When it comes to the best wood for a fire pit, there are several things to consider depending on what you intend to use your fire pit for. Various woods perform differently and may be used to serve different purposes such as smoking food, cooking, repelling insects or just provide some warmth during a cool evening. Therefore, the best firewood for your fire pit is one that best serves your needs.
Other reasons you will need to factor in when choosing your fire pit include, the cost. ease of use and availability.
However, here are some of the factors to consider to help decide on the best firewood to use for your fire pit.
Seasoned firewood- seasoned or cured firewood is firewood that has been left out to dry for a period of time. Seasoned firewood is easier to ignite and generates more heat than green or unseasoned firewood that will be very difficult to ignite and will produce a lot of smoke.
High BTU (British Thermal Units) content- refers to how much heat a certain amount of wood gives off per volume of firewood.
Hardwoods are very dense therefore they pack more BTUs. Softwoods on the hand tend to be less dense therefore less BTUs per volume of fire wood. Hardwoods are therefore the best type of firewood to use in a fire pit in relation to high intense heat.
Burn time period- Again, being denser, hard woods will burn for a longer period of time compared to softwoods.
Examples of the best hardwoods for firewood with no heavy smoke include; red/white oak, ash, almond, Beech, ash, apple, birch, hickory, hard maple, dogwood
Examples of softwoods that produce medium heat include; Spruce, fir, yellow pine,
Ease of igniting/kindling- Softwoods will generally ignite faster than hardwoods.
Examples include; Pine and red cedar.
Firewood for cooking / smoking.- Apple is popular for its sweet aroma and being a hard wood it burns hot but without generating much flame.
Any wood that produces high to medium heat with no chocking smell can most certainly be used for cooking.
Some examples with a sweet smell; Maple and mesquite, juniper, pecan, cedar, acacia, pear
For repelling away mosquitoes and insects- Pinion pine takes the crown here. It produces a sweet smell that naturally repels mosquitoes and insects.
Other examples: juniper
Woods that crackle and pop- Pine, juniper
Types of wood you should never burn in your fire pit.
While most natural woods are safe and okay to burn in your fire pit, not all wood is okay safe for you or your fire pit. The problem with burning wood that is not natural is that you do not know what sought of ingredients and materials have been used to manufactures the said wood product. When some elements that make up these products are burnt and released, they become oxidized which makes them toxic and probably carcinogenic when released into the environment not to mention corrosive properties.
Here are some examples of the woods that you should not burn in your fire pit;
Pressure treated wood
These woods contain chemicals that are used to make the wood resistant to moisture and insects therefore quite popular for landscaping applications and decking. For example, Arsenic, one of the chemicals in the woods may react with some elements to form arsine gas which is a very toxic gas not to mention in its oxidized form, arsenic has carcinogenic properties.
Creosote treated wood
Commonly used in railroad ties, utility posts and pilings. Toxic chemicals are released when the wood is burnt which can be quite harmful when inhaled.
Stained or painted wood-stained wood may contain toxic ingredients while ingredients that make up the paint may be hazardous when burnt.
While they may not be as hazardous as the above two and very suitable for kindling, you should know that each process that harvested lumber undergoes introduces corrosive elements such as salts to the wood fibers. The heat from the fire pit will turn the chemicals in the woods fiber to acids which will eat slowly but steadily at your fire pit thereby resulting in a premature damage.
Emit quite a lot of chocking smell.
Other than natural wood, logs made of purely compressed sawdust are good for use in a fire pit.