Warming Feet by Fireplace

Firewood Type Matters

By Guest Writer: Gary Zagar

If you haven’t done so, it is time to stock up on firewood for the cold winter ahead!

Living room with wood burning fireplaceWhat constitutes good firewood?  Well, the first thing is to make sure it is dry and kept in a dry location.  If firewood is wet, it can cause soot or lung irritants like moss and mold which would not be good for the family.

The best wood type in my opinion is Hickory.  Black Locust is probably the ultimate firewood, but it is rare to find.  Hickory is a great plentiful hardwood that burns long and has a terrific aroma to it.  Hickory also burns very hot, so it has the trifecta as far as firewood is concerned.


The following is a list of wood types that would do well in your wood-burning fireplace:

  • Hickory – All types, it has a low spark potential and gives off great heat per cord.
  • White Oak – This oak is dense and burns hot
  • Red Oak – Not as dense as the White Oak but it smells great and burns medium
  • White Ash – Few sparks and pops, burns about as well as Red Oak.  Although good luck finding this as the Ash Borer is diminishing the supply of this wood.
  • Hard Maple – Another good wood, if there is a little moisture it will give a little snap, crackle and pop
  • Sycamore – Has a low snap potential but it is a softer tree, so it doesn’t burn as hot
  • American Elm – Elm is a hair softer than Sycamore and burns about the same and burns medium


Firewood in back of pickup truckBe sure to question your firewood supplier about the wood type!

Softwoods such as the Silver Maples, Southern Pines, Cottonwoods and Willows will really soot up your chimney.  They also can be dangerous as the snap, crackle and pop potential is high which can lead to a fire or burn you.


Here’s wishing you a chilly season full of warm cozy nights curled up by your fireplace.

Gary Zagar has been an expert in the turf industry since 1986.  His experience includes positions as a Director of Golf Course Maintenance, Director of Maintenance and a Landscaping Specialist in charge of 120 commercial properties.