There is nothing quite like a winter night in with a cozy log fire burning away. At Firewood Farm, we think there is nothing quite like a wood burning stove. But we get so many questions about exactly what types of Firewood someone should use in their wood burning stoves. With so many different wood types available, we’re here to help narrow down exactly what firewood you should use.
Understanding the Characteristics of Beech Logs
The first wood type that we will take a detailed look at is Beech Logs. Beech is a hard wood that commonly grows throughout Europe and North America. Although there are up to 13 different species of Beech, they all act nearly exactly the same so this should not be taken into account when choosing which type of firewood to use.
Beech is a wood type that usually takes one to two years to season but this is often sped up by many companies that sell firewood by kiln drying the logs first. Kiln drying is when wood is added to a kiln to remove the moisture. Lowering the moisture content is essential to provide a hot and clean burn.
Beech logs burn cleanly and effectively whilst also giving out a pleasant aroma. Beech logs are also extremely dense and will therefore burn for a long time. An average beech log should burn for well over an hour whilst also giving out a pleasant flame. The drawback to beech logs however is that they can be easier to start a fire with due to the hardness and density of the wood. This can be combatted by using plenty of kindling or using a softer type of wood to help ignite the beech. It should be noted though that beech is still not quite as dense as oak logs which are famous for it’s burning longevity. For this reason, many people see beech logs as a happy middle ground between burning for a long time, whilst still able to get a fire lit and burning.
The Distinctive Warmth of Silver Birch Logs
The next firewood type we will look at is silver birch. Silver birch trees can be found anywhere from Western Europe, right through the way to China. It is famous for it’s white or silver bark which can make it stand out from many other trees. In addition, silver birch is a very light colored wood and can often be told apart from denser types of wood such as beech or oak.
Silver birch makes a great starter wood as it is extremely easy to light. This is because silver birch is a lighter, less dense type of wood than beech or oak whilst still retaining hard wood properties. As well as being easy to light, silver birch also provides an excellent flame and can look extremely good in decorative wood burning stoves. They also give off a neutral aroma which means no nasty smells will get into the livings pace when burning this type of wood. This is especially important if you are burning logs in open fires as opposed to a enclosed wood burning stove. Silver birch logs will normally burn for an hour although will offer excellent heat output.
Enhancing Your Fireplace Experience with Oak Logs
The next type of wood we will look at is Oak. Oak is an extremely heavy and dense wood that can make for an excellent choice for your wood burning stove. Oak is a type of hardwood that is native to both Europe and North America. There are also many different types of species of oak throughout the world and whilst the wood burns in similar ways, it is interesting to note the extreme variety of oak trees that can be found. In the UK we mainly think of oak as large, strong and ancient trees but there are actually many different types that can be found. For example, in hotter climates, the Quercus ilex can be found which is actually an evergreen tree (it does not lose its leaves in winter). It’s also highly adaptable to heat shocks and can survive in regions with far less water than what we may think normal oak tress consist of. However, the vast majority of oak firewood sold within the UK consists of the traditional oak trees that we all know. The variety that is famous for its longevity, hardness and deciduous properties. However, if you are burning wood for a visual affect then oak is not likely the best choice. Oak logs produce a much smaller flame than all of the other types of wood in this article so if visual appearance is your priority, you are better off with other wood types such as ash, beech or silver birch.
The actual burning consistency of oak is what often sets it apart from other types of firewood. Oak firewood is very dense and will burn extremely slowly. You can expect to get up to two hours of burn time with oak kiln dried logs which is the highest of all the types of firewood that we will look at in this article and also that we sell. Oak is the densest firewood that we sell and it shows by it’s popularity. However, the drawback of oak is that is takes a long time for it to get going. It will need an already hot fire to ignite properly and even then, it will need sufficient heat to keep the fire burning and to stop the oak logs smoldering.
Why Ash Logs are Good for Burning
Ash is found throughout the northern hemisphere. In North America, ash is most commonly found towards the East Coast whilst in Europe, ash is found throughout western and eastern Europe. Ash dieback has had devastating consequences and some regions have lost over 90% of their trees. It is claimed for example that all the ash tress on the Mississippi river have been killed. Further, to stop the spread of the disease, many areas in Europe have taken the decision to fell trees as a preventative measure.
There is hope however, as some ash trees in the UK for example have started to show signs of resistance, a full 10 years after the disease was discovered. But although this is good news, it could take many more years before resistance becomes widespread enough to stem the tide of the dieback.
Ash firewood is perhaps the best know firewood for burning. It is a hardwood like all of the others but is famous for having a perfect balance between burning longevity, flame and ease of lighting. It is probably the nations favorite type of firewood but Dutch elm disease has made sourcing ash logs extremely difficult. There have been significant restrictions placed on the transport and access to ash which is why it is often hard to find a reliable supply.
The Best Logs For Your Wood Burning Stove
Ultimately, there is not really any ‘perfect’ log. It depends on your specific circumstances and the type of fire you have. Oak logs for example will burn for a long time with excellent heat output, but they do take a long time to get going and the visual appearance of the flames can be lacking. In contrast, silver birch is the opposite with a high flame but lower burn time. For this reason, many people believe that ash or beech wood has the best compromises of all the firewood types we have covered here today and are both an extremely reliable choice to use on your fire. However, the advantages of silver birch and oak should not be discounted heavily.