Firewood For Heating – List of the Most Popular Wood for Burning

Firewood for heating

Awhile ago we conducted a reader poll asking what wood people burned in their stove for winter heating.

There’s quite a variety of wood species across the nation and chances are that you’re burning firewood that’s native to your region.

Some time ago I did some research on various firewood to discover their BTU value (BTU’s per cord). The list was fairly inclusive but not all inclusive. Here’s that list for your information:

Best Wood For Heating

I’ve taken additional firewood varieties from the comments of that article to make a longer list. So I thought it would be fun to put out a poll to discover what firewood that people are using for heating in their wood stoves.


Firewood Species For Wood Stove

POLL Results:

1. Oak
2. Maple
3. Hickory
4. Ash
5. Walnut
6. Cherry
7. Pine
8. Elm
9. Locust
10. Poplar
11. Douglas-fir
12. Birch
13. Cedar
14. Beech
15. Cottonwood
16. Aspen
17. Osage Orange
18. Spruce
19. Apple
20. Juniper

Most popular wood for heating


Heating Fuel Used In Your Home

Here’s another poll: Let us know which types of heating systems (fuel sources) are in your home. You can answer more than one.

POLL Results:
(prepper demographic)

1. Wood stove
2. Natural gas
3. Electric
4. Propane
5. Oil
6. Pellet stove

Most popular heating fuel


  1. There is no way to vote for “none of the above”

    I don’t have a fireplace or wood stove. My regular heat comes from natural gas, and my back up is propane.

    1. That’s okay, then don’t vote ;)

      This is for those who burn wood…

      Give me a minute and I’ll add an additional poll about what you all use for heating systems.

      …Okay – I’ve added an additional poll (should also be interesting).

      1. add another for the house for wood stove. I put propane, but we use the wood stove more than propane. Didn’t know we could chose 2.

  2. Don’t use wood now, but in a SHTF scenario I would building a wood heater. Most local wood is maple and elm. Lots of pine around, but too dirty/hazardous for a homemade heater from my understanding

  3. When we lived on the ranch we used Oak, and the pine was for kindling. Same for the baby sisters home, they recently switched out the wood stove for kerosun(sp). Believe that is what they have now.

    1. I use pine for the first fire of the day because it starts and heats up quick. I burn mostly oak after that but would burn prefer almond if it wasn’t so expensive. The one thing I hate about oak is the amount of ash it leaves.

  4. I burn mesquite wood only for several reasons. The BTU heat content is extremely high, the availability here in Texas is great, it has almost no smell and most importantly there is no creosote build-up. This an excellent wood to BBQ with, great taste. And finally, it gives me great pleasure to burn mesquite as revenge for the number of flat tires I have had from mesquite thorns. Mesquite has some disadvantages, it is so hard you can not drive a nail in it when it is dry and it never rots.

  5. Thanks Ken.
    We have propane for the forced air system and a propane fire place.

  6. We burn oak and hickory in our fireplace insert. That is, when we can find a firewood seller who shows up, has the right lengths, doesn’t try to short it on volume, and doesn’t try to pass off green for seasoned. We’ve done okay the last few years, but firewood sellers in this area are flakier than a box of Wheaties.

    1. Ozarks Tom
      So sorry you have had a problem with your firewood suppliers. Lest anyone think they are all lacking in the Ozarks, please know that we live in the MO Ozarks and have had great success with suppliers. However, we are still using the first two we tried but it has been going on 13 years and they still do a great job. Oak all the way and one fella will cut it to the length you need, deliver it and stack it as well. Not cheap but worth it.

  7. We have natural gas furnace in the house and a wood burner in the garage. Can’t talk DW into putting a wood burner in the house yet but the one in the garage will definitely go in the house if the gas stops running. We also have kerosene as a supplement to keep the gas bill down and as a backup.

    1. We burn whatever kind of wood we can get. Often times we will go to the local pallet factory and buy their cut offs. They stack them on a pallet and load them on your truck with a fork lift for $30. This works really good for an old broken down guy like me.

      1. A lot of the pallets in the old days were made of oak. I had a friend that had a planer and use to smooth out pallet slats and make some great furniture out of it.

  8. Just wondering how pyracantha burns. I cut down a lot of dead branches from a cold spell last year. Hate pyracantha, thorns are worse than even mesquite.

