Wood Burning | Top 10 woods to burn

Wood burning has been a mainstay of civilisation for centuries. Our ancestors used wood fuel for an array of applications including cooking and heating.

This has changed in recent centuries but the premise remains the same.

Our appliances have developed and the way in which we use them has changed.

However, we still rely on wood to generate warmth and in some instances cook our food.

This article aims to outline the top 10 best wood to burn and the best way to burn it.

Wood Burning 

Which wood burns best?

Let us set our stall out and let you know the best wood to burn and how best to burn it! 

A moisture content of less than 20% should apply to all logs to make them ‘oven ready’ 


A hardwood that is considered the best for burning; it gives out a good flame
and heat. Further Ash will burn when green, however, it is never a good idea to burn green wood in a woodburner. 



Beech is considered to be a rival to ash. It needs to be we seasoned and dry and can spit embers when it burs so is best to use on a wood burner. God flame and heat are a bi product of burning well seasoned beech wood. 



Birch is a hardwood that produces a good heat but it burns quickly. The smell is
pleasant. Birch is fast growing and is readily available as a wood fuel. 



Thorn is a hardwood that produces a good heat but it burns quickly. The smell is
pleasant and it is ideal for use in wood stoves. Not widely used as it is not processed as a wood fuel. 



Cherry is a hardwood that burns slowly, generates significant heat and produces a pleasant aroma. Not widely available or commercially produced as a wood fuel. 



Oak does not provide much in the way of flames but properly seasoned oak will burn steadily for long periods and produce good heat. 



Cedar is a softwood that will burn well when dry. Ideal for use in wood burning stoves but not produced as a firewood. 



A hardwood that gives out good heat and a lovely aroma. Not widely produced as a wood fuel as it is expensive. 



Maple is a hardwood that is ideal for burning, it burns solwly when dry and gives off reasonable heat. 



A hardwood that gives good heat and a nice flame. However, this is not commercially produced as a firewood. 


Wood Burning | Which woods are available to buy?

Ok, so the above wood speeches may be great for burning to have made it into our top 10. 

However, only certain wood species are commercially produced as wood fuel. 

In the UK, we produce a considerable you nt of wood that is destined for use as fuel 

However, these fuels are not limited to wood logs. 

Importantly, wood fuel production spans other products such as biomass and briquettes. 

The firewood market is growing rapidly driven by demand form modern wood burning stoves. 

Commonly, wood fuel is derived from popular species such as birch, ash, oak and other mixed hardwoods. 

The processing and management of wood fuel is an important factor in sustainability. 

At Hot Box, we believe that the use of domestic, air dried wood fuel, is the most environmentally beneficial means of using wood to produce heat. 

The cost of wood fuel

Interestingly, the costs of wood fuel have remained stable in recent years. 

Sources state that wood is a very cost effective means of home heating. 

Interestingly the results from studies show that wood fuel is: 

  • 77% cheaper than an equivalent electric fire. 
  • 29% cheaper than gas, this number is likely to be higher more recently. 
  • 43% cheaper than oil, again, the real cost of oil heating has jumped more than 100% over the last 6 months. 
  • 50% cheaper than LPG, again, this number is likely to be higher. 

On average, a wood stove user will burn around 3m3 of wood logs in a season. 

The annual costs associated therefore when using seasoned hardwood logs will be £255.00/annum. 

Add firelighters into the mix such as Hot box firestarter and, based upon an average of 100 fires in a give season, you can add a further £168.00 to this total (4 x 27 packs, inclusive of delivery) 

In total therefore, an average wood stove user could spend £423.00 to keep their fire burning over the course of a year. 

Interestingly this equates to just £35.25/month. 

Proper use and storage of wood fuel 

Importantly, if you are considering using wood as a fuel then how you go about using and storing it is important. 

According to HETAS,  as wood burning stove user should have the space available to store 1m3 of wood logs at any one time. 

Further, a log store should be a covered area which allows the fuel to dry further in the air. 

Recently, owing to initiatives such as Woodsure, the wood fuel market has undergone a clean up. 

Now, only certified suppliers who are stringently vetted re able to supply consumers with logs for use as wood fuel. 

If you are purchasing wood logs for fuel then you will need to find a Woodsure approved supplier or retailer. 

The initiative relates to moisture content of wood logs. 

A moisture content of less than 20% is the benchmark for ‘oven ready’ wood fuel. 

Such moisture contents can be achieved in two ways. 

  1. Kiln drying | A process by which wet timber is dried in a kiln to quickly lower its moisture content. However, at Hot box, we consider this to be a waste of energy and not in line with the ethos of wood as a sustainable heat source. 
  2. Air drying or seasoning | Proper storage of wood fuel in the open air to allow it to naturally dry over a period of time. An example of this would be to split logs, stack them undercover and allow them to dry over a 12 month period before using them on a fire. 

To season wood logs, you will need to consider your practices. 

Rotation of fuel will invariably be necessary and pace will be required to do this. 

Wood logs that are seasoning should arguably be kept separate from ones that are for immediate use. 

Ideally, a wood stove user should purchase logs in advance and store them in an appropriate log store so that they dry naturally over the summer months. 

Wind, heat, and air flow around each log will help speed up this process. 

If you intend to season your own fuel, store as much of it as possible for a 12 month period and then rotate your storage facilities. 

Our recommendation for a seasons burning would be to consider a minimum of 3m3 of wood logs. 

Therefore, you will also need space for a further 3 m3 of wood logs for use that season.