Best Burning Wood: Heat Values and Best Burn

Best Burning Wood: Heat Values and Best Burn

The essence of fire extends beyond the mere vision of flames — it taps into an age-old sensory experience that has been woven throughout history. From the roaring fires of grand fire pits to the soft flicker of a wood-burning stove, the experience is deeply rooted in our collective history. The comforting warmth, the radiant glow, the whispered stories shared — all of these hinge on the kind of wood you use.

With so many types of firewood available, it's essential to understand the inherent qualities and differences among them. This knowledge ensures not only a memorable fire experience but also one that is efficient and eco-friendly.

Which Types of Wood Are Best for Burning?

The allure of gathering around a fire is timeless, a sensory experience that holds a unique charm. The quality of this experience is deeply rooted in the type of wood you choose to burn. For instance, hardwoods, typically characterized by their denser structure, stand in stark contrast to their resinous softwood counterparts. 

As a result of their higher density, which is a byproduct of the trees’ slower growth rates, hardwoods like oak and hickory not only exude more heat but also sustain their flames for an extended duration. 

This lies in the wood’s ability to store energy. Denser wood effectively packs more energy per unit volume, leading to a hotter and longer burn.

The moisture content in wood also plays a pivotal role in determining its burning quality and its environmental impact. Wet or green wood produces more smoke. 

This is due to the energy it takes to evaporate the water content. This process doesn't only result in a smokier fire and reduced heat output, but it also elevates carbon emissions, negatively impacting the environment.

By meticulously drying our wood using our ultra kiln drying method, we ensure the moisture content is significantly lower than standard kiln dried or seasoned wood. This process not only accentuates the inherent qualities of hardwoods but also demonstrates our commitment to the environment. 

With minimal smoke production, the burning wood effectively harnesses its full energy potential, minimizing environmental footprints. The result? A fire that not only burns efficiently but also radiates sophisticated warmth and elegance.

What Are Heat Values and Why Are They Important?

As the flame's enticing glow beckons, the secret behind its warmth lies in understanding heat values. At the heart of this concept is the BTU, or British Thermal Unit, which measures the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of a pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. 

This intrinsic energy provides the inviting warmth and captivating glow that draws us near. The heat value of wood, often measured in BTUs, is an indicator of its heating prowess. The higher the BTU value, the more warmth and comfort the wood provides.

The heat value determines the wood's heating efficiency. Essentially, the drier the wood, the higher its BTU. Why? Because water content within the wood demands energy to evaporate. When the wood is dry, this energy instead is directed at producing a radiant, consistent flame. 

Beyond the sensory delights, the heat value has profound environmental and economic implications. Efficient burning wood, with a high BTU, means fewer logs burned for the same warmth, leading to cost savings. Environmentally, it means reduced deforestation and fewer emissions. 

What Are the Characteristics of a "Clean" Burn?

The best firewood burns the cleanest — the result of a harmonious balance of elements coming together in the most optimal way. This type of desirable burn occurs when using good firewood with low moisture content. 

Unlike seasoned firewood or wet wood, properly dried wood reduces creosote buildup, that tar-like substance that can accumulate in chimneys and flues. Not only can an excessive buildup of creosote increase the risk of chimney fires, but it also impedes the free flow of smoke, disrupting the serene experience one seeks from a fire.

Less smoke production is another hallmark of a clean burn. The primordial allure of a fire should not be marred by billowing, acrid smoke. Instead, the fire should produce a soft haze, enhancing the ambiance without becoming an irritant. Efficiency is the driving force here. 

A clean burn ensures that the majority of the fuel — our premium wood — is effectively converted to heat, leaving only a little smoke. This level of efficiency not only warms our surroundings but our souls, connecting us back to ancient times when fire was central to community and survival.

A clean burn also ensures fewer particulate emissions are produced. These tiny airborne particles can have environmental and health implications. By using high-quality, ultra kiln dried wood for a clean burn, we help preserve both our planet and our well-being.

Which Woods Offer the Best Heat Value?

The canvas of the perfect fire isn't painted with just any wood. The best types of wood have different characteristics, with some truly standing out for their exceptional heat values.


A classic choice, our Premium Oak Firewood offers a dense and durable burn. Known for its slow-burning longevity, oak provides consistently good heat over extended periods, creating an inviting atmosphere that encourages intimate conversations and moments of reflection.


Among the heavyweights in heat value, our Artisanal Hickory Firewood is renowned for its rich and robust burn. This type of hardwood produces a hot fire, promising a heat output that is both impressive and enduring. 

Although oak is a great firewood, hickory is better in every way. It burns hotter and longer, smokes even less, starts easier, and has what most consider a better aroma.


Beyond its appealing, mild sweetness, our Wild Cherry Firewood delivers a balanced burn. While it might not possess the sheer force of oak or hickory, its consistency, alluring red glow, and pleasant aroma make it a favored choice for those seeking both warmth and a welcoming aromatic ambiance.


An underrated gem, our Apple Firewood offers a steady and moderate burn. Its unique characteristic is the subtly sweet and fruity aroma it imparts, adding an extra layer of sensory pleasure to the fire experience.

In essence, the choice of wood is both an art and a science. It's about finding the perfect balance between heat value, aroma, and burn duration to craft an experience that is as memorable as it is warming.

The Takeaway

The beauty and significance of a fire extend far beyond mere flames. It is an age-old tradition, a symbol of community, warmth, and shared memories. However, the majesty of this experience, its radiant warmth and enticing glow, is deeply intertwined with the wood used to fuel it. 

High-quality wood defines not only the burn but the narrative of every gathering around the fire. It influences the longevity, aroma, and overall sensation of the experience, ensuring moments shared around the burning fire remain unobstructed. As stewards of this timeless ritual, Cutting Edge Firewood prioritizes the best wood, crafting an eco-friendly and efficient burn without compromise. 

For nights illuminated with cherished stories, laughter, and unmatched warmth, let Cutting Edge Firewood illuminate the way. From kindling to firewood, your perfect evening awaits!


I’m Glad You Asked: The Story of Hardwood and Softwood | UC Botanical Garden

British thermal units (Btu) | U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA).

Particulate Matter (PM) Basics | US EPA


About The Author

Leroy Hite

Leroy Hite is the founder and CEO of Cutting Edge Firewood, an ultra-premium firewood and cooking wood company located in Atlanta, Georgia. Leroy's mission is to give people the experience of the perfect fire because some of life’s best memories are made in the warmth of a fire’s glow. He founded Cutting Edge Firewood in 2013 with a goal to provide unmatched quality wood and unparalleled customer service nationwide. The company offers premium kiln-dried firewood, cooking wood, and pizza wood in a wide variety of species and cuts to customers around the country.