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The best wood for cooking and how it affects the flavour of your cooking

Do you know the difference between hardwood and softwood? Hardwoods are any broad-leafed, deciduous trees, such as Beech and Elm, while softwoods are conifers including Cedar and Fir.

When it comes to burning wood in stoves or ovens, hardwood is better than softwood as it burns slower. The density of softwood is also around half that of hardwood, which results in it burning twice as fast – meaning you’ll need twice as much!

Alder Produces poor heat output and it does not last well.
Apple A very good wood that burns slow and steady when dry, it has small flame size, and does not produce sparking or spitting.
Ash Reckoned by many to be one of best woods for burning, it produces a steady flame and good heat output. It can be burnt when green but like all woods, it burns best when dry.
Beech Burns very much like ash, but does not burn well when green.
Birch Produces good heat output but it does burn quickly. It can be burnt unseasoned, however the sap can cause deposits to form in the flue with prolonged use.
Cedar This is a good burning wood that produces a consistent and long heat output. It burns with a small flame, but does tend to crackle and spit and the sap can cause deposits to form in the flue with prolonged use.
Cherry This is a slow to burn wood that produces a good heat output. Cherry needs to be seasoned well.
Chestnut A poor burning wood that produces a small flame and poor heat output.
Firs (Douglas etc) A poor burning wood that produces a small flame and poor heat output and the sap can cause deposits to form in the flue with prolonged use.
Elm This is a wood that can follow several burn patterns because of high moisture content, it should be dried for two years for best results. Elm is slow to get going and it may be necessary to use a better burning wood to start it off. Splitting of logs should be done early.
Eucalyptus This is a fast burning wood. The sap can cause deposits to form in the flue and can increase the risk of a chimney fire if burned unseasoned.
Hawthorn This is a good traditional firewood that has a slow burn with good heat output.
Hazel This is a good but fast burning wood and produces best results when allowed to season.
Holly This is a fast burning wood that produces good flame but poor heat output. Holly will burn green, but best dried for a minimum of a year.
Hornbeam A good burning wood that burns similar to beech, slow burn with a good heat output.
Horse Chestnut A good wood for burning in wood stoves but not for open fires as it does tend to spit a lot. It does however produce a good flame and heat output.
Laburnum A very smokey wood with a poor burn.
Larch Produces a reasonable heat output, but it needs to be well seasoned. The sap can cause deposits to form in the flue with prolonged use.
Laurel Burns with a good flame but only reasonable heat output. It needs to be well seasoned.
Lilac Its smaller branches are good to use as kindling, the wood itself burns well with a good flame.
Maple This is a good burning wood that produces good flame and heat output.
Oak Because of its density, oak produces a small flame and very slow burn, it is best when seasoned for a minimum of two years as it is a wood that requires time to season well.
Pear Burns well with good heat output, however it does need to be seasoned well.
Pine (Including Leylandii) Burns with a good flame, but the resin sap can cause deposits to form in the flue and can increase the risk of a chimney fire must be well seasoned.
Plum A good burning wood that produces good heat output.
Poplar A very smokey wood with a poor burn.
Rowan Is This is a good burning wood that has a slow burn with good heat output.
Robinia (Acacia) This is a good burning wood that has a slow burn with good heat output. It does produce an acrid and dense smoke but this is of course not a problem in a stove.
Spruce Produces a poor heat output and it does not last well.
Sycamore Produces a good flame, but with only moderate heat output. Should only be used well-seasoned.
Sweet Chestnut The wood burns ok when well-seasoned but it does tend to spit a lot. This is of course not a problem in a stove.
Thorn This is one of the best woods for burning. It produces a steady flame and very good heat output, and produces very little smoke.
Willow A poor fire wood that does not burn well even when seasoned.
Yew A good burning wood as it has a slow burn, and produces a very good heat output.

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