The perfect antidote to “the February blues” is huddling near a warm, cozy fire. Icy temperatures and snow can’t reach you when you’re gathered around your wood-burning fireplace. This comfortable haven from the winter weather all starts with the fuel, with the wood. Have you ever thought about what type of wood you should be burning in your fireplace? Does it really matter what you use?

Dry, Seasoned Wood

The most important requirement for firewood, regardless of what tree it comes from, is that it should be dry and seasoned. Fresh, unseasoned wood contains a lot of moisture. Such wood is more difficult to light, creates much more smoke and increases creosote buildup. Using dry, seasoned wood eliminates these problems, ensuring a safer and more pleasant burn.


Hardwoods make great fuel for fires. Not only do they tend to create a more enjoyable fire experience, but they are also better for the health of your fireplace. Hardwoods release more heat, are more energy efficient and create less creosote buildup in your chimney.


Oak is generally considered one of the best woods for fireplaces. Oak creates a hot, slow-burning, long-lasting and even fire. The wood is also fairly abundant and can be found almost anywhere in the country. The only limitations of oak are that the wood must be seasoned at least a year and may take a little patience to light. However, the resulting blaze is certainly worth the wait.


Like oak, maple makes good firewood. It burns slowly and evenly once properly seasoned. Unlike oak, hard maple is found mainly in the northern United States.


Birch logs give off a beautiful flame. However, unlike oak and maple, birch burns quickly. Because of this, when building a birch fire, you will need to keep more fuel on hand.


Softwoods, like fir and pine, season more quickly than hardwoods. However, they also burn more quickly and leave more creosote deposits than hardwoods. Fir tends to have fewer sap pockets and create less creosote buildup than pine and so makes a better softwood choice.

So Which Should I Use?

Generally speaking, hardwood is the way to go. Hardwoods are better for the health of your chimney and create a slower, hotter burn. However, if possible, it is a good idea to keep both hardwoods and softwoods on hand for your fireplace. Using a mixture of woods allows you to control the burn and the heat of your fire so that you can safely enjoy your fireplace to the fullest.

Concerned that softwoods have caused creosote buildup in your chimney? Schedule a sweep with Brick + Ember Outfitters today.