When comparing softowod and hardwood, it is important to consider that all firewood is different and each serves a different purpose.In this article, we discuss the differences between the two types of firewood and offer our reccomendations to the fuel for your indoor woodburner.
What's the difference between hardwood and softwood?
Firstly, its quite important to know the difference between the two types of wood. Hardwood fundamentally comes from trees that lose their leaves in the winter, so trees such as Oak, Ash, Beech etc. They are slow growing (80-100 yrs to maturity) and therefore provide a dense timber. In contrast softwood grows much faster maturing in 25-30 yrs and the timber is therefore less dense. Trees include Pine, Larch, Spruce and Douglas Fir etc.
What's type of wood is best used for firewood?
So, how about their burning qualities? Lots of people say that you shouldn't use softwood either because it burns too fast, produces too much resin in the chimney or smokes too much.
Whilst it has the same calorific value as hardwood by weight, being less dense you need sometimes up to as much as twice as many logs for the same weight, or energy output.
As regards resins, there seems to be conflicting advice on this, but it seems that as long as the wood is dry the resins can actually act as supercharged fuel, so better, not worse than thought! As for smoke, well just like any other wood, if its not dried properly it will smoke.
One of the biggest advantages of softwood, if drying it yourself, is that it dries very quickly and probably takes half the time to dry and its also great for kindling.
Much of the kindling sold today is softwood for this reason and the other benefit is that it gets the stove up to temperature very quickly which helps stove performance, increases 'draw' and reduces smoke.
From firewood suppliers in the UK, you will most often see species like oak, beech, ash and birch in your deliveries. Hardwoods are a lot denser than softwoods, this is because they are a product from decidious trees.
Hardwoods will burn for longer and hotter compared to softwoods and this is the reason why hardwoods are reccomended to burn in woodburners. But remember to only burn wood below the 20% moisture content as per the Ready to Burn Scheme.
When to use Hardwood Logs Vs Softwood Logs