Matt Johnson

From the Experts: Best Wood For Campfire Burning

Author: Matt JohnsonPhotos/Graphics: Mike HawthornePublished: Jun 24, 2022Updated: Dec 12, 2023

Campfires are a fun way to relax and spend time outdoors with friends and family. However, if you are not careful, your campfire can quickly become an uncontrolled disaster. The best way to avoid this is to use suitable wood.

Many different types of wood can be used for a campfire, but not all of them are created equal. Some woods will produce more smoke than others, while some will burn hotter and faster. To get the best campfire experience, you want to use wood that burns slow and steady, with little to no smoke.

Everything from ash wood, to sugar maple, to oak wood – there’s a type of wood for every camper.

Many types of wood can be used for a campfire.

Oak Firewood is Perfect for a Campfire
Oak is our expert’s preferred firewood because it’s a hardwood, smokes less, and lasts much longer than other softer woods.

If you’re planning a campfire, you’ll need to gather some wood. But not just any wood will do – softwoods like pine burn quickly and produce a lot of smoke, while wet wood is hard to light and produces little heat.

The best wood for a campfire is dry hardwood, like oak or hickory. But if you can’t find dry hardwood, other options will work. Greenwood, for example, can be burned if it’s cut into small pieces and placed on top of the fire. You can get your campfire burning hot and intense with a little effort and make some great memories.

Green or seasoned wood – what’s the difference?

When you’re looking for the best wood for your fire pit, you’ll want to know whether or not the wood is green or seasoned.

Green wood is firewood that has been recently cut down. Newly cut wood or freshly cut wood usually doesn’t burn very well and puts off too much smoke. Often times it will also have large sparks as well. So obviously you’ll want campfire wood that is well seasoned.

Now, when we say recently, that’s subjective as every type of wood takes different amounts of time to become seasoned wood. With that, a good rule of thumb is a minimum of 6 months. Some wood such as hickory wood or cherry wood can take upwards of 18 months.

With well seasoned wood you’ll have a low moisture content which results in minimal smoke, high heat, and lively flames.

The best wood to use for a campfire is dry hardwood.

Few things are more iconic than a roaring campfire. Whether you’re gathered around the blaze to roast marshmallows or simply enjoying the warmth on a cold night, there’s something special about a fire in the great outdoors.

But if you want your campfire to be genuinely successful, you must start with the suitable wood. Dry hardwood is the best choice for several reasons.

First, it burns longer than softer woods so that you can enjoy the fire for hours. You won’t go through it as quickly as some softer woods, which we’ll cover in just a minute.

Second, it produces less smoke, so you won’t have to worry about irritating yours or your pet’s eyes or lungs. Sure, you might encounter some, but if you’ve ever tried to burn wet wood, this will seem smokeless.

And finally, it creates beautiful flames that are perfect for roasting marshmallows or telling ghost stories.

So next time you’re planning a camping trip, make sure to bring along some dry hardwood. Getting started might take a little longer, but it’s worth the effort.

Softwoods like cedar wood and pine wood are unsuitable.

When planning a campfire, it’s essential to choose the suitable wood. Our recommendation is to stay away from softwoods – if you can. Sometimes you don’t have the luxury of staying away from a softer type of wood, depending on what area of the country you’re in, but do what you can.

Softwoods like cedar and pine may ignite faster, but they burn through quickly and don’t provide much heat. At least not like the hardwoods we mentioned.

One great use for these softer woods is to get the fire going. They ignite much easier than the hardwoods, so it’s often best to use a mixture of both.

For the ultimate in heat and convenience, consider using a campfire starter. Made of treated wood or wax, these starters help to get the fire going quickly and easily, ensuring that you’ll be able to enjoy your camping trip to the fullest.

Try oak, ash, hickory, or maple if you’re looking for good firewood.

When it comes to campfires, there are a lot of different options when it comes to wood. While pine is often the go-to choice (it’s a softwood, but it’s easy to find), many other types of wood can make for a great fire.

Oak, ash, hickory, and maple are excellent choices for firewood, and each has its benefits. Oak wood is a very dense wood, making it great for long-lasting fires. Ash is also a dense wood, but it’s more lightweight than oak, making it easier to carry.

Hickory is a bit softer than oak and ash, but it burns hot and produces very little smoke. Maple is a hardwood with high sugar content, making it great for creating flames.

So, if you’re looking for something other than pine for your next campfire wood, try one of these woods and see their benefits. Compared to other types of wood, they generally product high heat and little smoke.

Make sure the wood is chopped into small pieces.

There’s something about a campfire that just feels magical. Maybe it’s the warmth on a cool night or the way the flames dance in the darkness. For this reason, starting a fire is essential for any camping trip.

But if you’ve ever tried to get a fire going in the woods, you know it’s not always easy. The key is to make sure the wood is chopped into small pieces so it will ignite more easily.

When building a campfire, start by creating a small pile of tinder – things like dry leaves or paper – and then add some kind of kindling, like small twigs or sticks.

Once the kindling is burning, slowly add larger pieces of wood to keep the fire going. As the fire burns hot, you may want to configure the logs to have good airflow while the fire burns.

What’s the best wood for you?

With a bit of practice, you’ll be able to get a fire going in no time. So next time you plan a camping trip, remember – small pieces of wood equal big flames.

Before you head out, make sure you pick up a few stacks of whichever wood you think is best for you. We personally like ash wood, sometimes a hickory wood, but they’re harder to find in our area. You may encounter similar situations when you’re looking for the best wood for campfire burning.

Sometimes, at the end of the day, you have to get what you can get. Pine is abundant everywhere, and it will burn well, so it seems like the most likely choice; however, it’s not a great option, but if you have the luxury of options, go for the best wood that has less smoke and longer and hotter burning.


Matt Johnson

Senior Content Writer

Matt is an experienced camper and glamping enthusiast with a Master's degree in Wildlife Science from Texas A&M University. Authoring posts for GlamperGear, he shares his wealth of knowledge on picturesque campsites, luxurious accommodations, and the best gear for outdoor adventures. His passion for nature and knack for comfort in the wilderness make him an expert guide for your next camping endeavor.

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