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Choosing The Right Wood

Not only are we passionate about lighting fires, we really want to share our love and enthusiasm for all things fire. Especially about which woods will make your fire hot and toasty and those which, quite frankly, are a bit of a damp squib.

Why use wood?

Wood is a natural and sustainable choice of fuel for domestic fires and has been in use since the first fire many millennia ago. When we warm our homes with wood, we participate in a natural cycle that we share with our ancient ancestors. Wood fuelled the open fires of the hunter-gatherers, the brick ovens of the first bakers, and, until the 19th century, all our homes.


Today, we still love to sit in front of a fire and coming in from the cold naturally draws us to the fire. We all know that feeling of returning home after a busy day out, to a cold chilly house and really wanting a warm and cosy fire as quickly as possible.

Knowing which wood to use 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. Whether it is gazing into the magical flames or unwinding with a glass of your favourite wine, enjoy your fire with ZIP® firelighters and the right wood.

Woods For Instant, Great Warming Heat:

  • Ash: Reckoned 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. The 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. When fresh, it is full of sap and oils, 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: This is a good burning wood, which has a slow burn with good heat output.
  • Thorn: This 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 wood, that 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 are 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: This is 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.

Not Good Wood:

  • Alder: Poor heat output and quick burning make 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 (including the dreaded Leylandii): Burns with an impressive flame, but liable to spit. Needs to be seasoned well and is another one that can leave oily soot in the chimney. Pines smell great and the high resin content makes it good for kindling.
  • Aspen, basswood, cottonwood, chestnut, yellow poplar and spruce produce relatively 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 further advice on which woods to use, we would love to hear it! You can tweet us, share on our Facebook page or email us.

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