Best wood for fire pit ( We tested different woods )


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Picking the best wood for your firepit can sure be a head-scratcher. But don’t you worry! In this guide, I will give you a list of 14 top-notch woods for your wood-burned fire pit.

Now, you have to consider how the wood burns and how you aim to use them. As a general rule, hardwoods are the way to go for fire pits as they burn cleaner and longer, letting off less smoke.

Make sure the wood is properly seasoned. See, seasoned wood burns more efficiently and makes less smoke.

How do you season wood, you ask? Well, you have to split it, stack it up, and let it dry out for 6 months to 2 years depending on the tree species. Nature can do the trick by using the sun’s heat to season that wood. You can also go the artificial route with kiln drying.

When wood’s seasoned, it gets all faded in color, feels lighter, and is harder to split. Dry wood tends to show cracks too.

Dry wood is key to steering clear of that nasty creosote and soot buildup and for a safe burn. Soot’s just carbon that didn’t burn up, while creosote’s a sticky tar-like substance.

Our Recommendations

To start the fire

120 Eco-Stix Fatwood Fire Starter Kindling

100% All Natural Fire Stick Harvested From Leftover Stumps Of Pine Trees. 

Long Burning Wood

100% Natural Juniper Wood

Kiln dried, long burning, and sustainably sourced from the American Southwest

Understanding BTU

If you want to get a handle on fire features, you have to understand BTU. BT-what, you ask?

Well, BTU stands for British Thermal Unit. It’s a measure of how much heat a certain firewood can produce.

Every type of firewood has got its own BTU value. This value tells you how much heat energy that wood can produce when it’s all burned up. The higher the BTU, the more heat.

BTU values are not the same for every piece of wood. They depend on a few things; how dense the wood is, how much moisture it’s got, and what chemicals are inside. Hardwoods like oak and maple tend to have higher BTU values.

BTU values for firewood can range from around 15 to a mighty 30 million BTUs per cord. A cord is a big stack of wood that measures 128 cubic feet.

fire pit liners

Hardwood Vs Softwood

Wood can be put into two main categories: hardwood and softwood.

  • Hardwoods like oak and hickory are dense and pack a punch. When you burn them, you get yourself a slow-burning fire that’s intense and long-lasting. Plus, they don’t give off too much smoke. And some hardwoods like cedar even release a fine aroma.
  • Softwoods such as Birch, pine, and cedar are quick to ignite and burn fast. They’re real handy when it comes to starting up a fire or using them as kindling. But here’s the thing, they do tend to produce more smoke compared to hardwoods. Softwoods are more budget-friendly, but you have to keep feeding them as they burn up real quick.

Here’s a tip for you: mixing softwoods with hardwoods can give you a more efficient burn.

Best Firepit woods

1. Oak

  • BTU: ~28 million per cord.
  • Type: Hardwood

You can’t go wrong with some well-seasoned oak. There is a whole bunch of oak trees out there, each with its special traits.

We are talking northern oaks, southern oaks, red oaks, black oaks, white oaks, coast live oak, and valley oak. They’re spread out across the United States and Canada, so you can find them in different regions.

Oak logs pack a punch in terms of heat output. They have a high BTU value. They’re sturdy and dense, burning nice and slow. That makes them perfect for sustained fires. And the best part? Oak gives off minimal smoke, soot, and creosote.

2. Ash

  • BTU: ~20 million per cord
  • Type: Hardwood

Ash has remarkable burning qualities. It produces a steady and moderate heat with a vibrant flame. It is exceptionally durable, and dense resulting in a clean and long-lasting fire. White ash is particularly favored as firepit firewood.

3. Apple Wood

  • BTU: ~ 27 million per cord
  • Type: Hardwood

Applewood burns intensely and releases a pleasant aroma. It burns slowly, generating a substantial amount of heat with minimal smoke.

However, it can be somewhat harder to find and comes at a higher cost compared to other types of wood.

4. Almond

  • BTU: ~32 million per cord
  • Type: Hardwood

Although it is harder to find, almond wood provides a sustained burn with minimal smoke and minimal ash. Almond shares similar burn characteristics to oak.

5. Pine

  • BTU: ~16 million per cord
  • Type: Softwood

Pine is an affordable option. However, it burns quickly and is best utilized as kindling rather than wood for your fire pit. It may not generate as much heat as hardwood but remains a sustainable choice for firepits. Note that burning pine can lead to significant sparking and smoke production.