    1. Victoria

      Wood is Wood, AND you get the pleasure of burning those thorny little suckers HAHAHA

  9. Honestly, I am one of those people who can’t really tell what species a tree is. I can tell deciduous from evergreens and that’s about. it.

    Didn’t know I could vote for more than one (should have read the directions) source of heat. We have a propane furnace and a fireplace insert (wood burning) that I have been trying to replace with the woodstove we bought last year but so far have not been able to.

  10. I tell people I have a Pallet Stove, first question is arn’t Pellets expensive, “No I said Pallet Stove” and get this look of total confusion.

    In my little home of 1800 feet I have two wood stoves, I HATE buying Propane, and really dislike Forced Air Furnaces. Hence when I built my own home I installed two AC/Heater units (totaling 7ton of cooling and 220K BTU furnaces), an in-floor water heating system of 198K BTU, and the two Wood Stoves, I ya tell I don’t like to be cold?? Hehehe

    I call my Wood Stoves a Pallet Stove because I burn all the pallets I can get my hands on. I can literally drive through town each day and have a full PU full. These Pallets are everything from Oka, Hickory, Ash, to Pine and Poplar. I have a 14” Band saw set up with a table behind…. Works GREAT. And yes I also have a stash if Oak/Pine/Cotton-wood/Elm for Poops-And-Giggles. :-)

    I do chuckle at local people that pay from $250 to $300 for a pickup of firewood, or spend days on end driving to the forest cutting their own….

    Have probable 2-3 years cut up and another 500 Pallets sitting there. Again, I do NOT like being cold… LOLOL… FYI, no the nails do NOT burn as well as the wood 

    Good food for thought Ken, nice article

    PS; I also work construction; you have any idea how much wood “drops” come off a building site? Tis good to be the boss… HAHAHA

    1. I want to use the emoji that sticks out their tongue for you. We have to cut our own and all we have are Juniper and Pine. Don’t know how much longer my husband will be able to do it as he will be 80. Guess it keeps him young. I pull brush. We don’t really have any pallets anywhere close, We did invest in a wood spliter and I love that. It gives me great pleasure to see that wood broken up!

    2. I swing by the brush and leaf dump of a nearby city every so often. Have had good luck picking up oak and ash; some even cut to fireplace length by city slickers. Just load it up and split it at home!

    3. I almost choked when I saw 250 dollars for a pickup truck load of firewood. In the 90’s when I worked my grandfather’s saw mill, he sold the unusable wood for 50 dollars a pickup load…stacked and unloaded. My how times change.
      Because of my job now, I live in a pretty suburban area. I ride thru our subdivision the night before the city picks up lawn debri and my wood is free now.
      I rarely comment here but read everyday, love your site Ken.

  11. We have an electric furnace and a small wood backup stove,which we seldom use.The electric is so cheap on the budget bill,(same amt. monthly,year around) that I just save the wood for emergency.We mostly burn maple with pine as kindling,or for a quick warming fire.If all else fails,we have a big buddy propane heater for backup also.Our house is fairly small,so it should keep it bareable.

  12. We mostly use our Monitor heater which uses fuel oil (essentially the same as diesel). Nice thing is it can run the truck also. Alder and cedar are our list and we have some oak which we bought years ago. Redwood is not on the list and we have a lot of it. Truthfully we would use it more often but dealing with the wood ashes is a hassle.

    We were having our chimney cleaned and the fellow said, “You know, we can make this so you never have to clean the chimney again”. I asked how and he suggested that he could install propane. We said, “What happens when the trucks stop delivering it”. He didn’t have an answer. I pointed out all of the trees on the property and said we can heat for three more lifetimes than we have left.

    1. me,
      I like that summary of why not to have propane for main heat.
      We use NG now, have backups to set up propane, including separate heater, line and regulator… Have not prepared a flue for wood. But will have that option once another window is placed.. ability to remove it , put Tin insert , etc..all other stuff as needed to install, properly to run wood stove pipes thru…Triple wall stuff is highly expensive, but not as expensive as a burnt down house…Have heater available now.

