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  • Writer's pictureKelsey Chrisman-Jones

Does it Matter What Type of Wood You Burn in Your Fireplace?

What you burn in your fireplace makes a difference. Just like different woods impart different flavors and levels of smokiness in grills and smokers, different woods in a cozy fire can create vastly different experiences. Keep reading to learn more about the best types of wood to burn in your fireplace, wood types to avoid, and how wood affects your chimney.

How Certain Woods Affect Your Chimney and Fireplace

No matter what wood you choose for your fireplace, it’s important to think about the long-term effects the wood can have on your chimney and your health. Some types of wood, especially unseasoned wood, can generate thick layers of creosote in your fireplace and chimney.

Creosote is an extremely flammable byproduct of burning wood. It builds up in your chimney flue, where it may ignite from errant sparks or high temperatures. Regular cleaning appointments and inspections keep your chimney safe and clean. Prevention is key: try to avoid burning freshly cut wood or woods that generate a lot of creosote.

Woods to Avoid Burning

Creosote formation is the top concern when choosing your firewood. But fireplace experts recommend avoiding many types of wood so you can have a fun, safe, and enjoyable fire in the cool evenings. Keep this list of woods that should not be burned in a fireplace readily accessible on your refrigerator or phone so you don’t accidentally use them during the fall and winter:

  1. Green wood: Not only will it produce a lot of creosote, but it will also create a lot of unpleasant smoke.

  2. Christmas trees: Dry needles are unpredictable and flammable. The sap inside the tree will also burn, pop, and produce creosote.

  3. Driftwood: This wood produces dioxin and can drastically reduce air quality in your home.

  4. Plywood, chipboard, or craft and construction wood: Any leftover wood from a DIY or home improvement store shouldn’t be burned. They’re often treated with toxic chemicals or held together by adhesives that are hazardous when burned.

  5. Furniture: Similarly, wood from furniture has paint and stain chemicals that are hazardous to breathe in.

  6. Non-local wood: Rural and forest areas offer a lot of free wood for collection. But bringing wood from more than fifty or so miles away increases the risk of transporting invasive pests. Look for locally available free wood or purchase wood from a trusted source.

It’s also recommended that you avoid cardboard, paper, and unapproved tinder. Light materials that burn easily can generate embers that rise up and cause a chimney fire above your fireplace.

Best Woods for Fireplaces

There are lots of options for safe wood for fireplace fires that you can use to make a pleasant, cozy fire. Choosing properly dried wood is important; it doesn’t generate as much creosote and has manageable smoke levels that keep your home safe (and minimize any lingering smoky smell). Some of the most popular woods for fireplaces are: Wood from your own trees: If you have branches or even a full tree from your backyard, cut and dry out the wood for at least a year to season it. Then you have a ready supply of free firewood that you know the origins of.

  1. Birch: Birch twigs are a good fire starter. Thicker branches and logs burn easily and produce a clean, clear fire.

  2. Hickory: Hickory wood creates a pleasantly savory smell. Just make sure the logs are cut to size!

  3. Apple and pecan trees: Wood from apple and pecan trees produces fires that smell great. Also, because they’re hardwood trees, the wood is easy and safe to burn.

Almost any hardwood or specially formulated fire log can be an excellent choice for a cozy fire at home.

Keep Your Chimney Safe with the Right Wood and Proper Care

Choosing the right woods for a fire helps reduce creosote and the risk of an unwanted fire. Proper maintenance and care from professionals can also help. Schedule an appointment with Chim Chimney for an annual inspection, a cleaning appointment, or help to ensure your fireplace and chimney are safe.

Image Source: Rasulov / Shutterstock

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