The Best Wood for Starting a Campfire

Is This Wood Good? A Key for Choosing the Best Campfire Wood

by: Katie Fenerty

It goes without saying that campfires can be one of the best parts about camping. But when it comes to firewood, what should you be looking for and what should you avoid unless absolutely necessary?

Denser wood types tend to burn longer and produce more heat, we call this category of wood hardwood. Less dense wood types can occasionally be useful if you need heat quick (say by burning a stick of white birch), but generally speaking you want to avoid the softwood category and save your saw and splitting energy for denser species. Below is a list of common tree species ranked from densest (hardest) to least dense (softest).

Which woods are good for firewood

How to tell if wood is wet:

  • Check for cracks in the ends of the wood. More cracks = more dry.
  • Dry wood tends to darken from white or cream colour to yellowish or grey.
  • Bang two pieces together. Dry wood sounds hollow, wet wood sounds solid and dull.
  • Dry wood weighs much less than wet wood.
  • Split a piece. Is the exposed wood damp? It is probably too wet to burn.
  • Burn it. Does it ignite? It’s dry enough. Does it hiss? It’s wet.

Additional Tips:

  • On a damp day, split wood logs to expose the dry interior wood. Continue splitting those pieces to reveal more dry wood = more surface area for ignition to take place.
  • If you arrive at camp on a dry day, cut and pile your wood then cover with a tarp. You’ll be thanking yourself the next day when a rainstorm hits.