  13. We have a full size wood stove in the kitchen family room area and a small Irish soap stone stove in the master. The house has forced air that is L.P. that we almost never turn on. The last wind storm blessed me with another 3 or 4 cords of oak that I need to get at. Wife wants to know how much fire wood do we need? Just smile and keep cutting, splitting and stacking.

    1. Southernman,
      I would love to have a small wood stove in the master bedroom/bathroom, It never seem to get quite as warm back there as I would like.

  14. Natural Solar Heatingis what I use. Guess I am lucky. Living in South FL I just let the Sun heat up the roof/attic of my home during the day and throw on an extra blanket at night for sleeping (if even needed). Haven’t needed to turn on the heater ever. Coldest my home ever got was 64 F that lasted from 5am then increased to 70F by 3pm. At least there is no chance of freezing to death around here. Although you could get hypothermia if outside at night soaked wet when temps hit 70F or below.

    1. So our heater requirements are similar to your air conditioning requirements in the summer ;)

      I’ve been in FL a number of times during the summer and man oh man I don’t know how you folks do it…

  15. Just helped my parents get two big loads (mebbe 5-6 cords) of split and seasoned Maple, Ash and BIrch into their basement in upstate Vermont. Its backup to the oil, but they keep the wood stove in the kitchen (a Vermont Castings vigilant model) going 7/24 from the first frosts of October through about April. Keeps the place toasty warm!

  16. We heat with wood and coal only, we get most of our ceder from the old homestead. DH works part time for a hard wood flooring company. He pulls a trailer up there for them to throw scraps in (that they would just burn) They also make biscuits ( it is like a large pellet) with the saw dust. They dump a lot of these over the hill when they have an excess of them . We live just around the corner from them so DH will bring a dump truck load home every now and then. You do have to be sure and cover they will disintegrate in the rain, needless to say we have a few piles of sawdust around the place. We don’t have to go get wood very often now that he is working up there, We do have a lot stashed back in the pasture ( I like to have a lot of extra on hand if we have a year that we can’t get wood for because of being , Sick or a broken bone or something like that.
    I do love my wood heat. I also try to do a little cooking on it in the winter.

  17. We have electric heat right now. But we burn wood in the heater in the greenhouse and the smokehouse. If the electric goes out for more then 2 weeks we will put the wood stove in the house. We burn locust in the building, it burns hot and slow.

  18. We bought a 150 year old house earlier this year and it has natural gas hookup (currently no working furnace, but we did buy one last week and it’s now sitting in the basement waiting for my husband to hook it up). We heated the house this past winter with the pellet stove that the previous owners had inserted into the living room fireplace. The master bedroom also has a fireplace but we haven’t tried it yet.
    The garage has a wood stove, the sauna/old shack in back has a wood stove and then in the back of the property there’s also a large stone cooking fireplace-I want to get it cleaned out and ready to cook on it yet this fall if I can fit it in.
    We have lots of heating options here, but unfortunately we’re surrounded by pines. Hate the darn things -such messy trees and are a poor burning option.

  19. Here in central Virginia we have heat pump and Insert. I love that thing. We burn oak and wild cherry and maple.mostly use pine for starter fuel just a little. We don’t get weather like Ken up north but here low 20 is cold to me.That wood insert will put you to sleep quicker than a adult drink.LOL

    1. Haha! I know what you mean… A pellet stove sits near my recliner (I also have propane fueled boiler & radiators throughout) and when that stove is lit it sure does bring on the shuteye when I kick back the recliner during winter evenings…

  20. We are blessed to have a plentiful supply of oak trees on our property. Last year’s pruning and cutting have now cured for this winters use. We cut it to size when trimming to stack and dry. We split the larger pieces as well and stack for next year’s use. We trim to prevent ground fires crowning into the foliage. We also have a good friend with a tree trimming business, and his guys “drop off”odd sized or smaller jobs of wood, for free! We feel fortunate.

  21. Wood is my only source of heat. I do 99% of all my work by myself includin wood. The boss lady does help with splittin. I couldn’t survive without my wood splitter. When I was younger I loved to swing a maul, or a sledge hammer, but those days are over. That’s most of the work I been doin in the last couple weeks, gettin it out of the woods and to the house and splittin so I can get it covered up and keep it dry. Slow goin when you look around and you’re the only one there…..haha….but I like workin alone. It’s surprisin how much wood you can burn when it is really cold.

