I’m not a big fan of cold weather, so, by the time fall rolls around, I’m already looking for ways to stay optimistic about impending temperature drops and sunlight shortages. For me, bonfires are one of the saving graces of the cold weather season. There’s nothing quite like sitting around a roaring fire with friends or family, exchanging stories and roasting marshmallows. Normally, when my friends and I are planning a fire, we don’t put much thought into the kind of wood we’re burning. Anything lying around is a “good enough” option (and we’ve certainly burned our fair share of pizza boxes and newspapers). However, the kind of firewood you chose to set aflame can make a huge difference in the quality and duration of your bonfires, so, this season, I’ve done a little research into various firewood options and their benefits. Try this on for size, fire-lovers:
For a fire that smells like Christmas morning, pine is your best bet. A soft wood with a high sap content, pine burns quickly and messily. Because of this, it makes a good fire starter, but it probably shouldn’t be the only kind of wood in your stack. Mix it in with slower burning wood to create a long-lasting, sweet-smelling fire that will stoke your nostalgia.
The ghost white bark of the birch tree is beautiful to look at and even better to burn. Another soft wood, birch burns hotly and quickly. Because of this, the flames produce a lot of light. This makes birch an ideal firewood for particularly dark nights, when perhaps a ghost story or two is being passed around the fire.
Oak trees are ubiquitous almost everywhere. If you’ve ever burned generic firewood, chances are you were burning oak. Its popularity isn’t without reason; oak burns for a long time and produces an ideal amount of heat. However, it is a very dense wood, so getting it started can be difficult. Consider starting with a soft wood like pine and then adding oak to maximize the productivity of your fire.
Maple has a lot in common with oak. It’s a thick wood that, while hard to start, can burn for hours. One of the biggest benefits of maple versus other kinds of hardwoods is the lack of smoke it gives off while burning. This makes it a good option for large parties or gathering. Nobody likes a face full of smoke!
Though less common than oak or maple, cherry is another great, long lasting hardwood. It’s known for the pleasant, sweet aroma it produces (a real crowd pleaser!) Be advised, cherry does not burn particularly hot, so I would not recommend it if you’re looking for a way to keep warm on a frigid winter night. For mild fall nights (like the ones we’re having now) it works perfectly!