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Choosing The Right Wood

Top tips for getting warm and toastie

Choosing The Right Wood

We’re not just passionate about lighting fires – we also really want to share our love and enthusiasm for all things fire. Especially about which woods will make your fire hot and toasty and which woods will – as the saying goes – “leave you cold”.

Why use wood?

Wood is a natural and sustainable choice of fuel for domestic fires and has been used since the first fire many millennia ago. When we warm our homes with wood, we participate in a natural cycle that we share with our ancient ancestors. Wood fueled the open fires of the hunter-gatherers, the brick ovens of the first bakers, and, until the 19th century, all of our homes.

Today, we still love the feeling of coming in from the cold to a crackling fire. We all know that feeling of coming home to a chilly house after a busy day and wanting to get a warm, cozy fire going as quickly as possible.

Knowing which wood to use will help you make your house toasty fast, leaving you more time to relax and unwind at the end of a busy day. Whether you prefer gazing into the magical flames or snuggling in with a glass of your favorite wine, enjoy your fire with Zip™ fire starters and the right wood:

Woods for instant, great warming heat:

  • Ash: Many people swear by this as the best wood for burning. It can be burned while still green, but burns best when dry and seasoned.
  • Birch: Good heat and burns quickly. Pleasant smell, but it can cause gum deposits in the chimney if used a lot.
  • Cedar: Great heat, small flame, a nice scent, and lots of crackle and pop. Cedar is a great splitting wood and good for cooking.
  • Eucalyptus: A fast-burning wood with a pleasant smell and no spitting. It is full of sap and oils when fresh and can start a chimney fire if burned unseasoned. Not ideal for cooking.
  • Larch: Crackly, scented, and fairly good for heat. It needs to be seasoned well and forms oily soot in chimneys.
  • Beech, hickory, hard maple, pecan, and dogwood are also excellent sources of woods that produce high amounts of heat, are easy to burn, and produce few sparks and little smoke.

Woods for a warm, slow burn:

  • Apple: This is a good fuel that has a slow and steady burn when dry. It produces minimum sparking and spitting and it has a nice scent. This wood is great for cooking.
  • Cherry: A slow-burning wood that produces a good heat output. Needs to be seasoned well.
  • Oak: Oak has a light flame and the smoke is pungent if not seasoned for two years after winter felling. Summer felled oak takes years to season well. Dry old oak is excellent for heat, burning slowly and steadily.

Not good wood:

  • Alder: Poor heat output and quick burning makes this a low quality firewood.
  • Chestnut: A poor burning wood with poor heat output.
  • Elder: Burns quickly without much heat output and has thick smoke. Probably best avoided.
  • Laburnum: A very smoky wood with a poor burn. Do not use.


  • Pine species generally burn with an impressive flame, but liable to spit. Needs to be seasoned well and is another one that can leave an oily soot in the chimney. Pines smell great, and the high resin content makes it good for kindling.
  • Aspen, basswood, cottonwood, chestnut, yellow poplar, and spruce produce relative low amounts of heat. While easy to burn, they also pop, throw sparks, and produce a fair amount of smoke. They are best used as kindling.


If you have your own advice on the best woods to use, we would love to hear it! You can tweet us, share on our Facebook page, or email.


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