What Type of Wood Is Best for Bonfires? Full Guide

wood burning in a small bonfire

If you're like me, then you love sitting around a blazing fire on a cool autumn night. There's just something about the warmth and crackle of wood burning that makes all your worries fade away. And what's better than gathering around a fire with friends and family? Roasting marshmallows, of course! So, in preparation for your next camping trip, I've put together a list of the best types of wood for bonfires. Read on to learn more.

  1. Beech
  2. This type of wood is perfect for your bonfire. It's dense, so it burns longer than most other woods, which means fewer pieces of wood to load into the fire. You can be sure that this wood will be able to provide you with enough warmth for the entire night.

  3. Birch
  4. This wood is similar to beech, but it's even denser. It will keep your fire going all night long! The flames that birch emits are tall and bright orange, so this type of wood is perfect for a more immersive atmosphere. Birch is a great choice for fueling an outdoor fire because it burns well even when green. This makes birch particularly good for starting fires with damp wood or in damp conditions (although I wouldn't recommend letting your wood get too dry either!) Birch also produces very little smoke or sparks while burning, making it ideal for indoor bonfires on park grates and campfires during wet weather.

  5. Cedar
  6. Cedar emits high-heat flames, which means it'll burn quickly. But don't worry; one cedar log should be enough to last you through the night. Plus, if you burn cedar in your bonfire, it'll make your camp smell like an amazing summer day by the ocean rather than like a forest filled with dead leaves and pine needles (which can ruin the whole experience).

  7. Madrone
  8. Madrone is another great choice for your bonfire. It's easy to split and light, doesn't tend to spark, and like cedar it emits a strong smell while burning (in this case, madrone will remind you of cinnamon). The smell of cinemon will be delightful to those around you and will eradicate any fear of getting attacked by a bear, which is always good.

  9. Alder
  10. Splitting and starting a fire with alder can be difficult, but once you've got it going, Alder wood produces some nice flames that burn quickly and produce very little smoke (which means you'll get to enjoy your bonfire for longer). While we're on the subject of not producing much smoke; applewood makes great bonfire material because it doesn't produce hardly any smoke when burning.

  11. Oak
  12. Oak is yet another wood that produces large flames and very little smoke or sparks. And if you're looking for a long-lasting bonfire that'll burn until the early morning hours, look no further than oak logs. This type of wood will produce strong flames that burn slowly. Whether it's white oak, red oak or any other type of oak, this wood creates the perfect amount of heat for your backyard bonfire, especially when mixed with other types of wood.

  13. Pine
  14. Although pine wood does produce large sparks if you're not careful, it will also provide your bonfire with a decent amount of heat and high flames. The downside to burning pine trees is the sap, which makes it quite sticky and increases the risk of getting smoke in your eyes. However, this can be avoided by simply cutting off any excess bark. The bark is where most of the sap is located.

  15. Cherry or Black Cherry
  16. This type of wood creates the perfect amount of heat for your bonfire. It burns hot, but not too quickly. Cherry wood also makes great kindling because it's so easy to light and provides continuous flames for quite some time. This wood can be used along with other types of wood to make your bonfire even better.

  17. Maple
  18. Maple is free of sap which makes it easier to handle on the whole. A bonfire that is easy to handle will create less smoke and burn longer because the wood lasts longer. This type of wood is best used with other types because it needs help generating heat, but once it gets going, Maple provides a beautiful flicker that makes for a fantastic ambiance.

  19. Hickory
  20. Hickory has a high oil content which also makes it great as kindling as well as providing long-lasting flames that will keep your bonfire burning strong for a long period of time. The hickory wood can be found in many hardwood forests and if you do find it, you will be able to use it as kindling for future bonfires.

Does It Matter What Wood You Burn in ayour bonfire?

The type of wood you choose to use inyour bonfire will also decide hopw good of a bonfire you have. Different woods produce different amounts of heat, burn for a varying amount of time, and have their own unique flavor.

A wood which provides too much smoke will deposit soot and creosote on your grill. This will speed up the rusting of its components, which are mainly iron. Moreover, it can even damage the flavor of your food or cause an allergic reaction in certain people.

Burning pine wood can also result in a bitter aftertaste that you'll notice when enjoying your meal cooked over the open fire.

Oak Wood for Bonfires?

One type of wood which is considered to be one of the best burning woods for bonfires is oak. It's known not only for providing high heat but also for being long-lasting. Oak wood typically burns for more than two hours, whereas most other types will burn out in less than an hour. Another benefit of using oak is that it's unlikely to give off any sparks. It also produces very little smoke, which is preferable for many people who are looking to relax in the great outdoors with minimal intrusion from the elements.

How To Start A Fire

You might also want to know the best way for you to start a fire. Many people believe that it's easy to start a fire with a few pieces of paper and some matches. But, without the right knowledge, you could end up getting nowhere fast. Luckily for you, there is an easy way to get started.

The best way to get your bonfire going is by creating what's called kindling. Kindling is very small twigs or branches, and the perfect starting point for any fire! Once you've got your kindling ready, simply place some larger logs on top of it. Then light it on fire and watch the flames grow into something bigger.

Bonfire Safety Tips

Before you start a bonfire, you should know the basics of safety. If you're going to have a bonfire outside, make sure your location is far away from any buildings or trees. Also, keep the flames away from dry leaves.

Where possible, always have a fire extinguisher on hand in case something goes wrong. Also, don't have your friends stand too close to the flames, they should be at least an arm's length away. Have fun with your friends by having them sing songs by the campfire or playing some cards. It's important that no one gets too close to the fire just for fun because this can cause dangerous accidents.


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Avoid these types of woods as much as possible:

  • Poplar - This wood should be avoided due to the fact that it doesn't give off enough heat and will only smoulder. It also produces a lot of creosote, which can be carcinogenic.
  • Elm - Elm logs are very wet, so avoid using them as they will not burn properly. Wet wood does not burn well because it is hard to catch alight due to the moisture content in the wood.
  • Bamboo - This type of wood gives off almost no heat when burned so should be avoided at all costs.
  • Ash Wood - Ash gives off an unpleasant smell when burnt. Your guests won't appreciate that. Also ash has small branches that don't provide much fuel for the fire.
  • Spruce - Spruce wood is a softwood and doesn't burn well.
  • Cedar - Cedar burns quickly, gives off very little heat and has a strong odor that does not mix well with the aroma of food cooking.
  • Driftwood - Driftwood gives off very little heat, is surrounded by water which becomes steam, producing a poor fire.
  • Cypress - Cypress contains too much sap to burn well.
  • Balsa Wood - Balsa is the lightest weight wood available so care must taken to make sure that nothing which could catch alight is located close to the bonfire site. Best to avoid this type of wood.

The best wood for bonfires is the wood that will keep your fire burning well for longer. There are several types of wood available to burn, however not all of them are equal in the way they burn or how hot they make your fire. The best woods are those that are easy to find and split, produce little smoke when burning and give off good heat.

About Author:

image of Kevin Pommells

Hi, I'm Kevin Pommells, a lover of camping and the great outdoors as everyone says nowadays. I'm also a passionate soccer fan and the proud owner of CamperRules.com, a website dedicated to helping campers and outdoor enthusiasts make the most of their adventures. With years of experience exploring the wilderness and a deep love for the sport of soccer, I'm always looking for new ways to combine my two passions and share my knowledge with others. Follow me for tips, tricks, and insights on all things camping and outdoor recreation.

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