What Are the Best Woods to Burn Outdoors?

February 13, 2019 10:39 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

It’s the middle of winter, and the idea of cozying up to a warm fire pit is probably the only way you can enjoy being outside right now! With that in mind, you might be wondering which woods are best to burn in your outdoor fire pit.

The answer to that question depends on your unique situation. As a custom fireplace contractor in Seattle, WA, we have a lot of experience working with different types of firewood, so we know the pros and cons of virtually every type of outdoor firewood out there.

If you plan to gather around your fire pit with a hot drink and good friends this weekend, you will want to make sure you pick a firewood that will last a long time, not be too smoky and let off a pleasant aroma. To that end, here is an overview of the different types of outdoor firewood to help get you started.


Typically, outdoor firewood can be split into two main categories: hardwood and softwood. Many people like using hardwood because it burns longer and hotter, making it great for those super-cold nights when you want to linger by the fire for hours.

The best hardwoods to burn outdoors are: ash, red oak, white oak, beech, birch, hawthorn, hickory, hard maple, pear, pecan, dogwood, almond and apple. These types are the best because they aren’t too smoky.

Soft maple, cherry and walnut are also good options—though perhaps not if you’re chopping it yourself, as they can be difficult to split.

Finally, alder, aspen, basswood, cottonwood, elm, sycamore and yellow poplar make for decent options, though they will emit some smoke.


Softwoods are the other option for burning in your outdoor fire pit. While softwoods typically do not burn as hot or for as long as hardwoods, they do have their own unique benefits. They are typically cheaper than hardwoods, let off a nice aroma and are easier to split than hardwoods.

The best softwood options for burning outdoors include southern yellow pine, spruce, fir, tamarack and larch. Eastern red cedar, western red cedar, white cedar, eastern and western white pine, sugar pine and ponderosa pine are also pretty good options, though they will let off a good amount of smoke.

Cedar is another softwood that can be burned outside. However, it is not as easy to burn as other softwood options, so it probably should not be your first choice.

Ask the experts

Do you want to know more about which woods you can burn in your outdoor fire pit? Or perhaps you have other questions about how fire pits work and how you can get the most out of your fire pit? Or, maybe you do not have a fire pit—yet!—and want to explore your options.

Whatever questions you may have, the team at Custom Fire Art is here to help. Get in touch with your locally owned and operated custom fireplace contractor in Seattle, WA today for more information.

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