The Best Types of Wood for Campfires: A Guide for Camping Enthusiasts

May 17, 2024
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When planning a campfire, the type of wood you choose can significantly influence the quality of your fire. Not all wood burns the same; some types burn hotter, cleaner, and longer, making them ideal for campfires. Whether you're a novice camper or looking to refine your campfire skills, understanding the best types of wood to use can enhance your camping experience. Here’s a guide to help you select the perfect wood for your next outdoor adventure.

1. Hardwoods - For a Long, Steady Burn

Hardwoods are generally the best choice for campfires due to their density and slow-burning properties. They provide a steady heat and last much longer than softer woods. Here are some top choices:

  • Oak: Widely available, oak is a top choice for firewood as it burns very slowly and generates a lot of heat. It can be a bit challenging to ignite initially, so it’s best used with some softer wood kindling.
  • Hickory: Known for its high energy content, hickory wood burns even hotter than oak. It's perfect for cooking and winter camping when you need a lot of heat.
  • Ash: Ash is a favorite among campers because it burns clean and is easy to split. It provides a steady flame and good heat output, making it ideal for evening campfires.

2. Softwoods - For Quick Lighting

Softwoods are lighter and easier to ignite than hardwoods, making them an excellent choice for starting fires.

  • Pine: Pine lights quickly and burns brightly, but it also burns out fast. It’s ideal for starting a fire before adding hardwoods. However, be cautious as it tends to crackle and pop because of its sap and resin content, which can throw sparks.
  • Cedar: Cedar wood has a delightful smell and is easy to light. It produces a moderate heat, making it suitable for shorter, leisurely campfires or spring and summer outings.
  • Fir: Known for its pleasant scent, fir creates a moderate amount of heat and can be easier to find in certain regions. It burns more cleanly than pine but with less intensity than hardwoods.

3. Seasoned Wood - The Best Wood is Dry Wood

Regardless of whether you choose hardwood or softwood, the most important feature is that the wood must be seasoned. Seasoned wood has been left to dry for at least six months and has a moisture content below 20%. This type of wood ignites easily, burns cleaner, and produces more heat than unseasoned or "green" wood.

4. Finding and Storing Your Wood

When camping, you may be tempted to pick up fallen branches or chop down a tree for wood. However, many campgrounds have rules against cutting trees or using fallen wood as it plays a crucial role in the local ecosystem. Instead, purchase wood from local sources or gather it where permitted.

Store your firewood in a dry place, ideally covered, to protect it from rain and snow. Keeping the wood off the ground will prevent it from absorbing moisture, ensuring it’s ready for your next campfire.


Choosing the right type of wood can make all the difference in your campfire experience. Whether you're toasting marshmallows, sharing stories under the starry sky, or cooking a campfire meal, using the proper wood will provide the heat and ambiance needed for a memorable camping trip. Remember to always check local regulations regarding firewood and fire safety to ensure your camping adventure is both enjoyable and responsible.

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