Choose the best wood to burn
“Can I burn anything?” – that’s a common question asked by customers of James the Sweep. It makes sense to burn clean wood (never with plastics) and it should not be wet because that can cause more soot in the chimney, more air pollution and cost you money because it is less effective. This list (below) should help you understand the different burning capabilities of types of wood. Remember that wood should always be burn at a higher rate for efficiency. It should also only be burnt if the wood has a moisture content of 20 per cent or less (use a moisture thermometer to check).
Alder – Poor heat output and doesn’t last very long.
Apple – Steady slow burn when the wood is dry. A good heat output with a small visible flame and pleasant odour.
Ash – Excellent burning wood. It gives a great heat/flame output and also burns when green. Best heat output gained when wood is dry.
Beech – Good heat output but only fair when wood is green. This wood is prone to shoot embers whilst burning.
Birch – The heat is good but the wood burns quickly, however a pleasant odour is produced.
Cedar – Produces little flames but great heat and a wonderful odour. Provides a splendid noise when burned.
Cherry – A slow burning wood that produces good heat and a pleasant odour.
Chestnut – Produces small flames and normal heat, prone to shooting embers.
Douglas Fir – Poor with little flame or heat.
Elder – Generates a lot of smoke and burns very quickly, not much heat.
Elm – Commonly offered for sale and needs storing for two years before burning. Even when dry it is liable to smoke.
Eucalyptus – Good dense hardwood, should be properly seasoned before use but will produce good heat.
Hazel – Good to use.
Holly – Good, will burn when green but best when kept a season to dry out fully.
Hornbeam – Comparable in many aspects to Beech.
Laburnum – Totally poisonous tree, acrid smoke, taints food, best avoided altogether.
Larch – Crackly, scented and fairly good for heat.
Laurel – Has a brilliant flame.
Lime – Poor. Burns with dull flame.
Maple – Good to use.
Oak – Does not produce very good flames and the smoke is acrid. However, dry old oak is excellent for heat, burning slowly until a whole log collapses into ash.
Pear – Provides good heat and an extremely pleasant scent.
Pine – Burns with a splendid flame but is liable to split.
Plane – Burns pleasantly but is naturally given to throw sparks if very dry.
Plum – Good heat and aromatic.
Poplar – Not recommended.
Rhododendron – The thick old stems, being very tough, burn well.
Robinia (Acacia) – Burns slowly with good heat, but is unfortunately accompanied by an acrid smoke.
Spruce – Burns at an extremely fast rate and creates many sparks.
Sycamore – Burns with a good flame and moderate heat, unless green.
Thorn – One of the best woods. Burns slowly, produces great heat with very little smoke.
Walnut – Good, and so is the scent. A very aromatic wood.
Willow – Poor. In a dry condition burns slowly, with a little flame. Liable to spark.
Yew – Has a slow burn with great heat and a pleasant scent.