    I love the smell of hickory and cherry. I burn anything except pine, although in a pinch I have burned a little pine here and there. On those cool nites or mornins when I need a quick short lived fire, I use poplar. I usually have an assortment of oak, hickory, beech, cherry, maple and poplar. It’s hard work but I like my wood heat. Another aspect of that sustainable thing, for me anyway.

    I love to sit outside at nite in winter, when it’s crystal clear and the moon’s bright, and it’s cold and watch that smoke comin out. Sometimes I sit outside and drink a cup of cofee when it’s 10 or 20 degrees, the boss lady thinks I am unbalanced. Her position may have some merit. I cancel outdoor observation when the wind’s blowin.

    1. Wood56gas
      Ur sense of humor cracks me up 😄
      I have a small wood burner and forced air propane furnace.
      Dead elm and now the dead ash is in abundance here. Does the job. GF’s dad had a dead Hickory. Ohh nice burning. Lots of ash though….good for the garden.
      Still swinging maul though till i can’t.
      Love the smell…especially a camp fire.

  22. I cut and split 25-35 face cord for my outdoor wood boiler to heat my 1850 built farm house.

  23. Hey, Ken. I have been reading your blog for years now, and I think it’s a great place to learn survival strategies. This is my first time commenting, though, because mostly by the time I read the topic of the day late in the evening, everything that needed said has been said.
    Today was different, I noticed that your list and the comments below lacked Madrone, also known as Arbutus menziesii, or Strawberry. Being a native of the Pacific Northwest, I knew that this tree burns (when properly cured) hot and long.
    I knew that you and the rest of the readers would like to know more, specifically BTU values, so I did some research on it and came up with this: 30.9 BTU’s per cord. Anyway, the site I found it on was firewoodresource dot com (a lot of info there). Hope this is helpful.

    1. Wow, thats serious BTU value up there with Oak! If not a little more… Thanks for adding to the list.

    2. I was looking on that site and it mentions Manzanita but doesn’t give the BTU rating for some reason. Living in Northern Cali I have burned quite a bit of it but the story is you never fill the stove with just that.

    3. seems a little high, but also that would be 30.9 million BTUs per cord or about 3500 BTU per lb.

    1. Great to burn. Almost zero ash! Won’t burn all night in my stove though like oak. I hate to have to start a whole new fire at 3-4 in the morning when I get up. With the oak I just stir the coals, throw on some soft wood like pine or fir and it fires back up. Then I add some more oak so the boss isn’t cold when she gets up

      1. We have a shortage of oak in Montana LOL. Fur and Larch are our best wood for burning.

  24. – Our house is natural gas, but we have an electric blower and currently, until we get it replaced, we have an electric stove (hate it). We have a couple of hundred gallons of propane stashed away, and an old Dearborn heater stashed in the garage that has jets for either.
    We have a Rumford-style fireplace in the living room, which will keep the entire house at 70° F when the power is out and we have blizzard conditions with snow and high winds in the area. For that, I keep about a cord each of pecan, which is technically a hickory, and mulberry. Mulberry is good for heat, as hot as oak, and freely available around here. It just doesn’t have a good smell when it’s burning.
    I also keep smaller amounts of pear, cherry, and mesquite around but I try to keep that for the smoker unless I absolutely must.
    I do have to cut 90% of my own wood with a chainsaw, but find that to be pleasant mental hygiene therapy. I do split some with a maul, but most is small enough not to need it.
    I did kind of laugh to myself when I noticed cottonwood on your list. When I was in the Boy Scouts, we regarded cottonwood as the mark of a Tenderfoot. In order to keep warm or cook on a cottonwood fire, you pretty much have to crawl into it. Granted, if that’s what you have, you use it, but we had far better choices.
    We also have elm, which we use outdoors, but I prefer not to use in the house when I have pecan available. The pecan smells much better.
    – Papa S.

    1. We have a bunch of cottonwood on our property, it’s worthless to burn! But we do anyway if one falls or we already have a good fire going.

    1. Nailbanger
      I about choked on my coffee reading that
      Too funny

  25. Ken,
    I read somewhere that branches give out more BTU’s than the trunk. Obviously we’re going to use the whole tree but just wanted to put this out there for anyone that might want to research it.

