backyard firepit

What's the Best Wood to Burn in a Campfire

What's the Best Wood to Burn in a Campfire

We think you will probably agree when we say that nothing beats an outdoor adventure that includes a campfire. Whether you are building a campfire for warmth while roughing it in the woods or gathering around a cozy backyard campfire with your favorite 10-year-olds – the team at Walden Backyards believes that a fun time around the campfire is what makes the world go round.

That being said, when you are ready to get your campfire started, you will quickly learn that not all firewood is created equal. While all wood found in North America can be burned in your campfire, some types of wood are definitely better than others. Choosing the right kind of wood for your campfire will result in a hotter and more efficient fire that will burn for hours instead of fizzing out or, worse yet, smoking everyone out before the night is over.

Here are some tips from the fireside people at Walden Backyards to help you make the best campfire every time by choosing the best wood to burn in your backyard fire pit.

Hardwoods Make the Best Campfires  

Hardwoods like oak, hickory, and cedar make better fires than softwoods like pine and aspen. Softwoods have a higher creosote content, meaning they can be a significant fire hazard, and they also burn much quicker with less heat than hardwoods. For a cleaner burn with more heat and better embers, always choose hardwoods for your campfire.

Best Wood for a Campfire

  • Oak – Those who know a thing or two about campfires often choose oak. Dry oak offers a fire that gives off substantial heat with a slow and steady burn. Another perk is that oak is easy to find throughout the U.S., making it readily available for most homeowners and campers to find.
  • Hickory – A dense hardwood that burns well is hickory. If you plan to cook over your campfire, consider hickory firewood, as it burns hotter than maple, oak, and other hardwoods. While it can be a little tough to split, it burns well due to the lack of moisture the wood holds, which makes it a good choice for long burns well into the evening.
  • Cedar - If you are making your campfire for warmth, cedar is an excellent choice. While the flame may not be as big as other woods produce, cedarwood is an excellent heat source for cold nights. Cedar is also the best smelling of the campfire woods, with its unique woodsy aroma, making it popular for use in furniture and closets where the cedar scent can linger.

And while this list suggests the best wood for your campfire, there are some types of wood you should definitely avoid using for backyard and camping fires. First and foremost, never use any wood or materials from a construction site. This includes painted wood, treated wood, manufactured particleboard, or even pallet wood. This wood is covered with chemicals that can produce harmful smoke and fumes when burned. In addition, it is a good idea to avoid certain trees for firewood as well. 

Avoid using these trees for campfires:

  • Poplar
  • Willow
  • Spruce
  • Alder

Properly Aging, Drying, and Storing Your Campfire Firewood

Once you have selected your wood type, it is important to make sure that you store it properly for the best results. Wood should be split and stacked so it can completely dry out and should be aged or seasoned for at least two to three years for the best campfires. The key to building the best campfires is to store your hardwood securely so that it is dry, seasoned, and ready to use when you are.

Need Help Getting Your Campfire Started?

Our family is here to help your family make the most of your time spent around a campfire with your favorite people. Have questions about seasoning firewood? We’ve got your back. Interested in learning more about general fire pit safety? We can help with that, too. Need to buy a fire pit for your backyard? Check out our Legacy Series™ Steel Fire Pit Insert Set; it’s the perfect addition to any backyard!

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