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Oak Firewood Guide: Burning White And Red Firewood

by Lianne Jones May 25, 2022

Oak Firewood Guide

There is nothing nicer than having a nice fire in the cold.

It warms your body and soul, it makes you feel good, and it can be an amazing experience.

But how do you make sure that your firewood burns and burns well? How do you choose which kind of wood to use for your firewood?

For instance, is red or white oak a better firewood? These questions and more will be answered here.

White Firewood And Red Firewood: What’s The Difference?

So, first things first, let's discuss what the difference between white and red firewood is.

Both types of firewood burn well, but there are some differences between them.

For example, white wood burns hotter than redwood. But that’s not to say it will go out faster.

It’s also more dense than red oak, which gives it a vital edge over its red counterpart.

Having said that, you may find red oak at a better price.

White Firewood

What Types Of Wood Are White-Wood?

Okay, so first off, you're probably wondering what kinds of wood class as white wood?

Well, basically, all woods that are not brown, red, or black are considered white wood.

The only real way to tell if a piece of wood is white or not before burning it is by checking its color and grain pattern.

It should have a distinctly creamy hue, and the grain pattern should be quite straight.

On the other hand, when you look at a brown or black log, you'll notice that it has a certain amount of coloration.

A few examples of white wood are:

  • Ash
  • Birch
  • Cedar
  • Cottonwood
  • Hickory
  • Maple
  • Oak
  • Pine
  • Spruce
  • Willow

How To Store White Wood

If you're going to buy firewood, how you store it can have a massive impact on how well it works and burns.

Here are some tips on how to store white wood properly.

First of all, stack your logs in an area with good airflow. Also, keep in mind that they should be kept away from moisture.

Moisture can ruin your firewood.

A lot of people think that putting wet logs into their fireplace is okay. However, this isn't true.

Wet logs can actually start to rot and decay. Therefore, you should always avoid storing your firewood in damp areas.

Finally, you should always wrap your logs in newspaper before you put them in storage.

The newspaper helps prevent mold growth.

How To Burn White Wood

Now that we've covered what white wood is, let's talk about how to burn it. So to start, we need to acquire some white wood.

There are two main ways to do this. First, you can buy it from a local supplier. Second, you can gather it yourself.

If you decide to purchase your white wood from a supplier, then you'll need to find one that sells logs.

When you get to their site, they'll ask you to select the size of the log that you'd like to order.

They'll also give you the price per pound. Once you've got the information, you'll need to pay for the wood.

Then, once you receive the wood, you may need to cut it into smaller pieces, but ideally, you’ll have purchased it in an optimal size for the given application.

If you do cut it, make sure that you keep the bark intact. Then stack those pieces up in a pile.

Again, you’ll need to store them some place dry and well ventilated.

Bought logs will arrive either seasoned or kiln-dried, and any moisture that reaches them could compromise their burn efficiency.

If you’re sure your wood is dry and ready to go, you can get to burning.

You can either do this by placing kindling around the outside and underneath of the log, or you can add some lighter fluid directly onto the log.

Either way works fine.

After lighting the fire, you'll need to wait for it to burn completely.

It will take anywhere between 30 minutes to 2 hours depending on the size of the log.

If you want to put the fire out before it’s had time to burn out naturally, you'll need to extinguish the fire by putting out the flames with a shovel.

This should help prevent the fire from spreading.

Try to avoid the use of water when putting out a fire, as you may be able to salvage some of the intact wood for a fire at a later date.

Advantages Of Using Oak White Wood

There are several advantages to using white oak over red oak.

The big one is that, due to its density, it burns hotter for longer. It produces a whopping 29.1 BTUs per cord.

Another reason white oak is a better firewood is that it’s less porous than other oak wood.

That not only means it’s less likely to soak in as much moisture when exposed to it in storage, but that it will arrive with a lower moisture content in general.

This is part of why it burns hotter and longer, but it has another benefit… it burns cleaner, with less smoke.

It can also be seasoned at a much quicker rate, which is a bonus.

Disadvantages Of Using Oak White Wood

While there aren't any disadvantages to using white wood as opposed to traditional firewood, there are still a few things you should know.

For example, you may want to consider purchasing a chimney liner if you plan on burning white wood indoors.

This will help protect your home from smoke damage, but this is true of any wood.

The only genuine drawback of white oak is that it may be more expensive to buy due to its superior performance.

Red Firewood

Red Firewood

What Types Of Wood Are Red-Wood?

So now you know everything you need to know about white wood. But what about red firewood?

When it comes to redwood, there are three main types. You can tell it's redwood because it has reddish-brown coloration.

These include:

  1. Red Cedar - This type of firewood is found exclusively in North America. It has a beautiful reddish color. It's very strong and durable. Unfortunately, it's also extremely expensive.
  2. Oregon Spruce - This type of spruce is native to the Pacific Northwest. It's similar to cedar but much more affordable.
  3. California Redwood - This type of redwood is native to Northern California. It's one of the most common varieties of redwood.
  4. Red Oak - As the topic of today’s discussion, we couldn’t leave red oak off this list. This wood is commonly used as both firewood and a construction/decorative material. It’s found popularity across the states as a hardwood floor option, although the redder hues are falling out of fashion a little.

How To Buy Redwood

Now that we've talked about all the different types of redwood, let's talk about how to buy them.

First, you'll need to find a local supplier who sells firewood.

If you're lucky, they might even have a selection of different types available.

Once you locate a supplier, you'll need to ask them which types of redwood they sell.

They should be able to give you a list of their stock.

Then, you'll need to decide whether you'd like to purchase chopped logs or split them yourself.

Whichever option you choose, you'll need to pay attention to the dimensions of the pieces.

In other words, you don't want to get stuck with a piece that's too big or small.

The best thing to do would be to measure each piece before buying them.

How To Store Red-Wood

Once you've purchased your firewood, you'll need to store it properly. Don't just throw it into an open space.

Instead, make sure to stack it so that it won't fall over. You'll also want to keep it away from heat sources such as radiators.

As with white oak, you should store your red oak logs somewhere dry with good ventilation.

How To Burn Red-Wood

If you want to burn redwood, you'll first need to cut it down to size. This means cutting it into smaller pieces.

The next step is to light it. You'll want to place it on top of a grate or something else that will allow airflow underneath.

Afterwards, you'll want to put it back on top of the grate or something that will allow airflow.

Then use a lighter or match to ignite kindling around the log.

Advantages Of Using Oak Redwood

There are many benefits associated with using red oak for firewood.

Here are some of the top reasons why people love to use it.

  1. It burns well.
  2. It smells great.
  3. It produces smoke (good for some purposes)
  4. It's resistant to insects.
  5. It’s usually a little cheaper.

Disadvantages Of Using Redwood

There are also disadvantages to using this wood. Let's go through these now.

  1. It’s not as dense.
  2. It, therefore, doesn’t burn for quite as long.
  3. It is more porous, meaning it soaks up and retains more moisture.
  4. As such, it takes longer to dry.
  5. Plus, it gives off way more smoke, which can be bad for chimneys, people, and the environment.

Final Thoughts

Burning both white and red oak has its advantages and disadvantages, but if I was going to recommend an overall winner between the two, it would definitely be white wood.

I think white wood has a lot more positives going for it.

That being said, there are certain situations where redwood may be better suited.

For example, if you’re using it for smoking, a red wood will provide more flavor due to the increase in smoke output.

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