A Quick Guide to Firewood Types

Image source: HobbyFarms.com

Many people do not bother with firewood types and species, and they should. There’s a common misconception that they can burn any type of wood, which isn’t exactly wrong. All types of wood burn, because that’s what wood does when exposed to fire. But many people do not know that some types of wood burn better and longer than others. Some types of wood are not even suitable for burning, even if they can burn. I know it sounds convoluted but it will all make sense in a bit.

There are hundreds (or thousands, I’m not completely sure) of tree species in the world, with a million different variations and characteristics. Individual wood species characteristics influence the way the wood burns. Some wood species burn fast and hot, while others burn slow and long. Other wood species, on the other hand, do not burn well at all. If you live in a place that requires heating your home with firewood, then you must know the differences between wood species. Doing so can save you a lot of money in the long run.

I have written profiles of a few popular tree species that can help you decide which type of wood is right for you.


Elms are deciduous trees that are native to the eastern coast of North America from the U.S. state of Florida to the Canadian province of Newfoundland. Elms that are North American and European in origin used to flourish in forests and cities, but in recent decades the population has been decimated by the Dutch elm disease pandemic. Today, the mature elm tree population in Australia is thought of as one of the most important and significant in the world.

The tree has a prominent vase-shaped profile, and can grow to great heights, often growing over 90 feet tall. Elms feature alternate branching, which means the side branches alternate throughout the length of the branch. The leaves are oval-shaped with serrated edges. Most importantly, an elm leaf feels rough and sandpaper-like to the touch. This is important as this can help you identify an elm.

Elm is incredibly difficult to split, often requiring the use of a log splitter. If you don’t have one, there are lots of log splitters for sale online and from brick-and-mortar establishments. Splitting an elm with an axe is very tedious and time-consuming. As a firewood, elm burns decently and provides good heat.


True oak is not native to Australia, and Australian Oak is not a true oak tree. Australian Oak is actually a type of eucalyptus, and eucalyptus trees do not produce acorns, which is the most iconic identifier for true oak trees. This species can grow up to 80 feet tall, and feature a rounded canopy once it matures.

Most oak species produce dark coloured wood, which makes them a popular choice for furniture makers. Oak wood is also one of the best firewood types when it comes to the heating provided. The wood burns hot for a long time, making them ideal for long winter burning.

Like the elm, oak is difficult to split. You will have to use a log splitter to process oak, unless you want to punish yourself with axe cutting.


We all know the small, dwarf type apple trees that grow in orchards, which maxes out at 15 feet height. Standard apple trees, however, can reach up to 20 feet tall and trees towering at 30 feet have been recorded. The apple tree features a twisted profile with many low-hanging branches.

Young apple trees tend to have smooth bark, but as the tree matures, the bark becomes more scaly in texture. The best way to identify an apple tree is to look for the fruit. Wild apple trees tend to have dropped apples nesting at the foot of the tree.

Apple wood is an excellent firewood type. The wood burns well, and provides above par heating value. They’re also not that difficult to split, especially when compared to oak and elm. The burning wood also produces a pleasant odour which can be used for grilling. Apple trees aren’t as big, however, and you will have to cut down a lot of trees to produce a comparable amount of firewood.