For optimal results, consider combining pine with other hardwoods in your wood pile.

6. Maple

  • BTU: ~24 million per cord
  • Type: Hardwood

Maple includes varieties such as sugar maple and bigleaf maple. It is an excellent firepit wood, especially for cooking. It is dense and slow-burning producing a long-lasting fire. It also has the bonus of producing a sweet aroma.


  • BTU: ~27.5 million per cord
  • Type: Hardwood

Beech is a dense wood that produces an intense heat output and a pleasant nutty scent. It burns cleanly with minimal smoke and sparks and is thus best used for open outdoor fire features.

It is important to ensure that you purchase well-seasoned beech as it tends to have a high moisture content.

8. Cherry

  • BTU: ~20 million per cord
  • Type: Hardwood

Cherry wood such as wild and choke cherry ignites quickly. It produces a pleasant aroma, making it a popular choice for fire pits, campfires, and smokers. It is worth noting that cherry firewood tends to produce more sparks than other hardwoods.

9. Black Locust

  • BTU: ~27.9 million per cord
  • Type: Hardwood

Black locust is known for producing minimal smoke and burning fiercely hot and long-standing flame. However, availability may be limited to specific regions, primarily in the southeastern US.

10. Hickory Firewood

  • BTU: ~27.7 million per cord
  • Type: Hardwood

Hickory is a dense wood known to burn hotter than oak and release a barbecue-like aroma. It produces minimal smoke and creosote making it an excellent option for fire pits and fireplaces and BBQs.  Shagbark, Pignut, Mockernut, and Bitternut hickory are the commonly used varieties.

11. Black Walnut

  • BTU: ~22.7 million per cord
  • Type: Hardwood

Black walnut is known to produce the least smoke when burned and is considered the best for low-smoke fire pits. However, it can be challenging to find.

12. Poplar

  • BTU: ~14 million per cord
  • Type: Hardwood

Poplar, aspen, goofer wood, or yellow poplar is a soft and lightweight wood that splits easily but has a lower BTU value. It burns quickly due to its low density but works well when mixed with higher-quality hardwoods.

13. Pacific Madrone

  • BTU: ~30 million per cord
  • Type: Hardwood

Pacific madrone burns hot and slow and creates a robust coal bed. It is suitable for both indoor and outdoor burning. Additionally, it releases a delightful aroma. However, it tends to lean more on the expensive side.

14. Osage Orange

  • BTU: ~33 million per cord
  • Type: Hardwood

Dry Osage orange wood is heavy, dense, and burns hot with minimal smoke with qualities compared to coal.

However, it tends to produce a lot of sparks and crackling, so it is best used for open outdoor fire pits. This is one of the hottest burning firewood on our list but is not commonly used surpassing the likes of oak and hickory.

What not to put in a Firepit

Now, you will have to be mindful of what you’re burning in that fire pit. There are certain woods and materials that you want to steer clear of.

First off, treated woods are a big no-no. Stay away from painted or stained wood planks, deck lumber, shipping palettes, and even driftwood. These woods have been treated with chemicals that can get released into the air when you burn them.

Next up, we got green wood. Greenwood is not fully dried or seasoned. Burning it can cause excessive smoke. It’s best to let the wood season for about 6 to 12 months after it’s been cut down. That way, you’ll have a much smoother burn and less smoke filling up the place.

Oh, and one more thing, don’t be tempted to use accelerants like kerosene or gasoline to get that fire going. Stick to natural fire starters and kindling, and you’ll be just fine.

To Sum Up ?

In the end, the choice of wood for burning comes down to availability and affordability. Different regions offer different options, so use what you can find at a reasonable price. While softwoods may require more quantity compared to hardwoods, they can still provide warmth when needed.

Oak is highly regarded for its high BTU rating, slow burn, and long-lasting fire, making it ideal for those overnight fires. However, don’t limit yourself to oak alone. There are plenty of other woods that excel in burning efficiency. Ash, elm, and various hickory species are just a few examples of woods that pack a powerful heat value per pound.

By following these guidelines and carefully selecting the right wood for your fire pit, you can ensure a safer and more enjoyable experience, whether you’re cooking or simply keeping warm by the fire. So go ahead, gather your wood, and savor the cozy moments around your fire feature.

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