The Best Firewood for Winter Heat

Reader Contribution by Heidi Hunt

It’s that time of year again when folks who heat their homes with a woodstove or just enjoy the occasional use of their fireplace think of laying in a hefty supply of cordwood.

If you have not yet ordered your year’s supply of wood, before doing so you may want to consider how much heat the wood you burn will produce. The efficiency of a woodstove is based on many factors, among them are the dryness of the wood and the kind of wood being burned. For a quick hot fire the best wood is a light weight soft wood such as pine. If you want a fire that will give a steady heat and last a long time, then a hardwood such as oak is your best bet.

The chart in the Image Gallery of this article tells the BTUs per cord of 27 varieties of hard and soft woods. It also includes ratings for ignition and smoke produced when burning.

But no matter what kind of wood you burn, if it is not aged properly it will not produce the optimum heat. Green-cut wood needs to be seasoned for six to 18 months, depending on the kind of wood. And stacking the wood in the most efficient way will speed up the process, allowing the sun and wind to dry the wood.

A cord of wood is 128 cubic feet or a stack 4 feet wide by 4 feet high by 8 feet long. A ‘face’ cord is 2 feet wide by 4 feet high by 8 feet long. You can stack your wood in this kind of rectangular shape on in more fanciful arrangements. But however you stack it, be sure to place the wood so that there is sufficient airflow between the pieces to encourage drying.

You can read more about firewood and logging at

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