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The ultimate wood guide for fire pits
Estimated reading time: 7 minutes
Wood is a great fuel for fire pits and will produce considerable warmth for relaxation and cooking outdoors. It can be hard to pick between the different species of trees when choosing what wood to use on your fire pit as there are lots to choose from.
It is essential to opt for the right wood fuel to suit your lifestyle, reduce damage to your fire pit and of course produce enough heat.
In this guide, we have compiled a comprehensive overview about wood fuel so you can create the best roaring fires in your back garden.
What fuel should I use in my fire pit?
Good quality fuel from a responsible source should be used in your fire pit and you will be surprised on the difference it will make to your fire. It will improve the heat output, consistency of the flame, duration and the ease of maintenance after use.
Generally wood is the only type of fuel that should be used and most favoured in the UK.
Charcoal is also good but mainly used for cooking as apposed to heating as it doesn’t create the authentic feel that an outdoor wood burning fire does. Charcoal can get very messy but will produce a better simmering heat for cooking but is this not just a charcoal bbq?
Flammable liquids such as petrol, paraffin, methylater spirit or similar liquids should never be used as they will damage a fire pit and potential cause injury.
What is the best wood for a fire pit?
It can be difficult to find the best wood for your fire pit and knowing which type to suit your lifestyle can be even harder.
There are 5 main types that are commonly used and we have provided the benefits below. All listed will work very well for a fire pit and should all be untreated.
The best wood for fire pits:
At Pingewood, we would recommend using either Ash or Oak hardwoods in your fire pit as they will provide a long lasting burning with lots of heat. If you’re planning on add some flavour to your cooking on your fire pit than Apple wood will be ideal. Hickory can be added for a smokey taste.
We have showcased some of the main qualities that these wood types hold but before it lands into a fuel bed it will have to be processed and treated before use.
Good quality, dry firewood
You have probably heard of the term ‘Kiln Dried Logs‘ many times before. This essentially means wood that has been dried in a kiln, not always!
Kiln dried wood can be purchased nearby from a local supplier or online dry firewood. The beauty of kiln dried logs is their moisture content is usually below 20%, meaning they require no further seasoning and can be used straight away in your fire pit. Another benefit is their consistency, due to the kiln drying process.
Dry, quality firewood guarantees less smoke, safe burning and maximum heat output from your fire pit. Kiln-dried wood is an excellent option although a bit more expensive. In general a mix of hard and medium woods creates the perfect balance of heat and flames.
Responsibly sourced firewood
Woodsure is a new scheme that is a not for profit organisation that has been introduced into the UK to ensure that firewood complies to technical standard ISO 17225-5. Woodsure certification checks length, diameter and moisture content.
You should look out for the Woodsure logo on the packaging of your wood fuel or ask your local supplier for their registration number.
Woodsure test moisture content of wood logs and briquettes in their laboratory using an oven testing method.
For domestic housing, they recommend use of firewood that has a moisture content of less that 20% which is the government legislation for firewood in the UK.
How can I test my woods moisture content?
Your firewood should have a moisture content of below 20% and can be tested by a moisture meter. Split a log in half and prod the two tongs into the centre part of the wood.
If your reading is above 20% than the wood should not be used to burn. It will release more smoke and creosote when excess moisture in wood causes incomplete combustion.
What should you not burn in a fire pit?
Not all wood works well on an outdoor fire even if it has been treated and dried. See the list below:
The drinks are flowing and the conversation is boyant. One of your friends throws something onto the fire that probably shouldn’t be burning. We’ve all been there.
Do not use plastic or treated pallets to fuel a fire as they both produce toxic fumes.Styrofoam, plastic, empty food containers and boxes, cigarette butts and all that other trash contain toxins. Many of those poisons are harmful to breathe and can travel far in the wind.
Safety when chopping wood
Great caution should be taken when chopping wood. When using an axe, you should ensure that it is sharp and be used with confidence.
Hold the wood upright with another piece of wood so that your fingers are well away from when the axe slices the wood.
Safety goggle should be warn along with safety boots.
Safety when burning wood
Never leave the fireplace unattended when it is lit. We recommend you have a bucket of water close by.
Remove the remains of logs or charcoal, as logs can spontaneously ignite after use. Clean the fi replace with a rag/cloth
Keep a careful eye on the fireplace in windy weather. The flames could burn in an uncontrolled way. If conditions are not ideal, we recommend waiting for the weather to improve before lighting the fi replace.
Safety after burning wood
Let the logs burn out and the fireplace cool down.