What Is the Best Wood To Burn in Your Fireplace?

What Is the Best Wood To Burn in Your Fireplace?

The fireplace is the heart of the home. Lounging in front of the hearth’s amber flames brings about a sense of closeness and comfort that no other element of a home can bring. When you’re looking to ignite that sense of close-knit camaraderie, the key to constructing a flawless fire is using the highest quality, premium wood available. 

While there are multiple options available, choosing the right premium firewood for your fireplace does not have to be a difficult decision. If you’re unsure of where to begin your quest to find the optimal wood option for your home fireplace, this guide is for you so you and yours can snuggle up, enjoy the ambiance, and start making beautiful memories around the perfect luxury fire. 

What Are the Best Woods To Burn in a Fireplace?

A wood-burning fireplace is nothing without the essence of high-quality wood to burn in it. There are numerous options available, from the popular oak and hickory to the sweet-smelling woods like cherry. Before you head online to purchase your wood, it’s important to comprehend the basics to ensure you make the best choice for your perfect fire.

What Is Heat Value? 

If you want the optimal warm and cozy fire, then you’ll need wood with a high heat value. However, if the main purpose of your fire is to spread a wonderful woodsy scent throughout your home, then heat value may not be your highest priority.

Heat value is the amount of heat that wood gives off when burned. Woods that top the heat value list produce the equivalent of around 200 gallons of heating oil per single cord of wood. Some of the best woods to fit this need include hickory and oak.

Those with a medium heat value can replace nearly 150 gallons of heating oil. For instance, cherry wood offers a beautiful fragrance at this medium heat value. 

Types of Wood for Your Fireplace

Premium woods for fireplaces are often chosen based on their burn times, heat production, and beautiful scents. Three of the most popular types of wood include the following:


If you want a continuously steady, luxurious fire that burns evenly with low flames, then oak is your best option. Properly dried premier oak will produce a fire that invites a calm, relaxing atmosphere, making your fireplace the focal point of your home.


With a high heat value like oak, hickory produces a nice, steady flame that will help warmth to radiate throughout your home. On top of the unmistakable fresh scent of hickory, the wood has an extensive burn time, making it an ideal option for fireplaces.


The sweet aroma of cherry wood instantly draws people in and offers an aura of intense relaxation. Though cherry doesn’t have the heat value of oak or hickory, that is more than made up for by the quality and appealing scent of the fire that it produces.

How Can You Safely Burn Firewood at Home?

Fireplaces are very safe when they’re properly maintained and when you use the highest quality, absolute best wood available. Choosing the wrong wood, such as those that are too soft or not properly dried, can lead to excessive, unwanted smoke (or worse, a bug infestation) throughout the home and cause long-term issues with your fireplace. 

There are several factors to keep in mind when selecting the best premium firewood for your fireplace.

Choose Hardwoods 

Hardwoods have a longer burning time and produce more heat than softwoods. They also create less smoke, which is optimal for a home fireplace. 

The flames produced by hardwoods are large while still being easy to control and maintain, making them a safer option for your family. The wood also doesn’t leave behind flammable pitch and sap, which can be tricky to clean from your fireplace.

Use Dry Firewood 

It’s no secret that even if you can get wet wood to ignite, it does not burn well. It creates excessive smoke that will, unfortunately, fill your home. Wet wood will also produce creosote inside of your fireplace, which means you’ll need to get your fireplace professionally cleaned much more often.

On your quest for the best quality dry wood for your luxury fireside experience, the ideal option will have an internal moisture content of less than 20 percent.

Opt for Premium Woods 

When you’re looking for firewood to burn at your next gathering, start your search with kiln dried wood. Kiln dried firewood is processed specifically to remove moisture and improve the integrity of the wood, while seasoned firewood is typically just left outside to face the elements.

To elevate your experience, look for a company that prizes their wood just as much as you prize the elegance of a well-maintained fire. Look for companies that don’t let their firewood sit outside, hand-select their firewood, and offer multiple types of wood so that you can truly customize the ambiance of your experience.

How Should You Maintain Your Fireplace?

A properly maintained fireplace will provide a winter filled with safe, warm fires in your hearth, filling your home with welcoming, relaxing warmth and glow. 

The firebox, the part of the fireplace where the wood burns, should be cleaned every so often as the ash builds up. While it’s generally good to leave a thin layer of ash to protect the bottom of your fireplace, letting it build up too high can lead to potential safety concerns.

As a natural aftermath of a fire, no matter the type of wood that you use, creosote and soot will form. With a bit of soap and water, soot is simple to remove from the firebox and around the outside of the fireplace. 

Sticky creosote will require a bit more effort to remove. It should be removed once it forms a film of ⅛ inch thick or at the end of every fireplace season — if you leave the creosote, your chimney stands the risk of catching on fire. 

