Campfires are one of the most important elements of a camp. Campfires provide warmth, light, and a means to cook food. They are also beneficial in helping to frighten off wild animals and repel insects with the smoke.
Apart from knowing how to build a good campfire, everyone should be familiar with types of wood that are typically used and their qualities.
The best wood for campfires include:
- Beechwood: a heavy yet really good choice of wood
- Black Cherry: an easy-to-handle type of wood
- Ashwood: lightweight, yet steady and easy to split
- Birch: a softwood that burns quickly and provides lots of heat
- Oak: a dense, premium seasoned hardwood
- Pine: a fire starter that’s easy to light
- Maple: powerful fire and high heat output
- Hickory: a dense firewood – ideal for grilling and smoking
Types Of Campfire Wood
Generally, hardwoods burn better than softwoods, but there are some specific types of softwoods that can burn for a sufficient time and have the extra benefit of starting up the fire more quickly. Here is a list with the some of the best wood you can use for campfires.
Beechwood is heavy and quite dense. For this reason, it usually requires about a year of seasoning before it can burn long and hot. However, if you find a well-seasoned beechwood, then you will notice that it can create a lot of heat with minimal smoke and sparks. Another benefit of this type of wood is that it doesn’t flake off much and it is ideal for colder camp destinations.
The only disadvantage of beechwood is that it is quite heavy and needs some time before it can burn to its full capacity.
With low amounts of smoke and a unique aroma, black cherry is an easy-to-handle type of wood that makes it ideal for every type of camper. It provides a medium amount of heat and a moderate amount of sparks and for this reason, it is preferred as a choice of wood for the summer or spring period. It only needs a soft breeze to catch up and its beautiful aroma makes it the perfect choice if you wish to smoke a piece of meat, fish, or chicken in your camp kitchen.
Black cherry doesn’t provide the heat and light that other types of wood are capable of, like beechwood and therefore, it is not the ideal choice for a winter expedition.
An all-American type of wood that is both tough and lightweight at the same time, the ashwood is ideal for cold camping nights, since it can create some really hot and steady fire. It is considered to be a wood that burns hot, long, and steady. Ash makes a good bed of coals. It is better to use it when seasoned for optimal results.
There are not really any major disadvantages to using ash.
One of the most common choices, when we talk about woods for campfires, is the well-known birch. A softwood that burns quickly and provides lively flames creating a cheerful campfire, birch is a type of wood that works well even without being seasoned. A small number of sparks and smoke are being produced and the whole catch up procedure is pretty simple.
A drawback of birch is the fact that it usually burns out pretty fast and when you use it without seasoning it can produce a somewhat gummy substance.
Oak is a dense type of wood that produces almost zero sparks. It can create a great campfire that is slow-burning and a major advantage of this type of wood is that it has a great amount of energy content per cord, allowing it to produce large amounts of heat. Oak trees usually live up to 200 years and therefore they are an almost inexhaustible source of wood material.
Oak trees require more than a year to be seasoned well enough to use.
Pinewood is highly appreciated by campers from around the world because it possesses some unique features. Over 120 different types of pine trees exist. It is the perfect fire-starter that lights easily and can be found in large quantities when you wish to rekindle a fire. Two other benefits of this type of wood are that it doesn’t decay easily, and it doesn’t attract insects when it is cut down.
When you use some pinewood to light your campfire remember to have plenty in stock since it burns out as quickly after lighting it up. Because of its high resin content, pinewood tends to spark more than other woods.
A wood that resembles the one produced by an oak tree, the maple wood is a dense type of wood that burns for a long time and produces a fire of high heat output. A small amount of smoke accompanies its burning capacity and travelers can use this type of wood to light up a fire particularly during the cold winter days.
You may face some difficulty when you try to chop this tree since it is quite dense, but the final result will definitely make it up to you. The best subtype of maple wood for campfires is the red maple or the Manitoba type.
Hickory is considered one of the densest woods out there and for good reason: you will discover how difficult it can be to chop down this tree. However, when you do, you will experience one of the best slow-burning woods out there.
Hickory is also, extremely popular for grilling and smoking of foods, like fish and meat because its flavor blends well with almost every type of food. Therefore, you can combine your expedition in the woods with some tasty grilled food.
A campfire is an essential element for your camp. Knowing different types of firewood and how they burn will allow you to pick the ideal firewood from what is available for your situation. Although creating a consistent fire that burns long and creates minimal smoke is important, you also want a wood that is easy to handle.
Be aware that some campsites require that you use only heat-treated wood to help avoid infestations of insects in order to protect the trees.
You also should know the basics of building a campfire and the different types which you can learn by reading our campfire building techniques.