Is Aspen the Best Type of Wood for Making Campfires?

  • By: CarlBroadbent
  • Time to read: 6 min.
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Are you planning to head to the campgrounds any time soon?

Then it would be a great idea to find out beforehand how to make a campfire and what type of campfire burns the brightest.

One thing to learn when it comes to creating such fires is which wood type is the most appropriate.

Aspen wood for campfires
Aspen wood is not the best for campfires

Aspen is arguably not the best type of wood for making campfires. Oak and ash are two more suitable wood types due to their high burning times. However, aspen can be ideal for specific situations since it burns quickly, meaning that it is a good option if you want to make a fire at night that will stop after a few hours.

Though we know now that aspen isn’t necessarily the best type of wood for campfires, it is still handy and has excellent qualities for making fire.

To help you understand aspen and its potential as firewood, let’s look in detail at aspen and some other wood types.

Is Aspen the Best Wood for Campfires?

(Best Camp Firewood) In Detail

Although aspen isn’t the best wood for fires, it can still work well for your needs.

In this section, let’s cover aspen and its characteristics in-depth.

A Guide to Aspen (Populus tremula) Trees

Aspen looks similar to birch trees and is white in color.

It is a lightweight wood but is strong enough for people to use when making wagon foundations.

You can often find aspen thriving in open sunlight and slightly wet soil. Aspen does not grow well in shady environments and prospers as part of colonies.

Aspen tree for campfires
Aspen tree

Native to colder climates, aspen is often part of tree clusters in the northern hemisphere. They grow to reach around 50 to 100 feet in length, making them relatively tall trees.

Aspen is not too flammable, meaning that it is a great type of wood for making things such as matches.

Aspen has a pretty low heat output, indicating that it is not as suitable to use in colder environments.

For Example – If you live in a relatively hot area with little snowfall, aspen would be a good firewood option.

However, if you live in a colder area, other wood with higher heat outputs would serve as much better firewood.

Other Types of Wood

Several types of wood can be good for making campfires, including:

  • holly
  • hazel
  • oak
  • and ash

All of those types of wood are hardwood.

WoodDescription
OakOak is one of the most popular wood types on the market for firewood. All oak species are strong, durable, dense, and resistant to insect infestations. It is a heavy wood resistant to tearing, and we often use oak for making furniture, doors, decking, etc.One problematic aspect of oak wood is that it can require a lot of time to season. However, if you purchase oak directly from a provider, the provider may have already put the wood through the seasoning process.
HollyHolly comes in a pale white color with almost no pattern. You can burn holly green; however, it is usually more famous for making decorative items than it is as firewood. Holly trees are rarer than oak or ash due to the slow growth rate and the smaller maximum size in which holly can grow. While it depends on your location, holly can be more expensive.
HazelHazel is a wood type with very high durability and elasticity. It proves to be great for campfires and even wood burners. Hazel burns quite quickly, though it is still not as famous for firewood use as oak.
AshAsh is a smooth wood that can come in various shapes, sizes, and colors. Like oak, ash is a durable and strong wood type. Despite its strength, ash is also quite flexible, indicating that it is an excellent option for creating instruments and laying down flooring.

What Makes Specific Wood Types Good for Campfires?

Wood comes in various species, structures, strengths, and durabilities.

Oak and ash wood for campfire
Oak and ash wood for a campfire

One aspect that makes wood different and makes one type of wood better than another for a fire is whether it is hardwood or softwood.

Hardwood vs Softwood

It is a general rule of thumb that hardwood makes for better firewood in comparison to softwood because it is denser, and the fire can burn for a longer time period.

Hardwood can also create stronger fires in comparison to softwood. However, this is not the case with all types of hardwood.

Heads Up! Poplar is not suitable for use in a campfire. When poplar burns, it produces a thick smoke that can be highly inconvenient on campgrounds. It also creates an unpleasant bitter odor that isn’t ideal if you intend to cook with your campfire.

Lastly, poplar can also produce a lot of sparks, which is not too safe around young children.

Water Absorption

Wood is hygroscopic and can take in moisture from its surroundings.

However, different types and wood species can have different water absorption rates. 

Wood types with low water absorption are good for campfires since they are more convenient to work with during high humidity or rain.

Oak is the best wood for campfires on cold, wet, and rainy days.

Other types of wood that are water-resistant include cedar and teak. These wood types last a long time and can naturally repel moisture. 

Process for Making a Campfire With Aspen

To reiterate, the answer to ‘is aspen the best wood for campfires? (Best campfire wood ) is no, not really.

Campfire with aspen
Making campfire with aspen woods

However, if aspen is in abundant supply in your area, it may be the best and cheapest alternative.

If you choose aspen to make a campfire, then there are a few simple steps you can follow.

Start with choosing a location away from trees, bushes, or anything in nature that may get in the way.

Ensure that your tent or any personal items are also not too close.

Use a gravel or dirt surface to build your fire and keep it away from strong winds or moisture.

Retrieve your aspen wood and place it on the ground, making a pyramid shape. Inside should be your tinder so that it can start burning easily.

Use a firestarter to burn the wood and let the fire continue to grow. Add in more wood if you need to keep the fire burning for longer.

Frequently Asked Questions

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What Kind of Wood Burns the Longest?

Hardwoods, in general, burn the longest.

Specific types of hardwood that burn for a long time include oak, hickory, cherry, and walnut.

Since oak is slow-burning, to help you get the best campfire, you can combine it with faster-burning woods such as aspen.

Which Wood Burns the Hottest?

As with wood types that burn the longest, hardwoods also burn the hottest. Wood types with high heat values include apple, birch, ash, and hickory.

Depending on your location, apple is often in short supply and can be expensive, so a more convenient option for you would be ash.

Which Wood Burns With the Least Smoke?

To ensure that your wood does not produce a lot of smoke, it has to have already been through the wood seasoning process.

After seasoning, ash is the wood type that burns with the least smoke. You can also season ash relatively quickly, making it a convenient option.

Conclusion

The best wood for making a campfire is oak, not aspen.

Oak is long-lasting, burns strongly, and is popular across several states, making it more accessible.

If you are going camping anytime soon and want to choose the most practical type of wood, then consider using oak or a similar hardwood.

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