Removing your creosote buildup is as simple as calling a chimney sweep. These professionals can fully clean out your chimney while still protecting the integrity of your fireplace.

By taking the time to keep your firebox clean and the creosote at bay, you can focus on enjoying those warm, flickering moments rather than worrying about the state of your chimney.

How Should You Store Your Firewood? 

Finding the best place to store your premium firewood can be a simple process. Your premium firewood needs to be kept in a place that’s cool and dry while still blending in with the scenery. 

A shaded place in your backyard, the side of your home, or your garage are good options, and they’ll also keep your firewood close at hand for whenever the moment calls for a crackling fire. 

Make sure that the place you choose isn’t under a tree, because this can invite pests into the wood. These insects will enter your home when the firewood is brought inside — and it’s safe to say that it’s hard to relax by the inviting ambiance of a fire when you’re dealing with spiders, flies, or worse.

It’s also important to keep your wood stacked neatly atop a plastic or moisture-proof barrier. Since the wood needs to breathe, placing it in a firewood rack like our 30” Moon Firewood Rack can truly prime the wood for your perfect fire. 

Leave the sides of the wood exposed to the elements, and if your premium firewood must be outdoors during inclement weather, cover the top of the wood pile to ensure it stays dry.

How To Build the Perfect Fire 

The perfect fire in your fireplace begins with the right fuel: the premium wood itself. You’ll also need proper airflow to feed and spark the fire. 

Here are a few steps you can take to build the perfect fire that will not only keep you warm, but inspire a season of memories that you’ll reminisce over time and time again.

Choosing Kindling

While the tinder, such as straw or thin pieces of paper, is what you will initially ignite, the kindling is what transitions the flames to the firewood. 

Choose a tinder that ignites easily and is specifically designed for this purpose. While it can be tempting to use newspaper, the thin material can easily float away and pose a safety hazard — which is not something you want to worry about while you’re constructing the perfect fire.

Once you have your tinder set up, place about four pieces of kindling over top. Your kindling should be very dry and catch easily, providing quick and efficient fuel for your fire.

Light your tinder and wait for your kindling to catch.

Stacking Your Firewood

Once you have your tinder and kindling at the ready, it’s time to stack the wood. When you’re choosing your firewood, it’s important to make sure you’re using either medium-sized or small pieces of wood. If you choose a piece that’s too large, your fire (and your carefully curated experience) might get out of control.

Start by placing a medium-sized log in the front of the fire to encourage safety, and then place a small piece of firewood in the back. Place two more small pieces of firewood on the sides of the fire to help add height.

Once these pieces of wood catch, you officially have a warm, welcoming fire. You can keep stacking your wood with three or so pieces of wood per layer — just remember to leave plenty of room in between the logs. This helps the fire spread easier and makes sure that there’s enough oxygen for your fire to grow.

Creating the Perfect Atmosphere

Once ignited, prepare to stoke the flames with an iron fireplace poker to create a welcoming and cozy atmosphere. Put on a comforting movie, strike up a conversation about your day, or find a good book to add to the ambiance. 

For safety purposes, check to ensure that your chimney’s flue is open before starting any fire in your fireplace. Once the fire is burning optimally, place the safety grate and spark screen in front of the firebox to prevent any sparks from flying into your home.

The Bottom Line 

Setting up the perfect fire in your fireplace is a multi-stage process involving choosing premium firewood, knowing how to maintain your fireplace and chimney, and understanding how to set up the wood before you start the fire. By following these guidelines, you will be sharing elegant, inviting, cozy nights in front of your hearth all season long.

Here at Cutting Edge Firewood, we understand how important wood quality is when building a fire. When you want to make high-quality memories, you’ll need a high-quality fire. And, of course, this means you’ll need premium firewood. 

With our white glove delivery services and a multitude of premium firewood options, we’re here to help you craft whatever evening you desire.


Best Firewood: Heat Values and Wood-Burning Tips | Almanac

Solved! The Best Wood for Burning in the Fireplace | Bob Vila

Seasoned vs. Kiln Dried Firewood: Does It Burn the Same? | Family Handyman

Your Complete Fireplace Maintenance Checklist | This Old House

About The Author

Leroy Hite

Leroy Hite is the founder and CEO of Cutting Edge Firewood, an ultra-premium firewood and cooking wood company located in Atlanta, Georgia. Leroy's mission is to give people the experience of the perfect fire because some of life’s best memories are made in the warmth of a fire’s glow. He founded Cutting Edge Firewood in 2013 with a goal to provide unmatched quality wood and unparalleled customer service nationwide. The company offers premium kiln-dried firewood, cooking wood, and pizza wood in a wide variety of species and cuts to customers around the country.