When you are planning to build a fire in a fire pit, what you want are long-lasting, hot burning logs that also light right away. We will be exploring some of the best woods to use in fire pits in this article.
Everyone has been desperate at some point to have a fire at the last minute and used scrap wood from the garden. That wood is not the best wood at all to use in fire pits. It might be an easy and quick option. However, you are making it hard on yourself to start a cleaning burning fire with that kind of wood. Most likely you will also be annoying your neighbours by generating lots of smoke!
The best wood to use in a chiminea or fire pit is kiln-dried hardwood logs. The main reason why is that hardwood logs burn a long time due to the fact that it is a very dense species of wood. It is better to use kiln-dried logs since they provide a clean burn and very little smoking since the kiln drying process effectively reduces how much moisture is contained in the wood.
Does It Matter Which Type Of Wood You Burn In Your Fire Pit?
Although there are numerous safe wood options to burn in a fire pit, they do not all burn in the exact same way. Before choosing the type of wood that you are going to use, consider the purpose of your fire. Will you be cooking dinner on an open flame or is it strictly for ambiance? The answers to those questions will influence the type of wood that you choose.
Using the right type of firewood to burn will make the experience a lot more enjoyable for the people sitting around the fire and for the individual who is maintaining it. Select a wood that burns cleanly and is easy to ignite. That frequently comes down to the moisture levels and density of the wood.
Generally speaking, in terms of softwoods vs. hardwoods, hardwoods dry more easily and are denser. This means they will generate a steady, low-maintenance steady fire that will last for many hours, whether you are in your backyard or at a campsite. Softwood is not as dense. Although it is usually more affordable and easier to light, it burns quickly. This means you will need to purchase more wood as well as tend your fire more frequently. If you select the wrong wood it can result in the following:
Hard time lighting a fire
Excessive amounts of smoke
Dangerous embers or sparks
Potentially hazardous chemicals are released into the atmosphere, which puts both the environment and you at risk.
Before we start looking at some of the best firewoods to use in outdoor fireplaces and fire pits, let’s first spend some time discussing the kinds of wood that should never be burned.
The Environment Protection Agency (EPA) states that any wood that has been pressure treated, stained, or painted should never be burned. When burned, treated, and coated woods release toxins into the air. That means that most pallet, treated wood leftover from building a deck, and old fence boards should be disposed of or reused in a different way. Some wood pallets are fine to burn since they are not made out of treated wood. However, you need to ensure your pallets have not been treated before you break them apart and throw them into your fire pit.
Also, you should never burn plywood, particleboard, or driftwood since when they are burned they may also release toxins into the air. The EPA also says that moldy, diseased, rotted, or wet wood should never be burned in a fire pit or fireplace.
Generally speaking, softwoods should be avoided such as cedar or pine, which has a tendency to burn quickly and produce excessive smoke. Although these woods can be used in a fire pit, you will use a lot more wood, and when used in a fireplace, most likely more creosote buildup will be generated.
Side Note: Although the focus of this article is on the best woods to use in the fire pit in your backyard, note that there is an extra rule to follow if you are taking a road trip or going camping. Local wood should always be purchased at your destination to only use at that destination. Don’t take home wood from your camping trip or bring home any leftover wood purchased at the destination. When moving firewood, you could also inadvertently be moving invasive pests.
Hardwoods: The best wood to use in fires is arguably Hardwood like Oak. Compared to other woods, hardwoods burn longer, and also burn cleaner which means less residue and smoke is created compared to the other woods. They are denser woods that result in a long-lasting, stronger, and hotter fire being produced. Hardwoods tend to be hard to ignite. Therefore, a starter wood, like a softwood, might be the best way to get your fire started, and then hardwood can be added. Due to the characteristics of hardwood, you will not have to attend to your fire as often. It will create a warm and relaxing atmosphere for your guests and you while enjoying the flames from your fire.
Examples of Hardwoods: Dogwood, Hickory, Birch, Fruit Trees, Ash, Hickory, Oak
Certain Softwoods: Seasoned softwoods, in some cases, might be a good choice of wood. As previously mentioned, it might be appealing to you to use seasoned softwood for your kindling. These woods, like fir, have a tendency to ignite fast, providing a pleasant aroma, and help to ignite the hardwood that you are adding. However, it can become burdensome to use softwoods for your entire, as we will be discussing in this article in a later section.
