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Choosing The Right Wood

Top tips for getting warm and toasty

Choosing The Right Wood

We’re not just passionate about lighting fires, we also really want to share our passion and expertise of all things fire! Here we have put together some advice on 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 beginning of fire making, 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 to sit in front of a fire and coming in from the cold instinctively draws us towards it. We all know that familiar feeling of returning home after a busy day out to a cold, chilly house and desperately wanting a roaring fire to warm you up fast!

Whether it is gazing into the magical flames or unwinding with a glass of your favorite wine, ZIP™ firestarters and the right wood will help you achieve a speedy, toasty house leaving you more time to relax and enjoy your well-earned rest at the end of a busy day. 

Woods for instant, great warming heat:

  • Ash: Believed by many to be the best wood for burning. It can be burnt green but burns best when dry and seasoned.
  • Birch: Good heat and burns quickly. Smell is pleasant, 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. May not be the best for cooking with.
  • Larch: Crackly, scented, and fairly good for heat. It needs to be seasoned well and forms oily soot in chimneys.
  • Plum: A good burning wood with good heat output.
  • Rowan: Is a good burning wood that has a slow burn with a good heat output.
  • Thorn: Is one of the best woods for burning. It produces a steady flame and very good heat output with very little smoke.
  • Beech, hickory, hard maple, pecan, and dogwood are also excellent sources of woods which 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. Sparking and spitting is also at a minimum and it has a nice scent. This fuel is great for cooking.
  • Cherry: A slow to burn wood that produces a good heat output. Needs to be seasoned well.
  • Hawthorn: Is a good traditional firewood that has a slow burn with good heat output.
  • Laurel: Produces a very bright flame but only reasonable heat output. It needs to be well seasoned.
  • 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.

Woods to avoid when making a fire:

  • 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 are liable to spit. This type of kindling needs to be seasoned well and can leave an oily soot in the chimney. Pines also smell great whilst the high resin content make it an ideal kindling for your fire.

Aspen, basswood, cottonwood, chestnut, yellow poplar and spruce produce relative low amounts of heat and whilst easy to burn also pop, throw out sparks and produce a fair amount of smoke. They are most suitable for use as kindling.

If you have any of your own top tips for choosing the right wood then we would love to hear them! Please share to our Facebook page, tweet us or send us an email.



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