A fire crackling in your living room's fireplace imbues a true winter ambiance in your home, just as a bonfire on the beach can make a summer night complete.
And who doesn't love finding the right wood for a barbecue?
But if you've ever used wet wood, wood that hasn't been properly seasoned, or the wrong type of wood, you know how frustrating starting a fire can be.
So to keep the flames flickering, we've prepared this guide to the best types of wood for burning in a fire that you can turn to all year 'round.
Like a fine Scotch, the most important factor is that they've aged long enough to easily split with your log splitter and burn in a fire.
Why Do Some Woods Burn Better?
Every type of wood is made up of the same building blocks, which includes compounds like lignin and cellulose. What differs is the space between wood fibers and how much moisture and air the wood contains.
The woods known as hardwoods don't have a lot of space between their fibers. They're extremely dense and heavy, which means that a fire built with hardwoods has a lot of fuel to burn through.
As a result, hardwoods burn slowly and produce substantial amounts of heat. That's why you'll see them listed as some of the best kinds of woods to burn:
Softwoods are less dense and won't burn as long as hardwoods. However, because they burn so quickly, they're often considered great for starting a fire:
Conifers like pine trees are considered to have soft wood, so they also will make for low-burning logs. Pine logs in particular contain high amounts of sap and so might be messy to burn, especially if they haven't been properly seasoned.
No matter which types of wood you burn, there are important safety tips to keep in mind:
If burning wood inside, have your chimney inspected and cleaned annually
Use a carbon monoxide detector when burning wood inside, and never burn green, unseasoned wood inside due to the increased carbon monoxide risk
Avoid burning treated lumber, as it can contain potentially toxic chemicals
With these safety tips in mind and the right type of wood in your firewood rack, you can look forward to making any season bright.