Seasoned Fir: Softwood Example to Use as Kindling
Seasoned Woods: The secret to a great fire is seasoned wood. What this means is the wood has seasoned and had a chance to sit, and is not recently cut lumber. Wood that has been cut recently hasn’t had enough time to season. It will trap moisture and sap that makes it hard to ignite the wood. It is said that the liquid contained in unseasoned oak measures up to 3.330 gallons. The appearance of the wood can help you determine whether it is seasoned wood or not. The bark detaches easily, and there is no leaking sap when there is peeling bark. The wood will be cracked and dark in colour. When wood is seasoned and dry it will be lighter in weight compared to freshly cut wood since the water has evaporated.
What wood should you not burn in a fire pit?
Green Woods: These woods are the opposite of what seasoned woods are. Greenwood refers to lumber that has been cut recently and hasn’t dried yet. It will not easily ignite. The wood contains logged water that makes it frustrating to try to burn. After greenwood is ignited, its flame is smoky and fast. This results in needing to have a lot of wood to keep your fire going. You will not be able to sit down and relax and simply enjoy your fire since you constantly need to tend to the flame and smoke. Greenwood does have a fresh-cup appeal and the bark is hard to peel. If possible, wood should be allowed to season for 6-9 months. That means that most wood for sale that was cut this year should ideally be used in your fires next year.
Softwoods: Typically, softwoods are not as dense as hardwoods and are easy to ignite. As previously mentioned, some people might prefer to use seasoned softwood for their kindling. However, over the course of the fire’s life, softwoods have a tendency o burn quickly and leave behind no or few coals to help to restart the flame. Softwoods also generate a lot of flying ash and smoke. Other than to use for kindling, softwood is not the best choice for a hot and long fire in a fire pit.
Construction Wood and Drift Wood: Neither of these types of wood should be used in fires since it can result in dangerous circumstances. Driftwood has a tendency to soak in water and salt. Moisture is looked inside the wood which makes it hard to ignite. Also, harmful chemicals might be released by the salt-water saturation when it is burned. The EPA has warned against driftwood being burned since it can potentially cause toxicity. Construction materials should never be used as firewood. A majority of the lumber that is made for construction projects is dipped in chemicals so that temporary mildew can be prevented during the construction project. The main source of wood that is used in construction is processed lumber such as pine. Harmful toxic smoke can be produced if these woods are burned.
Wood with Vines: Outside woods with flower or vine growth should not be used as firewood. Most flowers and vines on wood tend to be safe, but should not be used as a fuel source. If the wood has poisonous plants on it (such as Oleander, poison sumac, poison oak, or poison ivy) the poison is aerosolized if these plants are burned. The toxic smoke is inhaled by the people near the flame and poses serious health risks, including even potential death.
Which wood is best to use as kindling in a fire pit?
We recommend Cedarwood. It s a great wood to use as kindling since it burns fast and generates plenty of heat. It makes it easy for your main stack of wood to get going. Since Cedarwood burns so quickly and hot, it is not recommended as the main fuel source for a fire pit, and instead just to start a fire.
It is better to use softwood as kindling since they burn so fast. If you can, see what wood is on your property and being to collect a stock of dry kindling.
Wood Pellets: A Green Alternative Option to Burning Wood Inside a Fire Pit
If you are worried about burning firewood for the environment’s sake, consider Brian Grady’s invention. He invented fire logs. These are steel baskets that are the size of small logs that are able to withstand temperatures up to 1400 degrees Fahrenheit and have been designed for burning wood pellets. Wood pellets can be burned in a fire pit because the fire log allows it to burn and promotes the correct airflow at the same time.
You will need: logs, kindling, and firelighters
Place a firelighter in the middle of the fire pit. Use two if you would like a bigger fire. Put a few bits of kindling on both sides of your firelighter.
Like Jenga! Stack another two bits of kindling. They should be in the opposite direction of the first two and put on top of them. Leave a gap in the middle of the stack.
Then make a third kindling layer that is stacked in a different direction than the first two. Keep going if you think it is necessary. f you only put one firelighter in the middle of the stack originally, you may want to put another firelighter in a different area in the kindling stack.
Now light the firelighters. Start on the ones that are the farthest away from you. Let the fire start to burn the kindling. Then place a log carefully on top of the stack of kindling after you have a stable flame. Let the flame be taken by the log and start to burn correctly before any additional logs are added to the fire.
The last step is to add more logs to your fire when they are needed.