Oak as firewood? If you’re wondering if oak makes a good firewood, you are probably a beginner about what type of wood makes a good firewood, and that’s ok! Here in this post, you will learn about oak and about the splitting and seasoning of oak firewood. So, sit back and grab a cup of coffee and enjoy!
Oak As Firewood
Whether you are thinking about investing in your first woodstove or you have been the proud owner of one for many years, you are making the right choice. A woodstove not only can heat a large space, but it can be a more cost-effective solution as compared to central heating and air. Of course, some of this depends on the type of firewood that you choose as your burning fuel. Sure, there are tons of options available when it comes to choosing firewood, but how does oak stand up amongst the competition? Well, let’s see, shall we?
Is Oak Good Firewood?
When it comes right down to it, oak has got to be one of the most well-known and recognized types of firewood out there. In fact, it is probably the go-to choice for any individual looking to heat their home because it is dense, heavy, has a long burning time, and can provide the warmth that you need to heat a large area. If you are looking to invest in oak firewood or cut your own, you should know that there are literally over 600 different types of oak species. Unfortunately, not all of them are created equally. Some of the species can live for 200 plus years and some of them can even grow to a height of 100 feet or more.
The two most popular amongst these 600 species are the white and red oaks, as they are extremely strong and provide the density that gives them the capability to produce extreme amounts of heat.
Due to its weight and heft, oak is without a doubt one of the hardest types of firewood to split. In fact, you can probably take a maul and strike it as hard as you can against a piece of oak wood and it will probably just bounce off as if you are striking concrete or granite. This is what gives the wood its best burning properties, but it makes it tough to deal with. Sure, a splitter would be the go-to option, but this really isn’t practical for anyone looking to save a buck or two. So, what is one to do?
Your best option is to approach the situation with the right tactics and techniques. When striking the wood with your maul, you want to make sure that you are hitting on the outsides. Never go straight to the middle of the wood, as this is where all the strength will be. Strike at the outsides, work in a counter-clockwise movement, whittle the wood down and work your way towards the core. A good sharp wedge can also erase some of the burdens of your task.
Seasoning Oak Wood
While it might be best to split oak wood as soon as you cut the tree down, this will not be the same case when it comes to burning the wood. In fact, the wood probably won’t even burn until it is completely seasoned and ripe. The one downside to oak is that it takes an extremely long time to season. When you are talking about red and white oak, it can literally take anywhere from six months to two years to completely season. This might not seem practical, but there are some things that you can do to speed the process forward.
First, never store the wood directly on the ground. Make sure that the wood is always stored a few inches off the ground. Building a sheltered structure to protect the wood from moisture can help speed up the seasoning process. Also, utilizing kindling and other woods to produce hot coals and then throwing in the oak can help ease the burden of starting a fire with oak.
Oak Firewood BTU
Most individuals burn wood because they want to heat their homes. Well, in this case, you are probably concerned about the BTU ratings. BTU stands for British thermal unit and basically means the amount of energy that it takes to raise the temperature of one pound of water 1 degrees Fahrenheit. This is a term that is commonly used when referring to heating and air units. In layman’s terms, it basically means the intensity of the heat. For instance, you have probably noticed that gas heat is much hotter than electric heat, so it produces higher BTUs.
Well, oak has a high BTU rating due to the fact that it can produce an immense amount of heat. As mentioned above there are over 600 different species of oak but the two most popular are white and red. Red is capable of producing 24.6 million BTUs and white is capable of producing 26.4 million BTUs.
Difference Between Red Oak And White Oak Firewood
So, you can easily see that red and white oak are the two most popular choices when it comes to oak wood, but what are the major differences between these two species? Well, the most notable difference will be the starting times. You will probably notice that it is entirely possible to start a new fire with white oak, but this will not be the case with red oak. Red oak burns slower with a lower BTU output, which allows it to produce larger amounts of heat for extended periods of time. Unfortunately, this means it is almost impossible to start a fire with red oak. You pretty much need extremely hot coals to get a piece of red oak burning.
White oak will also be easier to split and seasons fasters because it doesn’t hold as much moisture. However, when it comes to wood grilling for taste and smell, you probably want to opt for the red oak for optimal results.
At the end of the day, you can easily see why oak is the go-to option for the average woodstove owner. Sure, it might be hard to split and it takes longer to season, but it really provides the BTUs and energy efficiency every woodstove owner is looking for. You could literally heat an entire two-story home with several pieces of carefully seasoned red oak firewood.