What Are The Best Wood For Fire Pit: Make Endlessly Fun Campfires

What’s more wonderful than sitting around a burning fire while chit-chatting with your friends or preparing a BBQ amidst the cold breezes of approaching winter?
Wood means a lot to make such fun-filled moments for it is commonly used as a fuel for campfires. However, not all kinds of wood generate the same fire and heat.
Good knowledge of the best kinds of wood to use and how to make campfires last for a long time will be precious for you to enjoy the outdoors time to the fullest. 

Basic Principles Of Choosing Firewood​

Let’s first go through some basic principles of choosing firewood.

best wood for fire pit

Use seasoned or dry firewood: No matter what kind of wood to be used, it must be well seasoned, or in other words, left dry for a period of time. If you gather firewood in nature, give priority to the dry ones. It’s because it’s a big challenge to burn wet or green wood and the heat generated is less. So, use dry firewood if possible.

BTU or Energy Content: BTU (British Thermal Unit), the measure of the heat content of fuels, is defined as the amount of energy needed to raise the temperature of one pound of liquid water by one degree Fahrenheit. Hardwoods have higher BTU content as compared to softwoods, so they can generate heat longer and more stable. Want to know Firewood BTU ratings? Visit this site!

The use of fire: Whether firewood is good or not also depends much on what you do with the fire, cooking or getting warmth and light. Hardwoods are ideal for cooking over as they generate steady heat with low flames, whereas softwoods are preferred to make big flames to light up space and warm up the atmosphere.

Hardwoods vs Softwoods

Wood with different characteristics burn in different ways, in other words, they are not the same in terms of smoke and heat production, burning rate, spark generation, etc. Thus, the contexts of use are also different.
Basically, there are two kinds of wood namely hardwood and softwood which are employed in different circumstances. 

# Hardwoods

Hardwoods indicate the wood from trees with broad leaves like oak, maple, and ash. They are very dense. With higher BTU content than softwoods, they create more long-lasting and steadier fire. However, it is more difficult for them to get ignited at first. They do not contain resin, so neither creating much smoke nor leaving much ash on pots and pans. For this reasons, hardwoods are preferred in cooking.

# Softwoods

The wood species falling into this category are characterized by needlelike leaves. They are less dense and thus give off less heat and burn faster. Use such softwoods like pine, cedar, spruce, fir, hemlock, etc. if you want to build big and bright flames.
Due to its lighter density, softwoods light quickly and can be used to start a fire.
But keep in mind that softwoods burn vigorously, so prepare enough wood and keep an eye on the fire to add wood before the fire goes out.
Apart from that, the woods in this category tend to give off much more smoke than hardwoods and black up pans and pots if used for cooking.

Let’s have a look at a quick comparison of hardwoods and softwoods:




Burning speed



Amount of heat



Easy to burn










Used for campfires

Kindling fire
Creating big flames

Typical examples

Oak, Hard Maple, Black Birch


Watch the following video that may help you determine the best wood for your wood-burning needs.

The Best Wood For Fire Pit

Now, after discussing firewood generally, we'll go into details some kinds of best wood, either hardwood or softwood, for a fire pit.

1. Oak (Hardwood)

best wood for fire pit

Maple has over 128 species and most of which are found in Asia. This is the best firewood you can wish for a bonfire if you look at its advantages bellows:

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    Bring about steady fire
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    Burn easily
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    Have high level of heat
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    Neither produce much smoke nor sparks.

2. Cherry (Hardwood)

best wood for fire pit

Wild cherry grows popularly across the central and eastern United States. It produces 20.0 million BTUs per cord and has a pleasant smell when burnt. This makes it a popular choice of firewood.
The problem is that it releases more sparks and less heat as compared to the above-mentioned kinds of hardwoods, so it comes after the others in terms of popularity.
Despite this, cherry is good enough to give you moderate fire with a pleasant smell. 

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    Burn at mediate heat
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    Generate aroma
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    Spark a lot but do not produce much smoke
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    Be easy to split

3. Black Birch (Hardwood)

best wood for fire pit

Birch is broad-leaved deciduous hardwood tree. It comes in several species but among others, the black birch gives the highest quality firewood.
With dense fibers, it can maintain long-lasting fires. Especially, when burning, it extracts unique smell that is very pleasant. These things make black birch one of the most desired types of firewood. 

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    Burn at high level and stably
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    Do not smoke or release sparks
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    Release fragrance when burning

4. Pine (Softwood)

best wood for fire pit

There are various pine species, about 115 ones. Its popularity makes it one of the most used kinds of firewood. However, as softwood, it works best in the role of kindling fire.
What’s more, the wood is sappy, full of resin, pops and cracks a lot. So, it is wise not to burn pine indoors. Otherwise, creosote will be built up inside the chimney and it will be dangerous to your family members.
In contrast, pine is great firewood for bonfires and campfires for the wood burns easily and smells great. 

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    Get ignited and burn quickly
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    Smoke a lot and pop
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    Have pleasant smell

Pro Tips

wood for fire pit
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    When you go around looking for firewood for a campfire, bear in mind the following rule: finding softwood for kindling and hardwood logs. The firewood must be dry completely. It’s the key to stable and well-controlled campfires.
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    If you cannot find hardwood as firewood, gather more softwood, otherwise, the fire will go out quickly.
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    Worried about campfire smell? Check out the guide in this link.


Again, what kinds of wood are best for fire pit have a lot to do with what you expect from the fire. Knowing what you want is the must to have suitable firewood and desired fire.
We’d love to know your experience and preferences of types of wood for outdoor fires. Share this article with your friends if you find it useful.

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Callie Moore

I’m Callie Moore, truly and deeply addicted to travel, worldwide cultures, and outdoor activities. I’m on the way of pursuing an adventurous life that enables me to earn the experiences of a lifetime. My blog is the place for those who are looking for inspiration to live a life filled with adventures as well as sincere and useful sharing about travel tips, gear, etc. for fun-packed trips. Just go on board, and we’ll together explore the world in our crazily cool and amazing way!

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