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Hardwood v Softwood Logs

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Hardwood v Softwood Logs

Posted: 4th November 2016

There are two types of firewood logs, hardwood and softwood. These names however do not refer to the properties of the wood, as some softwood logs can be hard and some hardwood logs can be soft!

Hardwoods logs come from broad-leaved, deciduous trees that lose their leaves in winter e.g. ash, beech, birch, sycamore and oak. They are slow growing (80 – 100 years to maturity) and as a result produce a dense timber.

Softwoods logs on the other hand, come from coniferous trees which are evergreen, have needles and bear cones e.g. Douglas fir, Scots pine, Larch and Spruce. These trees grow very fast compared to most hardwoods (25 – 30 years to maturity) resulting in a much lighter, less dense piece of wood. 

Pros and Cons of Burning Hardwood Logs

Hardwood logs are often considered to be superior firewood because the dense wood creates a hot, long lasting fire without a lot of smoke or sparks.  The logs also creates hot coals which give out heat for longer. Since hardwood burns longer it is ideally suited for overnight heating and you will generally have embers left over in the morning so you can quickly restart your fire.

On the downside, hardwoods logs tend to take longer to season or dry out and they are harder to light than softwood logs. You can also expect to pay more for hardwood compared to the same amount of softwood. 

Pros and Cons of Burning Softwood Logs

Many people are of the belief that you should only burn hardwood logs.

Softwood burns quicker than hardwood. A fire built from softwood logs can also have large flames that will crackle and spark and sometimes smoke too much. However as long as you ensure that your firewood is dry and has low moisture content, there is no reason not to burn it, especially if you have a wood burning stove.

Softwood can be very resinous which makes it particularly useful for lighting a fire. Also because they are quicker growing and also quicker to dry and season, softwood logs are cheaper than hardwood logs.

In summary, if you have a wood burning stove you can use either hardwood logs or softwood logs or even a mix of the two and if you have an open fire we would recommend hardwood logs.

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