When choosing what to burn in a wood stove, it's not so much the type of wood that matters as how seasoned it is. According to the U.S. Department of Energy, all wood has a similar heat output per pound, which makes dense wood the best choice.
Hardwood or Softwood?
Hardwoods are heavy and provide more BTU, or British thermal units, of energy by volume, making them the best choices for heating and cooking. Softwoods contain more resins, making them quicker to ignite than hardwoods and ideal for use as kindling.
Among the preferred hardwoods are maple, birch, hickory, white and red oak, and ash. All provide the most heat per pound and are easy to burn, according to the Firepit and Grilling Guru's website. Softwoods that provide a good, though relatively short, burn are spruce, fir and yellow pine.
Seasoned Wood Tips
Well-seasoned wood should exhibit cracked ends that resemble bicycle spokes, feel light to lift and produce a cracking sound when hitting two pieces against each other. The bark should be dark and dry, and peel off easily.
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