  26. So heres an interesting one,
    Ive been burning eucalyptus, it burns green,,, wierd, was shocked

  27. When I’m in the RV the only thing I really miss is the wood stove! Nice to have it back again. In the bedroom upstairs I have an electric fireplace.

  28. Old lady: Know what you mean about not knowing how long we can put up wood. DH will be 82 in 2 mo. We keep 3 yrs supply in wood shed so that should extend our time but we didn’t get any up yet this year so we are down to 2. Guess we’d better get at it. We have been selling wood as well but this year will only be what is left from last year. We burn poplar & have propane as back-up. DH cut down an old Russian willow this year & it looked like it would be good wood but it is really hard to get to burn so we won’t be wasting any more time & effort on those.

  29. The best wood you can burn is fully seasoned wood. The drier, the better. And, there is no such thing as too much firewood. I am up to 24 cords stacked on pallets, covered with old sheet metal roofing, and tarps. Haven’t burned anything less than 5 years of seasoning age in years. Seasoned wood burns hotter, longer, and cleaner, no matter what kind of wood it is. I keep a couple tons of coal on hand as well as a couple hundred gallons of propane, but those would be for the forge and the cook stove if things went south. I like arbutus, locust, apple, and cherry, but Douglas fir is the predominant species out here on the left coast. Wood heat warms you up three times. When you cut it and haul it home, when you split and stack it, and finally, when you throw another log on the fire.

    1. OLD SCOOL

      I must correct you Sir, with all due respect, Wood warms you 4 times, in addition to the three you mentioned, the Forth being when ya Clean out the Ashes for another fire :-) :-)

      Don’t forget the Kettle of Pork and Beans on the Wood Stove for a good longggggg cook, yummmmm

  30. We burn mostly pecan and mesquite. Pecan is my favorite smoke smell. It always reminds me of Christmas.

  31. Hi all .
    Just an update on my rocket stove style water heaters. They work extremely well and really use very little wood. My Grandson helped me set up 3 of them. (Hanging out and working with me is his elective class. )
    They each have their own burning area but the Grandson thinks we should use a recirculating pump and have just one burning. He thinks we should make a central clothes washing area close to the showers. He figures we should put at least 3 washers in and figure out how to dry clothes using rocket stoves. He will make a good engineer. Came up with drawings and everything. He’s also good at spending copious amounts of my money too!LOL!!
    They are very efficient those rocket stoves. Worth researching for a grid down scenario.
    Simple design really and inexpensive to make.
    Uses small branches and sticks of any wood.
    I’m looking at the whole house stoves /heaters they use in South America.
    Let the Grandson decide between this and the electric bike he wants to build.
    Not sure how I became his elective but it is kinda fun to see him get excited about building and fixing stuff.
    GEEZ, I’m working harder now than ever…

    1. Bill

      Grandson……I have one too…..I have an 18 year old grandson. I could not be more proud of that young man. I think the kind of traits you refer to are born in us. I truly believe a lot of it can be learned. A lot of it can’t be learned.

      From the time I was 14 till about 33 I was a rabid bird hunter. the birds didn’t have rabies, I was mad about bird huntin. For those that are not sure what a “bird” is, here in the south that is a bobwhite quail. If a poiintin dog does not have “bird sense”, I don’t care what you do, you cannot give it to him. You might “teach” him to play a tamborine and while standin on one foot.. You cannot give him “natural bird sense.”

      I am a reasonably fair copy of my maternal grandfather, I am talkin about the inherent stuff. I have nowhere near the knowledge, my daughter is a little too much like me, I can see an unbelievable parallel with my grandson and my grandfather. I am not talkin so much about what he has learned, which is impressive for his age, but the way he is made, his personality, the way he thinks about this, that. or the other, the way he approaches a difficult situation. the way he conducts himself in general. He may not know how to do somethin, but he assuredly knows how to figure it out by himself and make a decision about what to do. If all else fails, he is man enough to ask for help. but not before he has given it all he’s got

      I love to see the wood smoke roll out the pipe in the winter. Sometimes I sit outside at nite in the winter in the cold enjoyin the outdoors, crystal clear nite…. “chillin”…hahaha……..3 or 4 years ago, I saw him watchin the smoke when when we stepped outside one nite. I said, “whatcha doin?” He said. “I like to watch that woodsmoke comin out.” hahahaha Its uncanny.

