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What Is The Best Wood To Burn In A Campfire? And Why

Close view of wood burning in campfire

Gathering around a fire with family and friends, telling stories, and enjoying food made over a wood fire is some of the most cherished moments of a camping trip or backyard fire. But unfortunately, not all wood provides the same result when it comes to fires.

It’s important to use the right kind of wood, but with so many types available, it can be hard to know which one to choose. In this post, we’ll explore the best kind of wood for a campfire and the different characteristics of several types.

The Best Woods for a Campfire

Hardwoods are your best bet for the ideal wood to burn on your campfire. Hardwoods produce less smoke, so you can enjoy the ambiance of a fire without constantly evading the smoke.

Each of the following wood species has qualities that make them ideal for campfires.

1. Oak

A wide variety of oak trees are found in the United States and are typically divided into two major groups: white oak and red oak. Oak is an excellent wood for campfires, producing little smoke and few sparks when seasoned properly.

Oak is dense and produces long-lasting coals, which means it can keep a fire burning for a long time. These features make it ideal for cooking food over a fire.

2. Maple

Hard and soft maple is widely available, and both make good campfire wood. They are renowned for their bright autumn colors. Soft maple has fewer BTUs than hard maple. Hard maple is the wood of choice for cutting boards.

Both types are relatively easy to split if you do it while it is green. Both types burn slowly and steadily, producing consistent heat. And like oak, it makes a nice bed of coals to cook over.

3. Hickory

Hickory is commonly used for smoking meat because of its unique smoky flavor. In addition, it is slow growing, hard, strong, and dense; therefore, it is prized for use in the production of baseball bats.

In addition, it burns hot and long and produces an excellent base for cooking.

Pile of split firewood

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4. Ash

Ash is easy to ignite and produces few sparks, which makes it a safe option for campfires. Ash is common in the US; however, they are under attack by the Emerald Ash Borer, an invasive wood-boring beetle.

In addition, ash is easy to split, has a relatively low smoke output, and burns with intense heat, making it great for outdoor fires.

5. Birch

Birch has high oil content, making it easy to light and producing a pleasant aroma when burned. It also burns evenly, creating consistent heat without popping. Additionally, birch bark is an excellent natural fire starter.

However, birch burns relatively quickly; consequently, you will get coals faster. So having a decent supply of birch on hand is essential, or you can mix additional species in to counteract the faster burn.

These examples of denser hardwoods yield longer-lasting fires compared to softwoods like pine or spruce.

Burning Bright

So there you have it – hardwood is best to use for your campfire. Oak, maple, hickory, ash, and birch are some ideal choices that will yield hot, long-lasting fires for your family and friends to gather around.

They burn more efficiently, produce less smoke, offer unique aromas, have excellent cooking properties, and reduce the debris left at your campsite. Remember only to use wood that has been seasoned and dried, and never leave your campfire unattended.

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The western part of the country draws me with its mountains, deserts, and red rock vistas. Still, there are numerous other wonders I'm ready to explore., from Maine's rugged coast to California's Big Sur cliffs and everywhere between.