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Indoor Fires vs Outdoor Fires – What You Need To Know

by | Feb 5, 2024

The choice of wood for indoor and outdoor fires depends on various factors, including the type of fire, safety considerations, and local regulations. Here’s a comparison of indoor and outdoor fires along with expert advice on the best wood for each:

Indoor Fires:

Expert Advice:

  1. Safety First: Always prioritize safety when burning wood indoors. Follow local regulations and guidelines for indoor fireplaces and wood-burning stoves.
  2. Seasoned Wood: Use well-seasoned hardwood to ensure efficient combustion and reduce the risk of creosote buildup in the chimney.
  3. Regular Maintenance: Schedule regular chimney inspections and cleanings by a professional to prevent creosote buildup, which can lead to chimney fires.

Best Wood

The best wood for indoor fires is properly seasoned hardwood. Hardwoods generally burn hotter and longer, and when properly dried, they produce less creosote. Here are some popular hardwoods that are often considered excellent choices for indoor fires:

  1. Oak: Oak is a dense hardwood that burns hot and produces long-lasting coals. It’s one of the preferred choices for indoor fireplaces.
  2. Maple: Maple is another hardwood that burns well and provides a steady heat source. It’s a good choice for indoor use.
  3. Hickory: Known for its intense heat and pleasant aroma, hickory is a hardwood that works well for indoor fires. It’s often used for smoking meats as well.
  4. Birch: Birch is a softer hardwood, but when properly seasoned, it can be a good choice for indoor fires. It burns brightly and has a nice fragrance.
  5. Ash: Ash is a hardwood that burns cleanly and is relatively easy to split. It produces a moderate amount of heat, making it suitable for indoor fireplaces.

Remember, the key is to use well-seasoned wood. Seasoned wood has had the opportunity to dry out, reducing its moisture content and ensuring a cleaner, more efficient burn. Avoid using softwoods like pine indoors, as they tend to produce more creosote and may not provide as consistent or long-lasting heat.

Outdoor Fires:

Expert Advice:

  1. Check Local Regulations: Before having an outdoor fire, check local regulations and obtain any necessary permits. Some areas may have restrictions on open burning.
  2. Avoid Softwoods Indoors: While softwoods like pine are more acceptable for outdoor fires, it’s generally best to avoid them indoors due to increased sparks and creosote production.
  3. Consider the Environment: Be mindful of the environmental impact of outdoor fires. Use wood from sustainable sources, and avoid burning treated or painted wood.
  4. Use a Fire Pit or Ring: When having an outdoor fire, consider using a fire pit or fire ring to contain the flames and enhance safety.
  5. Drying and Storage: Store firewood in a dry place to ensure it remains well-seasoned. Wet or green wood can produce excessive smoke and be challenging to ignite.

Best Wood

For outdoor fires, you have a bit more flexibility in choosing firewood compared to indoor fires. However, it’s still important to consider factors such as burn time, heat output, and the type of outdoor fire you’re planning (campfire, bonfire, etc.). Here are some commonly used types of firewood for outdoor fires:

1. Hardwoods:

  • Oak: Oak is a dense hardwood that burns hot and produces long-lasting coals. It’s a great choice for larger outdoor fires.
  • Hickory: Known for its intense heat, hickory is excellent for outdoor fires, especially if you want a long-lasting and hot burn.

2. Mixed Hardwoods:

  • A mix of hardwoods, including maple, ash, and birch, can be suitable for outdoor fires. This allows you to benefit from the various characteristics of different hardwoods.

3. Fruitwoods:

  • Apple, Cherry, or Peach: Fruitwoods like apple, cherry, and peach can add a pleasant aroma to outdoor fires. They are often used for grilling and smoking due to their flavorful smoke.

4. Softwoods (Caution):

  • While softwoods like pine, spruce, and fir can be used for outdoor fires, it’s essential to be cautious. Softwoods ignite easily and can produce more sparks and popping, so they may not be the best choice for larger fires or when safety is a significant concern.

5. Cedar:

  • Cedar is a softwood that is often used for outdoor fires due to its pleasant aroma. It burns relatively well, but like other softwoods, it can produce more sparks.

When burning firewood, it’s important to use the right type of wood to ensure efficient combustion and minimize the production of creosote, which can build up in your chimney and pose a fire hazard. You also may be wondering what the difference is between hardwoods and softwoods that are mentioned above. Here are the differences and considerations when choosing which wood applies to your burning experience.

Whether you are burning firewood indoors or outdoors, consider the following:

1. Hardwoods vs. Softwoods:

  • Hardwoods: Hardwoods like oak, maple, hickory, and birch are denser and generally burn hotter and longer. They also tend to produce less creosote. These are good choices for indoor fireplaces and wood stoves.
  • Softwoods: Softwoods like pine, spruce, and fir ignite more easily and burn quickly, but they can produce more creosote. It’s generally best to avoid softwoods for indoor use due to the increased risk of creosote buildup.

2. Seasoned Wood:

  • Use seasoned or well-dried wood. Freshly cut or green wood contains a higher moisture content, which can result in inefficient combustion, more smoke, and the production of creosote. Seasoned wood has been allowed to dry, typically for at least six months to a year.

3. Size of Wood:

4. Local Regulations:

  • Be aware of any local regulations or restrictions regarding the burning of wood, especially if you are using a wood-burning appliance indoors.

5. Avoid Treated or Painted Wood:

  • Do not burn treated wood, painted wood, or wood with any kind of chemical treatment. These materials can release harmful substances when burned.

6. Clean Chimney Regularly:

  • Whether burning indoors or outdoors, regular chimney maintenance is crucial to prevent the buildup of creosote, which can lead to chimney fires. Have your chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional at least once a year.

In both indoor and outdoor settings, safety and responsible wood-burning practices are paramount. Regular maintenance, proper wood selection, and adherence to local regulations will contribute to a safer and more enjoyable fire experience.


About Timber Ridge Firewood

Timber Ridge Firewood is a family-owned and operated firewood company that offers our services to Calgary and surrounding areas. Nicholas and Steven Boivin are the founders and owners of the company. We work diligently to create the easiest and best firewood experience for all of our clients.