Is Oak Good for Firewood? — Oak Firewood Guide
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Is Oak Good for Firewood? Oak Firewood Guide

Oak is among the most popular firewood used for heat in the United States. To get all the details about how quickly it burns, how long it needs to season, when it should be used to maximum effect, and details about weight, smell, BTU and smoke levels, you’re in the right place. Our guide to Oak firewood has you covered.

Oak Firewood Details

BTU: 26.2 to 29 Heat per Cord (Million BTUs)
Weight: 4,012 to 5573 lbs./Cord
Seasoning Time: 6-24 months
Resin / Sap Content: Low
Splitting Difficulty: Easy-Medium
Smoke: Low-Medium
Smell: Good, subtle / vanilla-like fragrance, although some Oak varieties have a sour odor)

Varieties of Oak Firewood

oak firewood seasining stacked outdoors green hardwood with bark and no splits

More than 600 species of Oak exist worldwide. In the United States, there are approximately 60 types of Oakwood. Most Oak varieties work well for firewood as far as heat/BTU is concerned. The smell, however, is another story altogether. That said, a handful of Oak species are more popular than others for use as firewood.

White Oak

Perhaps the most popular of all Oak firewood, White Oak, is one of the slowest burning hardwoods once appropriately seasoned.

Details for White Oak Firewood:

  • Weight Green: 5573 lbs
  • Weight Dry: 4200 lbs
  • BTUs: 29.1
  • Splitting Ease: Medium
  • Smoke: Low
  • Fragrance: Good
  • Burn Time: Excellent

Red Oak

red oak tree in autumn from belowThough not quite as popular as white Oak in many areas, red Oak is one of the more popular types of Oak for firewood.

Details for Red Oak firewood:

  • Weight Green: 4888 lbs
  • Weight Dry: 3528 lbs
  • BTUs: 24.6
  • Splitting Ease: Medium
  • Smoke: Low
  • Fragrance: Good
  • Burn Time: Excellent

Bur Oak

Not as well known by name as White Oak or Red Oak, Bur Oak is another popular firewood choice.

Details for Bur Oak firewood:

  • Weight Green: 4960
  • Weight Dry: 3768
  • BTUs: 26.2
  • Splitting Ease: Easy
  • Smoke: Low
  • Fragrance: Good
  • Burn Time: Excellent

These three types of Oak are by no means the only suitable Oak firewood, nor are they necessarily the best. However, they are the most popular among buyers and sellers alike, as they are all three readily available throughout North America.

BTU

Not only does well-seasoned Oak, of numerous species, burn hotter than other hardwoods, they also transform into excellent coals and, overall, burn a considerable amount of time longer than nearly any other type of seasoned firewood.

Also, burning Oak puts off very little smoke or sparks/embers (once seasoned). Further, a single cord of properly seasoned Oak firewood can last as much as ten weeks or more.

seasoned oak forewood in circular rack indoors

Seasoning Time

The ideal moisture content for well-seasoned Oak firewood is 20-percent or less. To reach this moisture content level, most Oakwood requires between 9 months and two full years of seasoning time. Fresh cut Oak with a lower moisture content than 70-percent may season as quickly as six months.

Splitting Oakwood before beginning the actual seasoning process should speed up the necessary overall seasoning time by as much as weeks or months.

Resin / Sap Content

Oak firewood is extremely easy to work with and handle due to its low resin/sap content. It has one of the lowest sap contents of all firewood. The low resin content also makes the splitting process easier as well.

Smoke

Seasoned Oak puts out a minimal amount of smoke, much less than other types of firewood. It also produces very little sparks, embers, or ashes due to its long and slow-burning nature once properly seasoned. Few types of wood compare to well-seasoned Oak when it comes to the low smoke and ash factor.

Smell

While many Oak firewood types put off a rather pleasant but subtle vanilla-ish fragrance, others smell altogether sour (like vinegar). So, be aware of the species of Oak that you end up seasoning into proper firewood. The last thing you want is your house smelling like a broken jar of vinegar all winter long.

Common Questions about Oak Firewood

We put together a handful of the most frequently asked questions about Oak as firewood.

Why is Oak one of the best types of firewood in North America?

Oak firewood is widely considered one of the very best types of firewood available in North America for many reasons. It grows all over the content, over 60 varieties are available, it has a low moisture content, it seasons well, and produces excellent coals and little smoke or sparks.

Which types of Oak are best for firewood?

White Oak and Red Oak are generally considered the best firewood among the hundreds of Oakwood varieties found worldwide.

How much does Oak firewood cost?

Depending on your location, and the amount of firewood that you purchase, the price for Oak varies. Generally speaking, a full cord of fresh-cut Oak costs between $150 and $300. For Oak, which is already seasoned, you can expect to pay an additional fee of approximately $50 to $100.

What is the best amount of time for seasoning Oak firewood?

Oak logs harvested during the wintertime require the least amount of seasoning due to a lower moisture content than Oaks felled during the spring or summer seasons. For winter-felled Oak, slightly over 12 months is adequate seasoning time, while Oak felled in the warmer times of the year needs up to 24 full months for proper seasoning.

oak firewood guide wide stacked in hearth

How long does Oak firewood burn/last?

Due to its natural low moisture content, Oak firewood burns much longer, stronger, and cleaner than almost any other firewood (including both hardwoods and softwoods).

A Final Word About Oak as Firewood

Oak is one of the best and most widely available hardwoods for firewood. Not only is it long-burning, clean-burning, and hotter than most firewood types, but it splits easily and generally smells great as well. Oak firewood may cost a bit more than other firewood types, namely softwoods like pine and cedar, and burn up quickly, but it’s well worth the price. If you are burning firewood for the first time this year, consider checking out our firewood rack reviews for some great ideas.

What do you think about Oak as firewood? Do you have a favorite species of Oak to suggest for our readers to try? If so, let us know in the comments section below to pass along the suggestion. Are you buying Oak for the first time this season? Let us know how much it cost, how hard or easy it was to handle, and how well it works out for heating your home!

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