      . It is amazin to see. I am extremely lucky to have a front row seat to watch it.

      Sounds like you feel the same way.

      1. Wood56gas,
        It is. He’s tall for his age . Everyone thinks he’s 15 or 16 but he’s barely 12. Mature for his age. Good with his hands. My Asian wife says he’s “an old soul”.
        When we hooked up the 3 water heaters I taught him how to sweat copper pipe. Now the safety Nazis would freak to know I had him using a map gas torch to run solder .
        I was there every step to make sure he didn’t get hurt. He knew he could be hurt if he didn’t pay attention. He wasn’t afraid.
        Now that you mentioned it he does have traits of my Dad,his great grandfather.
        I took advice from my LDS friend and I’m keeping a daily journal. These moments with my kids/grandkids are filling the pages.
        Maybe you could do the same. I bet when he is older he would appreciate looking back at those times you shared and remember what you did together…

        1. That’s a good idea.

          My grandboy has always been a big un. I am 5’10. He is 18, he’s 6’5 and he weighs 230 lbs. I look like a child beside him. They call him the gentle giant. hahaha

          He is mechanical, logical, he was born into a large scale farmin family. He’s not a quitter. He is a thinker and avid “learner”.

          Everytime I talk to him, I tell him how proud I am of him.

          Congratulations on your grandson, sounds like you are lucky too.

        2. I talked to mine on the phone last week one nite for a couple hours. I told him, “talkin to you is like talkin to a mature adult’. He is definitely not the average 18 yr old.

        3. Wood56gas ,
          Maybe you can get him to work on a wood gasification system with you. That is on my project list for sure. Seeing as we are talking wood here,that system sure could come in handy around the homestead. That’s why I am fascinated with the rocket stove designs. Alot of heat with minimal wood for fuel.
          In S.A. they build them inside with clay. Works as a stove and for heat inside their home. They have shortage of wood so it’s a good fit for them.
          We would basically be using what would amount to scraps of wood.
          It intrigues my engineering brain…LOL!

        4. Bill

          I have thought exactly that. haha I like you am fascinated at the idea of turnin a pile of wood into rotary motion. My grandson is really interested in what makes things work.

  32. We heat primarily with the wood stove. The oil heat is a backup that sees a little use on sub-zero nights. We get some oak from a friend who supplies a couple pizza restaurants. They don’t like the twisty, curvy ones. I don’t care. They burn fine. Off the land, we get maple and the occasional birch. We save branches down to wrist-size for burning. It’s a bit more work, but I hate to throw away BTUs.

  33. In my opinion the best wood to burn is that which is most available, cheapest, and closest. I didn’t see on the list “Free Wood” (just joking with ya Ken!). Also missing from the other fuel sources was Geo, that I guess might fall under electric also since our geo pump and compressor run on electric. However, the “fuel” source would be natural heat/cool from the ground itself and as long as we have electric to power the compressor we have both heat and A/C.

    1. Northern Boy…
      good point..
      for anyone who lives in or near (or goes into) a city, or likely even a town,
      Keep an eye on the sites which will post things going for free.
      Quite often there are posts of wood from trees folks have cut down, going for free. Often, too, this wood is even already cut up into decent size pieces.

  34. We burn wood exclusively for heating with a Woodstock soapstone in the living room and one in the basement. Have heated our home evenly and consistently with only wood since 2008. Burn 5 to 7 cords of wood each year roughly. I cut Oak, hard maple, locust, hickory, cherry, ash and elm. Cut and burn only dead wood or wood split and seasoned at least two years. Maintain a 7 cord reserve in addition. Will probably burn more ash in the next few years with all the dead standing ash in the woods. Looking forward to the winter season!

    1. The results will be “skewed” by the reader base of a prepper blog ;)

      Looks like most have wood stove for primary heat.

  35. i have a newer 1000sq ft home built 2 years ago, I use a Mitsubishi slim ductless heat pump with hyper heat – I absolutely love it – haven’t had an electric bill over $100 a month in 2 years. summers about $30 for AC because it can switch from heat to AC, and winter electric bills are about $70-95 a month for heat. def. recommend it!!!

    Mitsubishi mini split heat pump

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