Josephine

      It’s not a wood we have much experience with, but the indications are that it’s a good, slow-burning hardwood and an excellent choice.

      Thanks.

    • Hi Brian,

      Both woods are toxic but consensus seams to be that, as long as your stove was installed well, this shouldn’t be a problem. Consult your stove manufacturer for confirmation, though.

      Thanks.

    • Rhododendron wood is a great insecticide and pest repellant , I don’t see why the wood cannot be used as fuel though .. so long as this is wood then I cannot see why not eh ? .. probably repellant to pests from the onset eh ? ..

    • Also, I am undecided if this wood can be used after burning to repell pests / diseases from the soil as when rhododendron is a natural repellant when in the wood state , i.e. branches or logs .

    • Hi John

      It contains toxins, so some people advise against burning on that basis. It’s also a very resinous wood, so if you did decide to burn it, it would need to be really, really well seasoned to ensure that resin didn’t cause damage to your stove.

  5. Hi, learnt this 60 years ago in the scouts., .These hard woods burn well and slowly,,Ash ,beech,hawthorn,oak and holly ,- soft woods flare up quick and fine,, Birch ,fir,hazel,larch and pine, .. Elm and willow you`ll regret , , chestnut green and sycamore wet . think that`s right

    • Well remembered after 60yrs Brian! I too was taught this in Girl Guides about 25yrs ago and I remember it exactly as you did. Although like Gr8 Fires says, my experience of holly has been quick bright fast flame….ok, I lost my eyebrows….but no sustained burn.

  6. I have a number of wood pallets that have been stored undercover for several years. Now that I have a spanking new multifuel burner can I use this well seasoned free fuel?

    • Hi Gron,

      It depends whether they are treated or untreated. If treated, the chemicals could cause damage to your new appliance when burnt.

      Thanks,

      Gr8Fires

  7. In all your advice about what wood to burn,you never seem to mention kiln dried timber.This is the best and safest surely.

  8. I will be sawing down a large dying Laburnium tree probably this year I know its a hard wood so will it burn well >

  9. Hi
    I bought 10 ton of wood 2 years ago. It had been cut into 4 foot lengths and stacked. Will it season ok like that.
    David

    • Hi David

      Ideally it would be chopped a bit smaller, but obviously the longer you leave then the moisture will gradually evaporate.

      You could use a moisture meter to check how it’s doing. Ideally you want 20% moisture content or less.

      Thanks,

      Gr8Fires

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