We all know that trees burn…all of them. When wanting a good fire though, that lasts a time, and puts out heat there is a difference in the wood you burn. So if someone says “I burn whatever is closest” they may want to spend a little more time gathering wood. While all wood burns, not all wood burns equally. What we are looking at is the best trees to burn….for heat. The following list is not for the smoker, these are to keep you from freezing in cold temperatures. Not all can be found in all regions, but one of these on the list does grow in your area of the U.S.
All of these trees are pretty hard so being able to process the tree into usable wood will be part of the challenge to burning them. Even if you are not able to process much due to the hardness of the tree and the tools at hand, what you are able to process would be well used for night logs to keep the fire going and the coals hot. They also can take time to get started so it is recommended that you start with softer stuff and add these woods later so they start faster.
- Osage Orange (Maclura pomifera) (Hedge Apple, Horse Apple)
This tree that has a reputation of being hard to hammer nails into and burns at approximately 32.9 million BTU per cord. It’s native to the Red River area of Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas, but was spread in the 1930s as part of the “Great Plains Shelterbelt” project. They grow in Hardiness zones 4-10.
- White Oak (Quercas alba)
This hard wood burns at 29.1 million BTU per cord. This huge tree is many States official tree and even adorns the back of the Connecticut state quarter. White Oaks are a strong tree growing in hardiness zones 3-9, spanning the continental US.
- Black Locust (Robinia pseudoacacia)
Burning at an impressive 27.9 million BTU per cord, it is a tree known for being insect resistant once cut. Due to this, they are popular for use in fence posts and other outdoors construction. Some fence posts made from Black Locust have lasted 50 years. They grow in hardiness zones 3-9.
- Ironwood (Ostrya viginiana)
Also burning at 27.9 million BTU per cord, Ironwood is native to Illinois, Midwest and southeastern U.S. It is very resistant to insect and disease. This tree grows in hardiness zones 3-9.
- Shagbark Hickory (Carya ovata)
Half way down the list and still getting 27.5 million BTU per cord. This tree grows in hardiness zones 4-9.
- Apple (Malus domestica)
Not only good for food, apple trees burn at 27.0 million BTU per cord. I understand that there are many varieties of apple trees, but there appears to be no difference between them based upon information.
- Honey locust (gleditsia Tricanthos)
Not burning quite as hot as its cousin the Black Locust, it still puts out an impressive 26.7 million BTU per cord. It grows tall and wide, which means more wood to burn. The hardiness zones for this tree are 3-9
- Bitternut Hickory (Carya cordiformis)
Also known as Swamp Hickory this tree burns at 26.7 million BTU per cord. They are popular in parks and wide median areas. They have a hardiness zone of 4-9.
- Bur Oak (Quercus macocarpa)
Also known as the Scrub Oak this Oak puts out 26.2 million BTU per cord. This tree grows slow, but gets very tall. Its hardiness zones are 3-9
Red Mulberry trees which are native to the US burn at 25.8 million BTU per cord. It has a hardiness zone range of 5-9
Something that would be useful for carrying firewood in to your home would be one of these options.