How to Select Trees for Firewood
When cutting trees for firewood there are several steps in selecting the right trees and cutting what you need. It is best to cut trees that are dead or need pruning. When cutting green trees you will want to make sure you have enough curing time for the firewood to dry before burning or you can clog your chimney and cause a chimney fire.
Types of Trees that Make Good Firewood
Not all trees are the same and many will burn at various rates and put off various amounts of heat. Harder woods will burn longer and generate more heat than softer woods. Harder woods can also become petrified if left to dry too long so you will want to split these types of woods as soon as they are cut, softer woods can be split at any time. Some softer woods are easier to split after they have cured.
Birch: A good slow burning wood that delivers a medium amount of heat. This is a good firewood to add to the fire and mix with other softer woods when the weather is not yet to bitter and to add to hard woods when the temps are extremely low to increase burn time. Does not leave a lot of coals and burns clean.
Locust: Honey and Black locust trees are some of the hardest wood producers and offer the highest heat potential of firewoods. They are excellent to burn during the frigid months of winter when you just cannot seem to get warm. They will also burn clean and can be burnt green with very little smoke residue. They will petrify over the course of a year, which makes them hard to split after they have been cut and sitting for a time. You also never want to burn only locust in your stove or fireplace, this wood can get extremely hot and warp bricks in your fireplace or warp the sides of your stove. It is a good wood to mix with beech or birch and even softer woods like maples. Will produce good coals that can last overnight.
Hedge: Hedge trees make wonderful firewood and their sprawling limbs are always available to supply a good amount of firewood. The dark yellow color of the wood is hard to miss as well it has a very fragrant smell when cut and burned. This is a harder wood and will give a lot of heat similar to locusts. This is another type of firewood you do not want to burn alone in your stove.
Cherry: An extremely fragrant wood when cut, but after it dries, it burns very clean. This is a medium hard wood that can last a bit longer in the fire than other soft woods and is a good wood to mix or to burn by itself. Cherry will produce some residue if burnt while green but will not cause excess smoke like other firewoods.
Maple: A softer wood that should be dried well before burning. Maple can be very “sappy” and leave a heavy residue if burnt green. There is a large variety of maples and some are harder than others. Maples also grow back quickly and are good to plant when clearing an area for firewood. It does not grow as rapidly as locust but is much quicker than other woods. Maple burns quite quickly and does not produce a lot of heat and is good for the months when the weather is just starting to change. Maple is also great to mix with other high heat firewoods.
Beech: Another medium wood that burns clean and produces medium heat. This can be burnt green and produces a minimum residue. It has a light smell and cut wood can become very lightweight after it has cured for more than a year. This is a good firewood to also mix or burn alone when the weather is mild.
There are several other woods to consider when cutting firewood that may be more readily available in your area. Choosing your firewood will also depend on the type of fireplace or stove you are using. It is also important to make sure your chimney is cleaned regularly as all woods will leave a small bit of residue that can build up over time.