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Potting

Getting the Best Burn for a Memorable Fireside Experience

By Leroy Hite, Cutting Edge Firewood
Photograph courtesy of Cutting Edge Firewood

The essence of fire extends beyond the flickering flames – the warmth, glow and conversation around a fire all tap into a centuries-old sensory experience that is deeply rooted in our collective history. With many types of wood available, use this guide to understand the differences between woods.

Hardwoods are denser in structure, as compared to resinous softwood species such as pine. The higher density woods like oak and hickory produce more heat and sustain their flames for longer. The denser the wood, the more energy it can release, and that leads to a hotter, longer burn.

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Beyond using a hardwood species, you also want to seek properly dried wood to reduce creosote buildup in your chimney and to provide a “clean” burn. Using dried wood produces less smoke, particulates and emissions. A fire should produce a soft haze, never billowing smoke.

Here are a few hardwoods and their heat values:

Hickory: The heavyweight of hardwoods, hickory has a rich, robust burn and a very hot fire.

Oak: The classic choice for a dense, durable burn, oak provides consistent heat and an inviting fire.

Cherry:  A mildly sweet fire, cherry burns with an alluring red glow, a lovely aroma and velvety warmth.

Apple: Often overlooked, underrated apple offers a steady and moderate burn with a subtly sweet and fruity aroma.

Your choice of wood is a combination of art and science. Once you know your preference for heat, aroma and burn time, you can match with the best hardwood for your needs. With the right wood choice, you can craft a fireside experience that is memorable and warming. Light your holidays this year with cherished stories, laughter and welcoming warmth around the hearth.


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