I know it’s getting colder and the leaves are starting to fall, but I’m still thinking about how wonderful summer was and then what would be the best wood for a fire pit.
One of my favorite things we did this summer was spending time around a fire pit. We made smores, roasted marshmallows, and enjoyed each other’s company in the evening as the sunset over us.
It seemed like every night was more fun than the last!
As winter approaches I find myself daydreaming about these times and wishing for them again- which is why I wanted to share some info with you on what kind of wood to use for your fire pit so that when winter finally does get here, you’ll be ready!
If you’re anything like me then you want something that smells good while you are enjoying your company.
So what exactly is the best wood for a fire pit?
First, you want to make sure that the logs you are using aren’t too thick. The thickness is measured by diameter, and generally speaking anything over 10 inches will be difficult to light without some lighter fluid or charcoal starter. With that said, I would recommend staying with logs less than 5 inches in diameter to get started (or even as small as 3). If it’s too hard to light then don’t worry about this because it won’t be long until you’re able to build up your skills enough that you can master larger pieces.
Second, you want to make sure you get hardwood, not soft. This is because softwoods (such as Pine or Cedar) are extremely resinous and will fill your entire area with smoky smell. If you have ever walked into a home that smells like it has been burning pine, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. It’s not very pleasant.
It is also important that the firewood you get is kiln-dried because this is the only way to remove all of the water inside. The extra moisture will cause your logs to sputter rather than burn naturally and efficiently, which not only wastes wood but also produces smoke that has no place in pretty much any setting! Be sure to get a good brand of firewood that you can trust because if it has been sitting outside for as long as you are planning on burning it, then improper storage could have led to pests like termites.
An important thing we have learned from experience is that much like cooking meat on a grill – choosing the right wood makes all the difference. So let me share some of our most favorite types of wood for a fire pit with you!
Different Types Of Firewood
Pine is one of the easiest and cheapest woods to find, and it’s incredibly popular in many places. The reason most people go with this type is simply because it smells good – though there are a few other benefits as well. Pine will burn hotter than other types because it has more resin in it. This is great if you’re wanting to roast marshmallows or cook hot dogs as fast as possible, but generally speaking, I wouldn’t recommend using pine unless you want the smell to linger longer than others. It also burns slower than maple making it perfect for keeping things warm late into the night. One problem with Pine though is that it will pop and spark a lot – which can be a forest fire hazard that you want to be extremely careful to not start. For this reason if people are using pine, you should never use it outside, rather only inside in a fully contained heating stove.
Ash is another type of popular firewood. Ash has an incredible ignition rate and burns really hot which makes it perfect for cooking food over the open flames. The only real drawback of ash is that it will burn down to coals much quicker than most other woods and can leave them rather messy to dispose of later on.
Maple firewood is a type of hardwood you can find easily in most places. Because of this a lot of people think that it’s the best wood to use for a fire pit. It burns really slow and produces good heat and not too much smoke which is great for keeping things warm all night long! Because it burns so slowly, maple also makes an excellent choice if you want something that will be able to resist flame-ups (the spouting sparks from pine or other sappy logs). Maple has no resin in it making it more difficult to start – but one thing about hardwood is that they always burn cleaner and longer than any other type.
Another type of wood you can use is oak. Oak is another very popular type of wood to use for fire pits because it burns longer than most types. It won’t burn as hot as some other woods though which makes it perfect for when you want to sit around and just enjoy the evening while hanging out by your fire pit with friends or loved ones. If you’re roasting anything then this one will get the job done!
Juniper is without a doubt one of my favorite type of wood to use when making a fire pit if you can find it. It burns long and produces an amazing scent that I could sit and enjoy forever! In fact, my wife has already picked out some of this wood for me so I can get started on making our fire pit again in the spring. Juniper won’t burn as fast or hot as pine but still comes with the benefits of a wonderful smelling scent to compliment your cooking fires.
Hickory firewood is one of the most popular types of firewood you’ll find and with good reason. As a matter of fact, hickory is actually used commercially to cook meat because it burns so hot! It will get your fire burning fast and strong – but also comes at a price that is just as high as other types. It does have a very distinct smell that some people like or dislike. But if you are cooking meat like pork, chicken, or a steak over your fire pit, this is a great choice.
Wood is much like food- you get what you pay for. When buying wood make sure that you get high-quality kiln-dried pieces that will easily fit into your fire pit. It’s also fun to get a variety of different types and decide which ones give you the best smell. If you have space somewhere, you can also save money to buy a larger quantity of wood.
How to measure heat output in firewood
A firewood’s heat output depends on what type of wood it is. Different wood will burn at different rates – and here is how you can measure the heat output in each one.
1. Multiply the weight by 20 to get Btu per cord (British thermal unit). If the weight of a piece of wood is, for example, 10 pounds then its total energy content would be 200 Btu/cord if it were all completely burned. For smaller pieces though this number could be even higher!
2. Divide by 12,000 to get Btu per pound: so our same 10 pound piece now has 1667 Btu/lb compared to an average dry saw log which burns around 1875-1950 BTU
Here are some BTU’s of different types of wood.
Pine 1,750-2,000 BTU/Cord
Ash >3,500 BTU/cord
Oak >3.350 BTU/cord
Maple >3,300-3,500 BTU/cord
Hickory >4,850 – 5,400 BTU/cord (can burn up to 6000 BTUs)
Juniper >2,000-3,000 BTU/cord
So when you are picking out what kind of wood make sure that you know which types will burn better and for how long.
List of other things to remember:
1. Maple burns hotter but slower – Oak burns cooler but longer!
2. If using hardwoods in the fire pit, make sure they’re dried out completely or they’ll just smoke up your yard instead of burning well. The bark should be off and everything should be stacked outside laying down (you can cover the top with a tarp) so air can get to it as much as possible. You can saw half into a log if it’s too big to fit in your fireplace
Hopefully, these recommendations will help you out, and if they do be sure to leave me a comment below.