A lot of people don’t really think twice about the wood they burn in their fireplace. To some people, all wood is created equal. This is not the case, however, and the type, size, shape and moisture content of your firewood can have a huge impact on the quality of your fire.

Why is the type of firewood I burn important?

The type of fire that you burn is dependent on a fuel source. If you are using a wood burning fireplace, then this fuel source is, obviously, wood. It makes sense then to think that the quality of your fire is dependent on the quality of the wood used to fuel it. Different qualities in your wood can determine your fire’s heating efficiency as well as its cleanliness. So, what are the qualities of a good wood fuel?

Tree Species

The species of tree that your wood originated from has an impact on the efficiency at which your fire burns. Hardwoods like ironwood, hickory and oak burn slower and hotter. Because these species are so dense, they contain more energy relative to volume. This doesn’t mean softer woods like spruce, pine and poplar are bad to burn. In fact, these species make excellent fuel in the autumn and spring when you don’t need as hot fires to keep warm.


The moisture content of your wood can also determine the health of your fire. You want your firewood to have around 15 – 20 percent moisture before it’s burned. To get firewood to the right moisture level, it usually needs to dry for about a year. This is called seasoning the wood. A well-seasoned wood will burn hot and clean, meaning there will be little smoke coming from it. When your firewood isn’t seasoned enough, it releases more smoke and chemicals which can lead to creosote buildup in your chimney.


The size of your firewood is also important. Pieces that are 20 inches long and about 3 to 6 inches across are generally the best size for burning indoors. These size pieces generally are easy to ignite and burn at a good temperature. Larger pieces are harder to ignite and may not fit in your fireplace properly while pieces that are too small may burn quicker and hotter than you would like.

If you have any questions about what types of firewood you should be burning contact one of our fireplace experts at Northeastern Masonry & Chimney. We can advise you on what is the best type of firewood for your wood burning system.